DIARY - 4 JULY 2007 - TODD FRITSCH
FRITSCH - SHOOTING FROM THE HIP
a new guy on the radio that's becoming quite a hit/ they play his new
song twice an hour until you get sick of it/ well he makes a splash, then
comes a crash, as he just fades away." - Every Honky Tonkin' Hero
Has His Day - Todd Fritsch-Doug Deforest.
troubadour Todd Fritsch has ignited his passion for the roots of his
genre with a little help from mentors diverse as Gary P Nunn and Eddy
So it's no surprise he hooks up with those heroes on his second independent
album Sawdust on Nashville's Diamond Music featuring 17 songs
embracing the rich depth of the genre.
Fritsch, just 26, delivers his stone country with a swagger on two
memorable social comment tunes penned with his producer Doug Deforest.
Every Honky Tonkin' Hero (Has His Day) and If You Don't
Like Country (Time To Leave) are chopped from the same tree that
produced the late Doug Sahm's satirical song Oh No, Not Another
One on his 2000 disc The Return Of Wayne Douglas.
And, of course,
Tommy Alverson song Purty Boys from his 1993 disc Live At Ozona
with his band Boot Hill.
Nunn is the perfect partner for Todd who lives on the Fritsch Cattle Company
Ranch near tiny Texas town, Willow Springs.
Gary P did his time in the beer, whiskey and wine mines as pianist for
The Lost Gonzo Band who cut their own albums after a long stint as the
backing band for transplanted upstate New Yorker Jerry Jeff Walker.
That was the seventies outlaw era that prompted the Jan Reid book The
Improbable Rise Of Redneck Rock.
Some of the characters in the book have ascended to honky tonk heaven
but not Nunn classic London Homesick Blues - theme song for famed
Austin City Limits TV show that has produced a myriad of live concert
discs and DVDS.
But it's more the music of Nunn's latter day Sons Of The Bunkhouse Band
that have fuelled 11 albums and influenced Fritsch.
"Gary and I have been friends for the last few years and, you know,
we had a lot of mutual friends we finally got to meet," Fritsch revealed
in a recent interview.
"Then he came to my show and it was just great and he loves what
I do, he likes I'm traditional. He's a cowboy guy, I am too and we get
along well about everything. He's a guy who's just a legend who's been
so open to me. Whenever I go to a show he wants me to get up and do tunes
with him and we party together and have a good time. So I'm just really
honoured that he would do it for me. It meant a whole lot to me. He is
Texas music, whether people know it or not. He's been one of those guys
from the Lost Gonzo Band years ago, he knows what's going on."
Nunn, whose 17-year-old son, Julian, recently graduated from Eufaula High
School in Oklahoma, has moved to Marble Falls, Texas, with his wife, Ruthie,
after almost two decades living on their 480-acre Okie cattle ranch.
Nunn, one time husband of country singer Karen Brooks, grew up at Brownfield
near Lubbock and has returned south of the Red River to reduce travel
to his many gigs.
YOU DON'T LIKE COUNTRY
ask for me for P-Diddy, Snoop Dog or Dr Dre/ I'm 100 % country and I plan
to stay that way/ if you don't like drinkin' beer our of a longneck bottle/
if you don't like two steppin' around the dance floor at full throttle/
and if when we play a cheatin' song there ain't tears on your sleeve."
- If You Don't Like Country (Time To Leave) - Todd Fritsch-Doug Deforest.
other defiant country anthem is highly reminiscent of the David Allan
Coe tune If That Ain't Country (I'll Kiss Your Arse.)
The Coe song appeared on his 1977 album Rides Again - it has
been re-released with 1976 disc Long Haired Redneck as a double
CD in Coe's ever growing Bear Family catalogue from his CBS era.
Fritsch says his song is a crowd magnet when he performs it live.
"It was a line I threw out to the crowd one night," Fritsch
'And I realised,
'Hey, this really is how I feel.' So Doug helped me put it together, and
even though it's a little more 'Bocephus' and a little less 'Waylon-ish,'
than we'd planned, it's become a big song for us live. We meant the gong
in the Waylon type thing. And we didn't cut it as that tempo, you know,
we could have squeezed a little more but just, you know, it was meant
to be more of an in-your-face type song. It's been our show opener here
for a pretty good while."
Fritsch name checks Nunn, Raven, Merle Haggard, Charley Pride and the
late Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell and Waylon in his song.
a watering hole on the other side of town/ I can sit at the bar and shoot
all my problems down/ and as gold rushes through my veins/ I try to smile
and hide the pain." - Tequila Tells - Eddy Raven-Frankie Myers.
enlisted another mentor Eddy Raven for a duet on the Raven-Frank Myers
song Tequila Tells.
Raven, born Edward Garvin Futch in the bayou country of Lafayette, Louisiana,
on August 19, 1944, appears in the video for What's Wrong With Me - the
single from the album.
Raven, one of nine children, worked as a DJ on WHAB in Georgia before
writing a sixties hit for Bobby Charles.
He then moved to Nashville in the seventies where his prolific pen landed
him diverse covers by major artists before topping charts with his own
versions of his songs.
"Eddy Raven is a guy that I hooked up with because of the first album,"
"We did the cover of his hit I Got Mexico. And his office had got
it and listened to it and Eddy had wanted to meet me and so I went to
Nashville and I went to dinner with him while I was in town and we hit
it off. He pitched me some songs and it was a song he wrote with Frank
Myers. Eddy has been wonderful to me. A guy - he gave me his number said
call him whenever and he was in my video and just too good of a guy. Another
guy, you know, how many number one hits and just willing to help a young
guy out means more to me than anything."
Raven appears in the video for radio friendly Andre Boudreau penned single
What's Wrong With Me - the album entrée song aimed squarely at
WALK TO REMEMBER
has bittersweet memories of the writing of A Walk To Remember
- one of two songs on the album, penned with close friend Randy Sarver.
He started the song with Sarver, who became ill during its writing,
and died before it was finished.
"I was devastated," he recalled.
"But Randy never let go of this song, and right before he died,
he finished and demoed the last verse so that I'd have it. I re-worked
the song with the help of Doug Deforest and Rick Stancil. I knew I
had to put it on this album; it's a gift that will always be special
The other Fritsch-Deforest-Sarver song is positive love song First
Date (For The Last Time).
Equally evocative is western standard Little Joe The Wrangler
that scored airplay here for Red Steagall before and after his 1977
is a half-spoken tribute to the life of Little Joe - an unlikely cowboy
and the cattlemen who befriend him.
"No one writes songs like this anymore," Fritsch says.
"But that lifestyle is part of my heritage and the history of cowboy
music is something I won't let go."
TURN SLOW IN MUSIC CITY
the wheels of music city turn way too slow/ where patience is a virtue
it's some times hard to learn/ for now she's waiting on tables, I'm waiting
on the tables to turn/ I'm up when she's down, when I'm down she picks
me up/ tag teaming troubles when the going gets tough." - Tables
- Bo Riddle.
examines the flip side of belated fame in the Bo Riddle song Tables
- one of the sleepers on this disc.
He hits a familiar chord when he details struggles of a singer and his
biggest supporter - the waitress who returns each night.
They chase their collective dreams in tandem with faith driving them to
It's a sibling of sorts of Fritsch-Deforest collaboration on Life's
A Circle - a reflection of travels from youth, to old age, through
death to the birth of a new life, replete with a mandolin coating.
Equally powerful is Todd's dynamic delivery of Aaron Schertz-Jeff Batson-Thom
Shepherd tune The Rock that has its embryo in a church in Savannah
in the spring of 1844.
Fritsch connects when his rich baritone praises the longevity of the church
- the joys, confessions, trials and tribulations of its people - from
the Civil War to the present.
He also ensured there is plenty of Texan swing on Sawdust - especially
on their co-write with Joe Bob Barnhill on All That's Left Is You.
The song, a throwback to the forties, reeks of the rich Texas dancehall
past and sits well with Barnhill's other contribution - Five Mornings
So does Todd's treatment of the Donny Kees tune Guilty Conscience
whose melody is a sibling of sorts of 1990 Joe Diffie hit If The Devil
Danced In Empty Pockets, penned by Kim Williams.
Fritsch covers all bases with his revamp of Billy Yates-Will Nance tune
No Part Of - an uptempo dance tune, replete with country staples
of lying, cheating and drinking.
They balance that with optimism of So This Is Love.
Hopefully, Nu Country TV exposure will entice the singer to follow his
two European tours with an Australian visit.
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