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Apr 24

Scott H. Biram

Jammin Java All Ages
Doors 6PM | Show 7:30PM

About the event

Scott H. Biram, a proud Texan raised on the outskirts of Austin, is a maverick in the tradition of Doug Sahm, Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators) and Gibby Haines (Butthole Surfers). Shortly after releasing his third record (2003’s Lo-Fi Mojo), the 28-year-old’s life was nearly cut short after a near-fatal head-on collision with a big rig semi. He was still bedridden when he made his Rehabilitation Blues EP, the predecessor to his 2005 debut for Bloodshot Records, The Dirty Old One Man Band.

Flash forward to 2022. After almost thirty years of tirelessly writing, recording and touring the front and backroads of America as a solo bluesman, collecting a wide array of critical accolades, Biram found himself suddenly stopped cold by the pandemic. Once again, unwilling to allow outsized forces slow him down, he took advantage of the shutdown to write, record and produce nine new songs and two traditional covers for his new album, The One & Only Scott H. Biram, his 13th overall and 9th for Bloodshot Records.

“I’m constantly trying to go back to the junky, lo-fi sounds of my early records,” says Biram. “But it’s harder to do now. The more you learn about production, the harder it is to convey that genuine unproduced feeling. I have to compromise between overproduced and lo-fi, so it sounds pro, but still keeps that grittiness.”

“I tend to be all over the place. My brain’s restless. If something interests me, I’ll write a song about it. I have a kinda rootsy, blue collar approach with blues, country and folk, but I always throw in

some of my heavier influences from metal and hard rock. I consider myself a singer and guitarist, above everything else.”

The music on The One and Only Scott H. Biram has the down home, in-your-face feel that Biram is noted for. “No Man’s Land” opens with a blues turnaround played on a twanging electric guitar, backed by a stomping bass and drum backbeat. Biram growls out a lyric, describing the hazards of growing up poor in a small Texas town, breathing the fumes from oil wells and brush fires. “I was remembering a bumper sticker I saw as a kid that said, ‘Oil Field Trash and Proud of It!’”

“My music has a lot of aggression to it. I express myself without holding back. If you mixed Muddy Waters, Bill Monroe, Jerry Reed, and Black Flag, you’d have a good idea of my sound. It’s punk, blues, country, metal, bluegrass and dirty.”

“Inside a Bar” captures the feel of an empty saloon on a slow Monday night. It’s a straight-forward country blues, with an understated vocal, intensified by an impressive solo, that mimics the tones of a pedal steel guitar. “I was going for the sound of loneliness and alcoholism colliding.”

Other notable tracks include “Sinner’s Dinner,” a rootsy rock tune that gives us Biram’s take on the riot of January 6; “Dig a Hole/Big Liar,” a Chicago blues track with a shredding electric guitar solo that zooms from speaker to speaker; a down and dirty southern gospel style take on Leadbelly’s “Easy Rider,” with a funky rhythm and background whoops and hollers that suggest the reactions of a packed Baptist tent revival, and an acoustic take on “Death Has No Mercy,” the blues standard made popular by the Rev. Gary Davis. ;

The most unexpected sound is “InterTransmissions,” a short jarring burst of noise, feedback and sound effects. “I loved the Butthole

Surfers and a lot of psychedelic music when I was comin’ up,” Biram says. “I wanted to lean into that and add some color to the album. I don’t think I’ll ever actually do it on stage, unless I’m just pushing a button on a sampler. Excessive loops and samples are not really my go-to style.”

The songs on the album deal with mortality, romance, religion, drinking and memories of the past, but it’s difficult to identify an overarching theme. “I studied art in college, so I think of my albums as collages. I grew up playing in punk, metal, blues, country and bluegrass bands, so I throw in a bunch of stuff to see what resonates. I’ll follow a heavy blues tune with a tender love song, just the way life is, no one theme. I’m not tryna write a rock opera. Most of the time, I’m just getting’ shit off my chest.”

Biram’s albums and EPs are a separate entity from the sound he gets on stage. “I have a wall of speakers behind me, a big subwoofer, old beat up hollow-body guitars, harmonicas, and an amplified stomp board to provide a heavy back beat. I sing in several different kinds of voices and my solid sound really fills the room. I don’t use loops but, in the studio, I sometimes overdub bass, guitar, drums, tambourine and percussion. Other times, I dumb it down and just do what I do on stage.”

Biram grew up in San Marcos, Texas. “My dad played sax a little bit around the house. My uncles played guitar together in a band. There were always guitars and pianos around. I messed around with ‘em, but didn’t get serious about playing and songwriting until high school. I sang and wrote lyrics in a punk-metal band. We played in local bars for free beer, and any attention we could get from the local chicks. That was cool enough for us back then.

“My dad turned me on to Doc Watson and Leadbelly early on. I inherited my great-grandfather’s banjo when I was 19, and I started

doing solo acoustic shows on the side. All that while I was still rockin’ out in the punk band. Those acoustic shows morphed into a bluegrass band, but I still did solo stuff on the side, stomping my foot on the floor and developing a more aggressive guitar approach. Sometime around 2000, I realized I could consolidate the folk roots with my heavier stuff and offer something that was truly my own. The Scott H. Biram One Man Band was born.”

“I never liked being called a singer/songwriter,” says Biram, “but those are some of my best qualities. I don’t want people to think I’m a ‘fool on a stool,’ which is what I imagine comes into people’s heads when they hear ‘singer/songwriter.’ I try to steer clear of that, when I can.”

With The One & Only Scott H. Biram, the singer once again proves himself to be an unstoppable force, refusing to bow in the face of outside challenges and demonstrating a unique ability to live up to the traditions of rough-hewn, individualistic Texas-born music. He looks forward to returning to tour the highways and byways of America throughout 2024.

This show is at Jammin Java

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227 Maple Ave East
Vienna, VA 22180
(703) 255-1566