Cincinnati Folk musician Mike Oberst has been keeping busy with regular bouts of touring with The Tillers, but he’s also found time to squeeze in work on a new solo album. Six Feet of Earth, Oberst’s second solo venture, is slated for release on Oct. 12 via his Reggieville Records label.
Six Feet of Earth contains a mix of traditional Folk ballads from Scotland, England, Ireland and the U.S., as well as a few originals. Described as a mix of “murder ballads, love stories, work songs, traditional instrumentals” and more, Oberst sings and plays banjo, guitar and a few other instruments on the album, with a few friends helping out, including area musicians like Maria Carrelli, Jean Dowell and Tyler Randall.
The album also features a duet with Cincinnati singing legend and onetime member of The Drifters, Clyde Brown. Joined by local cellist Kate Wakefield (of Post Punk duo Lung), Oberst and Brown teamed up for a joyous version of "Up on the Roof," made famous by The Drifters and written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King.
Recording "Up on the Roof" with Brown was a bit of a full-circle moment for Oberst, who fell in the love with the song as a kid, as he writes at mikeoberst.com.
I think one of the greatest things about experiencing music as a kid is that some songs can take you to a different world. The best songs are the ones that can still work that magic once you've become an adult. "Up on the Roof" was always that song for me. I used to scribble the title in notebooks over and over, so as not to forget it, and pray I would hear the opening notes of The Drifters' iconic version on early morning drives in my mother's car to school. In 2015 at a raucous show with my band, The Tillers, I chanced to meet Mr. Clyde Brown, a legendary member of The Drifters living right here in Cincinnati. I couldn't believe it! I was starstruck, but kept it cool. Turns out that Clyde Brown is the nicest human being on the face of the Earth. He has the biggest smile and the biggest heart. We became fast friends. It is an absolute honor to get to sing this song with Clyde and to have collaborated with Kate Wakefield, from the band Lung, on the cello accompaniment.
Oberst made a music video for "Up on the Roof" with Evan and Alex Hand that premiered at The Bluegrass Situation late last month.
Six Feet of Earth has already garnered some glowing reviews, including from Americana Highways, CincyMusic and the U.K.'s Folk Radio, which wrote: "While there’s many an American artist keeping alive the old bluegrass and country songs, especially from the Appalachians, there’s too few doing the same for the rich heritage of traditional Anglo or Scottish-American folk ballads from the 17th and 18th centuries. We need more like Mike Oberst."
Oberst will celebrate the release of Six Feet of Earth on Saturday, Oct. 12 at The Southgate House Revival (111 E. Sixth St., Newport, southgatehouse.com). Tickets for the 8 p.m. release show are $10 in advance (through ticketweb.com) or $12 at the door.
Visit mikeoberst.com for more on Oberst and the new album.