One of the more important members of Chicago's new country music scene, Fulks recently signed a contract with Geffen Records (his major label debut, Let's Kill Saturday Night was picked #6 on Chicago Reader critic Peter Margasak's 1998 Top Ten list -- Margasak says, "Superlative songwriting is the core of his work, and the rest of it -- his multigenre mastery and intimidatingly resourceful guitar playing -- is just icing"). He's been touring with Junior Brown, Robert Earl Keen, and Kim Richey -- faily well-known industry names, and will be appearing in January on Austin City Limits. Fulks released his last disc South Mouth -- a little heavier than his usual neo-country -- for local indie Bloodshot Records at a Halloween Schubas show.
If that's not enough :), he's a talented singer, guitarist and songwriter.
The 34 year-old Fulks grew up in Virginia and North Carolina, and got a banjo when he was seven. After dropping out of Columbia University and moving to Chicago (following a girlfriend, as it was), he decided to make music his full-time career. In addition to working as a paralegal, proofreader, actor and otherwise tempish activities, he has taught folk music at the Old Town School of Folk Music for more than a dozen years. In 1987, he joined the city's premiere bluegrass band, Special Consensus.
After leaving them in 1990, The Pennsylvania native and fellow Old Town teacher Jim DeWan put together what developed into Fulks' first Chicago leading gig. Called Robbie Fulks and the Trailer Trash, it was a variety show which consisted of a few bikini-clad girls dancing in front of the Deja Vu's stage.
In 1993, DeWan got a songwriting job in Nashville, and persuaded Fulks to join him. Although Fulks also found songwriting work, he couldn't stomach the city's syrupy commercialism, and returned home. His first release on local insurgent country label Bloodshot Records, Country Love Songs -- featuring lots of original stuff, about half of it produced by country music-lover Steve Albini -- led to national A&R interest which eventually resulted in the songwriter's Geffen deal -- a label that was most willing to give Fulks the freedom to work in a wide stylistic range. South Mouth, released in October, 1997 fulfills Fulks' contract with Bloodshot.
Fulks' songs often take a satirical, tongue-in-cheek tone questioning foibles of society as much as they do the traditional country-music establishment. His shows are always a lot of fun even if you're not a huge country fan.
The song "She Took a lot of Pills and Died" can be found on the Bloodshot Records compilation Hell-Bent, Insurgent Country Volume II. Another notable Fulks' tune, "Cigarette State," was recorded by Chicago country legends, the Sundowners.
Fulks recently appeared on the Conan O'Brien show, making him perhaps the least-selling artist EVER to get booked on a late-night network talk show!
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