"Calls to mind Rick Danko of The Band... The listener can practically hear Dingman's heart breaking."
"Dingman cites a number of influences from Dylan to the Stones to Merle, but the ones who seem to influence his music the most are Gram Parsons and Nick Drake, arguably two of the loneliest artists ever. Dingman's songs have solitary written all over them. While beautiful melodies keep depression at bay..."
"Will surely become a major player in the roots music arena.”
"There's more than a bit of the ol' Uncle Tupelo chunk to the chords, riffs that are thick enough to grill... One hell of a throwback."
--Aiding and Abetting
Songwriter Chris Dingman:
My first memory of music was listening to my mom’s Beatles records—sometime after my birth in ’64 and before ’73. I consciously said to myself, “If there is a god, he’s speaking through these guys.” Their records were unbelievably bright and vibrant. My dad had some records of Joshua Rifkin playing Scott Joplin rags too. I liked those melodies—really catchy. I used to play the melodies on the piano—just one finger plunking it out. Dad played piano and guitar and trombone, but I never did anything beyond that noodling around on the piano. It always seemed beyond a mortal human like me to come up with melodies the way The Beatles did—how does that happen?
I played trumpet in my middle and high school bands at my dad’s urging, but dropped music when I went to college. Then the summer after my junior year, I discovered another record, one that was by then over 20 years old: Dylan’s Freewheelin’. That affected me differently than The Beatles did. I heard tenderness there, and other things more indefinable. That’s when I picked up an acoustic guitar and learned some chords. Then I got every Dylan album I could find, and it was like discovering riches. I got into REM, too, and Elvis Costello and Van Morrison. After college I discovered, through Dylan, Woody Guthrie and other folk guys, then Hank Williams and later Gram Parsons.
It took me awhile to go from playing other people’s songs to writing my own. It went from dabbling to more and more serious, until it even seemed I had a knack for writing melodies—that thing that I’d always thought was so magical and beyond me. I discovered that writing words was the hard part!
Over the years I’ve rounded up a lot of great musicians from the Bay Area where I live who have done me the honor of playing with me. Members come and go as lives change, but I’ve called every combination Crooked Roads. As William Blake wrote: “Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of Genius.”