The musical alias of New York-based anti-folk and punk rock hero Ed Hamell, Hamell On Trial, is a one-man punk band that plays loud, fast music informed by politics, passion, energy and intelligence.
In his early 20s, Hamell wrote and fronted a local Syracuse band before launching his solo career. Armed with his battered 1937 Gibson acoustic guitar, Hamell toured the country then settled in Austin, Texas, where he found a receptive audience for his esoteric mix of songs and story telling. In 1995, Mercury Records signed him straight out of the SXSW Music Conference and released Big as Life and The Chord is Mightier than the Sword. A few years later, Hamell moved to Brooklyn where he signed with Righteous Babe Records and released Tough Love in 2003, followed by Songs for Parents Who Enjoy Drugs in 2006. Hamell’s 2008 album Live From Edinburgh: The Terrorism of Everyday Life earned five-star reviews in the Metro, Edinburgh Review, and Three Weeks, and was awarded the Fringe Festival’s prestigious Herald Angel Award, the highest honor the Festival gives to the most outstanding performance each year. The one-man theatrical show combines storytelling, comedy and songs into a brilliantly outrageous theatrical event in which Hamell explores family, politics, religion and death through his journey as a working musician, man of the street, and father of a young son.
Hamell has been described as “Bill Hicks, Hunter S. Thompson and Joe Strummer all rolled into one” by Philadelphia Weekly and a “one-man Tarantino flick: loud, vicious, luridly hilarious, gleefully and deeply offensive” by the Village Voice. Hamell addresses poignant and controversial issues, but with a comic edge. Known for rapid and powerful strumming on his heavily amplified Gibson acoustic guitar, Hamell’s musical styling is as far from traditional folk music as it is from the typical drum-heavy electric guitar ridden sounds of traditional punk music. His ninth album, The Happiest Man In The World, sees Hamell still as uncompromising, fearless, insightful, absurd, hysterical and as poignant as he was when he descended upon the music world with his debut 25 years ago. The 2014 LP is chock full of Hamell’s biting wit, rapid fire strumming, motor mouth rants, spoken word interludes, genre hopping and comedic one-liners and features collaborations with Kimya Dawson of the Moldy Peaches and longtime friend and mentor Ani DiFranco.
You can catch Hamell On Trial on Thursday, January 15th at Strange Brew or stream him right here at KUTX!
– Jack Anderson