Bucky Halker

Bucky Halker

Currently available from Brambus Records:

Wisconsin 2.13.63

Bucky Halker - Welcome To Labor Land
  1. Birldand Symphony
  2. St. Francis
  3. Without Saying Goodbye
  4. Fish On A Line
  5. Thinkin' Bout That Girl
  6. Gun So Small
  1. Squirrel In A Cage
  2. Something Better Calls
  3. 40 Hours To A Kiss
  4. Constantina
  5. Ugly In That Frown
  6. Winter Is Leaving

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Bucky Halker is active in the Chicago scene since many years and we are pleased to work with him since over 10 years now, having released three albums before, wherefrom two were related to labor songs out of his own writing and for former workers and writers of the early decades of the last century. Now with his new album, Bucky Halker is back on his own and presents us an excellent, very dynamic sounding collection of self penned songs from the last couple years! And he has the excellent ability to write songs, that stick in your ear and still carry outstanding lyrics. A dozen of great tunes are collected on this album, all with lyrics added in the booklet and personal notes to each song. We strongly recommend to study the booklet when the CD arrives. For the recording, Bucky Halker had help from many of Chicago’s finest artists, including: Johnny Frigo, Paulinho Garcia, Paul Mertens, Joe Vito, Don Stiernberg, Jim Cox, Tom “Pickles” Piekarski, Kat Eggleston, Gordon Patriarca, Rich Parenti, John Kattke, Brian Wilke, The Complete Unknowns & more.

Welcome To Labor Land
Bucky Halker and the Complete Unknowns

Bucky Halker - Welcome To Labor Land
  1. Eisenhower Blues
  2. Union Fights the Battle of Freedom
  3. Company Store
  4. In Union Lies Our Strength
  5. The Dying Miner
  6. New Workin' On the Project Blues/304 Blues
  7. Stockyard Blues
  1. Our Battle Song
  2. Eight Hour Song
  3. The Maud Wreck
  4. The Victory
  5. Memorial Day Massacre
  6. Remember Virden!
  7. Solidarity Forever

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Bucky Hulker präsentiert sein drittes Album für Brambus Records und wieder ist es ein wertvolles und gehaltreiches Werk mit viel Kraft und Ausdruck. Wie bereits beim Vorgängerwerk "Don't Want Your Millions" präsentiert Bucky Halker hier nicht sein eigenes Songschreiben, sondern widmet die CD nochmals den frühen Jahren der amerikanischen Geschichte, beginnend in der Zeit um 1865 als Chicago und Umgebung zum Zentrum der industriellen Revolution in den USA wurde. Kohlenminen, Eisenbahn und Schiffverkehr machten Chicago und Illinois zum Wirtschaftszentrum. Das wirtschaftliche Heranwachsen hat aber auch seine Schattenseiten, Menschen wurden unterdrückt, ausgenützt und so formierte sich hier früher Widerstand in Gewerkschaften (Unions). Aus dieser Folgezeit stammen viele wunderbare und starke Songs und etliche davon hat Bucky Halker wieder in neuen, frischen und mit viel Drive gespielten Songs aufgelegt, das reicht von klassischen Bluesthemen eines J.B. Lenoir zu frühen Songs aus dem nunmehr bereits vorletzten Jahrhundert bis zu vertrauteren Themen etwa eines Woody Guthrie oder gänzlich unbekannten Songs aus verschollenen Quellen und Übermittlungen. Die Nummern wurden zeitgemäss neu eingespielt, mit rockigem Grundbeat, dynamischen Arrangements und prägnanter Leadstimme im Mittelpunkt. Mit "Welcome To Labor Land" fährt Bucky Halker mit seiner Formation "The Complete Unknowns" genau dort weiter, wo er mit dem Vorgängerwerk geendet hat - und das ist gut so!
"Live" wird man Bucky Halker erst im 2003 wieder in Europa hören können, dannzumal sollte er aber quer durch Europa sein engagiertes Programm präsentieren! Musik fürs Ohr, aber auch fürs engagierte und zeitkritische Herz, denn viele der Songs haben auch heute noch ihre Gültigkeit und Bedeutung.

Bucky Halker presents herewith his third album for brambus records and it is again a very worthfull piece full of energy and expression. As before on the album “Don’t Want Your Millions”, Bucky Halker does not present his own songwriting on this production but guides us way back in the American history, starting at the times around 1865 as Chicago and Illinois became a big center of the industrial revolution in the USA. Coalmines, railroads and shipbuilders, construction companies and much more were strong industries under which many humans had to suffer. Workers started to unite and many wrote songs about the situation of those days. Bucky Halker believes that we should remember their songs and poems. Many are impressive and need to be heard. They performed a vital part of labor’s broad battle to keep members, recruit new ones and generate community support. On this recording, Bucky Halker brings another 14 songs out of those times, some from the very early years, some from the later years, some known by artists like Woody Guthrie or bluessinger J.B. Lenoir, some others from unknown writers of those days. The songs come over with the right feeling for that time, but in updated, fresh versions with good dynamic, lots of energy and a very up-to-date sound. Bucky Halker with his band “the complete unknowns” at their best.

I Don't Want Your Millions

Bucky Halker - I Don't Want Your Millions
  1. I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister
  2. Rebel Girl
  3. Hard Travelin'
  4. Dying Mine Brakeman
  5. Pennsylvania Miner
  6. I Ain't Got No Home
  7. Bourgeois Blues
  1. The Coal Machine/What Will a Coal Miner Do
  2. Do Re Mi
  3. Which Side Are You On?
  4. Workingmen Unite!
  5. New Made Graves of Centralia
  6. Death of Mother Jones
  7. Dump the Bosses

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Passion Politics Love

Bucky Halker - Passion Politics Love
  1. Don't Let the Bastards
  2. Candy Man
  3. Poverty's Lament
  4. Democratic Blues
  5. Fire and Ice
  6. Emma Goldman
  7. Color Outside The Lines
  1. Heaven in Milwaukee
  2. Jumpin' Bones
  3. Big Rock Candy Mountain
  4. Mr. Who's That Guy
  5. Fundy Line
  6. Too Far Gone
  7. Birthday Song (One More Year)

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I'VE BEEN THINKIN' about recording some of these songs for a very long time. Thirty years of tossing the notion around the left and right hemispheres of my brain. I guess you could say I finally got such a headsplitting case of the bourgeois blues that I couldn't stand it anymore.

The first real labor song I'd ever learned was Leadbelly's whack at racism entitled Bourgeois Blues. Must have been 15 or 16 at the time and putting up with the usual adult nonsense of the day: football coaches saying cut your hair to an inch or less it you wanted to be part of our team, small town cops telling you to take a bath, school principals demanding that you wear slacks not jeans, local drunks and abusers of varying sorts stammering on about the moral shortcomings of hippies, the VC, Blacks, and the nearby Indians; a weird ugly little President of the USA who I'd figured as a liar when I was 6 years old and couldn't figure out how he fooled everyone else, and lots of other hypocritical silliness that started me asking big questions about power and how it operated.

Yup, Leadbelly hit it on the head in that tune. So did Utah Phillips. But his influence came differently. I was doin' one of my first gigs as a folk musician. (I'd already been playing in rock bands for a few years.) A fine little folk festival in my hometown. Age 16. Year 1970. 1 was sittin' with him backstage drinking Jack Daniels before my set. (Am I supposed to put a trademark symbol there?) He impressed me as an okay guy for talkin' to a young smart-ass like myself. Of course, he was nothin' but an older smart-ass himself. (Better role model than my 7th grade science teacher-gym coach.)

Stage time came, I took a gulp, and did my show. Nice crowd and I did just fine. His set brought down the house playin' his Wobbly tunes, tearin' smartly into the ruling class, and churning out wild yarns about thumbin' and bummin'. What a switch from the polkas and country western music I heard every morning. Even most of the rock In' roll that I was spinnin' didn't say nothin' about stuff like that. (Well, maybe the MC5).

So I threw this folk music into my head to simmer with Johnny Cash, Cream, The Fab Four, Frank Yankovic, and Lightnin' Hopkins. Somewhere I got restless. Took Highway 2 to 61 to Bob Zimmerman and Woodrow Wilson Guthrie. (Marjorie Guthrie, Woody's wife, and I used to trade letters. She was smart and charming, and still had great dancer legs when I met her!) Left Ashland, Wisconsin (my hometown) and moved around -to Idaho, then Minnesota, then Idaho, then Wisconsin, then Minnesota, then Chicago, then Michigan, then Chicago, then Maine, then Chicago.

Fell in love, fell out of love, read several boxes of books, got married, got divorced, had several barely tolerable day jobs, wrote lots of songs, played in bands, toured Europe, pissed off some people, made friends in lots of places, made records too. Even did a Ph.D. and wrote a book - both on labor protest music. Proposed to a woman on a ferris wheel on a sunny day in Santa Monica as she dangled her feet then paused to say yes. Did concerts of labor music from Hibbing, Babbit, and Virginia, Minnesota to Leipzig, Halle, and Berlin, Deutschland. Did a lot of 'em, in fact. Still no recording though.

Then one day while sittin' on a train in Germany I decided the time had come. Too many good labor songs were being left behind, forgotten, avoided, or undiscovered. Those songs have something to say that's worth hearin' today. So here they are. Finally! A few by Guthrie, a few labor standards, some virtually unknowns, and some never before recorded. Songs to fan the flames of discontent! Reconfigured, rearranged, reconstructed and ready for renegades who ain't numb, dumb, or blockheaded enough to really believe this is the best of all possible worlds. Songs for rebels who ain't so jaded as to think that what's good for Bill Gates is gonna be good for the rest of us. Songs to feed the head and beg a few questions. Songs to remember battles won and lost. Songs for rebel girls and boys. Songs for shakin' the status quo. Songs for shakin' your booty. Songs for singin' in the ice-fishin' shack.