Award-winning Houston Texas-based Americana/folk singer-songwriter Brian Kalinec’s new CD, The Fence, released in May, is the follow-up to Last Man Standing, his 2007 Berkalin Records debut. The Fence is a collection of stories in song that relate to the value of work and/or effort in one way or another. – from building a fence to cutting stone, from choosing a career over a relationship to losing a job, from homelessness to home repairs, from Teddy Roosevelt’s star-crossed river adventure in the jungles of South America to a woman whose life is forever affected by her boyfriend’s poor choices.
In his descriptive and poignant, yet musically accessible songs that were penned over the last several years, effort is sometimes rewarded and sometimes ignored, and taking the easy way out usually leads to disaster. And sometimes the less fortunate are just simply ignored.
“In this 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birth, these songs resonate in our own times,” maintains noted folksinger-songwriter Tom Pacheco, who wrote the album’s liner notes. “I’m sure Woody would have loved them. [Brian] sings, writes, and plays so seamlessly that it feels these songs have always been there.” Indeed, the album’s title track, a song celebrating our spirit of self-reliance, took second place in the 2008 Woody Guthrie Song Contest. “Demons Falling Down,” another song on the album, captured first place in the Songwriter Serenade.
A Beaumont native, Kalinec’s East Texas roots have combined with his urban experiences in Houston to form his own particular view of the world, which is reflected in his songs. “While I feel a strong connection to each of the album’s 11 original songs (including one co-written with Connie Mims), I have special empathy with the characters who find themselves in dire situations through no real fault of their own, as in “Stranger in this Line” and “Creosote,” says Kalinec. “It is also quite obvious that I value hard work,” he continues, noting that both “The Fence” and “Uncle Joe” celebrate the spirit of self-reliance. “However, we are each morally responsible to aid the less fortunate among us. I believe that is the true message here.” The CD also includes a cover of “A Song I Heard,” written by guitarist Maury Muehleisen, who died with Jim Croce in a plane crash before he could focus on his own career.
Produced by Kalinec and veteran producer/engineer Michael Mikulka at Mikulka’s Lucky Run Studios, The Fence also features Merel Bregante (Loggins & Messina, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) on drums and percussion; Patterson Barrett (Jerry Jeff Walker, Buddy Miller, Nanci Griffith) on dobro, steel and mandolin; Rankin Peters on bass; Berkalin recording artist Matt Harlan, a rising star in the Americana and folk world and winner of the 2011 Telluride Song Competition; Mims, a prolific songwriter and former member of the group Wheatfield; Cathy -Anne McClintock, a Canadian-born multi-award-winning folk and Americana artist; Kerrville New Folk Finalist B. Sterling Archer on cello and trumpet on several tracks; Allisong Smith on backing vocals; Jeff Duncan on fiddle; Jeff Chambers on vocals; Carolyn Wallace on vocals; Jim Kam on Chapman Stick; Sandy Buller on bowed bass; and Bill Ward, Andi and Ren Renfree of the Texas Music Award-winning group Two-Bit Palomino contributing piano and vocals.
Kalinec is past president of the venerable Houston Songwriters Association and co-produced its annual Sonny Throckmorton Songwriters Festival during the 1990s. He has been performing steadily for more than a dozen years, having been invited to perform at many house concerts, coffeehouses and festivals in Texas and across the U.S., including the famed Kerrville Folk Festival. In 2010, Kalinec participated in the “Shoulder to the Stone” project benefiting the Haitian relief effort and was among the artists on the compilation CD which was recognized as “Event of the year” during the 2012 Texas Music Awards. He also has been a winner in the Big Top Chautaqua Song Contest (2008) and a finalist in numerous other songwriting competitions, while his music has been featured on ABC News’ World News Now.
A recipient of the “My Texan” Award at the 2012 Texas Music Awards for his support of the music and musicians of the state, Brian has produced a number of projects for other artists in addition to his own CDs. These include the late Tim Henderson’s final release, The Winds of Texas (2010). Henderson had said of Kalinec: “… Brian’s written a couple of songs that I’m plumb jealous of…”
Copies of The Fence may be purchased online through www.mytexasmusic.com, www.amazon.com, and www.bestbuy.com. For more information and to hear a couple of the album’s songs, visit www.briankalinec.com.
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