Wesley worked with Grammy award winning engineer Oz Fritz to record and mix two original songs. Oz Fritz is best known for recording Tom Wait's Mule Variations, Alice, and Blood Money. He has also worked with many other well known musicians including Bill Laswell, Bernie Worell, Buckethead, Brain, Stewart Copeland, and Trey Anastasio from Phish.
The sessions with Oz Fritz resulted in two classic Swamp Noir tunes, "Backroom In Tulsa" and "Flesh and Bone." These two songs along with self-produced "Fade" and "Last Call" were released on July 31st, 2012 on the EP Backroom In Tulsa.
Who is Wesley Morgan?
Swamp Noir singer, songwriter, and guitarist Wesley Morgan has released his first EP titled Backroom In Tulsa. Recorded and mixed by Grammy Award winning engineer Oz Fritz (Tom Waits, Primus, Bill Laswell), the four original songs on this EP provide a first glimpse at the singer's dark blend of broken down blues and junkyard americana, evoking comparisons to Tom Waits, Randy Newman, and Chris Isaak.
“Swamp Noir is ragged and raw, with melodies that drop off, bend, and crack,” says the singer. “It's about beautiful devils and angels with broken wings. It's the sound you hear rolling out of a Saturday night juke joint, but it's also the choir when you stumble drunk into Sunday morning redemption.” The singer employs classic instrumentation such as electric guitar, stand-up bass, and honky-tonk piano, as well as various percussion elements including bags of chains, shovels, and rakes. “Not only are we well stocked to play a killer show, but we also do some low-level landscaping. Most club owners appreciate the value-added,” jokes the musician.
At 36 years of age, Wesley Morgan is starting a music career at an age where other musicians have either found success or given up. “Howlin' Wolf was 41 years old when he released his first album,” the artist remarks, “and Tom Waits had his best release ever at the age of 61. Whenever I get worried that I'm not as young as everyone else, I think of those two guys.”
The real inspiration to pursue a music career, however, came in the form of a guitar...his first guitar, to be exact. The singer remembers, “I had to hock my first guitar when I first lived in New York, back in 1998. By the time I saved enough money to buy it back from the pawn shop, it was long gone.” Skipping forward to 2010, the artist found himself in San Francisco, jobless and fresh out of a ten year relationship. “I lost everything and was starting over. One day, on a lark, I stepped into a pawn shop in the Mission, and there she was.” Three thousand miles away, the singer found the guitar he had lost twelve years earlier. He says that discovery forced him to seriously consider music as a life path.
At 35 years of age, Wesley Morgan started playing weekly gigs. After only three months of playing live, he opened for “Wicked Game” singer Chris Isaak at the 2500 capacity Mountain Winery. He recalls, “I only got three hours notice for that gig. The phone rang at 3pm and they asked if I could open at 6pm. My clothes were at the cleaners, I had to borrow an amp, and then make the hour long drive during rush hour. I didn't even have a car! So, I said 'No problem.'”
The show with Chris Isaak confirmed that a career in music was what the artist needed to do with his life. “I was out there by myself, with a thousand people focused on my music. When the last notes rang out, the place erupted in applause. I have video of everyone on their feet, hooting and hollering. That's when I knew music was my path.”
In January of 2012, after spending the previous nine months performing solo, Wesley Morgan began searching for a band and an engineer to record his debut record. While looking for an engineer, the musician kept returning to the sound of his two favorite albums: Wicked Grin by John Hammond Jr. and Mule Variations by Tom Waits. Both albums were recorded and mixed by Grammy Award winning engineer Oz Fritz. Wesley Morgan reached out to Fritz, and the engineer agreed to record the project, even reducing his normal rates so the struggling musician could pay for the sessions. “At that point in my career, less than a year in, I only hoped to work with someone familiar with Oz's work. I never imagined I'd be working with the actual man who recorded my heroes.”