On Saturday, November 4, masterful songwriter and exceptional guitarist Ernest Troost comes to the Empire State Railway Museum (ESRM) from Los Angeles to perform for Flying Cat Music. The ESRM is located at 70 Lower High Street in Phoenicia. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and music begins at 7:30. Admission is $15 or $13 with reservations. For information or reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-688-9453.
Folkworks describes the songs Ernest Troost writes and presents as “a perverse and diverse celebration of American folk music. It’s a vibrant festival of tragedy and comedy, a wind-blown crossroads of American culture where Piedmont blues meets modern literature in the darkest of themes.” Blues Revue Magazine says, “Troost’s style and subject matter recall Dylan, Dave Alvin, and (especially for his concentration on life’s darker side) Richard Thompson.” New York Music Daily concludes, “Ernest Troost is a brilliant Americana songwriter.”
Trained in classical music and jazz guitar at the Berklee College of Music, Ernest Troost came to be a folk artist by way of an unusual path. It was one that took him through the heart of America’s leading film and television studios. Ernest is a five-time Emmy nominee in the category “Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or Special” and an Emmy winner for that craft in the miniseries The Canterville Ghost. Ernest also wrote, arranged, and produced two critically praised children’s music projects with Judy Collins in the early 1990s based on books of poetry collected by Kay Chorao.
While professionally and artistically rewarding, what that work lacked was Ernest’s own voice and a chance for him to tell the stories he wanted to share. Troost credits his alternate career as a singer-songwriter to “an epiphany” saying, “One Saturday I wandered into McCabe’s Guitar Store. It’s just a great place to be. I saw the music I’d been into before when I was younger.” He recalled thinking to himself, “the scariest thing I could do in my life is write a song and go up on stage and play it. I had not done it since high school. So I decided, ‘That’s what I’m going to do.” A month later Troost returned to McCabe’s for an open mic night and played his song “All the Boats Are Gonna Rise.” In 2004, it became the title track for his first album as a singer-songwriter, and in 2009 Ernest Troost won the prestigious Kerrville New Folk competition.
To close the circle, that Kerrville award helped bring Troost back to McCabe’s (a premier Americana music venue in the L.A. area) as a headline performer. It seems he once was told that winning at Kerrville was the type of thing it took to land a McCabe’s feature gig. So that’s what Ernest went and did. The fruit of that evening, fortunately, is exquisitely documented on Troost’s 2011 CD, Live at McCabe’s, which brought this review from Folkworks: “Listening to his latest album, Live at McCabe’s, it’s not hard to imagine the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Sebastian front-porch harp-jamming with Steinbeck on mandolin while all of it is captured on canvas by Andrew Wyeth.”
Back in Hollywood, film critics often make note of Ernest Troost’s gift for enhancing the story line of the movies for which he composes. This comment in Soundtrack Magazine about his score for the film Beat is typical, lauding Troost’s “ability to reach beneath the surface of a scene and echo musically the sensibilities that lie dormant beneath the surface.”
Troost brings that sensitivity, and a visual sense of storytelling, to the songs he writes as a folk artist. He describes his personal songwriting style as “cinematic folk” saying, “I sometimes think of myself more as a filmmaker than a songwriter . . . I love to weave words and music together and create cinematic images in the mind of the listener.”
In keeping with that observation, a No Depression magazine review of Troost’s most recent CD, Oh Love, says: “With the tradition of American storytelling seeming, at times, like a lost art and natural, unadorned country-folk-blues something lost in time, Ernest Troost continues to keep alive our most precious musical traditions in contemporary and inventive ways.” Oh Love is described by New York Music Daily as, “Hauntingly intense Americana.” On it, Troost displays “the skill and craft of acoustic instrumentation with the seemingly magic intricacies of finger-flat-picking that sing of the long lonesome ragtime blues” to further quote No Depression.
The style of playing Ernest often veers toward is known as Piedmont blues. The Piedmont style is partially differentiated from other blues, particularly the Mississippi Delta blues, by its ragtime-based rhythms. Troost considers Blind Blake, one of Piedmont’s legendary masters who’s best known for numerous recordings he made for Paramount Records between 1926 and 1932, as a major influence. And, Ernest is quick to add, “certainly Elizabeth Cotten, I’ve got a couple albums of hers and I adore her music.”
On Oh Love, Troost figures “there’s probably 5 or 6 songs that are Piedmont or started that way.” Then Troost moves farther afield, exploring a bit more the complexities of sound available to him in a studio setting. Folkworks is quick to reassure his long-time fans, though, that nothing was lost in the process, writing: “you’ll be glad to know that O Love satisfies on many levels including the truly beautiful and finely crafted guitar work that we’ve all come to know and love. We are now engaged into a wider field of sound, with the darker and lusher sounds underscoring the deep emotions and warnings always inherent in Troost’s writing.”
In that, we find evidence of Ernest Troost the Emmy award-winning composer. But those who have seen Ernest live, know that it doesn’t take a studio for him to deliver the goods.