“He hasn't abandoned his punk origins. Jutting out of his stoic, straight-up folk songs are remnants of his musical past. There's an edge to the music: Blackart's gravelly voice, the violent shifts in melody, tempo and tone."
– Lincoln Journal-Star
Arkansas native William Blackart plays a lo-fi country brand of folk music. With lyrics described as “poetic and captivating,” vocals pegged as “rough and emotive” and guitar work called “hypnotic and spare” (Dakota Discography), his influences range from Townes Van Zandt to Leonard Cohen to The Clash.
Blackart began writing lyrics at the age of fourteen as a way to pass the time while working summer mowing jobs. Not being a musician, he borrowed melodies from bands like Misfits and Nirvana to pair his words with, and in two summers’ time he saved enough to buy a guitar and began in earnest to put his words to original music.
In the fall of 1998 Blackart formed his first band, The Fraggin Monarchists. The trio was fast, loud and punk. By 2005 the band had morphed into Ray Brower’s Body, a more rock-n-roll-oriented, Springsteen-influenced version of the former. However, their intensity hadn’t waned, and the new lineup even found itself opening for Flogging Molly.
The Fraggin Monarchists and Ray Brower’s Body released a combined handful of recordings before Blackart moved to Chicago, Ill. in June 2006. He planned to form a new band once getting settled in the city, but the interim found him putting more focus into the stripped-down acoustic tunes he’d begun exploring. Employed at a cemetery by day, most nights were spent honing his craft around Chicago’s open mic circuit. Proper show opportunities soon arose, and the following spring he recorded the solo debut, Left.
Left was recorded live to two-inch tape at Chicago’s Strobe Recording. It’s a ten-song collection written primarily in the city from the perspective of a stranger in a strange land. Rife with Biblical imagery and a sense of unsettledness, the songs are bare bones and gritty, with minimal instrumentation.
After a year in Chicago Blackart relocated back to Arkansas before beginning a four month-long tour of the western U.S. in support of Left. His first extensive tour, it taught him as much about himself and the kindness of strangers as it did playing music. He’s been on the road steadily since playing with acts like Richard Buckner, The Legendary Shack Shakers, Dax Riggs, Kevin Seconds (7 Seconds), Joe Jack Talcum (The Dead Milkmen) and Cory Branan.
Return, the sophomore follow-up to Left, was released September 28, 2018 on vinyl, CD and digital. It's an album the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette called “a showcase for Blackart's powerful, rough-hewn poetry and spare, country-folk meditations," and for its production Blackart enlisted the ear and arrangement talents of fellow Arkansas songwriter, Adam Faucett. Faucett’s guitar, bass and vocal contributions, coupled with drum work by Chad Conder (Hard Pass), helped shape Return into a thicker album, the songs more fleshed-out than the skeletal compositions of Left. Lyrically, Return mines the depths of love (“Dear Diane”) and loss (“The Criminal”), toys with ontology (“I Know Mine”), and dabbles in reincarnation (“Return”). And as the narrator of “The Transient Chapter 3” makes known—“Don’t mind me; I’m just passing through,”—so Blackart winds the listener through a landscape strewn with ghosts and deep shadows, a place where sunsets are living and the sky is an angry child, where the supernatural and reason co-exist.
In addition, Blackart played in Pecan Sandy (2011-2013) with ex-members of Half Raptor and Street Organ.
For up-to-date information on shows and releases, visit: www.williamblackart.com
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