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Chuck LeMonds: Biography


Chuck LeMonds' life and legacy as a musician is not one shaped by music lawyers in LA or Nashville, or even the hard to define ghost of a "music business"! They were never in town when he was passing through. The music and recordings he has produced over the past 30 years can not be easily measured by the music industry's high level of standards and perfection, for it is exactly that, the many imperfections in Chuck LeMonds' music that make it authentic and real, and above all, music that resonates the heart strings, and at the same time, engages the critical minds of his listeners.


Born in 1959 along the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri, Chuck LeMonds', it seems, was pre-destined to a life of moving about.

His father, Sonny, spent 25 years travelling on freight trains around the US, doing seasonal work like picking fruit, and then moving on when it got cold in winter to find work in warmer places, eventually living in an old school bus painted green parked near the Mississippi River outside of Cape Girardeau, which Chuck eulogized in his 1994 song "If The Motor Was Working". His father taught him and his brother the art of hopping freights at the tender age of 8. Chuck's grandfather Author, after losing his coal company in St. Louis in 1929 during the Great Depression, worked as a card dealer in back rooms of gin houses and honky- tonks along the Mississippi, always packing a pistol. This story is also documented as a song "Full Deck of Cards" on the same recording. His grandpa Gangi, his mothers father, drove trains for the Frisco line in Missouri.

The women in the family seemed to be the glue that held it all together. Growing up, Chuck's mother Marilyn was a passionate musician playing in her schools marching band in Chaffee, Missouri with her main instruments being clarinet, piano and her voice. She loved to sing jazz pop torch songs that were so popular at that time in the 50's. Her dream to become a professional musician was put on hold at the age of 16 when her first child was born . She brought 7 children into the world and lived her music out by leading all 7 children and 4 step-children, in a very natural way, into the world of music and singing.


Chuck's grandma Madelaine was a beautician, with grey-blue hair always perfectly done, and managed a large beauty shop on Grand and Gravious Rd., the busiest intersection in St. Louis. His grandma Addie Mae, his fathers mother, was on the other hand, a very proud women of humble back ground that raised 5 children mostly alone. She was half Cherokee Indian and told stories of whipper-snappers and bush-whackers, and surviving the depression in 1929 by picking through vegetables on a wagon under the Eads Bridge in St. Louis, Missouri left by the large restaurants trying to help the poor. She spoke in the language of the late 1800's.

Chuck LeMonds' main musical arteries and influences run from The Stanley Brothers, Carter Family, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, John Prine, Lucinda Williams, and the many great Delta blues players, as well as seeing great story- teller singers like Utah Phillips, Claudia Schmidt.


If there is a thread that runs through Chuck LeMonds' 52 years, it would most likely be one of moving into new and unknown worlds and cultures as observer, documenting through song and story, and then as active participant, carrying the observed out onto any stage he might be walking onto, and continually switching between these two poles. He grew up between the noise of urban excess St. Louis and Washington D.C. and the rural pastoral settings of Poolesville, Maryland, where he lived as a boy in the servants quarters of an old plantation, and later in the Appalachian Mountains near Front Royal, Virginia where he first heard Bluegrass music, and amongst lakes, rivers and dairy farms of Wisconsin where he first heard polka music, learned to milk cows, and survive -30 degree below cold winters.

Many musicians, and others who know Chuck, would willingly say he has paid his dues. Meaning he has been out travelling, carrying his musical message through his songs, to stages big and small, house concerts, festivals and live performances of all kinds for more than 30 years. This would include the many ups and downs of making a living from music over many years. Chuck LeMonds' has and still does make music from his home near Graz, Austria where he moved in the early 1990's, living amongst the rolling hills of east Styria, not far from the borders of Hungary and Slovenia, with a view of the Alps and vineyards.

Chuck LeMonds has had the great honor and pleasure to work with, perform and or record with musicians worldwide who have devoted their entire lives to their art form. To name just a few: from Wisconsin, Grammy nominated flutist Peter Phippen, blues guitarist and national treasure Howard "guitar" Luedtke, violinist Randy Sabien, James Brown's funky drummer Clyde Stubblefield, guitarist Willy Porter, recording artist and guitarist Chris Silver, singer-songwriter Liz Myer, from Belarus guitarist and composer Arkadiy Yushin, singer Jim Post, and from Austria: drummer Alex Deutsch, bassist Peter Herbert,the legendary Ripoff Raskolnikov, guitarist and songwriter Gottfried Gfrerer, violinist Bernie Mallinger, drummer Reinhard Winkler, and songwriter Georg Altziebler.


In the summer of 2010,Chuck LeMonds' released his 8th recording named simply "LeMonds.
It was recorded in the tower of a local castle in Austria, where he set up his studio for a number of weeks, and then upon completion, flew to Madison, Wisconsin to work with the "Swiss Army Knives" of studio work: bassist, cellist and vocalist Mary Gaines and her husband multi-instrumentalist Chris Wagoner. The three were joined by Belarusian born guitarist Arkadiy Yushin to finish the eight tracks.

"LeMonds" upon release has received radio airplay throughout the US, Australia and Europe mainly on public radio stations and college radio, where roots music forms are still being kept alive.

"His songs are, to an extent, part of a powerful oral epic, in which people must provide for themselves. LeMonds appears to be someone who, through his writing, continually re-creates himself a new". (Martin Krusche)


Chuck LeMonds and other musicians

Einige von den Musikern mit denen Chuck LeMonds gearbeitet hat:

 

singer/songwriter Liz Myer

James Browns’s funky drummer Clyde Stubblefield,

songwriter/guitarist Willy Porter,

Songwriter/guitarist Josh Harty

Songwriter/guitarist Ian Foster (New Foundland, Canada)

bassist David Bell;

drummer Alex Deutsch;

bassist Peter Herbert, 

guitarist/songwriter Ripoff Raskolnikov;

violinist Kurt Bauer

hurdy gurdy player extraordinaire Matthias Loibner

songwriter/guitarist Gottfried DGfrerer;

Grammy nominated flutist Peter Phippen;

jazz violinist Randy Sabien;

drummer Reinhart Winkler,

singer/songwriter Flow Bradley,

songwriter L.J.Booth,

percussionist Ismael Barrios,

guitarist, Sir Oliver Malley

drummer Gunter Grasmück,

jazz violinist Bernie Mallinger,

electric guitarist Klaus Ambrosch,

blues guitarist Howard “Guitar” Luedtke,

Singer/Mandolin Chris Silver,

Singer,Cello and Bass player Mary Gaines,

Multi-Instrumentalist Chris Wagner,

bassist Walter Kreinz,

bassist Herfried Knapp,

Singer Livia Hubmann,

trumpeter Freddie Lang,

multi instrumentalist HuberDohr,

saxofonist Robert Cooper,

singer/songwriter Georg Altziebler

folksinger Jim Post

guitarist,producer Arkadiy Yushin

guitarist and producer Eric Spitzer-Marlyn

multi-instrumentalist Martin Moro

violinist Klemens Bittmann

 


Chuck LeMonds: Discography

Chuck LeMonds: Diskographie

Die Alben im Überblick
* 1988: "Here and Then, There and Now"
* 1989: “Hearts of 1905”
* 1994: "Color of the Sun”
* 1996: "For a Moments Gain"
* 1998: "Road To Limbo"
* 2006: "Pink Roshi"

*2008: "Mississippi Angel"

*2010:"LeMonds"

2013: "The Rivers Call"


Martin Krusche: about Chuck LeMonds and his music

In the noise and howl of the mainstream scene, it’s easy to not hear the many tones and shades of root music in America that aren’t about the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Rather about life. No, not a single life style, but the many life styles, a variety of hard contrasts. These stories want to be told. Because every human community would collapse if the story tellers were forced to be silent. A songwriter is only one of many voices in this chorus. But a voice with very special possibilities. Because writing songs requires a “special set of circumstances”. And many different talents must come together. Talents that can give a common meaning to all the  indisputable opposites: searching and finding, knowledge and doubt.

For thousands of years, we’ve had a cultural tradition, whereby we don’t want to be taught or instructed to, but rather, to be moved and our hearts touched. We want to be informed in many different ways: What happened?

All passionately told stories in someway ask this question: What happened? What that means is: What can be experienced? And it whispers: What is life? They who listen carefully will perhaps come to the conclusion: We don’t struggle to find concrete answers. To raise such questions and to exchange them with other people….that’s what these moments are about! Because answers, to an extent, are found in life itself. But such moments are also about the questions and that they never stop being asked. And so it is with the root music in America. In this way new songs are continually created. People and their destiny are to varied, that all stories could have been told. Diversity: Like it influenced Chuck LeMonds childhood.

Through urban life in inner city St. Louis, Missouri. In the southern state peacefulness of an old plantation in Maryland on the east coast. In the rural Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. Through Wisconsin winters. The songs of this musician are not “advice for the weary”. Taking an example from Chuck’s childhood, such as how you jump a freight train in a way so as not to lose your legs…. This cannot be explained verbally, it must be shown. Like Chuck’s father did with him.

But how a life on the road under the open sky looks…that doesn’t get shown to you….that gets told. It gets sung about. The songs are, to an extent, part of a powerful oral epic, in which people must provide for themselves. LeMonds appears to be someone who, through his writing, continually re-creates himself a new.

One can read it in his songs. And you can hear it as well through the different genres on his newest album “Pink Roshi”. One can still sense the long trail taken from places along the Mississippi River all the way over here to east Styria in Austria.

Life experiences happen out in the world, the songs are their echo.

(Martin Krusche)