Bruce Rits Gilbert

New Album: Twisting in the Wind! 

"Twisting in the Wind" is a compelling, whimsical new album by Bruce Rits Gilbert & The Missing Years. Produced by Nick Gunty (half of the highly acclaimed folk duo, Frances Luke Accord), the record features songs of joy, songs of hope, songs that take dead aim at this country's Liar-in-Chief and songs of genuine self-reflection. The album has 10 original tunes by Bruce (including one co-written by Benjamin Calder Zulauf) and one colorful reimagining of John Prine's "It's Happening To You."

In addition to Bruce's vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica, the album features Matt Lyons on backing vocals and lead guitar (electric, acoustic, and slide) and Nick Gunty on backing vocals, bass, percussion, acoustic guitar, and mandolin. Teddy Grossman contributes lead vocals and Wurlitzer on "The Boy Will Write His Own Story" and backing vocals on "Come Home," while Bruce's daughter, Molly Gilbert Zulauf, sings lead vocals on "Baby Jack" and backing vocals on "Oh Charlie!." Both Jane Reed Nosal and Calder Rits Zulauf (Bruce's grandkids) make surprise appearances throughout the record.

 

New: Interview with Bruce Rits Gilbert!

Hey, y'all! Check out this new interview of Bruce Rits Gilbert by Joshua Smotherman of Indie Music Discovery! 

 

 

In this interview spotlight, I chat with Bruce about his music, challenges, technology and more.

Full Q&A along with links and music below.

Listen to Come Home on Spotify

Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)

Although I’m originally from Wisconsin, I’ve lived in Philadelphia since 1985. My early influences included The Beatles (the first album that I ever bought was “Meet the Beatles” literally in 1964) and some of the Rock & Roll pioneers, like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and, of course, Elvis. I started listening to country rock (The Byrds, etc.) in the late 60s / early 70s, and I discovered John Prine in 1972. And he’s probably been my main influence since I started writing songs. So, generally, I try to create melodic tunes (or happy melodies, as Nick Gunty, who is producing my album-in-process, says) with compelling lyrics (which every once in a while I succeed at). My music is kind of folky, kind of rock & roll-y, and maybe a little bit pop-y. And some of it fits squarely in the Americana genre. 

What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to keep going?

I’ve been interested in music and listening to it pretty much all the time since I was about 10 (which was quite a long time ago), and I’ve been playing the air guitar for just about as long. But literally when I hit my late 50s I decided it was time to give up my air guitar for a real guitar. So I started taking guitar lessons with Matt Lyons, who now plays lead guitar on my recordings – – as well as releasing his own music, which is now getting some serious play on WXPN in Philadelphia. I realized after a few years with the real guitar that I’d never be the next George Harrison or Eric Clapton with my guitar, but that I could write some pretty decent songs. And I’m now motivated to simply get better and better. And the group of songs which will be on my new album (nine originals and one John Prine cover) are, I think, a really good collection of songs that should resonate with some folks. 

How is this new release different than previous ones? Were you trying to accomplish anything specific?

The new album is different in a number of ways: First, it’s being produced by Nick Gunty, who is 1/2 of the highly acclaimed folk duo Frances Luke Accord. Nick has created an upbeat / folky / Americana sound for this album, and he’s simply making my songs sound as good as they can be. Second, I kind of went head first into politics with two of the songs: “Come Home” (the just released single) and “You Ain’t” (which takes dead aim at our Liar-in-Chief). And, third, I think that I’ve found my voice a little bit here on this album. Literally, my voice is more comfortable and “clean,” in large part because of Nick’s encouragement and production, and figuratively my voice is a little more poetic and interesting in this group of songs. And what was I trying to accomplish? Well, mostly I wanted to make a record that resonates with people and is good enough to get radio play and included on playlists and such. And, of course, I wanted to make an album that my three kids like. You know. 

Name one or two challenges you face as an indie musician in this oversaturated, digital music age? How has technology helped you (since we know it does help)?

Technology, of course, is helpful in a number of ways. For me, the biggest thing that technology did is allow me to record the new album at Nick Gunty’s home studio, which is really just a spare bedroom with a computer, some fancy software, and a bunch of really good mics. Without this kind of technology, I’d have to go into a “serious” studio, which would be much more expensive. Technology allows me to record drafts of new songs on my computer using the Garage Band app. But the basic songwriting process, at least for me, is pretty much unrelated to new technology; that just involves me and my Gibson guitar. 

And challenges? Well, this is an era when it’s not all that difficult or expensive to record music. So lots and lots of folks do it, as you well know. So getting your music heard by just about anyone is really, really hard. And I’m not really sure how indie musicians are successful at marketing their music. I’m bad at it. But I assume that some folks have figured this out; I just don’t quite know what the best path is. But I figure that, if I make really good music, eventually someone will hear it. Despite those challenges and my limited marketing skills, my songs have been heard on WXPN in Philadelphia, so there’s that. 

What was the last song you listened to?

I’m literally listening to a mix that I recently made for Spotify, and the last song that played was “Gloria” by The Lumineers. The mix starts with my new single, “Come Home,” and includes songs by Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Avett Brothers, Johnny Cash, Dave Edmunds, Matt Lyons, Chuck Berry, Carlene Carter, Dead Man Winter, The Deep Dark Woods, Van Morrison, and others, along with Matthew Frederick (who I learned about from your Americana mix. 

Which do you prefer? Vinyl? CDs? MP3s?

Well, I really just prefer music in whatever form I can get it. I have a fairly hefty vinyl collection, but I rarely spin those records these days. I also have a whole lot of CDs, but those don’t get much play, either. I make mixes and put them on CDs sometimes, but, with Spotify and such, the need to put my own mixes on CDs is really fading. And I certainly listen to digital music a good bit – – although I really prefer a higher quality sound than MP3s. And, of course, I still listen to the radio (WXPN here in Philly or one of a number of the good SiriusXM stations). 

How about this one…. Do you prefer Spotify? Apple Music? Bandcamp? Or something else? Why? 

I use Spotify usually. I also listen to Amazon Music occasionally. I sometimes listen to music on America’s jukebox, YouTube. And I have a really big collection of music on iTunes, but I am not a subscriber to Apple Music. I don’t use Bandcamp. (Should I?) And, as a musician, I really don’t care where folks listen to my music as long as they listen to it. 

Where is the best place to connect with you online and discover more music?

My music is on the usual digital sites, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, etc. You also can find it on CD Baby. And I’ve made a few playlists that I’ve put on Spotify, and I intend to do more of that. Those playlists are usually (and will be) an eclectic mix of older music / new music. classic singer-songwriters and groups / less well-known artists, and rock / pop / country / folk / Americana / a cappella / you name it. And if you’re asking how literally to connect with me online, well, email (BruceRitsGilbert@gmail.com) works well. But you also can find me on Twitter and Instagram as @BruceRits. 

Anything else before we sign off?

My new album, “Come Home,” will drop soon (probably August, but maybe September). With Nick Gunty’s production, Matt Lyons’ amazing guitar, and a group of cool new songs, I think that it will be by far my best record, and I’m hopeful that you and others will dig it. 

 

 

 

 

New Single: "COME HOME"

"Come Home," a new single by Bruce Rits Gilbert & The Missing Years, is now here. Find it on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, YouTube or most anywhere where digital music is available. If you're tired of where America is going with our Liar-in-Chief, this song is for you. 

 

"Sagachase": The Music Video!

"Sagachase": The Music Video is now on YouTube: With an intro by CalderZu and an outro by JaneN, along with amazing historical pictures and spectacular drone footage, learn the history of Sagachase and see its breathtaking transformation. View it here

 

New Concert!

Hey folks! Matt Lyons and I (and maybe Nick Gunty, too) will be opening for Steve Forbert as part of the Bryn Mawr Twilight Concert Series on Saturday, May 25. Check out the details on the Calendar page. See you there! 

 

BABY JACK

 

"Baby Jack" is the third in Bruce's series (including "Little Calder Boy" and "Little Baby Jane") of songs about his grandchildren. Released on October 12, 2018, this sweet song was produced by Nick Gunty (1/2 of Frances Luke Accord) in Nick's West Philadelphia studio. The song features Bruce's vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica, along with Matt Lyons' lead guitar and Nick Gunty's ukelele, percussion and backing vocals. Are you "3000 miles apart" from someone that you love more than life itself? And does it "break [your] heart when it's time to leave"? Well, this song is for you.

                          

 

 Well, I'm Sixty-Four

 

New original music from Bruce Rits Gilbert is here! This time with a talented group of musicians, dubbed The Missing Years, who came together just to make this new EP, called Well, I'm Sixty-Four. It's was released on April 8, 2018.  

 

Joining Bruce (vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica) on this EP are Matt Lyons (electric lead guitar), Nick Gunty (acoustic guitar and backing vocals), Brian Powers (mandolin and backing vocals), Glenn Ferracone (drums), Paul Klinefelter (upright and electric bass), Luke Ferracone (acoustic and electric guitar), and, on just one track, Teddy Grossman (piano, organ and vocals). 

 

The EP leads off with the title track, Well, I'm Sixty-Four, a follow-up to Paul McCartney's When I'm Sixty-Four and a reflective look at aging by Bruce as he turns 64, and includes sublime background harmonies by Nick and Brian, whose "day jobs" are making music as the amazing folk duo Frances Luke Accord. Nick and Brian also provide their dreamy harmonies on The Greatest Bank Robber of All Time, the story of the epic bank robbing career of George Leslie, and on Life is Better When I Laugh at Myself, Bruce's not entirely tongue-and-cheek look at his life's failures. 

 

Channeling his inner Elvis, Bruce goes all 50s rock in Love Finds You, which features the sumptuous lead guitar of Matt, who is the frontman for the Philadelphia-based band The Parameters, along with the exquisite rhythm section work by Glenn on drums, Paul on electric bass, and Luke and Bruce, both on rhythm guitars.  Bruce stays in the 50s' rock & roll genre with Pink Sneaks, his answer to Carl Perkins' Blue Suede Shoes - - which Bruce covered on last year's Ask No Questions, Hear No Lies EP.
        

 

Bruce and Teddy co-wrote Christmas in Philly, an ode to "The Process" and the patient Philadelphia fans dreaming "of a party down Broad Street for a championship team" - - which happened on February 8 after the Eagles' Super Bowl win! Bruce, Nick and Teddy each sing a verse of this uniquely Philadelphia "Christmas" song. 
   
The EP's final track, Sagachase, tells the very personal story of a family home in Montauk, New York. Nick provides splendid harmonies to perfectly complement Bruce's lead vocals, and Matt's lead guitar sweetly guides the melody.      
                                                                                   
  

 

 

                              * Ask No Questions, Hear No Lies *

On April 1, 2017, Bruce Rits Gilbert released a new EP. It's called Ask No Questions, Hear No Lies. Recorded at The Music Centre in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, and produced by Grammy-nominated producer, Glenn Ferracone, the album includes five original songs, along with two cover songs.

Along with Bruce's vocals, rhythm guitar and harmonica, the album features Matt Lyons on lead guitar, Brian Kelly on bass guitar, and Kevin Haindl on drums. 

 

 

The album opens with the title track, Ask No Questions, Hear No Lies, which is a song of our uncertain and untrusting political times. The album's other originals include Drivin' To The City, a full out bluesy rocker; Little Baby Jane and Little Calder Boy, sweet tributes to Bruce's young grandkids; and When You No Longer Cry, the EP's closing track about the years going by. 

The two covers are John Prine's How Lucky, which is one of the prettiest and most under-appreciated John Prine songs, and Carl Perkins' iconic Blue Suede Shoes

 

Listen on the MUSIC page.