In 2012, Julian Fauth appeared in
With a performer as driven as Julian Fauth, you get the distinct impression he shares his body with an old spirit from the beyond. There’s just no other way to explain his grasp of the pre-war piano blues he so loves to share. Seemingly possessed by his muse, Julian’s mystical and enchanting performance style is beyond bewitching. His enthusiastic and vigorous stage presence rejuvenates his beloved music like few before him ever could. While some musicians wear their influences casually on their sleeves, Julian’s influences are hard-wired into his biological makeup. The result is a joyful musical experience only a fool would miss.
ARTIST WEBSITE: www.julianfauth.com
There’s an other-worldly quality to Julian Fauth. His shy, diminutive presence seems diametrically opposed to the fact that he’s an incalculable force of nature – evidenced through a seemingly insatiable appetite for playing music on any given night, at any one of countless haunts. He’s clearly driven by an inner force clearly bigger than he is and years beyond his own. One look into the eyes of the young Julian, as pictured on the rear sleeve of his latest Electro-Fi release, gives one the sensation of a paranormal experience. One gets the distinct feeling that he shares his body with an old spirit from beyond. How else can one explain why he’s so driven to sing and play? How else can you explain his landmark writing ability – his historical grasp of the pre-war period integral to crafting originals that inject fresh blood into old school? When you consider his rather mystical, if not thoroughly enchanting, approach to performing, you can only conclude that Julian is utterly possessed by his muse – the results are beyond bewitching. The enthusiasm and vigor he brings to any stage is spellbinding and the fact that he can translate this – almost telekinetically – to the recording process, rejuvenating the pre-war piano blues category like few before him, is a source of joy for anyone who has climbed on board the Fauth bandwagon. While some musicians wear their influences somewhat casually on their sleeves – Julian’s seem positively hard-wired into his biological makeup.
All of which goes a long way towards explaining why Julian is catching fire of late. His first official recording from September ’05 – Songs of Vice and Sorrow, drew rave reviews from a diverse range of publications including Downbeat, Blues in Britain, The Record, Blues Revue, AMG and the Globe. All drew the same conclusion: that here was a fascinating individual destined for greatness, threatening to update an old-school genre with a vitality rarely witnessed. The fact that you can catch his act – locally – on any given night, gives the rest of us a serious leg up on what the rest of the world can only read about. And if Julian is but a diamond in the rough at his comparably young age, his new release – Ramblin’ Son – proves just how must lustre can accrue from a habitual state of polishing.
How did a bluesman like Julian come about, exactly? The German-born Julian moved to Kitchener-Waterloo with his family at an early age. When he was 6, he recalls his radio-journalist father bringing home records for the family to hear. One that stuck – forever – in his head was “The Golden Blues Hour”, which featured Big Bill Broonzy, Buddy Guy and Mississippi John Hurt as well as songs by John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Otis Span. These created a lifelong jukebox in his head. Listening to radio programs with his mother in the kitchen, permanently etched other voices into his head – key-pounders like Memphis Slim, Leroy Carr and Big Maceo – enhancing his mental library with repetitive delight. When an aunt willed the family a piano, the die was pretty much cast. His father encouraged a 7-year old Julian to jam with the friends he’d bring by the house as his mother supported him as only a mother can. As his circle of players widened, so did his confidence, ultimately earning the endorsement of Mel Brown after a local jam session took him beyond the confines of school fund raisers and family dinners that had brought him this far. A chance meeting with an equally impressed Henry Townsend in Chicago added the encouragement and support he needed as he gravitating towards Toronto’s enlarged musical fraternity, making the move in ’96.
Quickly falling under the spell of Kensington Market’s neighbourhood bar scenes, he would become fast friends and musical compadres with the likes of David Rotundo and others, leading to building sturdy relationships with various bar owners (Baldwin Street Restaurant, L’Arte, Kiwi Kick) who, appreciating Julian’s crowd-gathering potential, would soon sign him up for weekly shows – even purchasing the all-essential piano in some cases. Over the next few years, Julian built up an ever-burgeoning following, much to the appreciation of his hosts. As he honed his lively craft, the news would travel in all the right directions as Julian’s potential became realized. And as has been said, while some people like to work – for Julian, performing is his work. Tours to Russia with David and to Cuba, provided Julian with an enhanced perspective, underscoring what was already a lifelong ambition to make a real contribution. And, as Julian’s position as a permanent fixture on the Toronto music scene has progressed into a more aggressive role on the world stage, his fans couldn’t be happier.
This new Electro-Fi release – Ramblin’ Son – plays out as it should, the next evolutionary stage of a promising talent. His organic approach to the pre-war school of barrelhouse and beyond gains momentum with a greater participation of talented players – notably Drew Jurecka on violin, adding tension to such instant classics as “Hopeless Love Affair” and “East Toronto Nervous Breakdown” while guitarists Donné Roberts and Jason Danley shine on exceptional tracks like the jazzy “Done Got Over That” and “Man on the Box”, respectively. Paul Reddick, Rotundo and Wayne Charles provide harp support while rotating bassists, Alec Fraser, James Thompson and Sam Petite do their best, with drummer Bob Vespaziani’s help, to keep the rhythm at floor level. Fourteen originals grace the new disc with complementary covers of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Fats Waller, Guitar Slim and the Carter Family’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”. Julian’s material includes the usual food groups: prostitution, gambling, doomed love, bad parenting, moonshine and all manner of human excess– yet, as always, he delivers the most excessive of bad human behaviour with a joyful energy and positive tone no matter how mournful the eventual scenario – serving to remind us that none of us are actually beyond hope. That’s the kind of guy you want watching your back and taking the hits for you. And, for anyone who’s met Julian and watched him perform his heart out through his pulverized digits and slightly possessed vocals, you know he’d do it for you. No matter who he eventually turns out to be.
-- Eric Thom