Marvin Etzioni - Marvin's Country - Marvin Etzioni is The Mandolin Man, songwriter, musician, producer and Marvin Country! is where he lives; playing, producing and ruling over a kingdom steeped in tradition, with an eye and ear towards the future.Marvin Country! is a result of collecting and gatherings over several years for Marvin Etzioni. Following three solo releases in the early 1990’s (The Mandolin Man (1991), Bone (1992) and Weapons of the Spirit (1994)), Marvin moved into the man behind the boards, producing tracks with and for artists/friends.
The result of patience gives the tracks on Marvin Country! a big foot up with A list names popping up on the credits. Buddy Miller and Marvin get the boxcar rattling like it is headed down a steep hill with no brakes in hands reach in “Living Like A Hobo”, sticking to bare bones as stand-up bass, squeezebox and jew’s harp hurry to keep up with the groove set in place with drums and electric guitar. “It Don’t Cost Much” edges in a Cajun beat anchored with accordion and tambourine to keep it in Dixie country, a fat sax bump securing its city cred. Marvin Etizioni peppers the air around the double disc with Roots music of every flavor. The diversity of the songs gathers them under a like-minded Roots banner.
Marvin Etzioni: “In the early 1990’s I began recording what would become Marvin Country! I recorded “Son of a Carpenter”, “You Possess Me” with Maria McKee. We would walk in and play a track and move on to the next song. The whole style of the producing the album was not to analyze it. If the recording wasn’t right, we would go back next day and do the song again. The album has had different sequences over the last year thanks a few people in on the inner circle of decision. Right before mastering I sequenced it and there were so many options. I was reading an article about how John Lennon and Paul McCartney had sequenced The White Album. There were certainly a lot of ways that could have gone. I used The Beatles as a model in sequencing from both Revolver and The White Album. How Revolver went from “Taxman” into “Eleanor Rigby”. I am really attracted to how those two albums took chances. If I was to sequence Marvin Country! today, it would have gone differently. It took on really different form because of the time it took to complete. It evolved naturally. If it was one album , it would have told different story.
Personal history for Marvin had set him up for challenges. In 1980 Los Angeles, Marvin Etzioni was ground zero for early steps in Alt Country and Americana, then flying under the banner of Cowpunk.
Marvin Etzioni: There was not Roots scene in Los Angeles in 1982, Lone Justice originally formed around 1981 or 1982. I was playing solo acoustic shows at that time there were not many venues where you could just have you and a guitar. There was the Café de Grand. I would call Madame Wong’s and ask to play acoustic. I met Ryan (Hedgecock, guitar for Lone Justice)and at that time the band didn’t really exist. Ryan recognized me from playing out and we started talked about George Jones. Ryan said that he wrote songs too. I wound up giving Ryan my next gig since he couldn’t find a place to play and Maria (McKee) showed up with him. They did two-part harmonies, hillbilly songs. I went up and said “I love you both and we need to work on original material”. In helping to cultivate the Lone Justice sound I was more like a producer and mentor at that time. They lost their bass player and couldn’t find musicians who could play that kind of music. They bought me a bass and said ‘you do it’.
It is clarity and precision, that dedication to simple details that binds the diversity of Marvin Country! and fits the songs together like puzzle pieces. Darkness presides over “You Possess Me”, as it enters on a bright chord that has a shadow cast across its surface by the joining of Marvin and Maria McKee’s locked duet. Recording effects make the vocal and playing shared with Steve Earle in “Ain’t No Work in Mississippi” sound like vinyl that has taken a beating in its grooves. Fellow Los Angeles Roots resurrecter, John Doe drops in for “Grapes of Wrath”, The Dixie Hummingbirds gather around the microphone to send spirits and voices skyward on “You Are the Light” and Lucinda Williams pointedly lets Marvin know the depths their four minutes relationship has weathered and how they can go forward as they “Lay It on the Table”.
Marvin Etzioni, armed with his mandolin, added guitar, tambourine, porchboard and casio to the songs make-up. His duets bring marquee status to the double dose of discs found for Marvin Country! Marvin and his sounds balance the power of two with one life that can be is immersed in the song, letting the playing and vocals gain added impact with the use of sounds and loops that create hiss, static and white noise that works out great to keep the edge sharp.