Nine Pound Hammer

“[N]ot only is he sustaining a tradition that’s long teetered on the verge of extinction, Fairfield also helps us to remember something atavistic in the marrow of our bones, some whisper from vanished prewar, pre-interstate days, when regionalism reigned, and personal communication, gestures, movements, and music were restricted to the limitations of our eyes. But it’s about more than that: It’s about doing what feels right. Frank Fairfield’s music feels right.”

—Jeff Weiss, LA Weekly

It’s difficult to imagine Frank Fairfield living in an apartment, let alone using e-mail or a cell phone. It’s much easier to picture him supine in the back of a boxcar, plucking his battered banjo while shuttling across a black Southern sky. Or camped by the bank of some slow-moving tributary, fiddling forgotten Appalachian murder ballads, surrounded by hobos chomping cold beans. Or stepping out of a Faulkner novel, all gun smoke, ancestral ghosts and gee-tar.

This much we know about Fairfield: He was born 23 years ago in the San Joaquin Valley, where his grandfather, an itinerant musician/fruit picker settled down and found that old-time religion. During the ensuing two decades, he bounced back and forth across the state of California, occasionally attending high school, and toiling at odd jobs, including dish washing and factory work. Rumor has it that somewhere along the way there were stints in Texas and Guatemala, but no one will go on the record to admit it, and frankly, it doesn’t matter to me. Or to Fairfield.

(bio excerpted from LA Weekly)

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