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Randy Fulk is honored to be the recipient of the 2004-2005 REGIONAL ARTIST PROJECT GRANT . This grant provides financial support to committed, gifted individual artists. The grant is awarded to projects that promise to advance the career of the artist or group. The program is supported by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.
"...finely crafted "Empty Spaces," a solid collection of song that celebrate rural life and its simple delights."
- j. poet writes for Paste, Harp, Drum and Grammy.com
"I'm listening to your CD right now and think it's fantastic. I'd love to carry it on FolkWeb. .... Keep up the good work! Best, Karen -- Karen LeCompte FolkWeb 95 Kidder Ave Somerville MA 02144
"..sophisticated album both in the songwriting and the production. I have seen and heard many songwriters perform in the 23+ year history of Fiddle & Bow and Randy ranks up there with some of the best. As a songwriter, Randy is a "cut above" the average."
Sonny Thomas, Co-Founder, The Fiddle & Bow Folk Music Society
"Fabulous music, wonderful CD...." - Sherry Boyd of WPAQ during interview March 21, 2004 on the Mountain Mid Day show. Sherry Boyd was nominated for IBMA broadcaster of the year 2003.
Empty Spaces- Released 2004
While listening to the refreshing and airy production of Randy Fulk's new album Empty Spaces, you can almost feel a cool autumn breeze blowing throughout the 13 stellar tunes on the latest release from Haven't Got A Clue Music artist Randy Fulk. This new Folk/Americana collection features Fulk's best writing to date and stands as a enduring tribute to life in small town America- a sentimental look back down a road that began on a modest-sized family farm in north central North Carolina. Fulk is a first rate picker, but he doesn't try to dazzle you with his technique; his guitar is used to support his sharp lyrical insights and his mellow appealing tenor, an instrument that delivers his songs in a sincere, unaffected tone. Most of the songs here deal with the way we interact with the natural world, not unexpected from a man whose made his living off of the land, but even the harsh realities of drought and mortality don't diminish Fulk's belief in the goodness of life.
"Sunshine Girl" showcases Fulk's accomplished finger style guitar and Appalachian bluegrass roots, while "Big Train" is a rocking send up of railroad disaster songs that will have you on your feet in an instant.
Where the record really shines is in the two, epic-length vignettes, which peer into quite disparate lives. In Refugee, the driver of a highjacked Armored Personnel Carrier searches for his family in a war zone while picking up displaced stragglers en route to "another guarded border where barbed wire cuts and tears your hands". In Empty Spaces, two misfits turn a chance encounter at a party into a night-long conversation about the awkwardness of time alone. The song's centerpiece is their spoken exchange about how to fill in all the odd times in a single person's life.
Suggested tracks and times:
Sunshine Girl 3:33
Big Train 4:50
Empty Spaces 8:35
Produced by Mark Williams Recorded at Kudzu Ranch, Mebane NC
Randy Fulk- Guitar, Vocal Matt Myers- Bass Eli Myers- Percussion
For Interviews- Vivian Fulk (336) 983-7051
What people are saying-
A much more sophisticated album both in the songwriting and the production. I have seen and heard many songwriters perform in the 23+-year history of Fiddle & Bow and Randy ranks up there with some of the best. As a songwriter, Randy is a "cut above" the average.
Co-Founder, The Fiddle & Bow Folk Music Society
"Fabulous music, wonderful CD...."
WPAQ, Mt. Airy, NC- nominated for IBMA broadcaster of the year, 2003
"Empty Spaces" (the CD) is a real gem of excellent writing. Interesting, to say the least, image laden, thoughtful, spiritual, intriguing, positive, off the beaten path, and at times quite profound.
Randy Fulk is a renaissance farmer and Americana singer-songwriter.
After the last crop of tobacco in 1999, Randy converted his family's third generation tobacco farm into a Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay vineyard. A musician at heart, Randy nonetheless is degreed in the management of vineyards, he consults with local growers and teaches part-time at a local community college.
From the age of eight, Randy worked with his family on the tobacco farm. However, during harvest celebrations and Saturday nights he played guitar and accompanied his Aunt Bessie on banjo and Uncle Joe on fiddle playing old-time ballads. Like most teenage boys in the 70's Randy formed a rock band that played Rolling Stone covers, but it was his high school English teacher who first recognized Randy's poetic talent and encouraged him to write. Randy wrote lyrics non-stop on any slip of paper he could find, using his work time on the farm observing nature as fodder for his songs.
After Randy planted his first vineyard, a traditional "Blessing of the Vines" was held to celebrate this new venture. Songs were shared, wine flowed, young and old played music and jammed together. But the best surprise of all were Randy's second cousins, Matt, 21 and Eli, 16 years old, who had grown up listening to Randy's first solo album, were now jamming together with him on electric bass and drums. Randy liked what he heard and soon he was teaching his cousins the next batch of songs he had written. Another renaissance occurred- Randy rediscovered his muse and recorded Empty Spaces.
The juxtaposition between the old music with the modern sound, along with the transformation of the grapes from the old farm into new wine, blended together to create a new world of possibilities for Randy. The unlikely combination of these generations produced a pure, cohesive sound.
Empty Spaces is produced by the Grammy-nominated Mark Williams, and features 13 new songs. Delivered in a simple, unaffected manner the album shines a ray of light into the darkest of human nights- an eternal belief in the second chance of tomorrow's rising sun.
* Fiddle and Bow Folk Society Folk fest IV
* Yadkin Valley Harvest and Wine Festival
* Carrboro Music Festival
* The Living Room Round show at The Westville Pub in Asheville
* Ken Linker Show- Charlotte TV
* Wolf Lair Restaurant and Black Wolf Vineyards in Dobson, NC
* The Garage Winston-Salem, NC
* The Cave Chapel Hill, NC
* Villa Appalaccia Winery Sunday Music Series
* Opened for the Charlotte Symphony at Freedom Park, 2000
* "Last Song" featured on Kari Estrin Management compilation CD "Authentic Voice" 2004
Randy says, "I can't imagine life without music and cherish every note, every word to every song. It is an incredible gift". Influences were The Rolling Stones, John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot. Later came the internalized understated style of Bruce Cockburn. "If I ever grow up, I want to be Tori Amos- for the abandon and lack of fear, mainly". His sound evolved from simple voice and guitar to something bigger and fuller. It was an organic sort of evolution. "I always listened to pop music- I'm still a sucker for a pop song. When the Frogs (Concrete) and I started playing together a few years ago, I felt as though I finally had the license to go ahead and experiment with different things sonically, even lyrically. Their help with the new album (Empty Spaces) was invaluable. I'm expanding my horizons, branching out and offering more people the chance to experience what I do. I'm overwhelmed by the positive response."
The farm is a big part of all this. He modernized his family's traditional third generation tobacco farm into a Zen-like wine grape vineyard in 1999. You can hear its echoes in every line. "The music and the grapes and wine all evolved together- they all come from a similar space."
"My music is all about intimacy, really: about connecting- connecting with people on an emotional level. The band (Concrete Frogs) is fun". His web site is getting an average of 123 hits per day now (January 2004) and has amassed an e-mail fan base of 500. Either solo or with Concrete Frogs, Randy plans to tour in the Southeast region for the next year.
When Randy Fulk and Concrete Frogs performed this summer at the Yadkin Valley Harvest and Wine Festival, it was the first time alcohol had been served in Yadkin County since prohibition in 1911! Randy has evolved along with tradition in North Carolina and his songs show insight. Matt and Eli self described themselves as Concrete Frogs. Both are thoughtful English major graduates, their father a decorated disabled Vietnam vet. Life situations have forced them to turn inward in search of meaning and their music celebrates that darkness and comes out the other side.
Randy talks about this evolution. "It's nice to be in a situation where everything doesn't depend on my guitar. It's a chance to make people get up and dance; have fun. There's a certain physical aspect to playing guitar in a psuedo-rock band. I enjoy using my body in that situation- to move around and dance: quite liberating. I feel like I'm stepping outside myself into a place where anything is possible. I've been writing since I was eight. I don't have any better understanding of it now, some 37 odd years later. Writing is still one of the grand, divine mysteries. I feel blessed when that spirit visits me. It's like Dr. Soran trying to get back to the Nexus- you just want to stay in that space forever and you'd do anything to get back there. It's fleeting- always dangling just out of reach".