Monday, September 15, 2003

Tim Krekel and Charley Stefl, October 11th, 2003

Tim Krekel is an American original. He’s dedicated himself to creating music that is a real testament to life, love and, mostly, rock & roll. Tim’s gifts to the music world are plentiful. He has a warm, personal vocal style and has perfected his own distinctive guitar style. He is a master craftsman of songs that "get across with fire and conviction and without a trace of pretension". (CD Review) Tim’s approach is straight-up rock & roll and nothing short of phenomenal. Rolling Stone said, "Krekel unleashes a monster riff".

Tim is based in his hometown, Louisville, KY. He also spends a good deal of time in Nashville, where he is on the creative team at Bluewater Music. At home, he’s been called the "Prince of Louisville Pop"--and he has a community of loyal fans to prove it. The "Krekkies" know that the best ticket in town is to a Krekel show. Filmmaker Morgan Atkinson even has a documentary about Tim in the making. It’s titled, appropriately, Local Hero.

Tim has enjoyed success on many levels: He’s earned acclaim by writing hit songs for numerous artists, toured the States and Europe a few times, and collaborated live and in the studio with many performers. He also found time to record several critically acclaimed albums of his own prolific brand rock and roll tunes that are as about as infectious as they come.
Tim’s songs have been recorded by artists such as Rick Nelson, Lonnie Mack, Jerry Reed, Dr. Feelgood, Shakin’ Stevens, Canned Heat, Kathy Mattea, Jason & the Scorchers, Vern Gosdin, BJ Thomas, Delbert McClinton Aaron Tippin, Deana Carter and Kim Ritchey. Many artists have had great success with Tim’s songs. Crystal Gayle had a number one hit with Turning Away in 1984. Patty Loveless also went to number one with You Can Feel Bad, a song Tim co-wrote with Matraca Berg and that also earned Tim a BMI Country Award in 1997. Cry on the Shoulder of the Road, another Krekel/Berg penned tune was a chart topper for Martina McBride. Kim Richey’s version of Come Around, a song she co-wrote with Tim, was used in the 1999 Kevin Costner film, For Love of the Game.

There have been many people who have been thrilled to play with Tim Krekel. Some of them are well-known, but it’s also important to emphasize that Tim regularly encourages other musicians to join him for a song: His humility onstage makes it easy for those performers to do their best. They might be a little more nervous if they realized that Tim has played with performers like Jimmy Buffett, Billy Swan, Bo Diddley, Delbert McClinton, Skeeter Davis, Steve Forbert, Tracy Nelson, Pam Tillis, Marshall Chapman, Lonnie Mack, and Sam Bush. Tim has appeared with Mark Germino on Late Night with David Letterman. He has also performed on NPR’s Mountain Stage with Matraca Berg. Speaking of public radio, Tim is a favorite of the pioneering Louisville station WFPK. He was named among their Essential Artists A-Z in 2000. Four of Tim’s tunes were voted among the 2001 Greatest Songs All Time by WFPK listeners.
Tim was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1950. He became interested in music early and his first lessons were on the drums. He began taking guitar lessons at age 10 or 11, when it dawned on him that "the guitar player was up front getting all the attention, [like] Rick Nelson". He was singing and playing his guitar for audiences by the time he was 12, gigging in Lebanon, Kentucky, at places like The Golden Horseshoe and Club 68. He began to write his own songs in high school, although he was reluctant to share them with anyone for a few years.
Tim’s first band was an eight-piece basement band called, cleverly, The Octaves. He continued to sharpen his skills and, by the late 60’s, he was in a popular Louisville band called Dusty. It was around this time that two of Tim’s peers, Steve Ferguson and Terry Adams, went off and started NRBQ then came back to Louisville with a record contract. For the first time, Tim thought seriously about music as a profession and realized what he had to do. He and Dusty moved to New York, where they played gigs for a few months while Tim got more serious about writing. After about six months, Tim decided he’d be happier pursuing his career closer to home and moved back to Louisville.

Around that time, Tim made friends in Nashville and was soon playing gigs there. He even did some recording for Jack Clement. It wasn’t long before Tim got a road gig with Billy Swan (who had a huge hit with I Can Help). That band toured the States and Europe for a year. Billy went back to playing with Kris Kristofferson, and Tim resumed gigging around Nashville. One night, Tim performed in a showcase where Chet Atkins and a friend were in the audience. The friend turned out to be Jimmy Buffett’s manager. He and Chet were quick to recommend Tim to Buffett who needed a new guitarist. Tim was hired by Buffett and was his lead guitarist for a couple of years in the late 70’s and again in the 80’s. During his first stint with Buffett, Tim played on the Son of a Son of a Sailor album and appeared with him on Saturday Night Live, as well as in the 1978 film, FM. They also toured with the Eagles who were enjoying immense popularity at that time.

Tim was offered the opportunity to make his own record and decided to leave the band to pursue his own musical vision. His first solo effort, Crazy Me, was released in 1979; however, the Capricorn label folded a mere three months after the albums debut.It was the first album ever produced by Tony Brown and was a critical success. Tim continued to write, perform and play with other musicians. He recorded his next album, Over The Fence, with The Sluggers, and it was released in 1986. Rolling Stone called the Sluggers "a roots-based guitar band that matters". Tim and the Sluggers toured the country for a few years performing with folks like Carl Perkins, the Blasters and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

In 1993 Tim found himself a bit frustrated with the music industry and with some concern over what direction his career should take. Again, he moved back to Louisville. Rejuvenated by his return to familiar surroundings, Tim remembered why he began to make music in the first place. He started a new band, The Groovebillys, and pursued music with a renewed vigor.
Charley Stefl came to Nashville by way of Texas in 1984 with hopes of becoming a professional songwriter not only of country music, but of bluegrass, folk, rock and blues. He had worked the clubs of Austin since the ‘70s where he became a big fan of such songwriting greats as Townes Van Zandt, Nanci Griffith, Steve Earle, George Ensle and Guy Clark, but his greatest thrill came in 1978 when Bill Neely asked him to sit in with him and Kenneth Threadgill for several evenings at a now defunct club on Red River. His songwriting heroes had all moved to Nashville by the mid-‘80s, and after playing the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Writers show in 1982, Stefl decided to follow them.

First, however, he and his family made a detour to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he became involved with the local music scene while finishing his M.A. Ed. At Western Kentucky University. “I was privileged to have my own live Saturday night radio show on WKYU-FM called “The Local Folk”, which featured many of my favorite artists such as Jonell Mosser, Jim Buchanan, Gary Hayes, Byron House and Jimmy Raley. They all had a huge influence on me, and I will always be grateful for their participation.”

Once in Nashville, Stefl gave himself five years to get a song cut. He played the clubs and worked several jobs, pumping gas at West End Amoco and teaching Spanish at Father Ryan High School. Three years into his self-imposed time limit, while playing the Monday open-mic writer’s night at the Bluebird Café, he met Garth Brooks who had also recently moved to Nashville. They decided to write some songs together, and when Brooks was signed to Capitol Records a year and a half later, he recorded “Every Time That It Rains”, co-written with Stefl and Ty England. Writing at Major Bob Music, within a few years, Stefl had cuts by The Marshall Tucker Band (“Walk Outside The Lines”, co-written with Garth Brooks), MidSouth (“Give What It Takes”, co-written with Gene Ellsworth and Brad Rodgers), George Jones (“The Visit”, co-written with Ellsworth and Rodgers) and Lee Ann Womack (“The Fool”, co-written with Ellsworth and Marla Cannon-Goodman). “The Fool” was Womack’s first #1 single.

He felt highly honored when Nanci Griffith asked him to translate the Julie Gold song, “From A Distance” into Spanish for the 1992 Olympics. It was not used that year but was featured on the One Voice CD for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, with vocals by Nanci Griffith, Raul Malo and Donna Summer.

Cuts followed by Chad Brock, Eddy Arnold, Jill Johnson of Swedish pop music fame, the Del McCoury Band and Bobby Osborne of the Osborne Brothers. Stefl has a new Del McCoury cut entitled “Man Can’t Live On Bread Alone”, co-written with Gene Ellsworth and Brad Rodgers and a new Kevin Denney cut, “That’s How I Was Raised”, co-written with Tony Ramey and Trent Tomlinson.

In addition, this year, Stefl recorded his own CD at Direct Image Studio in Nashville, produced by Kenny Royster, featuring ten new songs, one previously recorded by the Del McCoury Band entitled “All Aboard”, “The Fool”, previously recorded by Lee Ann Womack, and a Townes Van Zandt song, “Nothin’”. I had to do a Townes song in his memory. He had such a profound influence on me and was such a good friend during the last twelve years of his life, that I felt that it was necessary to do one of his songs, so I did my favorite, “Nothin’”.

The CD, entitled And The Wheels Turn…, featured thirteen of Stefl’s songs he has written or co-written over the last ten years. In addition to singing, he plays harmonica, his Taylor 510-CE guitar and some mandolin.


Post a Comment

<< Home