Hey Carlos and Blowback (and everyone else),ever heard of Bucky Halker? He does country and alt-rock covers of old union protest songs.Here's his biography from the site:He's tall, lanky, and angular, with a big guitar, a big voice, and big American songs. Singer, talker, teacher, and maybe part preacher. Writer, thinker, and left-wing soapbox agitator. A beer and a shot man with a Ph.D. and a suitcase full of songs and CDs. A student of history, a front man for a bar band. Folksinger, rocker, and alt-country twanger. A renaissance man in the era of the digital chip brain.Bucky Halker was born in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in 1954, child of working-class parents riding the post-war upwardly mobile boom. Dad parlayed the GI Bill into a BA degree and a down payment on a 1000 watt AM radio station in Wisconsin's hinterlands on the shores of Lake Superior. Ashland--blue-collar, iron ore and lumber town of declining fortunes. Fish-fry Fridays, polkas, Hank Williams, Poles, Norwegians, Indian Reservations, unions, railroads, 12-foot fishin' boats, Swedes, Finns, logging, lakes, rivers, 40 bars on a two-mile red-brick mainstreet, Christmas shopping in Duluth-Superior-- the "Twin Ports," and girls in Angora sweaters listening to transistor radios. Bob Dylan knows this turf. Then came the British Invasion. Liberation army for kids forced to play accordions and pianos. Up with guitars. Bucky buys one with his paper route money and within months he's gigging at teen dances doin' Stones, Ventures, Animals, and Kinks. Ripple wine, marijuana, the counter culture, and social unrest ease on into town, across the great north woods, across Amerika. Bucky's playin' bass on Hendrix, Cream, and original tunes in his band Freedom and discovering the sinful sounds of the acoustic guitar, folk music, Leadbelly, and Woody Guthrie. Otis Spann becomes his keyboard hero. "People drive through Ashland and ask what it was like growin' up in Ashland. Of course, I know what they're getting at 'cause they're urban dweller artists, intellectuals, educated types. They think it's uncivilized, gray, dreary, and frigid as the arctic. But what do they know, really? Hey, I got to drive the car on the frozen lake and learned to crack the windows in the car when you were neckin' in the winter with the engine runnin' so you don't die of carbon monoxide poisoning. Besides, I had a band, girls chased me. I wasn't too smart or too dumb in school, got along with most people, liked runnin' around in the woods like everyone else, had teachers who let me write songs in school, and earned the big "A" letter as an Ashland Oredocker! We weren't all fuckin' idiots you know. All my comrades hated Nixon, George Wallace, the football coach, military leaders, Pat Boone types, and the local mainstreet-racist-asshole-bigot-hypocrite businessmen. Yeah, sure we knew how to hook walleyes. We also knew how to spot an asshole when we saw one, hey?" B-Student Bucky got his Oredocker diploma in 1972. Anxious to grow longer hair, play the guitar, and take his skis down the mountains, he headed to a small college in a cowtown in Idaho. "Heaven with coffee, cigarettes, big ideas, and snow in the higher elevations." He worked on the cafeteria beltline, played acoustic gigs in the area, and drank massive amounts of coffee. He shacked up with his girlfriend (high school sweetheart and soon to be wife), pulled all-nighters in the name of studying history and the liberal arts, and wrote songs in the John Prine-Steve Goodman-Woody Guthrie mold. From there Bucky headed to graduate school at the University of Minnesota in 1976. A serious and skilled student of history at this point, the university footed the bill for his studies, which quickly began to focus on American labor and working-class history. He fooled the department into thinking labor protest songs were as important as studying fat labor-union officials. They even let him complete an MA and Ph.D. At the same time he kept writing songs and gigging around Minneapolis-St. Paul. "Then I got the fuck out of Dodge. I got a teaching job in Idaho, got divorced, got real serious about music, fell in love with the punk-new-wave thing, got smitten by an English major, and didn't go back to the University of Minnesota again, except to defend my dissertation. Women and rock and roll got the best of me, and I'm damn happy and lucky they did." After a couple years teaching college in Idaho, Bucky followed the path of itinerant professor and wandering troubadour. He headed to Chicago in 1982 and to Ashland, Wisconsin for a couple years. He fronted a bar band and did acoustic gigs. In 1984 he released A Sense of Place, a album of acoustic originals. Step n' Blue, his second LP, a collection of acoustic and electric blues and folk songs, followed in 1986. Bucky taught at Albion College in Michigan at the time, but when the funds for the position dried up he was back in Chicago. Piecing together his food and rent with part-time teaching and music gigs, Bucky also happened upon The Remainders, a band doing covers of tex-mex, zydeco, cajun, and New Orleans R&B tunes. "I auditioned and they gave me the job of lead guitar player and singer. I liked the material and the idea, but what made this into a really good band was adding Rich Parenti on sax and vocals and Buddha Slim on accordion and keyboards. We also started doing my material. The band took off." In fact, it became one of Chicago's popular bands in the early 1990s, garnered considerable media attention, and toured regionally. Just as it disbanded in 1993 the band released its only disc, The Remainders. Bucky also continued other pursuits. Never one to sit idly, he authored a book For Democracy, Workers, and God: Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest, 1865-1895 (University of Illinois Press, 1991) and recorded a companion cassette American Labor Songs with commentary for the press two years later. He also was invited to lecture and perform in Europe in 1990, a practice which has since become an annual event. Trekking across Europe with his guitar, the songs of American labor, his own compositions, and a train ticket, Bucky found a ready audience and critical acclaim for his work. "What musician wouldn't feel good after getting four encores from a full house in the evening and a glowing review in a major newspaper the next morning?" In the fall of 1993 Bucky headed to the coast of Maine at the very moment his solo acoustic CD Human Geography came out. "The Remainders had dissolved, I was mad at the glaciers for leaving Illinois flat, and I was dying to paddle a canoe and stack the firewood. My girlfriend got a job offer on the Maine coast, we loaded the Ryder truck and saw Chicago in the rearview mirror by 7:00 AM. Flight can be so therapeutic and it's typically American. Within a week I was writing new songs, fillin' the woodstove, and eatin' lobsters from the local traps. Trying to promote the record and get gigs was another matter all together. If I hadn't spent two month touring in Europe I would have starved." Beautiful environments can be economically tough and Maine proved no exception. Back in Chicago the next fall and totally broke, Bucky boldly made plans for another CD. "Hey, I knew I was broke and I knew that making a CD would be very hard, but I didn't feel like I had a choice. It was that simple. My debt level skyrocketed, I couldn't find decent gigs or a day job, and my love life was failing, but I had to continue." What followed was Passion, Politics, Love, a CD released in the US (Whitehouse, 1997) and Europe (Brambus, Switzerland, 1997). The recording drew rave reviews and got heavy airplay in the US, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria. "I can say that I honestly felt like I might die while I was finishing this CD and struggling with record companies. I can laugh now and say it was worth it. I avoided debtor's prison, I fell in love again and got married, and I still believe this is a distinctive, well-conceived, first-rate recording." Bucky's been keepin' an active musical schedule since 1997. He's been doing more and more concerts in the US and Europe on American labor-protest music. He was invited to join the Illinois Humanities Council's speakers bureau in 1997 and has been spreading the musical gospel of Guthrie, Joe Hill, T-Bone Slim, and other worker bards ever since. He's done labor music concerts at the Illinois State Fair, the Chicago Historical Society, and the Illinois AFL-CIO state convention, with a lot of libraries, museums, and historical societies in between. Bucky's also been writing material on labor music for a variety of publications. His songs have appeared on several compilations and the song "Poverty's Lament" recently surfaced in the grade-C soft-porn TV movie "The Last Road." "You gotta see that one, but record it on video first so you can fast forward." In 1999 Bucky and the Complete Unknowns recorded "Don't Want Your Millions". The CD featured labor protest songs from 1886-1950. Leadbelly, Joe Hill, Guthrie and lesser known and anonymous writers. "I looked around and saw Pete Seeger, Utah Philips, and Joe Glazer getting older. I thought to myself, shit Bucky, you've been playin' Guthrie and Leadbelly since you were 16 and researching this music for over 25 years, why don't you just make a CD. You know more about these songs and have been playin' 'em longer than anyone out there under 60." Time for the tall and lanky man with the big voice and big guitar to do some singin' and preachin' 'bout the truth. Released in 1999 in Europe, and in the US in 2000, the recording proved the perfect follow up to his previous CD. European and American publications praised the record and it received heavy airplay on both continents. The band's tour of Europe in 1999 to promote the CD also garnered rave reviews. With a trio that included Tom Piekarski (Bad Examples) on bass, and Unknown veteran Drew Enselman on drums, the band returned for another tour in 2000. "Something worked right 'cause we got two tours of Europe out of that CD. Hell, I even got some royalty and BMI checks for this recording. I don't want your millions, but can I quit my day job? And how 'bout a beer and a shot?" What next? Late in the fall of 2001, while preparing for work on a new CD of originals, Bucky started messing around with the idea of a CD devoted to labor songs from Illinois. "Illinois, and Chicago in particular, produced more working-class protest poetry and music than any other place, with the possible exception of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few songs like "Solidarity Forever," nobody knows this material exists. In early 2002 I sent a letter to the state AFL-CIO head, Margaret Blackshere, and asked if they might help fund such a CD. Bless her soul, she called and said yes." The result is "Welcome to Labor Land." Finished in time for the state AFL-CIO convention in September, the CD features Illinois labor protest songs from 1865-1955. Halker's joined by the Complete Unknowns, a lineup that includes guitar master Marshall Dawson (Spies Who Surf), bassist Dan Polonsky (Box 'o Car), and Mr. Steady himself, drummer Drew Enselman. Don Stiernberg sits in on the mandolin and fiddle for a few cuts. And, engineer Steve Rashid, adds some well-chosen piano, harmonica, and Hammond organ riffs to several tracks. "I made this recording without stopping to take a breath. I do know that it's a very important historical documentation of working-class music and literature that's been overlooked by everyone--scholars, musicians, folk nazis, geeks, and labor supporters included. I also know that the band, Don, and Steve really came through. Hopefully these last two CDs will get more people to look at and listen to this material and encourage other musicians and unions to look into the working-class musical and poetic past." Brambus Records, Switzerland, released the CD in Europe in October 2002.http://www.buckyhalker.com