I first saw Kris Gruen at the Sanctuary in Santa Monica. He immediately commanded my attention, but in a gentle way. He started out with a story, a soft story about childhood that sort of flowed into a song. Over the next hour or so, Kris told several stories, painted pictures of childhoods - his and others, some imaginary - and demonstrated a seasoned skill with the guitar, with poetic lyrics and most importantly, with his connection to the emotions of his audience.
Gruen writes songs about grown up life and childhood, infused with mystic wonder, that soften the world’s sharp edges. Growing up steeped in classic records and influenced by great narrative songwriters like Cat Stevens and Paul Simon, Gruen’s voice is reminiscent of 60's folk but completely current. A New York City native who’s put down roots in Vermont, Gruen effortlessly blends witty lyrics and emotional depth. His sound has been compared to Iron And Wine, Andrew Bird, Ryan Adams, and The Decemberists. Building off of the success his critically acclaimed albums, Lullaby School and Part Of It All, last year he released New Comics From The Wooded World and is now on tour.
Gruen's father is the famed rock photographer Bob Gruen, so he had plenty of opportunities to see the great ones close up, but his fascination with the musicality of poetry attracted him to songwriting rather than rock. Playing percussion for a New Orleans rhythm and blues band that formed out of a class he was taking at Goddard College in 1996, Gruen reluctantly but successfully took on vocals. After college in 2000, Gruen began recording on a four track, which led him to pursue the guitar. His cousin gave him a cheap Ovation and taught him how to tune a standard E tuning. Starting off with using only the E string to create melodies on the four track, and teh rest is history. We get to hear that history this Friday at 2:30 pm ET.