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Awards

  • 2013 Northwest Music Experience Awards Winner
  • 2012 West Coast Songwriters International Song Contest, Singer-Songwriter Category Honorable Mention
  • 2012 Grassy Hill Kerrville Newfolk Competition Finalist
  • 2011 Great Lakes Songwriting Contest 6th Place Winner
  • 2011 Folk Alliance Regional West Conference (Far-West) Premier Showcase Artist
  • 2011 West Coast Songwriters International Song Contest Winner, Singer-Songwriter category
  • 2011 International Acoustic Music Awards (IAMA) Finalist
  • 2010 Great American Song Contest Top Five winner
  • 2010 Folk Alliance Regional West Conference (Far-West) Premier Showcase Artist
  • 2010 New Zealand Songwriting Competition/Peace Song Top Ten Finalist
  • 2010 Rose Garden Coffeehouse Song Contest Winner
    2010 North American Folk Alliance Conference Official Performance Alley Showcase Artist
  • 2009 John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize Winner
  • 2009 Great American Song Contest Finalist
  • 2009 Grassy Hill Kerrville Newfolk Competition Finalist
  • 2009 Tucson Folk Festival Songwriting Competition Finalist
  • 2009 Unisong International Songwriting Competition Honorable Mention
  • 2009 Peacedriven.com Songwriting Contest Finalist
  • 2008 Peacedriven.com Songwriting Contest i
  • 2002 Tumbleweed Festival Songwriting Contest/Richland, WA Winner
  • 2002 Billboard Song Contest Honorable Mention
  • 2000 Samie Awards (Seattle Area Musical Innovation and excellence awards) Nominated: Best Male vocalist, Album of the year, Best performing Songwriter album
  • 1999 Wildflower Songwriting Contest/ Richardson, Texas Winner
  • 1999 Falcon Ridge Festival/ Hillsdale, NY Showcase Finalist
  • 1999 Tumbleweed Festival Songwriting Contest/Richland, WA 2nd Place Winner
  • 1998 Tumbleweed Festival Songwriting Contest/Richland, WA Winner
  • 1998 Lakefolkfest Songwriting Contest/ Lakewood, WA Top Five Winner
  • 1998 Unisong International Song Contest Finalist
  • 1991 Puget Sound Songwriting Contest/ Seattle, WA Winner

Biography

It's no surprise that Seattle-based Larry Murante is gaining a reputation as one of the finest contemporary singer songwriters to emerge from the Northwest in recent years.

Larry’s three CD releases, Point of Entry (2009), Water’s Edge (2000), and Kiss Me One More Time (1994), have garnered critical acclaim from all over the country and parts of Europe. In the past few years he’s racked up a string of national and regional songwriting awards and honors including first place winner of the 1999 Wildflower Songwriting Contest in Richardson, Texas, a showcase finalist at the 1999 Falcon Ridge Festival in Hillsdale, NY, as well as first place in the 2002 and 1998 Tumbleweed Festival Songwriting Contest in Richland, WA (Larry took second place in ‘99) and a top five winner at Lakewood, WA’s 1998 Lakefolkfest Songwriting Contest.

Larry grew up in the small rural town of Nazareth, Pennsylvania (also the home of Martin Guitars). In high school, Larry began singing in working bands of every kind. “In my late teens I was singing in a wedding band that performed a variety of styles including jazz, pop, swing, R&B and top-40,” he recalls. “In those early years I was also singing in rock cover bands and playing in top 40 groups in town on the weekends. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was listening to and playing acoustic folkrock music. My biggest influence from that period (and even today) were the early 70’s singer/songwriters like Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, CSNY, the Eagles and Jackson Browne.”

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Larry’s voice today is a testament not only to good pipes but to years of training — which he’s done, logging over a decade of study with opera, jazz, and musical theater stylists among which was Metropolitan Opera veteran baritone, Frank Guarerra (Larry continues to lead a double life as a jazz/rock/R&B singer in his ten piece variety band, Second Wind, which has been together for over 15 years). His songs are full of the sense of how lucky and fragile our lives are (most of us): to have music, companionship, family, a roof overhead, a semblance of mental health, food on the table and the opportunity to grow — these are gifts that in Larry’s songs seem tenuous, revokable, and tender.

Though his songs are cleanly structured, he rarely writes himself into a tight formal box, and you can feel his narrator ’s eye moving across the landscape like a great, kindhearted novelist who stops to probe gently into each of his characters and their desires (sometimes his own) before moving on to the next scene.

Larry tours nationally, performing a mix of folk concerts, festivals, radio interviews and house concerts and has shared the stage with such artists as Peter Mulvey, Greg Greenway, Pierce Pettis, David Broza, Cosy Sheridan, Laura Love, Michael McNevin, TR Ritchie, Joanne Rand, Jane Gillman, Darcie Deaville, Jim Page, Orville Johnson, Lisa Koch, Karen Pernick, David Maloney, Heidi Muller, Annie Gallup, Dana Robinson, Janis Carper, Johnathan Kingham, Caren Armstrong, Dave Nachmanoff, and Marjorie Richards, to name a few.


CD Reviews: Point of Entry
Independent release, Weeping Wood Music

Victory Music Magazine
by Nancy Vivolo

At long last, Point of Entry is ready to take home, so pour yourself a glass of wine and get comfortable because you're going to want to enjoy this in one sitting.

Engaging and direct in live performance, Larry Murante's soaring vocals bring a decor to every song that when combined with his panache for storytelling grabs and holds your complete attention. I have longed to tuck his words in my pocket for further examination somewhere down the road, so this fresh third release from this sterling Seattle singer/song writer is as welcome as the long-awaited spring.

Murante is the kind of word crafter that doesn't come along every day. His clever turns of phrase, colorfully painted descriptions and surprising plot twists create compelling story lines that are supported by a smooth, balanced melodic delivery. There is strength, power and definition in each musical arrangement.

Murante also draws upon the musical talent of some of Seattle's finest musicians. TJ Morris is exquisite on drums/percussion in "More Than He Knows" and "I Still Think of You." Alicia Healey adds beautiful depth and a measure of heartache with her sensitively delivered background vocals in "Dry Rain, Calm Wind."

It could be timing or a bit of just what the doctor ordered, but Point of Entry touches a chord with me every time I hear it and each musician had to have been at the absolute top of their game while recording this one. A strong partner in this production, multi-instrumentalist Hans York adds a rich fullness to every thing he touches.

A beautiful told story drawn from a historic account, "Mrs. Crouch" has a fascinating personal connection and Murante tells it with loving sweetness. The added backup of Greg Fulton on mandolin and wailing slide guitar make this story come to life. "The Big D" is in some ways painfully honest and revealing, regretful yet comfortable and ironically, filled with universal acceptance and familiarity.

Murante has the uncanny ability to not only recognize certain elements of human nature but is also able to articulate the actions, emotions and hidden meanings that became so entangled as a result. His language is his music and his music will touch your mind, heart and soul when you give him a "point of entry." Make a point to attend one of his CD release concerts and pick up a copy.

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Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

This well-developed collection of songs is a potpourri of protestation, quiet observation, passionate gusto, pleasantly eerie urbanism, and around-the-corner topicality. Larry Murante possesses a mellifluous voice that can nonetheless yip and yelp when needed or rise in indignation. He writes, though, in small and large surprises, as in Paul's Song, chronicling a case of mistaken assumption that leads to the narrator deepening his appreciation of the subtleties of the human mind.

Mrs. Crouch introduces a ghostly tale of yet another false preacher, this time one who engenders a string of tragedies that lead to a haunting in the singer's boyhood house, the spectre of a woman deeply wronged and still trying to live life as it should have been. Rather than try for the stereotypical quality of 'touching', Murante chose instead to show an unusual acceptance of the paranormal in a young boy.

Murante has a quality that calls to mind Marc Cohn, Cliff Eberhardt, Iain Matthews, David Wilcox, and the kind of musician that you just can't get enough of, as every aspect of each song is perfection with gentle hooks, mellow instrumentation, a very polished voice, and top-notch production. Had Terence Boylan, Eric Anderson, and a few other folk mainstreamers been as consistent as Larry is here, they would've enjoyed a much better heyday. Point of Entry, in contrast, has staying power and should be finding easy egress into any and all airwaves intelligent enough to know quality when they hear it.

Paul's Song (Murante / Landis)
Dry Rain, Calm Wind (Murante / Landis)
Point of Entry
More than He Knows
Mrs. Crouch
I Still Think of You
The Big D
You're so Smart
Quiet, Cold and Deep
Yes We Can (Murante / York)

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Minor 7th (http://www.minor7th.com)
by Jamie Anderson

I review a lot of CDs and if I kept them all my house would sag under the weight. This one I'm definitely keeping because damn, it's good. His refreshing folk-rock will never weigh you down.

Every song is an engaging story with clever and meaningful words. The mostly acoustic arrangements -- his percussive guitar always up front -- are tasteful and never overbearing, showcasing his warm vocals well.

If you're a fan of artists like Jackson Brown, John Gorka and Bruce Hornsby, you definitely want this disc. It opens with "Paul's Song," about a guy who paints an American flag on his garage but it's not what you think 'cause "He looks kinda right but he's on the left and he's better in the middle."

Murante is great with witty observations like that and they're scattered throughout this release. Remaining open to the possibilities is the theme in "Point of Entry" - "'Cause you never know when the old man's gonna share a little wisdom... Or when the mortal enemy is gonna lay down their weapons..." Amen.

Most of his songs have a positive outlook so "You're So Smart" provides a magnificently bitter contrast. In it, he chronicles a conversation with a friend who saw the demise of his relationship before he did. Hey, when you get dumped for "Subaru Boy" you need to vent.

I'm loading this one on my MP3 player and no, you can't have this disc. I highly recommend that you buy your own.

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CD Reviews: Water's Edge

Dirty Linen Review
June/July, 2001 vol. #94

Seattle songwriter Larry Murante has a lot going for him. He has a rich pliable voice and is an accomplished acoustic guitarist whose strong rhythmic playing underlies his tuneful melodies. As a lyricist, Murante tells compelling stories about real life, be it the armed homeless man in "Streets Of Seattle," the tale of an alcoholic landlady in "Katie's House," or the story of the little dog who acted far bigger in "Chumstick Show." The bass/drum/electric and acoustic guitar backing is solid, with guests like John Reischman on mandolin and Orville Johnson on Dobro.

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Victory Review: Acoustic Music Review Magazine
by Richard Middleton

Seattle singer-songwriter Larry Murante’s long-anticipated second CD was certainly worth the wait. It’s an impressive collection of vivid character sketches and cinematic stories that show clearly why Murante has recently taken top honors in so many song contests, including Wildflower (winner ‘99), Falcon Ridge (finalist ‘99), Tumbleweed (winner ‘98, finalist ‘99), and Lakewood’s own LakeFolkFest (top-5 winner, ‘98). Some of the winning songs are here, including the title track, a sensitive portrait of an insensitive man seen through the admiring eyes of his young fishing partner, who senses some of the vulnerability beneath the tough exterior. And “Streets of Seattle,” a multi-layered mini-epic about a standoff between the police and a sword-wielding troubled soul in a downtown parking garage.

Other standouts are “Katie’s House,” a bluesy groove which features some extremely tasty playing by dobro master Orville Johnson, and another contest winner, “Those Days,” a sweet song made all the sweeter by John Reischman’s lovely mandolin lines. There are also some great contributions from David Lange on keys (who also co-produced and engineered the album), and Mike Mattingly and Lee Silberkleit on electric guitars. Of course, the standout performer on the CD is Murante himself, who has a beautiful, smoky, full-bodied voice, and he’s known everywhere he goes for his vocal command and soulful, expressive delivery.

Great songs, great arrangements and great performances -- highly recommended.

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Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews
http://www.surfnetusa.com/celtic-folk/index.html

by Kevin McCarthy, April 2000

In Larry Murante's second release, he fulfills the role of the yeoman singer/songwriter as he calls on and presents memories, life events and observations from his and other's lives. The larger question though, as with all artists, is does he make them compelling and interesting? The answer is yes.

Employing intermittent acoustic and electric guitar, piano, organ, dobro and mandolin backing,and mixing harder, rock-tinged cuts with quieter songs, Murante also displays an appealing voice that contains an emotional pitch that works well with his material.

"Between the Road and the River" depicts the bonds, visible and invisible, that tie us to people and places we have seemingly left behind. Murante sings:

"...Oh, this Delaware River's rushin' mud downstream
Haven't stood on this bank for years, we would walk between
That road and this river 'til the day I moved out of here...

"Where would I be if I stayed here? Have I really left this place at all?
Where are you now? Who do you love? Do I really want to know?...

"Why are these geese acting like they know me? Look like a bunch of old friends of mine
There's a spell in this air that still owns me You can't break it with miles or time..."

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Turning a bit sly, Murante tells of the effect that a mentally ill man with a machete has on others in downtown Seattle with "Streets of Seattle:"

"...And when the suburban soccer mom called the Mayor's office that day
And suggested swat team sharpshooters could put all of this man's miseries away...

"Oh the police chief was so nervous 'cause they've made mistakes before
And all those latte swilling bystanders can turn ugly if they get bored..."

The stages of life, plus the willingness to accept and the resignation to endure the given, drives "I Got Used To It." Murante begins:

"We were as tight as ink and a fountain pen
We said we'd write our story to the very end
We were a trashy little novel brought in lots of tears
Never made best seller we've been out of print for years
And I got used to it..."

Profiling the teen years, the twenties, the feelings of frustration and incompleteness, and finally a decision to change, Murante goes on:

"...I used to tend my garden with fear and shame
Blacked out the sun I held back the rain
Now I don't hold on to my regrets.

"Try not to settle for the second best Just brings me closer to a life
I would love to get used to Yeah, a life I'd love to get used to.

"Now you and me are like ink and a fountain pen
We're gonna tell this story like there is no end
'Cause I can love so much better than I did before
So much ground yet to cover you and me got
So many secrets to explore and we'll get used to it."

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Elevated by sweet mandolin backing, "Those Days" tells the tale of a pair of young musicians full of fire and fury. One eventually shifts to other endeavors, the other continues on:

"...I still send my songs to Nashville sometimes
And as of yet there's still no reply
But I change my strings for every single gig
While yours are gettin' rusty you say it ain't your thing anymore."

"This Ship" is loving ode to the beauty and wonder of being in the right relationship. Murante sings:

"I think more about devotion the more I look at you
You say love is just like one big ocean blue
We've been castaways and holdouts for some far and distant shore
When this ship was all that we were looking for
If you ask if I'll go with you now, I will, I will..."

A relative newcomer, Murante's off to a solid start and demonstrates the talent necessary to carve out a niche in the folk genre. He's a solid songwriter and has the ability to tie music and lyrics together into a pleasing package.

Murante on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica is backed by David Lange on piano and organ; Dan Mohler on bass; Walter White on bass and background vocals; Dave Heath on drums; Orville Johnson on dobro; John Reischman on mandolin; Mike Mattingly on electric guitar; Lee Silberkleit on electric guitar; Janis Carper on background vocals and acoustic slide guitar; Patrice O'Neill in background vocals; Connie Bigelow on background vocals; and Allison Roberts on background vocals.

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CD Reviews: Kiss Me One More Time

Dirty Linen Review (1994)

With his soft warm tenor Murante delivers some insightful, socially-conscious songs that tackle a wide range of topics like eco-warriors, the end of the world, techno-fear and the universal theme of love.

Despite themes we've heard before, Murante's lyrics and catchy folk/rock approach set him a few notches above most performers. The love song "Taste Of Your Laughter" has some intriguing lyrics ("Last night I dreamed that 13 iridescent dragonflies, in silver slippers flew counter clockwise loops around your head. They sang your name in seven languages and in pentatonic scales") that immediately capture your attention. His acoustic guitar work is gentle and flowing, never distracting you from his voice, and his accompaniment is minimal on most songs.

Of special note are "Weeping Wood," a homage to the late environmentalist Chico Mendes, and the rollicking "Couch Potato," which describes the feeling of sinking lower into the sludge of bad television (the humor resembles Christine Laven's). Like the description of his father in "Quiet Strength," Kiss Me One More TIme has a quiet strength that makes each and every track a special event. Highly recommended. (JM)

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GAJOOB Magazine (1994)
PO Box 3201, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110

First thing about this CD I like (among a lot of things, incidentally) is Murante's strong vocals and his strong sense of melody. His vocals remind me of Paul Young, but musically, Murante takes more influences from folk rock, although there is a healthy bit of smooth jazz inflections throughout as well. And the songs... the songs keep coming; all of 'em keepers with poetic lyrics and new ways of saying I love only you, with stories and images abounding and hitting subtleties like very few songwriters manage in even their most gifted moments.Seek this one out.

 

Tom's Catalog #067 (1994)
http://www.wavenet.com/~tomcat/Fred/LMurante_KissMe.htm
by Dr. Davis

Larry Murante's 1994 album Kiss Me One More Time starts off deceptively with the tune "KO". It begins with a simple finger-picking intro that is soon augmented by a powerful distorted guitar, sweeping into the chorus with strong drums. The song continues to add layers; vocal harmonies, a slide guitar weaving in and out. Murante's voice, at first simple and unaffected, soon gets grittier, straining for the higher notes like an athlete straining for the high jump bar. Murante's vocal style reminds me a lot of Michael McDonald before he got deified in the 80's; some of the music on this album sounds like it was recorded by a kinder, gentler Doobie Bros., Its a nice opener, pulling the listener into a very personal lyric with a nice, sweeping arrangement and a kicker chorus. The next song, the title track "Kiss Me One More Time," is an engaging blend of jazz and rock, again featuring Murante's athletic tenor.

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"Autumn Day in June" returns us to an effective mix of anthemic pop/rock tempered by jazz sensibilities; killer chorus, nicely sliding fretless bass line, subtle vocal doubling for harmonies...really a lovely song. So too is "No Better Comfort", which features some nice violin from Paul Elliot. "Love That Woman" presents a nice change of pace, and some tasty slide work from Rod Cook. This song might as well be on a Lyle Lovett record; not to say it's derivative, it's just such a perfect example of the slightly twisted, rousing western swing that Lovett presents on albums like "The Road to Ensenada," ("That's Right, You're Not From Texas") comes to mind.

After a quick breath, Murante goes back to ballads for the remainder of the record, except for the novelty song "Couch Potato," yet another attempt to wake us all up to the dangers of television. TV is a popular target, and songs attacking its mind-eating properties abound.

Murante closes with a beautifully executed "Quiet Strength", that seems to sum up a lot of the musical elements used earlier in the album. The song is a Father's Day card of a tribute tune to a musical Dad. The harmonies are characteristically gorgeous, and Paul Elliot's violin adds a nice sentiment without getting maudlin.

This is a well presented, well played, mostly well written project. The writing seems more specifically personal to the composer than I've heard in a while, which is both good and bad; good that common emotions are illustrated in a unique and unusualway, bad that sometimes the references are so outside the listener's experience that we feel excluded or just plain lost. That rarely occurs, however; the album includes some fine songs well played, (I particularly like "Love That Woman", but I'm a sucker for Western Bop). Overall, a very good effort, well worth the listen.

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Performance Reviews


Victory Review: Acoustic Music Review
"Dropping In On....Larry Murante CD Release Concert for Water's Edge, April 8, 2000 at Sunset Hill Community Club"
by Brad Warren

Playing to a packed neighborhood hall, Larry Murante's Seattle CD release went off like a harvest celebration -- the culmination of a whole community's aspirations, not just a singer-songwriter's lone labor. Early in the first set, when a friend of Larry's at the door announced that 104 people were already in the room (more were coming), the crowd burst into cheers. To be in an audience cheering this way is to take part in a hard-earned triumph: "This guy's music is our music, and man are we proud!" Many in the audience had known and rooted for Larry for years. Many were musicians, most of us waging our own variants of Larry's long struggle through good and bad bar gigs, a day job cleaning houses, countless rejections and, finally, his recent triumphs: several national and regional songwriting awards, good airplay for the new album including an all-morning feature on The Mountain.

Sharing the stage with Larry were Dan Mohler and Walter White trading off on bass; Mike Mattingly and Lee Silberkleit layering electric guitar parts and crafty solos; Dave Heath with his sensitive, dynamically attuned drum work; studio meister David Lange on keyboards and accordion; and Linda Severt and Janis Carper on background vocals and assorted instrumental parts. On a couple of numbers Connie Bigelow and Allison Roberts joined in on harmonies; Mark Iler stepped out from behind the sound board to add harmonica; and on the rousing final number "Love the One You're With" Kevin Jones joined the chorus line. It was one of the most joyfully packed stages I've seen in years.

At a festival in Texas last spring, Chuck Pyle introduced Larry Murante as "one of the best voices in folk music." Larry's writing is as rich as his voice. In the title track on the new CD, "Water's Edge," he gently chides an old macho mentor who taught him to fish and claimed to know about women: "You were tough, aloof and unavailable/Like all those catfish we kept tryin' to fool/And every now and then we reel one in/To find the softest underside/And the palest of skin." Larry brought down the house with his hilarious original "Chumstick Chow," in which a rogue dog shows off his songwriting chops.

For me, though, the song that resonated most strongly through the evening was "Those Days," in which Larry recalls a trio he played in -- aptly called "Friends." Even though they sent a song to Nashville and never heard back, Larry sings, "we turned those smoky bars in Allentown and Bethlehem into steaming hot ovens of melody and bedlam." Hear him and you know it's true. The major labels don't know what they're missing.

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Yakima Herald-Republic:
"Sure-Fire Crowd Pleasers Team Up to Inaugurate Glenwood Coffeehouse"
by Scott Sandsberry, October 13th, 2000

If tonight’s “official grand opening weekend” coffeehouse show at Tim’s Basement in Glenwood Square were being held, say, a two-hour drive north, you’d probably already be too late to get a seat.

From Chelan to Wenatchee and Leavenworth, a double-bill concert featuring singer-songwriters Larry Murante and Michael Dickes would be that hot a ticket. Dickes is the local musical hero in that part of the state, where his every show — solo or with his band, the Michael Dickes Situation — is guaranteed to pack the house. Murante, the Seattle singer-songwriter whose second CD, “Water’s Edge,” has received glowing reviews since its release last fall, has also developed a devoted following in that area.

Yet they’ve never once shared the stage.

“I’ve never done a gig with Mike before,” said Murante, who was originally signed to be the lone performer tonight but asked Dickes to play an opening set. “I thought it would be a good matchup, since we both have new CDs, and I’ve always wanted to play with him.”

Dickes felt the same about Murante. “Larry’s such a great singer,” Dickes said. “He’s got such a great voice. I remember walking down the road to the Acoustic Music Festival in Leavenworth, and he was playing, and I could hear his voice filling that little canyon there. And he’s a great songwriter.”

That’s something said and written about Murante everywhere he goes. Five of the 11 cuts on “Water’s Edge” have won songwriting awards at festivals and songwriting contests around the country.

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When Murante was a kid singing in rock bands in eastern Pennsylvania, a voice teacher told him he had a “legitimate” voice. “She said I should consider doing something more sophisticated with it, like jazz or classical.” But Murante’s influences — and his musical taste — ran more to people like James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell. And while his style is his own, his songs follow in the same rich, story-telling vein of those folk-rock icons.

His songs on “Water’s Edge” run the creative gamut. “Streets of Seattle” weaves a vivid tale of a standoff between police and a sword-wielding homeless man in a Seattle parking garage. The title cut waxes nostalgic over childhood memories of an iconoclastic role model from Murante’s youth. And “Chumstick Chow” is a hilarious toe-tapper, a yarn about a free-spirited stray dog, an animal control officer and an amorous poodle named Gigi.

For as well-received as his songwriting is, though, it’s still those booming pipes that first get him noticed. Chuck Pyle (of “Zen Cowboy” fame) introduced him to a festival crowd in Richardson, Texas, as “one of the best voices in folk music,” and the crowd attested to that assessment with loud cheering throughout his set. Dickes’ new CD, “The Moveable Child,” won’t have its official release party until an Oct. 21 show at The Clearwater in East Wenatchee, where upwards of 300 fans will almost certainly pack the joint. But he expects to have copies of the CD for sale at tonight’s show — which, of course, will be a much different type of audience.

Although both Dickes and Murante play in bands before raucous bar crowds, their solo gigs both tend to eschew bar shows in favor of more intimate coffeehouse settings like that of Tim’s Basement.

“It’s hard to find places like that any more,” Dickes said, “where the music is there to be listened to — not just something in the background.”

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Interview

Victory Review, May 2000
by Brad Warren

There are lilacs blooming and a tiny fountain burbling in the garden behind Larry Murante’s house, where I find him with his wife Karen pulling weeds as I arrive to interview him for this article. We sit on the patio behind their modest one-floor rambler. The tape recorder captures the sound of prop planes grinding into the air from a nearby runway, the roar of low-flying jets occasionally drowning out our talk.

If the setting always frames the story, this garden under the flightpath leads straight into one of the main veins in Larry Murante’s remarkable lyrics. His songs are full of the sense of how lucky and fragile our lives are (most of us): to have music, companionship, family, a roof overhead, a semblance of mental health, food on the table and the opportunity to grow — these are gifts that in Larry’s songs seem tenuous, revokable, and tender.

But if he never forgets we can lose everything, no one can tell you Larry doesn’t enjoy the gifts of his life. His joyful, high-octane performances are legendary. As a performer, Larry is the envy of other singer songwriters; he cranks out more watts with his powerful voice and acoustic guitar than most rock bands can manage with stacks of Marshalls, and in concert the sweat beading off his forehead resembles the perspiration of a great diesel engine. For many musicians, it would be enough to aspire to such dynamic performances. But for years Larry has had his eye on another prize as well: the ability to pack truckloads of story into a few minutes of song.

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The songs on Larry’s new album, “Water’s Edge” represent a songwriter at the peak of his craft. These are musical stories that emerge from maturity, the work of a man who has graduated from the main struggle of young artists: he has worn down his ego and no longer needs to prove anything. He’s just doing what he does, beautifully.

These songs are instantly enjoyable, but they reward repeated listening and — unlike most songs — repeated hard readings of the lyrics. Like an O’Henry short story, Larry’s song “Streets of Seattle” picks a moment from the city’s recent history and turns it into a fable that subtly touches too many uneasy places in the city’s psyche to be boxed away into categories like “protest music” or “social commentary.” The song revisits the disconnect that happened when a mentally ill man swinging a sword blocked traffic downtown for eleven hours -- infuriating thousands of tight-scheduled drivers and provoking an impromptu celebration at a nearby bar— before he was finally subdued with fire hoses:

"And when the sub-urban soccermom called the Mayor’s office that day
And suggested swat team sharpshooters could put all of this man’s miseries away
Oh there were medications that were not taken while the demons flew around
And no one could leave the parking garage at Second and Pike downtown.

"They’re pouring drinks Down at the Mirror and Turf and everybody’s there
Let’s raise a glass to the hapless soldier"
(From "The Streets of Seattle.”)

If the scale of Larry’s canvas is larger than the average contemporary songwriter’s, so is his approach to verse and rhyme. Though his songs are cleanly structured, he rarely writes himself into a tight formal box, and you can feel his narrator’s eye moving across the landscape like a great, kindhearted novelist who stops to probe gently into each of his characters and their desires (sometimes his own) before moving on to the next scene.

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“Between The Road and The River” opens with Larry’s gutty, acoustic ostinato guitar line that pulls the listener into an intimate coming-of-age story. In this song’s world the landscape and the river whisper goodbye and remind the singer of his own seasons, of forces larger than his own will or desire:

"Sun’s settin’ low, comin’ back from Philly on this windy 611 road
I pulled over just this side of Raubsville to a place where you and I used to go
We laid there right in that spot With nothin’ on but our adolescent innocence under those rock maple trees
Til the fall winds came and blew their leaves away, blew their leaves away.

"Oh this Delaware River’s Rushin’ mud downstream,
Haven’t stood on this bank for years
We would walk between that road and this river
‘Til the day I moved out of here.
From the Catskill foothills to Delaware Bay
Is where these waters have always flowed
But it’s here where you said you loved me
And it’s here where you said 'Don’t go.'

"And those headlights on 611
Cracking branches up in those trees
I can still see your face above me now
I can still feel that evening’s breeze

"Where would I be if I’d have stayed here? Have I really left this place at all?
Where are you now? Who do you love? Do I really want to know?"

It’s been a long road since then, and it has carried Larry through the usual American dystopian byways of hard drinking (“sold our adolescence down the river/To the Rolling Rock store,” he sings in “I Got Used To It), grunt labor (“started working in a factory/Doing Heli-arc welds/With one big family/Working in a prison cell”) and an incredible number of bar gigs.

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Like many of us, Larry has repeatedly worn down — and then dug out from — ruts in the road of life. In his lyrics and in various musical gatherings, Larry speaks openly about his respect for the hard work of living sober, of growing up, and of healing from the wounds that keep so many of us living as if we were less than we are. Instead of proudly closing the door on choices that could make him vulnerable, he seems to embrace them. I had the pleasure of getting to know Larry several years ago in a songwriting group (“It was a blessing and a torture,” he says now, aptly summing up my own recollection of that intense, creative gathering.) Larry brought to the group ideas and practices he had picked up from “The Artists Way,” Julia Cameron’s handbook for unlocking inspiration. Though personally I bridled at some of Cameron’s New Age preaching, I admired Larry’s courage in laying aside such judgements and openly applying her useful ideas.

Larry moved to Seattle in 1979, and when I first heard him, about twelve years later, he was performing solo in a bar down in Pioneer Square. There wasn’t much of a crowd and they weren’t exactly a songwriter’s dream audience. The bartender was watching football, and the handful of other patrons looked a little too impaired to pay much attention. Larry was gamely soldiering his way through a set of mostly original tunes. He wasn’t yet the folk powerhouse he has become, but to me he was impressive nonetheless. He was playing in a variety of altered guitar tunings, and he had a knack for weaving closely observed, literate stories into songs.

Today Larry doesn’t even remember that gig. It just wasn’t bad enough to earn a spot on the “gigs from Hell” list that every working musician painstakingly maintains, like an athlete’s retinue of scars or a comedian’s bag of self-deprecating jokes. Larry has hauled his PA and his guitar to so many smoky bars that he doesn’t bother to keep count. He’s worn out enough guitar strings to suspend the Brooklyn Bridge. Along the way, he’s fought through the frustration of playing to indifferent and drunken crowds; he’s known the misery of hounding booking agents for gigs that barely pay gas money; gigs that were double booked or canceled without notice; gigs that sent him home reeking of second-hand smoke and wondering if his voice would last.

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When a guy makes it through all that and still loves this business, he’s unstoppable. Larry is the kind of performer who embodies the old adage that there’s nothing like a road full of challenging gigs to teach a performer how to work a crowd. For many, a string of implacable bar rooms also instills respect for cover tuns. But playing covers has never troubled Larry. “I think there’s a different set for every situation, whether it’s a bookstore or a bar or a concert setting,” he says. “There are songs that I just really like to perform, that I’ve known for 25 years, that are true crowd pleasers. Especially if I have a crowd of different ages, or a true family audience — I’ll play a song that’s a hit or that a lot of people would know. I tend to gear my sets so the first song is a happy hello, a ‘Here I am, let’s all have a good time’ kind of thing. Then I’ll put my more serious songs toward the center of the set, the ballad songs. And I try to end on an up note, so people have something they feel good about to take away at the end of the set or the end of the night. Because the last song they heard is the one they’re going to remember, the one they’ll walk away singing.”

In the last few years, Larry has pretty well graduated from the school of musical hard knocks. In 1999 he racked up a string of national and regional songwriting awards and honors (Wildflower Arts & Music Festival Songwriters Showcase in Texas, Lakefolkfest Songwriters Contest in Lakewood, Washington, and the Tumbleweed Songwriters Contest in Richland, Washington, among others). The Seattle CD release show for Water’s Edge (reviewed in Victory Review last month) revealed that Larry has built a substantial and enthusiastic audience, and his release concerts elsewhere in the state have demonstrated a strong regional following.

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He’s still out there gigging steadily, not only in the Northwest but across the country in regular East Coast tours. But at age 43, Larry has earned enough confidence — and enough listeners — to quit calling on those tavern owners who treat a working musician like a dinner-hour caller from a telemarketing company. “I don’t need that anymore,” he says. “It just isn’t worth it.”

His audiences would agree. When Larry won hisWildflower songwriting prize last spring, Chuck Pyle, the “Zen Cowboy” songwriter known for his thoughtful take on life in the West, introduced him to an enthusiastic crowd in Richardson, Texas as “one of the best voices in folk music.” After Larry let loose with those pipes the cheering crowd made it clear they agreed.

Larry came by his talent honestly. He grew up in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, home of Martin Guitars, and his working class family was a stewpot of home-grown music in their spare hours. “My dad was a really musical guy,” Larry recalls. “He played any instruments, all self-taught: mandolin, accordion, guitar, dobro, organ, piano, harmonica. He had an old button accordion that he brought over from Germany when he was in the war. He was a jack of all trades and a master of none, but all those instruments were sitting around my house, and when I was quite young -- but old enough to know better — my father and two of my uncles would play, his brothers would come over with their families on Sundays, and everybody would sing. There’s be 20, 30 people in our living room on many Sundays when I was growing up, doing all kinds of songs.”

Larry traces his roots as a professional musician to an event that happened when he was “probably about seven years old” — his first performance outside his home. “One of my uncles had a country and western hand that he led, and I remember sitting in on drums and doing the old Ventures tune “Wipe Out.” It was in this old bar/restaurant. I wasn’t taking lessons or anything, but I had my own drumset and I would jam with my brother and my dad. My uncle called me up to play with them and I remember all the adults there being very excited that this young boy went up there and played. That was my first experiene of having people applaud and get excited about me playing music in front of people.”

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Larry still plays multiple instruments — he regularly backs up other musicians on hand drums and harmonica— but it was always his powerful voice that stood out. “Even as a little kid I spent a lot of time singing,” Larry says. “Both my brothers were much older than me, so I spent a lot of alone time, and I had to entertain myself. A lot of that entertainment was singing. My older brothers on the other hand did influence me a lot because they used to sing. We’d all be singing Beach Boys songs, all cranked up at 7 o’clock in the morning waiting for the bus to come by — “Fun Fun Fun” and “Help Me Rhonda” and stuff like that. We’d be singing at the top of our lungs and doing three part harmonies. None of us knew what we were doing but we just loved the energy.”

Larry’s voice today is a testament not only to good pipes but to years of training — which he’s done, logging over a decade of study with opera, jazz, and musical theater stylists. He sings with smooth power and precise intonation, and audiences love his show-stopping high notes: long sustained flights that inspire awe among many of his singer-songwriter peers. WIth those skills, he’s proved to be a “one-take wonder” in recording studios, as well.

In high school, Larry began singing in working bands of every kind. “In my late teens I was singing in wedding bands and doing cover music,” he recalls. “I was also singing in rock bands and playing in top 40 groups in town on the weekends. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was playing folk music.

“I guess what really got me serious about studying music was my first voice teacher. When I was singing in the rock band I would go hoarse, so I started taking lessons from Gloria Davis in Bethlehem. She encouraged me to pursue opera, or at least go to college for singing. At the time that was a huge stretch for me, but it did get me thinking about college, and that’s what eventually did get me to go to college — for music.”

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Though his singing voice has always drawn attention, Larry’s guitar playing has also evolved its own unique and complex voice in his music. In a typical show, he jokes, he’ll use “probably too many” tunings: DADGAD, open D, drop D, double drop D, open G, open C, and of course standard tuning. With driving ostenato lines, partial chords and an array of crafty ornamentations, he can give a sense of propulsion to songs at any tempo — an art that still eludes many fine guitarists.

What comes next? Larry is already thinking about next album, but in the meantime he’s putting some energy into an idea that a number of us have begun to explore: building shared resources and a higher public profile for the region’s songwriter scene. “There are more and more great songwriters here in the Northwest,” Larry says. “And although we’re starting to build a reputation we don’t have anywhere near the reputation of the other major centers like Boston or Austin or Northern California. And there were some organized efforts in those communities. We’re just getting started now. I don’t know where it’s going to land, but there’s a lot of enthusiasm from a pretty good chunk of songwriters.”

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“Seattle singer-songwriter Larry Murante’s long-anticipated second CD was certainly worth the wait. It’s an impressive collection of vivid character sketches and cinematic stories that show clearly why Murante has recently taken top honors in so many song contests.”
- Victory Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“...a beautiful, smoky, full-bodied voice, and he’s known everywhere he goes for his vocal command and soulful, expressive delivery. Great songs, great arrangements and great performances -- highly recommended.”
-Victory Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“...a fine crooner who lifts up your soul.”
-Muse News Music Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In Larry Murante's second release, he fulfills the role of the yeoman singer/songwriter as he calls on and presents memories, life events and observations from his and other's lives. The larger question though, as with all artists, is does he make them compelling and interesting? The answer is yes.”
-Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews, Kevin McCarthy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Larry was a real treat to hear for the first time ... superb writing, performance chops to spare, great playing & a surprising and wonderful voice.”
-Marla Bodi, Northern California Songwriter’s Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“His songs are full of the sense of how lucky and fragile our lives are (most of us): to have music, companionship, family, a roof overhead, a semblance of mental health, food on the table and the opportunity to grow — these are gifts that in Larry’s songs seem tenuous, revokable, and tender.”
-Victory Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The songs on Larry’s new album, “Water’s Edge” represent a songwriter at the peak of his craft. These are musical stories that emerge from maturity, the work of a man who has graduated from the main struggle of young artists: he has worn down his ego and no longer needs to prove anything. He’s just doing what he does, beautifully.”
-Victory Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“One of the finest voices in folk music today.”
-Chuck Pyle, singer songwriter, Zen Cowboy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“....possibly the finest male voice in folk music out there.”
-Geoffrey Huys, Folk Music Director, WGCS-FM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

" Murante's smooth, eight-cylinder voice cradled the audience and carried them into a world observed with compassion and sung with nothing short of brilliance."
-Victory Review, Aug 1995

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

" Murante's lyrics and catchy folk/rock approach set him a few notches above most performers."
-Dirty Linen, Aug 1995

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

" Kiss Me One More Time has a quiet strength that makes each and every track a special event. Highly recommended."
-Dirty Linen, Aug 1995

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Larry Murante is one of the finer representatives of the newer generation of lyrical singer-songwriters, with a narrative gift, a big voice, and very tasteful use of backup instruments that augurs well for future recordings. A musician to watch out for."
- John McLaughlin, Host, Roots & Wings, WESS, 90.3 FM, E. Stroudsburg, PA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

" This man writes songs to make you weep, rejoice, dance and laugh, and sings them all with the exquisite perfection that is his voice".
-Heartsong Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"There are some truly special and memorable songs here. This album's a bright winner from beginning to end."
-Heartsong Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"This man's voice is everything a voice should be, sweet and clear, rough and wild, big and tender, totally involving the ear and the heart."
-Kendall Campbell, singer/songwriter, voice instructor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Larry's Murante's ability to keep the audience glued to their seats stems from the purity of his sound: The music and lyrics are his alone, a sincere, creative vision.
-The Seattle Times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"With influences as varied as Jerry Jeff Walker and John Gorka and a commanding stage presence, Larry takes his audience on a journey of the soul. The real treat at a Larry Murante show, however, are the original songs."
-Pandemonium!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"A troubadour with a voice smooth as Irish whiskey."
-Pandemonium!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Murante is a fantastic songwriter with the immaculate ability to structure a song perfectly."
-Pandemonium!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"A solid, clean production, clear vocals and effective imagery. Get it."
-Victory Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

" His is a singularly outstanding voice by all accounts."
-Puget Sound Choices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

" Larry has the gift for the written word, and an amazing ability to breath life into those words with the music he writes for them."
-Pandemonium!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A terrific combination of musical influences with a warm, clear, honest and touching voice. Very good songwriting!”
-Henk Korsten, Country Gazette Meyel, Netherlands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“One of my best albums of this year! Great songs and a great voice!”
-Raymond Swennen, Radio ATL Bree, Belgium

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