“Poor Player” is a band name and it evokes an underdog to root for… Maybe it’s a wobbly record that just keeps spinning, or a guitar picker with callouses built up over years’ worth of playing. Interwoven into the lore of musical traditions and troubadours from folk, Americana, country, and blues, it suggests resilience; something raw that keeps on rolling, a scuffed windmill blade that keeps rotating. For this Detroit-based six-piece, it means embodying the resoluteness of the woeful spirit that catches the wind at its back, or a formerly-broken-but-newly-mended broken heart. It’s the stuff great Americana-folk is made of.
The group is nearing the decade-marker since they first started performing around Detroit’s music scene. They released their debut full length, High Holy Hills in 2015. Next month, a long-awaited follow-up will be celebrated with a concert at PJs Lager House (April 19). “She Says She’s Gonna Leave” is the lead single from Poor Player’s forthcoming Where The Wasteland Ends. Matt Rasch animated and directed the video for the single.
The group blends the twang of country with a bit of rock ‘n’ roll grit. Electric guitars intertwine with the strum of an acoustic, while the rich and rustic timbres of a banjo or mandolin float over the hum of an electric piano. Poor Player is Matt Fredericks (vocals/guitar), Fred Vitale (keyboards/accordion), Brian Simon (electric guitar/mandolin/banjo), Mark Biermann (bass), Stu Tucker (percussion), and Marija Franetovic (vocals).
Frederick’s melodic warbles and country croons thread lyrical ruminations that are inspired by real life events such as wandering across mountain slopes in the Pacific Northwest, memory mash-ups rendering perspectives on world events, large or small scale tragedies, bouts of existentialism. If none of the above, his lyrics feature novelistic imaginations laid out with compelling plots and quirky and/or empathetic characters.