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The Old Joe Clarks

Town of Ten – 1997 (Checkered Past)

Reviewed by Steve Gardner

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CDs by The Old Joe Clarks

The Old Joe Clarks from San Francisco play a unique brand of roots rock;and in these days when roots rock bands are a dime a dozen the word"unique" is a pretty important modifier.

Their individuality comes fromthe fact that they neither wear their folk or rock roots on their sleeve.Instead, they drift casually, and pleasantly, between the two, mining bothtraditions with a steady supply of banjos, steel, dobros, guitar, tastefulpercussion and other instruments. The vocals are reminiscent of Guy Kyser from '80's rock band Thin White Rope, yet are delivered in a much different way. Mike Coykendall, singer and chief songwriter, sings with such intimacy that the listener can often feel as if he is eavesdropping onsomeone singing personal songs to himself when he is alone. Even when hesings the Carter Family standard "The Storms are on the Ocean," you can feel this song is his and nobody else's. We should all be glad that he allows us to listen in.