From The Desk Of Tim Easton: JP Olsen

TimEastonLogoTim Easton has been singing and writing songs since he was 14 years old. He never considered another career. After finishing college, Easton hit the road with his guitar and spent seven years singing and playing on European street corners. When he got back to Ohio, Easton joined the Haynes Boys, a roots-rock outfit that made one album before breaking up. Free again, Easton picked up his guitar and returned to the road, touching down long enough to make nine albums that earned him a loyal following with their blend of gritty roots-rock and heartfelt songwriting. Every LP took a slightly different approach and his latest, Not Cool, shows off his love of rockabilly and early R&B. Easton will be quest editing all week. Read our new feature on him.


Easton: JP Olsen is one of the greatest character-study songwriters America has ever had, and I will stand on Randy Newman’s piano in my Red Wing Boots and shout it loud enough for the dearly departed Harry Nilsson and Hoagy Carmichael to hear. This Columbia J-School graduate lives in Park Slope with his wife and two brilliant sons, and he is also the foremost authority on the subject of the federal prison the U.S. Government ran in Lexington, Ky., which tested drugs on addicts up until 1975 when it was shut down. The prison and the incredible tests ran on humans there is the subject of a documentary Olsen made called Narcotic Farm. It is also the title of a book that is full of fascinating photographs. The film was scored by Wayne Kramer of the MC5, who served time at this federal institution for infractions that stemmed from his own heroin use. Many a jazz session man from back in the day served time at “the farm” as well.

Over the years, JP Olsen has recorded under various names: the Beetkeepers, Great State Of Ohio, Burnbarrel, Malefactors Of Great Wealth, Malefactors USA, and a couple other names you’ve never heard of that I cannot remember at the moment. He has inspired me as a writer from the start. Today, I learn a lot more from him about parenthood. I cover his songs daily, often times bookending my shows with his material.

Video after the jump.