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RB Morris CDs
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CD produced in 2007, Empire

CD produced in 1999, Zeke and The Wheel

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RB Morris on myspace
Metro Pulse on RB Morris
Interview with RB Morris: Studio 865


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  singer-songwriter / rock and roll
book rb morris

RB Morris is a singer-songwriter, poet, playwright who has spent most of his life in Knoxville and in the mountains of East Tennessee. He grew up on old-time music and rock ‘n’ roll, but an older brother pointed him to other influences— Southern writers, the novels of Joyce, Arthur Rimbaud and the music of Bob Dylan. He played his way through the clubs and honkytonks of the mountains, first with bands with old-time fiddlers and then later with groups that rocked. He traveled the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe, then back up into the Appalachians, where he lived for a year in near seclusion in a primitive cabin. Later, on the road to the West to San Francisco—the patron city of the Beats—he moved in the circles that surrounded poet Gregory Corso and made friends with Kerouac biographer Gerry Nicosia.

Back in Knoxville, Morris focused on writing and performing his poetry. He edited a literary magazine, Hard Knoxville Review, which attracted a cult following that included the avant-garde in this country and in Europe. He also wrote a one-man play, The Man Who Lives Here Is Loony, about the turbulent life of writer James Agee, who grew up in Knoxville. Later, Morris played Agee in a video version of the play. When he returned to playing music with bands, Morris mixed his poetry-as-performance-art with original songs to create provocative and unpredictable shows.

When RB went to Nashville in 1997, he hooked up with writers Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and John Prine and made his debut CD, Take That Ride, on John Prine’s O Boy Records. The disc features players Kenny Vaughan on guitar, Dave Jacques on bass, Paul Griffith on drums, and Carmella Ramsey on fiddle and background vocals, and guest appearances by Prine, Lucinda Williams and Al Kooper. It was produced by R.S. Field (Billy Joe Shaver, Webb Wilder, John Mayall and Sonny Landreth). Many music journalists and magazines across the country reviewed Take That Ride as one of the Top 10 CDs of the year. Dave Marsh, of Rolling Stone, called it, “The kind of debut that makes you lust for a follow-up.”

Zeke and the Wheel on Koch Records, followed in 1999, and was nominated for Americana CD of the Year by the American Federation of Independent Merchandisers. It has been reviewed as a breakthrough work combining rock, poetry and mythology. Venerable Nashville music writer Peter Cooper described Zeke and the Wheel as “an eccentric melding of blistering rock ‘n’ roll, beat poetry, hillbilly twang, spiritual musings and road-weary, punch-drunk tales from life’s other side.”

Empire (2007) presents five new songs that reflect Morris’s remarkable live shows, resonating with honkytonk energy and inspired episodes of poetry. Look for it in a CD store near you.

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