Grand Forks native Tom Brosseau releases ‘Grass Punks’
Grand Forks native and folk singer Tom Brosseau recently released his eighth album, “Grass Punks,” which features nine new tracks all with his signature acoustic sound. The inspiration for the album’s title came from a girl who Brosseau met while they were in the open mic circuit in San Diego.
“She was a pianist and a poet, and she would improvise these words,” Brosseau said. “Just whatever came to her head, she would say over and over again. And this was a phrase that she would often say, ‘grass punks.’”
Brosseau recorded this album with Sean Watkins, a singer, songwriter and guitarist who produced the album. Brosseau and Watkins have been colleagues and friends for many years and have also worked together on a baseball documentary called “Branca’s Pitch” in the past.
The recording process for “Grass Punks” took more than a year. “We would record one song at a time,” Brosseau said. “It made it seem like music was just an excuse to hang out. It was a lot of fun recording, and it didn’t even feel like we were making a record. We were just getting together and playing songs.”
Brosseau will be playing all the new songs from “Grass Punks” on his tour, Tom Brosseau and Shelby Earl West Coast Wintertime Tour 2014, which include a month-long stretch in Europe. Brosseau’s next plan for a North Dakota performance is June 27 in Watford City for the city’s 100th anniversary.
Brosseau was born and raised in Grand Forks, and of all the places he’s visited, it’s still his favorite. He has many fond memories of the people he met here that inspired him to pursue music.
Rosemary Wharton, a teacher at Viking Elementary, put him in a barbershop quartet with seven other kids, so it was “more like an octet.”
“She gave me this opportunity to sing these songs, and believed in me,” he said. “I really had such a great time with it, and I really love that kind of music, too, so it was an easy job.”
He was also inspired by the hymns he sang at United Lutheran and Calvary Lutheran Church, especially “I Wonder as I Wander” by John Jacob Niles. And his family was very supportive as well. His grandmother even taught him how to play the guitar.
Brosseau first started pursuing music seriously when he was in college at UND. Chris Lindgren ran the Westward Ho motel at the time, and he was the “hub” of a music community that allowed Brosseau and others to perform their music onstage. And he also played around St. Paul when he was attending St. Thomas University.
Some of his favorite songs from “Grass Punks” are “Today is a Bright New Day” and “Stuck on the Roof Again.” He especially enjoys performing this second song because it allows him to tell the story behind it, which is about Marilyn Hagerty. “It gives me an opportunity to talk about all the people who inspire me, and of course, my home state and hometown.”
“Grass Punks” can be found for download for $8.91 on iTunes or on CD for $12.88 at amazon.com.
McGinniss is a senior at Red River High School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.