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Rik Palieri, Hobos & Heroes

Album Review


Published March 2, 2005 at 2:56 p.m.

(Laura Records, CD)

Hinesburg-based musician Rik Palieri is a very busy guy. His 2005 tour schedule includes two gigs in Germany and dates in Phoenix, Kansas City and Asbury Park, as well as an appearance with Utah Phillips' hobo music revue, called the Rose Tattoo, at the Champlain Valley Folk Festival. Like other widely traveled acoustic musicians who make their homes in Vermont, Palieri enjoys a wide and appreciative audience beyond the Green Mountains.

His musical journey has been along one. Years of playing a variety of musical instruments have given Palieri a well-earned ease with folk-music forms. His adventures haven't all been strictly musical, though. He spent time with environmentally minded folkie Pete Seeger as a crewmember on Seeger's Hudson River sloop boat The Clearwater in the mid-'70s -- a unique experience, to be sure.

Palieri has toured schools all over the U.S. as an artist-in-residence, and he recently made a number of successful jaunts through Europe and Australia. His latest CD, Hobos & Heroes, was recorded and produced in Germany, where Palieri has found much acclaim.

The new disc showcases his easygoing performing style, and includes re-recordings of favorites from previous releases, such as "Hills of Old Vermont, "Freezing in North Dakota" and "You're Just a Car," a whimsical little ditty that's more literal than you might imagine.

Although all 16 tracks on Hobos are Palieri originals, it's plain that he owes much to his heroes. Many of the cuts are folk-festival-ready, full of Seeger and Phillips influences. A singular vocalist and yodeler, as well as a solid guitarist and banjo player, Palieri displays a musicality that only comes from experience. On his strongest material, you can imagine the ghost of folk icon Woody Guthrie hovering over his shoulder.

Rik Palieri and German musical pal Wilfried Mengs perform at the Good Times Cafe in Hinesburg this Thursday, March 3, celebrating the release of a yet another project -- Balloon Adventure, a disc of music for children.