When we search in the night sky for the familiarity of day, we are seldom struck with a beam of light which guides our perilous path amidst our pitfalls and demons of our journey. In one such case, we find ourselves with the good fortune of a storytelling musician like Joe Huber as our vagabond road wearing guide calling us ahead, to forge on in spite of adversity and the chaos of blood spilled and tear stained memories. Joe is another shining example of what is "right" with the music world of today. . .sadly like so many of his contemporaries, Joe's not always recognized with the same rockstar status as those musicians who have given their souls in exchange for heavy production and at a cost. Humility is his sidearm and a tenuous weary eye is his balance to those he meets; a quiet and gentle lanky giant he is the silent unsuspecting gem which when caught by the transformative beams of sunlight can fill a stage with a magical brilliant healing light. In hindsight, what makes Joe Huber a celebrant among men is the healing power and guiding light of his music; such is the case with the 2010 album offering of "Bury Me Where I Fall" - an echoing, haunting relic of an album which gives the desperate - hope, the exhausted - cadence, the weak - strength and the parched - relief from their thirst with the soul quenching melodies of a man who is as honest and true the soil from which stands. In from the cold and out of the darkness, Joe Huber appears like an old friend with travel case, guitar, shaggy locks and a weathered smile - a brief assembly of his trusted guitar on his knee and he is ready. . .let us begin.
The year 2010 brought us many notable offerings from a wide variety of artists, with much pageantry and pomp - the preformed, precut, template produced songs oozed as per usual from the usual suspects. Among them walked a lone individual with a different and varied approach - Joe Huber is for all intensive purposes a very "vague personality" - there is much a mystery at his surface introduction, below the mantle of his mind is a simmering core of wholesome folk roots and tender tempered blue grass influences of Scruggs & Flatt. Like a humble servant of the industry which serves as both his mistress and mentor, Huber has struck a balance between sorrow and soaring heights, sadness and tears of joy and personal exploration along the journey. With his album "Bury Me Where I Fall", there is a familiar Joe Huber vibe to this album even to the first time listener, this reaches out from simpler times with simpler melodies and complex arrangements of rhythm, percussion, string and harmonica accompaniment. The continued steady hand of Huber is hard to deny like that of a father to his son, the teachings he delivers are the sage lessons of travel between the small town American homesteading towns that dot the prairies and heartlands which are interconnected and entwined with the creosote stained steel railways.
The opening track of "Bury Me Where I Fall" of the same name, is a haunting and eerily mournful preemptive departure from the traditional Huber substance; this song serves notice to demonstrate the long standing and well worn ability of the man and to set the unmistakable tone of the forthcoming album. It is with a well tuned ear you can almost hear a vacant familiarity we've all been dealt in death, Huber has excised the pain from our hearts in song and given voice to the undelivered words of the dead. With a gentle hand guiding a bow across the strings of his heart, the fiddle player matches Huber's tone and vocal reach; the pendulous rhythms of the song remain to and fro as the final lyric is read like a sermon at the grave ". . .just throw the dirt o'er my face - and bury me where I fall".
The simplicity of Joe Huber is perhaps his most endearing quality, it's what is the formative element between friends and family - Huber's work is rife with vocal reinforcement of this lifestyle choice. With such notable songs "Downtime", Joe brings the basic elements back to the light of day and lays them before us his audience, in a self professed musical confession he is ever consummate professional and gentle soul among few. Some may look at Joe's work as a surreal viewpoint of idealistic values and morals that may evade the masses but if you scratch deeper than beyond the surface you will see a man who is singing not from his mind but from his body, heart, soul and being - all tempered with real life experience. The song "Slow Death March" is a model where we see a somber Joe reach out and celebrate the life of the living but also commend the passing of the dead and offer nothing but thanks for the memory and experiences therein. Death is often a sensitive missed step when songwriting, so difficult is the dissection of this human condition that many musicians avoid it in favor of treading easier waters - this is not the case with Huber.
From start to finish on this album there is a painful and sorrow filled heavy stone that accompanies the listener and the songwriter; through clipping guitar chords, rhythmical vocal cadence and spoken word Joe Huber navigates our journey to safety. Huber is as much is as obvious a product of the Woody Guthrie / Jack Kerouac musical generation, his lone stage presence with his instruments being what can be transported on his back are give him the label of 'musical vagabond' and within, we find a man content and satisfied with what is his. From men like Joe Huber we are offered the time between lifetimes as an exercise in mentorship, so too did Joe have his time with his mentors - we too have our time with him. In our time together we find the experiences and love between lessons being the tangible document in song; we must never linger and lose sight as so too will come the day when we must bury those we love most where they fall, in doing so we may look to our time with Joe Huber and lean upon him to guide us once again.