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Hiatus ends for Ketchum

Monday, August 4, 2014 – AFter a five-year hiatus and dealing with multiple sclerosis, Hal Ketchum returns with a new disc this fall on an Austin label.

"I'm The Troubadour' is out Oct. 7 On Music Road Records.

"I had pretty much thrown in the towel. I wasn't interested in putting out another big country album. I've done that. I've been there, man," said Ketchum, who had hits including "Small Town Saturday Night."

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago, the symptoms were starting to catch up with Ketchum, who is now 61 years old. "I went through some really serious bouts of paralysis, blindness and the fear that goes with all of that. I was in kind of a dark place," he said. "I didn't write, didn’'t perform. I was just laying low, living in a cabin out in Wimberley, Texas."

After focusing on his health for several years, his strength began to return, but Ketchum soon realized he would never really be himself without returning to his lifelong art form. "I came to the realization that I had gotten to this deep level of depression, and I finally said to myself, 'I can still do this. I can still write.'"

Ketchum began to write again, jotting down song ideas in the notebook he carries with him at all times. "The key for me was getting up every morning and having something real to do. Some days, my hands don't work as well as they should, I'll get a little wobbly on occasion, but I just keep going."

Soon, he had a handful of songs and demos, which he sent out to friends in the music industry. "I wasn't really planning on doing another album," said Ketchum, who has produced 15 Top 10 singles and sold more than 5 million albums in his career. "The whole Nashville scene is extremely competitive. You're as good as your last record. People are always showing you spreadsheets on how much money you owe for videos and tour support and everything else. I think there's a certain level of resentment that comes with that."

But after Jimmy LaFave and Kelcy Warren of the small Austin label Music Road Records heard his songs, "We had a great talk, and they said 'Hal, you've made these great country records, but we really want to challenge you to reach outside of your comfort zone and write from your heart," Ketchum said. "So that was my goal."

"I'm The Troubadour'" finds Ketchum letting his songwriting expand into folk, blues, rock and soul.

"I like to say that I've been successfully misunderstood for 30 years. I mean, I was a cabinet maker from Gruene, Texas. "I got a record deal, and I had a number one record out of the box, and suddenly I was a 'country' singer," he said. "The genre served me very well, and I'm really grateful for the opportunities that the country music world brought to me. But creatively, this record was a really beautiful departure for me. It's really opened me up again."

"I think it's going to be refreshing for people who haven't heard me in a while to know that the old man's still swingin'."

"My mother put a great poem on my wall when I was a little kid called 'Keep a-Goin'. It went -
Ain't no use to sit and whine, 'cause the fish ain't on your line,
bait your hook and keep a-tryin', keep a-goin'.

"So that's become my motto," Ketchum said. "Just keep going."

More news for Hal Ketchum

CD reviews for Hal Ketchum

I'm the Troubadour CD review - I'm the Troubadour
Hal Ketchum has rarely ventured out of traditional country realms, and for good reason. With 10 previous albums to his credit, a career that stretches back nearly 30 years, and no less than 17 singles on the country charts - and a half dozen of those reaching well into the Top Ten -- his country credentials are exceedingly well established. Nevertheless, Ketchum's career got started in a somewhat unlikely locale, that being Greenwich Village, where he was born and began drumming in a band »»»
Father Time CD review - Father Time
Gather Nashville's A-list string players, hunker down together in the main room of a studio and cut a record in two days. How...retro. That was Hal Ketchum's plan for his latest record, and the veteran singer-songwriter pulls it off with nearly flawless execution. The 14-track album - largely written by the upstate New York native - is a refreshing contrast to the cluttered, over-layered sonics marking many of today's country records. Acoustic country at a premier level, »»»
The King of Love
Hal Ketchum hit the ground running in the early '90s when his first single ("Small Town Saturday Night") went all the way to number 1. Several top 10 hits followed, but Ketchum never rose to the rank of superstar, which may be a backhanded blessing. Selling enough CDs to satisfy the suits while remaining beneath radio's radar allows Ketchum to control his output more than most of the big shots. Never more so than on this, his 8th Curb album. He had a hand in the writing of 14 of the 15 tracks, »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Rising Appalachia buck the mainsteam, and that's fine with them – Rising Appalachia would not be accused of being in the musical mainstream. Not too many bands who combine folk and Appalachian sounds with new world music could possibly be. And that suits the sister-led duo of Chloe Smith and Leah Song just fine. In fact, at one point, Chloe made it clear she did not embrace radio play as a sign of success... »»»
Concert Review: Bingham plays with something to prove – Ryan Bingham mainly focused on songs from his sixth album "American Love Song," for this lively show. Backed by a supportive band that also included two female backup singers and a fiddler, Bingham's eclectic setlist touched upon country, singer/songwriter folk, rock and blues. Bingham reached for lively country sounds early on, with... »»»
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