Tim O'Rourke performs at the Pub & Grill at the Santa Fe Brewing Company on Saturday, July 25 at (37 Fire Place, 8 pm, $5).
His new album, Backyard Dreams, is available through Blues Farm Records.
A native of St. Louis, Tim O'Rourke moved out to New Mexico in the late 70s and has called it home ever since. Living in Placitas in the mountains north of Albuquerque has proven a continual inspiration for O'Rourke in its openness and sense of community. “When we first came out here, there was a community situation going on here where one person would help another. That's how we built our home and that's how all our neighbors built their homes; with the help of the community,” O'Rourke recalls, and it is very much in this spirit of community and progress that he writes and performs his music.
, his latest album, was released in early June by Blues Farm Records, based just outside Clovis. With O'Rourke on vocals and playing most of the album's instrumentation, including acoustic and electric guitar and bass, “Albuquerque's voice for blues and folk music” offers up spirited songs about love, life, and the fallout from eight years of Bush Administration rule. Featuring a selection of solo acoustic work alongside songs featuring rousing electric guitar solos and drum backing,
offers an eclectic American folk sound, with O'Rourke's wit and passion shining throughout.
Things are bad all around it seems, but O'Rourke's music still sees hope and joy, inspired by New Mexico's open minded music community and beautiful landscapes. SFR spoke with O'Rourke and learned more about the folk artist's life in New Mexico, his album, and his upcoming show at the Santa Fe Brewing Company.
When and why did you decide to move out to New Mexico from Missouri?
It's just a beautiful place. I guess my wife and I moved out here in ‘79, and I was originally going to move out to California for songwriting and stuff and it was just too wild out there. We lived out in the country for a lot of years after I got out of high school and went to college. When we stopped in Albuquerque it just kind of opened our eyes. It was a real good scene, a real friendly place back then. So after basically deciding that LA wasn't the place for me, we were introduced to the Placitas area... this just seemed like a real great place. Like I said, we were just ready to make a change from Missouri. I think it was a just a... conservative state, lets say [laughs]. New Mexico had a lot of life to it.
How has living in New Mexico affected your music and your outlook?
It was like alternative energy from the get-go living in Placitas because there were so many solar ideas being thrown around at that time. There were a lot of people experimenting with passive solar homes and things
as soon as we moved here. In fact, the community that I lived in was composed of a lot of builders, and there was a community situation going on here where one person would help another and that's how we built our home and that's how all our neighbors built their homes, with the help of the community. It's a great thing to be around, where you do a bond beam over here, a plaster job over here, a roofing job here... basically it was a tradeoff situation where everybody taught each other how to build homes.
The music scene was that way too. Different musicians were eager to listen to original music, a little more so than they were in the Kansas City or St. Louis area. I made a living until '87 on nothing but playing music, so I was basically able to support my family and build an adobe house and do everything based on playing music in New Mexico, which a lot of people find startling these days because it's not so easy. A lot of environmental issues were brought up. I've always been involved in that. I like it... open spaces, beautiful country, Land of Enchantment... all those things still impress me.
You recently released an album.
Yes. The CD came out June 1 on Blues Farm Records, called Backyard Dreams. It's a combination of some different feelings I had after living through the Bush years... I had to get that out of my system [laughs]. ...It has some political flavor to it, for sure. Songs like “Where's the American Dream Anymore,” “Who's Winning the War of America?” “Cause You Guys Ain't My Uncle Anymore,” there's a lot of things like that. There's some goofing around on some songs as well. I'm really happy with it. Blues Farm's over there in the shadows of Clovis, Buddy Holly recorded in Clovis as did Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings so there's some good history to it. I was real excited about the offer to record with Blues Farm Records and it's working out real neat.
Do you feel Backyard Dreams is similar to music you've done in the past, or has it taken you in a new direction?
I think people who identify me as a solo acoustic artist say it's the closest thing to my style of anything I've ever done, recording-wise. This is actually the fourth CD I've done, and I also have released three cassette albums prior to that, all on Nighthawk Productions, one of my production companies. I did all the instrumentation except for the drumming and a couple guitar parts done by another label gentleman, Sansietch... I went ahead and played bass and acoustic and electric rhythm and lead guitar and I did some piano and keyboard for it. Maybe because of this, people who've heard it have said, “That's the closest thing I've heard to the real Tim,” and I was kind of surprised by that, because I've recorded with some really well-known musicians in the area and some from out of the area that I consider tremendous musicians, but in terms of giving a bit of my soul in it, they could hear that, they said it's a really good representation of my music.
What are you planning for your performances at Santa Fe Brewing Company?
What I'm going to do up there is start as a solo acoustic show. I'll play solo for a while so I can do some of my songs. Then I play a duo with another gentleman, Dick Smith. He's also the lead guitar player in a band I'm with called Two Lane Highway - he's a tremendous person and tremendous guitar player. And if I can, I'll yank my wife up there, who I've sang with for years.
It was unusual, Backyard Dreams was the first recording I've done without my wife because I had to travel
250 miles. We did the album over a weekend, it was 26 hours of recording in two days. For the Santa Fe show it'll be myself, then the duo, and I'll really try to get my wife up there for a trio. If things work out well, maybe I can get the band interested in coming up some time. I definitely like playing solo or as a duo, but I also like getting the electric out sometimes and playing as a four piece band too.
The last time I was up performing in Santa Fe I was playing an opening act for The Allman Brothers. To show you how long ago that was, it was... I can't even remember [laughs], I think the very early 80s. I remember singing a song called “Send it Some Place Else,” and the whole audience in Santa Fe was singing along with me on that one. That was prior to the WIPP deal, so I don't know if that was a good memory or not.
performs at the Pub & Grill at the Santa Fe Brewing Company on Saturday, July 25 at (37 Fire Place, 8 pm, $5).
His new album, Backyard Dreams, is available through Blues Farm Records.