Old Man Luedecke speaks softly over the phone, making the bearded banjo-picking troubadour's home in Chester feel very far away. He has two 15-month-olds sleeping nearby, he says, and he just got home from the west coast last night, where he was playing a show in Vancouver. "It was great, one of the best shows of the tour," he enthuses. "But we all got caught out there in the mountain passes with just our Converses on, and it was unexpected winter." This Friday, November 2, Luedecke is debuting his east coast tour at St. Matthew's Church (and we expect to see appropriate Sandy attire, rain boots and all).
Chris Luedecke, more familiar to us as Old Man Luedecke, has got one set of twin daughters, two Juno Awards and now five albums under his proverbial belt. His latest, Tender is the Night, is a lyrical achievement, chock full of, in equal parts, biblical metaphors and catchy, twangy banjo riffs. In the album's title, former English major Luedecke offers a knowing nod to the great literary tradition that he can't seem to shake by borrowing the title from an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel of the same name, which was lifted from a poem by John Keats.
Tender is the Night was recorded in a four-day period in Nashville with one of Luedecke's heroes, legendary bluegrass musician Tim O'Brien, who Luedecke calls a "great master of American folk music." "He's not just a blisteringly wonderful instrumentalist, but also just a really sensitive musician," he says. Working with a full band on this record, Luedecke says he felt comfortable right away. "I had prepared quite a bit beforehand, so I was able to relax and everybody played really well---if you listen to the record it sounds like something live is really happening, which I think is pretty compelling."
Tender is the Night was released October 2 on True North Records to great accolades. Instrumentally lush with the addition of a sideman, Joel E. Hunt, as well as mandolin, fiddle and bass, Luedecke is happy for the reinforcements, but maintains you don't need a drummer to make good music. "I like that the songs can stand on their legs without needing to be played by a full band," he says.
Lyrically, Luedecke is a folk musician through and through. Whether he's singing about a post-bar trip to A&W or the antics of Jonah and the Whale, he's a storyteller. From the album cover that looks more like a book cover to the title of the album to the sad stories of missing home---Luedecke now has a lot more to miss than he did---his lyrics are for everyone: accessible, funny and always accompanied by a singable tune.
Luedecke says he just likes his language to be fresher. "None are really winning as far as happy songs go, but I think at the end of the day, people say, 'That Luedecke, he writes happy songs' anyway. So it doesn't matter what I think, really. People hear the spirit as an attempt to be happy in the songwriting.
"I'm just trying to make things as rich as possible. I'd like the album to be a little feast."
Old Man Luedecke w/Stewart Legere, Friday, November 2 at St. Matthew’s Church, 1479 Barrington, $27.99/$32.99, 7:30pm
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