2008 In Review, Vol. 1 - Bruce W. Derr

As I did last year on PHW, I asked a bunch of the artists I’ve written about over the last 12 months to reminisce on the “year that was” and to celebrate the music of 2008. I asked a mix of my favorite local artists, as well as several more nationally recognizable acts, with the hope of having a diverse assortment of reflections on the music that mattered to the artists that mattered to me. So far I’ve heard back from quite a few, and in the coming 2 weeks there will be a series of “guest” posts from some names you may recognize, if you were paying attention this year…

I think kicking this Year In Review series off with a reflection from Bruce W. Derr is only appropriate. I was first introduced to Derr’s music way back in January when I received a tip from another PHW favorite, Earl Pickens. I’ve been hooked on his music ever since. Pickens and Derr share a zip code out there somewhere in Central PA, and had just recently met while playing in some of the same clubs around town.

I was immediately taken with BWD's songs. I was struck by the confidence and swagger I heard pouring from my speakers, both rare traits for emerging artists. I heard countless rock ‘n roll influences absorbed and re-imagined. I heard a rock star who had barely made it past his own front door. I was soon struck by his prolificacy too, as The Time Of Day, the first record I heard, was just the tip of the iceberg of what was to come over the next few months. Derr was a driving force behind 3 full length releases this year - 2 solo records (The Time Of Day & Mr. Personality), as well as the debut from The Sweetbriars, a shit-kickin’ little heartland rock record called Please Pass The Revolution!. As if that wasn’t enough, there were also a handful of myspace singles and Youtube videos. It all added up to an incredible amount of music released during a highly productive 12 months for one of my very favorite finds of 2008.

That's Bruce sweating all over his bass with The Sweetbriars, and here’s what he had to say about his year:

2008...well well well. QUITE a year in this cat's life. I'm not even sure how to go about this, so...BLAST OFF! (in no particular time line order)

Made an album in 24 hours called "The Time Of Day". It was a cool experience. I'll do it again. Maybe even this week. I met and very quickly befriended fellow musical thrill seeker Earl Pickens. A rare partnership for me...I've had my brother and I've had Donnie Classic...I now have Earl Pickens as well. I made another album called "Mr.Personality" that included performances from at least a dozen local musicians. Had 2 great big record release parties and it was all smash-up fabulous. "Smash-up fabulous"...I just made that up. Copyright. Formed a ROCK and ROLL band "THE SWEETBRIARS" with new pal Earl. Went on two tours of New England and had a damn ball. We made a record called "Please Pass The Revolution"...and I love it. Still. Even months later...I still love it. Raw, honest music.

As far as 'The Scene" aside from my own particulars...it goes like this: MARAH made "Angels Of Destruction". The Black Crowes re-emerged. A cool duo called "She And Him" made me develop odd feelings for a chick named Zooey. A fantastic band "The Stone Gods" were born from the remnants of The Darkness. "My Morning Jacket"...as always, made a genius album.
Ryan Adams persisted as the songwriter of his generation. Axl Rose FINALLY released "Chinese Democracy"...and it's like...insanely good. Who woulda thought?

Non-musically: A very inspiring African American man was elected President Of The United States Of America. It's been a banner year. Happy Holidays!


MP3 :: Banker Alcoholics
MP3 :: I’m Nobody Any Good
(from The Time Of Day. Buy here)

MP3 :: Tinges Of Blue
MP3 :: A Long Ride
(from Mr. Personality. Buy here)

Stream :: No Way Home From Here / I’ll Be The One
(from Please Pass The Revolution! Buy here)

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