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Karl Straub Combo
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Straub has been performing original songs since 1985. His former band, the Graverobbers, released 3 albums and 3 singles, as well as contributing tracks to various compilations. "Americana Motel," (a collection of cuts by local roots-oriented acts) featured Straub's material, and a smorgasbord of local players and singers recorded his song "Don't Take Advice." The album was on the Wall Street Journal's top ten list for 2001, and the recognition by his peers helped garner Straub a Washington Area Music Association nomination for Songwriter of the Year.

Straub's songs cut across many genres, throwing rock and roll together with country and jazz. His eclectic approach owes a debt to mavericks like Merle Haggard, Bob Wills,and Willie Nelson. The live show features Straub's Danny Gatton-influenced Telecaster playing. The shows can get wild -- spooky ballads lead into crazy western swing raveups, with plenty of trashy rock'n'roll along the way. Blues, surf guitar, and psychedelia pop up as well.

Straub puts his music together the way birds build nests. He uses the available materials, borrowing from the Beatles and Bob Dylan as well as Rodgers and Hart. Certain recordings already in the can feature what Straub calls "snowcone music," catchy bubblegum songs about lipstick killers and tapdancing early Hollywood starlets, as well as Thelonious Monk compositions interpreted in a country and western style.

Straub's lyrics are all over the map, sometimes frank, sometimes impressionistic. His subjects include the obsessive behavior that springs from failed romance, meeting the Devil in North Carolina, and radio stations run by mermaids. His best-known songs are often witty novelties like "Backwards Town" and "Don't Take Advice," prompting his mother's complaint that she "couldn't hear the words because people were laughing so loud." Straub's humor is definitely not from the smirky smartass school, however. Even the comic material is bitter social commentary, as if Ambrose Bierce's "Devil's Dictionary" were set to music.

While the Graverobbers are now defunct, all the members are still alive, so future reunions are not out of the question. In the meantime, Straub is performing with his Karl Straub Combo. The live shows are always a little different, and always feature the compositions that inspired Pete Kennedy to call Karl Straub the area's best songwriter.

Karl Straub Combo
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