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Esoteric Songwriter Rob Morsberger Sets 22-Song Double CD Release Of ‘Early Work 1986 – 1995’ For 2/15; Tour Dates With Suzzy Roche Confirmed
Esoteric Songwriter Rob Morsberger Sets 22-Song Double CD Release of ‘Early Work 1986 – 1995’ for 2/15; Tour Dates with Suzzy Roche Confirmed
On February 15, esoteric songwriter Rob Morsberger will release a 22-song double-CD, ‘Early Work 1986-1995’. The two-volume set chronicles the evolution of an acclaimed artist who has met his recent diagnosis of terminal cancer with a relentless drive towards releasing as much material as time allows. ‘Early Work’ is a surprising, eclectic overview of Morsberger’s search for his ‘voice’ as a literate songwriter, with material from the mid-Eighties showing that his songwriting craft was already strongly in place from the beginning. The entire collection represents a unique sound in his catalogue, being essentially built around solo, intimate piano performances and vocal arrangements, with a stellar cast of players teasing these out into assorted duets and trios with a few full band arrangements (guest singers include Loudon Wainwright III, Marshall Crenshaw, Suzzy Roche). The double CD reveals the early work of a uniquely talented man, as he navigates a decade of his life and his art.
This music comes from a lost chapter of my life. Or so I thought. I was struggling to grow up and to be a good father. I was a full-time caregiver determined not to repeat and perpetuate my own family story. It was a time of nightmares and dread, of relentless chase, of violent dreams. It was a time of professional frustration and failure too. As a young parent and stay-at-home Dad, I lacked the time and focus to work at the level I desired. I also lacked the money to finance my work properly. I had almost no tools. But bringing to life now the songs I wrote then turned out to be an intense surprise for me. It reconnected me with an autographical narrative largely forgotten. I had become a happy person in the intervening years, and a successful musician. What surprised me the most about this body of work, was how good it was. Far from failing, I had created a fine group of songs; much superior to anything I would have described or remembered. This realization has brought me great happiness. Of course there is a lot of humor to enjoy here too, I hope; though it tends to be disturbing and ironic, much more so than what came later. I was disturbed by my marriage, disturbed by my history, disconnected from my own reality.
I had work to do.
The presentation of songs here is chronological and fairly accurate, I think. It begins with autobiography of a kind that all but disappears from my catalog in due course. The collection ends, appropriately enough, with a song co-written with guitarist Jon Herington.
Which is to say, it ends where the story really starts: with the beginning of everything that came after. I am nearing the end of my story now, with a terminal illness. I have had a wonderful life, and feel so thankful that I have gotten to see this story end so happily, with so much joy, and the feeling that I have been able to honor the gifts that the universe bestowed on me. One can ask for no greater blessing than that; unless it is the knowledge that one leaves behind three wonderful sons; all doomed, I fear, to be artists of one kind or another, already reaching far beyond the accomplishments of the father who loves them always. Rob Morsberger - October 14, 2012 Croton on Hudson, NY
Morsberger has confirmed a series of new tour dates, including a handful with Suzzy Roche. The select events with Roche will feature Morsberger playing his own music as well as tracks from Roche’s upcoming (as yet untitled) album – a collection of duets with her daughter Lucy Roche, with Morsberger accompanying the pair on piano and accordion. Lucy will join the 2013 dates as her schedule allows.
18 JANUARY OLDE MISTICK VILLAGE ART CINEMAS MYSTIC, CT
23 JANUARY PRIVATE CONCERT NY, NY
02 FEB CROTON FREE LIBRARY CROTON ON HUDSON, NY
08 FEB ARTS ON THE LAKE, LAKE CARMEL ARTS CENTER KENT LAKES, NY
15 FEB THE EGG - WITH SUZZY AND LUCY ROCHE ALBANY, NY
03 MARCH THE BEANRUNNER CAFE PEEKSKILL, NY US
More dates will be announced soon.
Morsberger recently visited his former home of Edinburgh, Scotland, and was profiled in their major daily newspaper, The Herald:
'I've no regrets, no unfulfilled dreams'
In late 2012, he released a pair of acclaimed CDs ‘A Part of You’ and ‘Midnight Garden’. In her USA TODAY Listen Up Music Pick, critic Elysa Gardner highlighted the track Jacob Wrestles With the Angel, stating, “This beautifully arranged number from Morsberger's A Part of You paints a piquant picture of resilience and acceptance.” http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2012/10/01/playlist-faith-hill-plus-10-more/1606881/
Editorial content site WildysWorld picked both albums for their Top 12 of 2012 round-up:
12 - Rob Morsberger – Ghosts Before Breakfast
Morsberger is stunningly personal, and prophetic, in an album that explores mortality, legacy and all the emotions that swirl around these two concepts. Written before Morsberger’s diagnosis with terminal brain cancer, Ghosts Before Breakfast transcends humanity and every day experience for simple truths on deep and dark thoughts.
3. Rob Morsberger – A Part Of You
Morsberger manages two albums in the top-12. A Part Of You is a song cycle written to Morsberger’s youngest son; a collection of songs to see his son through the times when Morsberger anticipates not being there. This intimate collection is full of laughter, hope and the joy of discovery. There is also a hidden sadness; a melancholy of the artist who is envisioning all that he might miss out on. This is what songwriting is all about.
Rob Morsberger has experienced a prolific period following his September 2011 diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, and his hope is to make as many people aware of his music as possible: “You could also say that it's my intention, as the clock is ticking, to play out my remaining time in this way, moving forward, to do what I can to shine a light on the work that has poured out in the past year.”
Other recent coverage here:
BlogCritics — By Jack Goodstein – Review of ‘Midnight Garden’
WILDYS WORLD– Five-star review of ‘A Part of You’
By Wildy Haskell - http://wildysworld.blogspot.com/2012/10/rob-morsberger-part-of-you.html
The Two Recent CDs - In Rob’s Words:
When I was hospitalized in September 2011 with a terminal brain tumor, I hoped that I would have time to finish the record I was currently working on, ‘Ghosts Before Breakast’. And maybe, if I was lucky, I could squeeze out another, sixth album. Two days after brain surgery I was back in the studio and finished ‘Ghost’ in the month that followed. Then I started work on what became ‘A Part Of You.’ Musically, I had long wanted to bring together my work as a composer with my songwriting life, and many of these songs were adapted from instrumental scores I had composed for television. So there is a quirky chamber music sensibility here, in a departure from previous records that featured my longtime band. The album is dedicated to my youngest son Elan, whose hand I am holding on the cover. In the title track, I assure him that ‘I will always be a part of you’. In another song, which features his (very contagious) laughter, I encourage him to laugh in the face of life’s unfairness, and ‘You Son’, written with bassist Zev Katz, imagines the grown-up young man I am not likely to meet. The Russian Cartographer was a roommate I briefly had while in hospital, and I enjoyed imaging his story. ‘An Inside Place’ channels the words and feelings of my co-writer on that song, Anthony Rutenbeck, a person with autism. Other collaborators include Suzzy Roche and Brad Roberts (of Crash Test Dummies); our duet, ‘The Man and The Birds’ was the beginning of what became yet another new album, ‘Midnight Garden’.
After finishing ‘A Part of You’, I was looking for an album project I could create quickly, since apparently there is not much time. Brad Roberts had a pile of lyrics and we decided I would create a latter day song cycle with some 19th century models: Schubert, of course, with a nod to Stephen Foster and Gilbert and Sullivan. I had worked with Brad on the last CTD album, had toured with him a bit, and we were friends. His lyrics were so compelling, and so simpatico, that the songs seemed to write themselves. Sometimes a song would form in my mind as quickly as it took to read the words. ‘Midnight Garden’ is scored for our two voices, piano, and string quartet. It is an interesting hybrid, one part classical music, but definitely still connecting to the pop world. And with Brad’s weird, wonderful, compelling voice, which I thought would work so well in this context.
Also available now is a live DVD of Morsberger in concert. This is the definitive DVD of Rob’s great band, featuring Jon Herington, Robin Gould and Zev Katz, and special guest Ina May Wool. Recorded live in February, 2012 at The Bitter End NYC, the film was produced by Dave Davidson for Hudson West Productions and boasts record-quality audio. http://www.robmorsberger.com/rob-morsberger-live-dvd
Listen to the PRI/ WBUR Here & Now interview with Robin Young, distributed via NPR NEWS: http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/05/24/rob-morsberger-cancer
Read Jon Takiff’s engaging feature in Philadelphia Daily News: http://articles.philly.com/2012-05-11/news/31669695_1_song-cycle-concert-hall-lyrics
Visit Rob’s updated Press Page for more coverage: http://www.robmorsberger.com/press.html
‘Midnight Garden’ was premiered in a live performance at Tarrytown Music Hall. Rob also premiered, with Jon Herington, a commissioned song, 'Mystic Redemption', in Mystic, CT. The town on Stonington, CT named 5/31 Rob Morsberger Day in recognition of this performance and song - a great honor. Rob and band were joined in Mystic by Marshall Crenshaw.
The new Patti Smith album 'Banga' is now out, and features arrangements and keyboard work from Rob. Check out Loudon Wainwright III's beautiful new CD, 'Older Than My Old Man', which features Rob on accordion. Rob had the honor of arranging and performing on the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack album to Boardwalk Empire. He is currently working on a new album from Willie Nile and two new recordings from Marshall Crenshaw.
Long known as a literate songwriter with a taste for eclectic source material, Morsberger stretched even his own boundaries on 2011’s ‘Ghosts Before Breakfast’. As he wrapped up work on the CD last Fall, headaches and dizziness prompted him to see his doctors: “As I was finishing off the record I unexpectedly received a diagnosis of grade 4 Glioblastoma…the worst manifestation of the most malignant kind of brain cancer. This is not a survivable illness. When I was in hospital having surgery in late September, it really hit me how much of this record clearly anticipated my illness…particularly the song ‘Feather in a Stream’. I realized that, deep down, I saw this coming and it came out in my writing. And, surrounded by other suffering people, of course I thought of the song ‘The Great Whatever’ - particularly as I felt so close, at all times, to a god I can’t and don’t wish to comprehend. But clearly, this is god’s path for me now. I’m ready for wherever it leads me, and I know I, and my family, will be OK.”
Morsberger remains undeterred in the face of the news – his focus is now on his family, his health and his art. His goal is to create and release as much new music as time allows, and his hope is for as many people as possible to become familiar with his work.
Watch Morsberger’s in-studio performance and interview, via ABC-TV affiliate WHAS, during a recent tour stop in Louisville: http://www.whas11.com/video?id=139518153&sec=988818
Stream 2011’s brilliant ‘Ghosts Before Breakfast’ CD, watch the Hans Richter video, as well as a behind-the-scenes interview with Morsberger, here: http://www.robmorsberger.com/Ghosts.html
Morsberger’s extraordinary 2010 CD ‘Chronicle of a Literal Man’, was featured in USA TODAY, via PRI/NPR, M Music & Musicians Magazine, and in numerous other outlets. Read some of the reviews, here: http://www.robmorsberger.com/press.html
The NY Times profiled Morsberger in 2006:
Watch videos of Morsberger performing, here:
Rob Morsberger is known for his wonderfully twisted perspective, lyrics that are never dumbed down for the listener, and an ear for complex melody. His songs are characterized by their esoteric surprises and their unwavering intelligence. Though Morsberger has rightfully drawn comparisons to Tom Waits, Rufus Wainwright, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Robbie Robertson and Warren Zevon (mixed with a touch of Randy Newman’s absurdist wit,) he came into his own on ‘Chronicle’ and extended the feat on ‘Ghosts Before Breakfast,’ as well as his recent dual CD releases in September of 2012.
Bio: Rob Morsberger is a singer-songwriter and classically-trained composer. His albums gave been featured in national and regional press outlets. Writing in The Boston Herald, renowned rock critic Kevin Convey praised Morsberger for “the kind of hyperliterate, pop-inflected singer-songwriter outing that went out of style when Warren Zevon died. And…he can write a hook that could make angels weep." As a sideman/arranger, Morsberger’s credits include Patti Smith, the Grammy-winning Boardwalk Empire soundtrack album, My Morning Jacket, Crash Test Dummies, Marshall Crenshaw, Willie Nile, Jules Shear, Loudon Wainwright III, and more.
A leading composer for PBS, his scoring credits include Masterpiece Theater, NOVA and Frontline. He was composer for the award-winning PBS series NOVAscienceNOW for its first five seasons.
Born in Ohio, Rob grew up in Oxford, England and studied composition at the University of Edinburgh. He lives with his family in the Hudson Valley, just north of New York City.
Morsberger is managed by American International Artists: http://aiartists.com/rob-morsberger