A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Geoffrey Huys
Hosting a weekly folk radio program, I have the opportunity to audition a considerable amount of folk, new acoustic, and singer-songwriter albums each week. While there is much good music currently being produced, occasionally an album will really stand out. Such is the case with David Folks' first release, Roadside Park, an album of eleven songs from this Detroit area contemporary singer-songwriter. I can clearly recall sliding the disc into my portable player and sitting back for the customary first li sten. I was impressed then and some six months later I still find myself listening to the music on this album.
The album contains mostly songs written by Folks including the title track, "His Way', "Birdman of Rosa Park", "Spinning Out", "Other Side of the Night", "Wounded Man", and "Here and Now". Also included is a Folks' arrangement of the traditional tune "She Moved Through the Fair" which showcases some of Folks' fine fingerstyle guitar playing. The album was released on the Portable Recordings label in late 1994.
Roadside Parks includes some outstanding songs. "His Way" is a song that tells the story of someone who constantly moves from place to place, searching, so he won't ever have to find His way. Folks wrote "Wounded Man" for fathers and sons everywhere, but especially for his own father and sons. It describes the rift that often separates generations of men. The artist asks the important questions in "What Is A Home?" using images of a janitor and a homeless woman. In "She Moved Through the Fair", Folks records the only song he did not write. This interesting arrangement highlights David's fine fingerstyle guitar work in a traditional Irish melody. "Roadside Park", the title track, is an image-rich song that seems to be speaking of something far beyond the descriptions Folks commands in his lyrics. Finally, "Here and Now" is an upbeat tune about living in the present, experiencing the Tao, and living in the here and now.
There are some fine musicians who helped David Folks complete this first album including Jan Krist and Susan Calloway who provide back up vocals. Additional instrumentation was provided by Pete Peltier, Al Beryades, Marvin Conrad, and Hikedo Mills.
Besides his musical pursuits, David Folks was one of the founders of the Michigan Artists Music Alliance and runs a folk venue called MAMA's Coffeehouse in Birmingham, Michigan. David will also be heading up two multi-group performances in 1996 at the Folk Alliance in Washington, D. C. and at the Kerrville Folk Festival featuring several Detroit-based contemporary performers at these events.
Roadside Park is an album that I'd classify as one of my most exciting "discoveries" of the year. David Folks is a talented songwriter and singer as well as an accomplished guitarist. I am still amazed as I listen to this album that it is not a second or third effort. If you're interested in getting a better sense for the field of "soon to be known" contemporary singer-songwriters, then I'd highly recommend David Folks' Roadside Park as a place to start.