Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In The Spotlight--WolfCryer

Making his third appearance at the Galaxy this Friday January 13th will be Cincinnati based WolfCryer.  After 20 years as a saxophone player with jazz and classical groups, Matt Baumann, who plays under the WolfCryer name, realized he no longer enjoyed it.  "When I was around 29 years old I began having recurring dreams about playing the banjo, these dreams haunted me for weeks. I finally went to my wife, sat her down and said, 'I need to tell you something; I want to buy a banjo'. I think she thought I was going to admit I was having an affair or something a little more serious," says Baumann.  He had grown "to hate the music I had to play to be heard and/or make money. I already had a full-time job, so why should I hate what was supposed to bring me some degree of happiness?"
As if dreaming about playing a banjo wasn't unusual enough, in his dreams Baumann "was playing and singing by myself. Most banjo players play the 5-string, I chose the 4-string plectrum banjo for it's flexibility, and relative obscurity. I've always been attracted to the things that very few people do, especially in music."  Transitioning from sax to banjo would probably be too much for many musicians, but he adds that, "learning the banjo has so far been a natural experience for me. My friend Eric Barnett showed me a few things in regards to finger-picking, but all the chordal parts of my music I've taught myself with some already learned music theory from my music school days."
And so was born the one man show now known as WolfCryer.  The name comes from multiple inspirations.  "My father once recommended a movie to me called 'Never Cry Wolf', a forgotten Disney movie in-fact, it's a adventure story about a single man sent by 'society' out into the Alaskan wilderness to study the wolves, and more deeply, himself. I loved that film and the subject so much that I adopted it as my moniker," says Baumann.  "Also, upon reflection, the' truth' and I have always had our differences over the years; being the WolfCryer is also my take on Aesop's 'The Boy who Cried Wolf'," he concludes.
Being now in some way part of the singer-songwriter scene was also a change from the jazz and classical background, as the songs have become much more personal.  "I write most of my songs about nature, open spaces, with a personal kind of longing and desolation in mind. Stories, films, and books about individuals on the road always appeal to me; 'Into the Wild', 'An Island to Oneself', 'Everett Ruess', Rousseau's 'Reveries of a Solitary Walker', and Werner Herzog's 'Of Walking In Ice' are great starting points for songs," he pointed out.  
While those may be the starting points for his songs, authenticity is clearly a key part of his writing.  "People, especially the listeners I am after, can tell when when you are being dishonest, or not being yourself. Integrity plays a very important role in my songwriting. I want people to hang on every word, and believe in every chord," he says.  "The lyrics tend to come to me as I develop the chord progression for a song. I must have the music to write the lyrics. I'm not a poet, I'm always a musician first as that's who I am. I tend to write in metaphor and in my own way, I've lived every word of the songs I write."
Another influence is the work of the late Warren Zevon, a master storyteller.  "My old friend Alex Carlson would pick me up most mornings on our way to high school. Alex had a huge influence on me musically, it's strange to remember this, anyway, he often played Zevon's albums, 'A Quiet Normal Life' and 'Excitable Boy', and I loved Zevon's storytelling, his views of life, his command of language, that darkness, his voice, that piano, that guitar, and his unwavering energy," said Baumann.  "He really made me love books and authors in a way I never had before. I think his influence, in some small way, really translated into my songwriting."  
WolfCryer has become a regular at the Galaxy, as well as having played consistently at MOTR Pub and the old Southgate House.  He hopes that the scene in Southwest Ohio for original music continues to grow.  "I think if you want it enough, there is no place on Earth where people won't listen. I'm actually encouraged by the scene here. What's happening at MOTR, Sitwell's Coffeehouse, Galaxy, and the new 'Southgate' wherever it is, things are promising here. To me it's just exciting to be getting started. And I think that if you're committed to be yourself, to be authentic, people will come to hear you, and people will listen," he concludes.
If you'd like to listen, you can check out WolfCryer on Facebook, and then please stop out and see him as part of our show this Friday January 13th at 7pm, which also features Frontier Folk Nebraska, Somebody's Something, Whiskeyheart, and Yankee Go Home.  The show is just $5.00 and ALL AGES.  Thanks to Wolfcryer for taking some time out to chat with us, and we'll see you at the show! 

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