Long Island born and Brooklyn based Roger Street Friedman was born into a creative household. His father was an artist, his mother was a writer, and his two older brothers were budding guitarists. Everyone was passionate about music. At 18 Friedman left home to join the rock band The Walk as their bassist, recruited by veteran producer and engineer Michael Wright (who previously had worked with megastars Foreigner). Friedman’s band mates were considerably older and as a teenager he just didn’t gel with them. “I was an immature kid, I didn’t understand the work and dedication it took to be good at music,” Friedman says. He took off to Colorado and ended up skiing for a few years. He then spent the next twenty-eight years in a fulfilling career but wandering aimlessly in and out of musical pursuits until the loss of his parents, and an unexpected blessing, awoke the music within.
Friedman and his wife had been previously told they wouldn’t be able to conceive. Seven years ago they got pregnant and the bliss and awe of the gift of new life inspired Friedman to write his first complete song in years, “the Miracle Is You.” When his newborn’s babysitter suggested he record his next song, “Fiberglass Buddha,” in her husband’s home studio he had a huge epiphany. “Being in that studio, my world went from black and white to color. I made the decision to move my life in that direction again,” he says.
Friedman’s aesthetic is a diverse blend of folk, blues, R&B, rock n’ roll, and country. He’s been favorably compared to Jackson Browne, Peter Gabriel, The Dead, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, and Joan Armatrading. His songwriting is concise and powerfully introspective, intimate, and filled with warmth.
Friedman’s debut album, The Waiting Sky was recorded by Felix McTeigue at a number of studios in Brooklyn, NY including, Saltlands Studio, Strangeweather, 802 Media Group (McTeigue’s facility) and Friedman’s home studio. “The songs emphasize life, loss, and having children, and Felix understood that,” Friedman says. McTeigue also understood the type of subtle and sophisticated band interplay needed to dynamically match each song’s powerful poignancy. In addition to Friedman’s live Rhythm section of Jim Toscano and Lee Marvin and stellar background vocalist Grace McLean, McTeigue augmented the sessions with such A-list players as Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm), Byron Isaacs (Levon Helm) ,Tony Leone (Ollabelle), Jason Crosby (Susan Tedeschi, Phil Lesh) Dawn Landes (Hem), and up and coming folk duo, Ari and Mia (who are in fact Friedman’s nieces). There are also appearances by Roger’s two older brothers. David on harmonica and Lev on background vocals.
Recently Friedman took some time out of his busy recording schedule to talk with KC Cafe radio Music Director Kathy Forste via Skype. They talked about the events in his life that inspired the songs on The Waiting Sky, the contributions that life, family and circumstances make in the creation of music as an art form, and what is instore for him in his new musical future.
Listen to the interview here:
Music by Roger Street Friedman on KC Cafe Radio
|Roger Street Friedman – The Waiting Sky