Here is the story of Bruce’s Music, or, at least part of it…
“Enloe dug into the dark corners of his life, and came up with diverse, rootsy songs about falling off the wagon, dealing with messy breakups and other personal stuff […] songs range from the bluegrassy twang … to the defiant rocker … to the cosmic boogie …” -Lynn Saxburg, Ottawa Citizen
Bruce Enloe is a musician from Ontario by way of San Francisco by way of Austin Texas… Starting out in the DIY Texas post-punk scene that produced eclectic contemporaries like …And You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead, Glorium, Gut, Paul Newman and Windsor for the Derby; he left music for some time before returning to produce a series of mostly overlooked albums and songs that are genre defying (Americana, Beatle-pop, novelty, folk, rock…), lyric driven, unique, and usually combine a mix of comic wit and thoughtfulness. His latest album (A Perfect Cliché, January 2019, co-produced by Ben Mullin and Brad Sucks) calls back to his eclectic art rock roots and is described as a ‘fake concept album’, complete with a nonsense narrative, his own art design, and music that combines indie rock, pop & folk, with dashes of electronica, psych and noise.
Bruce was born and raised in Bryan-College Station, Texas; the town where Lyle Lovett met Robert Earl Keen… He has since added California, Europe and Canada to his list of both musical influences and travels. After several years fronting the Burning Sensations, Kemptville Ontario’s largest band, he has recently released his third album and is striking out on his own for a series of listening room style acoustic shows.
At the age of 15, he was kicked out as the singer of his first band, a thrash metal party band named ‘Shit Happens’, because he had good range but not enough ‘sustain’… This began a pattern of mixed successes and failures in the music industry, tempered by healthy dose of… well… more realistic career choices (mostly as a chef, business owner and professional local foods advocate) Bruce is at heart, however, that rare creature– the unflappable optimist, and the relentless craftsman. Over his 45 years he has written hundreds of songs; from the early punk, metal, funk-punk, noise rock, indie, novelty country and Beatle pop outings of his high school and college years (many written with songwriting partner Kevin Allen later of Merge and Interscope record’s …And You Will Know us by the Trail of Dead) to a resurgence starting in the 2010’s as frontman of an Ontario based sprawling folk/country/rock band The Burning Sensations.
With this,’Kemptville Ontario’s Largest Band’ Bruce has released two full length albums; 2012’s ‘Bonfire’ and 2015’s ‘Unseasonably Cool’ that chronicle his evolution from a bedroom to a main stage singer/songwriter. Produced by guitarist Ben Mullin and open source music pioneer Brad Turcotte (aka ‘Brad Sucks’), on these two albums, the talented band backs him on journey through genres far, wide, big and small while always swirling, coalescing and returning to the dense, well-aged and artisan crafted lyrical center.
Most recently, Bruce has completed a new full length album, A Perfect Cliché, released in January 2019.
A Perfect Cliché:
The Burning Sensations are:
- Bruce Enloe; Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Songwriter
- Ben Mullin; Lead Guitars, Back-up Vocals, Studio Instruments & Production
- Mark Ettinger; Drums
- Jay Williams; Bass
- Shawn Brown; Pedal Steel
- Shawn Yakimovich; Fiddle, Mandolin, Trumpet
- Tom Graham; Piano, Organ
- Doug Hendry; Back-up Vocals, 12-string Guitar
Past Members/additional instruments/voices:
- Brad Turcotte (Producer), Matty McKechnie, Steve Pelehos, Steve Gaw, Heather Mullin, Tom Brown, Greg Kelly, John Dillabough, Josh Hofmann, Amanda Giles, Keith Glass
This album started when my mom asked me for another copy of the same crappy demos of my songs I’d been passing around for years, they were supposed to be placeholders, just for me and the band to learn their parts with–I decided on the spot that I would quit screwing around and just record the album, live, warts and all, invite all my best friends to help out and that I would release it. Now. Before Christmas–so here it is. The Branch (my restaurant, where this was recorded and where a fair amount of it was written and hashed out…) is all about community, working together, playing together–this album is a testament to that spirit–they are my songs, but this thing is the work of the whole community–‘the Burning Sensations’ is a cute band name I came up with a few years ago and just liberally apply to whoever is around to join in at any given moment–as you can hear–it has some pretty talented members at times–so thanks to them, especially Jay and Shawn Y., the two longest standing and most consistently participating members. I want to also especially thank Ben Mullin and Brad Turcotte–they, along with Steve Pelehos are members of a studio project I have popped in and out of over the last couple of years ‘The Belarus Racing Team;’ two songs here, ‘Starting Over ‘ and ‘Another Way to Smile’ both live double lives here and with that crew in slightly different forms. Ben and Brad are also the magicians who conceived of this concept, spent lots of personal time on it and followed it through to the end, I will be forever grateful for their efforts…I am also grateful to my wife Nicole LeBlanc, the ‘best thing that ever happened to me’, of course, for her patience, of course; Matt Scott, my sous chef–I couldn’t have done it without his help covering me on the line. And my mom, for asking for another copy…there are lots of other folks I am forgetting, I’m a grateful guy–listen to track twelve, you’re in there somewhere, I love you all!
I call this album ‘Bonfire’ specifically because of the line in Track 11, ‘All the Time,’ that I wrote for my daughter Abigail–she is on the autism spectrum and I love nothing more than watching the bonfire that therapy and life sets in her eyes. I named it ‘Bonfire’ in general because fire and smoke are big themes in my music and my life, and I like the idea of a ‘bon’ or a a ‘good’ fire. But it also got that name because, I have to admit, as a native of Bryan, Texas, and having accumulated about 70 credit hours at Texas A&M…I am still a bit of an Aggie at heart. To an Aggie, there is a lot of spirit, community, even emotion wrapped up in the idea of a bonfire, of THE Bonfire, to anyone who has ever spent a moment or two in that culture–the bonfire to me is the sense of being at home–there, here, wherever, and whatever that is.
43 years of writing and two years of part time studio effort has finally hit the home stretch for this ‘Unseasonably Cool’ new batch of tunes… This is my second album, and much like the first (Bonfire, 2012), it features a new batch of original, lyric driven songs written over the course of a well traveled life; and it continues to explore my favourite themes of life, love, hope and even loss… But right about there is where the similarity starts to shift…
The recording of the first album was a great moment for me– I reached out and asked for help and got it–a core band was formed that centered around the production efforts of my good friends (and wildly talented in their own right) Ben Mullin and Brad Turcotte… Others came as well– many folks that I met through the restaurant and music venue that I own(ed… sold in August of 2016…), book music for, am the chef of, and run with my wife and partner, Nicole LeBlanc (The Branch Restaurant and Texas Grill). I invited lots of people to help, to be honest, many more than I thought would have any desire to stick around and see it through. But to my surprise, not only did almost everyone I asked say yes and help record the album, they also all decided to stick around and I ended up with a line-up that included a regular crew of 8 (?!) players. That group, mostly intact, has continued to back me up several times a year ever since. It has become one of the greatest honours of my life to work with this incredible team, a group that, for some silly reason, we named The Burning Sensations.
Although I am still amazed at the ambition it took to accomplish the recording of that first album, the truth is that after we continued to play together (and get better at playing together…), the experience also left us all wondering… “What if?” What if this band–all these talented players and studio wizards actually had the time and space to stretch out? To explore? To bring their full talents to bear on a new batch of tunes? This new album, Unseasonably Cool, attempts to do exactly that. Our goal was to create a fully realized studio effort, paying tribute (not comparing, mind you, just a tribute…) to my studio heroes from Brian Wilson and George Martin, to Dave Fridmann, Robert Schneider and Jim O’Rourke– We set out to honour the genre of the classic studio album, and, (ironically?) in the process, we stepped out of the conventions of genre altogether– Our experiments ending up taking my songs as a guide and using them to test the waters of everything from power pop, acid rock, old time, blues driven soul, to indie rock, cosmic country, folk rock and even a tip of the hat to new wave pop… The product of these efforts is a very different sounding album from the first on the surface– Shiny new sounds, louder and harder rock than Bonfire in several places, and then quieter and softer in others– And yes, in the process, Stones were Rolled, Beatles were Byrded, Simons were Garfunkeled and Neutral Milk Hotels were Wilco-ed… and we had fun, and we worked, and we played… and the final judgement? Does it work? Well, for that, I will have to let you decide for yourself… 🙂
And, oh yeah, Christmas is Awesome!
…and kids are cool too!
Once upon a time I was young, VERY young, and yes, I did have bands/make music… And now, for basically no good reason at all, I have decided to put some of that bandsmusicstuff on the internet.
This ‘album’ is a coulda-been-album/mix of tunes and recordings written and performed mostly with my two best pals, Brandon Crowe and Kevin Allen, in the late 80s/early 90s. We had a band that we felt very good calling ‘NME’ because in a small city in Texas in the pre-internet era, we had almost no awareness of and/or consideration for the naming rights of British publications. In a nod to the punkish mode of the times (DRI, MOD), we rotated the meaning of the acronym from time to time, often from show to show… Starting out with the naively proto-political ‘New Moral Establishment’ (a dig at the Swaggart-ized conversation in the air in those days) and rotating through chestnuts like ‘Nude Messiahs from Egypt’, ‘Neon Mucus Eggplant’, and finally ‘Naked Monkeys Eat’ (among others…)
Over time, we lost several bassists to explosions, fires, loose morals, college, girls, boredom… you know, all the usual stuff, but the two mainstays featured on this record are founding bassist Jonathan ‘X’ and final bassist Derek Phillips (the exalted, long may he reign). For the record, these precociously amazing musicians are responsible for every single cool note, performance, chord progression and solo found here-in as I was ‘pre-guitar’ in this period, and, conversely, none of these fine gentlemen can be blamed for a single one of my shitty adolescent rhymes, vocal tics, bum notes, or poorly formed nascent philosophy expressed in the lyrics, as we often played so loud that they couldn’t even hear them anyway. The comedically hormonal sexuality in some of the songs, however, was definitely encouraged if not dictated to me by this subhuman gang of perverts and monsters and I take no responsibility, NONE, for any of it. OK, maybe a little…
Three songs on this collection were demos recorded after (written and performed during) the time that band was active, (Photograph, Built a House, and Come Around). Kevin Allen did most of the heavy lifting on those and I showed up, sang, and took all the credit. I have compressed and edited those a little, but other than that, all of these recording are from the time and from the band without any updates… Kevin, who did most of our recording in those days, went on to an actual career in music for some time and even in this early stuff, his guitar solos scream with bluster and confidence. Brandon has played with approximately 7, 289 Austin bands at this point and if you have ever had a beer on sixth street there is upwards of a 94.28 percent chance that you have met him. (Britannica, 2019)
Jonathan ‘X’ went on to work for the CIA and is currently working in the Los Angeles underground with a group of ragged misfits called the ‘A Team’ (or something like that, I have gracefully not dragged him into this re-opening of old… tunes), and Derek stayed with the band through it’s next evolution into an acoustic mock country outfit called ‘Odus Crumly’… but that… is a story for another time…
I hope you enjoy this for what it is, a time capsule, a snapshot in an… album you could say… It is not meant to make any statement, it is just something that made me smile today, and that seemed like, for whatever reason, something worth sharing. Enjoy!
This work by Bruce Enloe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.