by Max Jones
Once upon a time, music men would travel from town to town by ‘riding the rails’. They would stop in at the local saloon, play a few songs, and pass the hat for some grub money before heading on to the next town. Those days are gone, and now the travelling music man can hope to have Internet access between stops. The songs remain the same, though, and Americana musician Bill Eberle has found a way to channel those pioneers through the tunes on his self-titled debut album.
Born in Pittsburgh and relocated to Brooklyn with a stopover in Philadelphia, Eberle has not only the musical ability to perform the songs, but the road-weariness to make them sound authentic. “I spent the last 4 years of my life on the road,” he reminisces, “and a lot of the songs came from that period when I was moving from city to city.” The wanderlust comes through immediately on the opening track, “California,” a tale about a man returning home from war only to learn that his sweetheart has moved out West. Given that Eberle’s move to Brooklyn is the musician’s version of the “gold rush,” he can empathize fully with the characters in the song.
“I’ll basically start with a line or two that I really like, and then it just takes off from there,” he says in reference to his songwriting method. As to why he writes this kind of music: “It’s the communal aspect of the music that I love, the idea that 4 or 5 people who have never met can all come together and understand each other through traditional music.” He attributes the quick turnaround of the album (it was made in 6 months) to that, as well. “Joe Dairy [co-producer] and myself had the same idea as to how it was supposed to sound, and that made the recording process so easy and enjoyable.”
The album is a testament to the current state of recorded music, as it was self-produced and now any follow-up shows will be self-financed as well. “Back in the day you had to have money to make a record, and then the record label would give you more money for the tour,” he laments. The second tune on the album, “The Stomp Song,” has had some interest from companies who might like to use it in their commercials, and while that is something Woody Guthrie might have frowned upon, the modern musician doesn’t have that luxury. “Ain’t nothing going my way / but the Carolina highway,” Eberle sings on “Too Late to Take it All Back,” but if he can keep putting out music like this, that’s likely to change