Wednesday, November 10, 2010: Ernest Troost

Ernest Troost

Ernest Troost is a singer/songwriter and a New Folk Winner at the 2009 Kerrville Folk Festival. His evocative songwriting style combines folk and Piedmont blues style guitar picking with timeless stories and colorful character portrayals drawn from the American past and present. His first solo album, “All the Boats Are Gonna Rise”, described as what would happen if the Carter Family, Robbie Robertson, and Alfred Hitchcock wrote songs together, has been a hit with critics and fans alike:

“Troost’s style and subject matter recall Dylan, Dave Alvin, and (especially for his concentration on life’s darker side) Richard Thompson–enviable company indeed. Such comparisons are not lightly made: Every song here is a keeper.” –Tom Hyslop, Blues Revue Magazine

“Stories are what fascinate me,” says Troost, when asked what inspires his songwriting. “I sometimes think of myself more as a filmmaker than a songwriter—maybe it’s because of all the films I’ve worked on, but also because I love to weave words and music together and create cinematic images in the mind of the listener.”

By mixing the traditional country blues and ragtime influences of Blind Blake, Tampa Red and Mississippi Fred McDowell with the literate lyrics of contemporary songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, and John Hiatt, Troost has created an album that captures a colorful world long past of levees, dam builders, morally ambiguous characters, and disillusioned patriots. Moreover, he imbues them with a dark playfulness and relevance for today.

“It’s the dark characters that interest me,” says Troost about his songs. “If you can get into some of these characters’ heads and tell the story from their points of view, it might get a bit creepy, but it can be very dramatic, and hopefully, entertaining.”

“Ernest Troost’s newest album, the aptly titled Resurrection Blues is a brilliant new piece of songwriting art. Its thirteen Piedmont-blues influenced songs tell stories of passion, lost love and regret-filled lives at a cross-roads, looking for a modern-day answer to “how did things ever get this far?” and “when did the darkness fall?” Ernest Troost’s existential questions run rampant in his first three songs; and then, the stories begin. For those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, aside from the new Kerrville win, Ernest Troost is an Emmy-winning and multiply Emmy-nominated composer of more than one hundred scores for films and television…

Ernest likes to call his new work “cinematic folk” (perfect for keeping with his film and TV work), and that’s a great description, in that he writes such vivid character studies with fable-like, morality-tale qualities. Indeed, his songs are like entire films in miniature, like looking at a painting that tells a story in one image (or several) on one canvas…

And images do fly: Just listen to the story of Switchblade Heart, where Frankie, a killer who “kept his enemies close and his edges sharp” falls for “a girl from Tennessee.” Then on one fateful night she jumps in front of Frankie as the boys come after him and there is “the cough of a pistol and her mournful cry.”

Or enjoy the whimsical Big-time Blues where criminals find their just deserts, or the tale of the man who couldn’t get over a long-ago transgression in Sad Dog Blues. Ernest captures the grand Tin-Pan Alley influence with a new classic My Baby Loves Me replete with clarinet and an infectious swing: I’m under her spell, but this ain’t no voodoo My baby loves me like no other lover do!

This is a broad and colorful canvas of Americana. But his theme I think here is in the title cut, Resurrection Blues where Ernest asks something we can all understand: What happened and how did I get here? “Sittin’ in the dark, watchin’ for a sign My thoughts can hardly keep up with my restless mind I’ve seen my future and my world has come undone My gears are broken and my springs have sprung… I got criminal blood coursing through my veins I got addictive tendencies circlin’ my brain Waitin’ like a pack of wolves ‘til I let down my guard I’m doing my best, but I’m breathin’ hard”…

As a writer and artist, Ernest flatly acknowledges lost youth and asks where did it go? In Hellbound: “If love once passed this way, all the trails are cold… All that’s left is old pale traces of tears…” Or in Dark Days: “There are pieces of me in here There are bits I left back there There’s a home I cannot embrace From beneath this shroud….”

He embraces darkness and its reflection in his own soul and in the tragic tales of others’ lives, at the same time he suspects there are answers around the next bend. You’ll find yourself chuckling at the rueful humor while you weep for the days gone by – the endless human condition.” — Susie Glaze for FolkWorks

I’m a huge Richard Thompson fan, so comparisons to Richard are not something I take lightly. But in Ernest Troost’s case, it is a fair comparison – Ernest writes beautiful story songs with a dark edge and is a masterful guitar virtuoso. I got to see Ernest at Folk Alliance in Fall 2009 and knew I wanted to book him before he finished his first song. The rest of his set just confirmed how wonderful a performer he is.

Suggested artist donation $15

Music starts at 7:00 p.m. Socializing from 6:00 p.m.

Light refreshments provided, BYO wine and/or potluck refreshments to share are welcome.

For more information and an invitation, please contact Lee at 575-522-5197 or by e-mail at houseconcerts (at)

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