Roger Street Friedman premieres "Tough Crowd" music video

Goldmine premieres Roger Street Friedman's video for "Tough Crowd" off of his latest album, "Rise," on Rock Ridge Music.
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Goldmine premieres Roger Street Friedman's video for  "Tough Crowd" (below) off of his latest album, Rise, on Rock Ridge Music. The music video for "Tough Crowd" is directed by Brendan Huza.

Roger Street Friedman explains it like this: "We were on tour in the Northeast and at one particular small venue there was a couple sitting up front who literally sat expressionless throughout the whole show. I remember thinking that they weren’t enjoying the show and would probably get up and leave after a song or two….and the phrase “tough crowd” popped into my head. Amazingly, they wound up staying for the entire set and hanging around afterwards saying how much they enjoyed the band! Not too long after that, and as usual, I said something dumb to my wife who held my feet to the fire on said statement… we were both laughing about it and I said “baby you’re a tough crowd!” and the idea for the song was born! The song became about a woman – but it’s also about an audience! I was excited to team up with Brendan Huza who produced the animated video for my song “Tidal Wave." The whimsical vibe he created really jibes with the track and I get to have an animated (producer) Larry Campbell and Jason Crosby in the band for this one too!!" 

Recorded at Friedman's home studio in Sea Cliff, NY, Rise features the type of honest, vulnerable songwriting that has won Friedman praise everywhere from USA Today to No Depression — reflective vignettes recalling the singer-songwriter tradition of Marc Cohn and Robbie Robertson, set to a blend of folk-rock, progressive Americana, and soulful R&B. Co-written with a number of Nashville based songwriters, the album’s 12 tracks feature stories so vivid that we feel genuinely inside their characters -- whether it’s the Vietnam veteran “takin’ fire from Uncle Sam” upon his return, or the housewife questioning her life in “Over and Over.” There’s an honesty, immediacy, and urgency to Friedman’s singing throughout the album, while the song arrangements are fat-free blends of Americana genre-splicing, from the twang of “Last Train to Babylon” to the rocking punch of “Outcasts of Love,” the Celtic anthemics of the title track and the Jimmy Buffett ebullience of “Tough Crowd.”

Roger Street Friedman. Photo by Drew Reynolds.

Roger Street Friedman. Photo by Drew Reynolds.

“I think I took a lot more risks with the songs on this album,” Friedman says. “Not everything has a happy ending. My voice is also way more out front than it’s been on the other records, which feels pretty vulnerable to me. I’m just trying to go deeper, really trying to get to the heart of the matter.”

It helps, of course, that music is indeed the heart of Friedman’s matter. Friedman was bitten by the music bug early, learning to write songs and even developing his studio engineering skills. It was an avocation, however, until a combination of events — the deaths of his father and mother, marriage and, later, the births of his two children — steered Friedman back to music, leading to the acclaimed 2014 debut The Waiting Sky and 2017’s Shoot The Moon, which reached No. 2 on the Roots Music Report Americana Country Album Chart and spent 25 weeks in the top 20. Friedman met producer Larry Campbell when the latter played on The Waiting Sky and the two kept in touch. After sifting through more than 30 songs that Friedman sent him to consider, Campbell readily agreed to produce Rise.

Recorded with a crew led by Campbell, Rise features Friedman’s rhythm section of Jim Toscano and Matt Schneider, keyboard phenom Jason Crosby (Phil Lesh, John Mclaughlin), Campbell’s wife Teresa Williams, and Lucy Kaplansky on backing vocals. “I think the creative mission was really to take the songs as far as they could go, with some compelling arrangements that highlight the songwriting as much as possible.” The album was mixed by Justin Guip at Milan Hill Studios in Milan, NY.

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