Joseph Huber
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Joseph Huber

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Americana Roots




"10 More Country Artists You Need To Listen To"

Joseph Huber’s music has a really killer jug band feel about it. It’s guitar, bass, fiddle and banjo. He did seven years with .357 String Band, but their loss is our gain; It’s a little more laidback than their frantic efforts, but that just allows for a little more space to build in. - LA Weekly

"Joseph Huber's 'The Suffering Stage'"

Timing is so incredibly vital when it comes to how the whimsy of fate chooses which musical projects to bestow with attention and virtue, and which ones to leave to wither and die. Who knows, if the landmark hardcore bluegrass group the .357 String Band was launched in in the last few years, we might be talking about them today as the “Sturgill Simpson of bluegrass” or the “Turnpike Troubadours of Milwaukee.”

Instead, when the .357 String Band was releasing records and touring the country from the mid oughts to late 2011, the whole independent country and roots movement was still in its nascent stage. The .357 String Band was ahead of it’s time, and though they left a legacy of three solid records and solo careers from some of it’s previous members, it’s still hard to not look back and say what a shame it is that the project never took hold like the power and the spirit of the music deserved.

Joseph Huber, the banjo player and one of the primary songwriters from the .357 String Band, has now released more solo albums than .357 did total. Huber’s music is arguably beginning to tower over the .357’s output instead of vice versa. But that sense of being dramatically overlooked and under-appreciated still permeates the atmosphere around him, not because there isn’t a lot of love and devotion coming from the folks who are in the know. It’s from how Joseph Huber’s music feels like it’s something that is generational in its quality, and vital in its message.

You don’t just like Joseph Huber’s music. You feel it’s something that the rest of the world needs to hear, and how criminal it is that it isn’t spreading far and wide. Some of the obscurity is due to just the rigors of being an independent musician, and in Huber’s case, one who still devotes himself to the effort in more of a part-time capacity. But even in the age of Sturgill, Stapleton, and Isbell, the criminally overlooked remains a deep crowd.

joseph-huber-the-suffering-stageWhen Huber released his first solo effort Bury Me Where I Fall in 2010, it was entirely not what fans expected, yet immediately a new appetite emerged for the type of darkish, singer-songwriter material indicative of Townes and Dylan, but still original to Huber that was displayed. He went from someone admired first for his blazing banjo prowess, to a maestro of songwriting and astounding multi-instrumental capabilities.

On subsequent records, Huber evolved somewhat sonically, yet by the end of his third album The Hanging Road, it felt like he was stretching to get back to the magic of the first moments from that first record. His wording felt a little forced at times, sort of like Yoda speak in how he would shuffle word order to make the phrases sound more enlightening than they actually were. It was still good stuff, but a break in output has done Joseph Huber well, as do 8-song albums that leave the crowd hungry, like his first record did, and like his latest album, The Suffering Stage does.

It’s hard to say enough about Joseph Huber’s songwriting, and how he’s able to evoke melancholy and forlornness in both timeless and timely narratives, or his ability to step behind most any instrument and pull the magic out of a melody that is eerily perfect for the desired mood and message. But something that can’t be emphasized enough about Huber’s music, and what is at the heart of why his songs have this naturally mournful, yet warming sensation, is simply the way his record’s sound, boiled down to perfunctory recording technique.

So much modern independent roots music is suffering from bad philosophies about how you’re supposed to make records that sound old, and that will somehow instill them with the same sense of meaningfulness and cross-generational appeal as the old classic recordings. There is definitely something to the beauty of American imperfection that can instill an elevated emotional component to music. But Huber is so far advanced in this technique, whether it’s by accident or trial and error, that he makes the professionals sound amateur.

This is beyond just doing your best to make an album sound like it’s coming from scratchy vinyl. Without any of the other virtues Huber brings to the table, this sepia mood that he presents his music in is something so ripe for being cherished. It’s wholly immersive on the senses, like the smell of the inside of your grandfather’s suitcase. It is the sound of fond and distant memory, with a touch of sadness and the empty space of abandoned places.

Joseph Huber’s The Suffering Stage is songwriting first, but solidly country and roots throughout. The fiddle now is just as much his preferred starting point for the music as anything, and the songs jockey between rug-cutting rags and mournful ballads. The verses, though sometimes meandering on their paths, more often than not stumble into generous wellsprings of wisdom, rendered more valuable, and your heart more open to their message from the journey traversed than if Huber just came right out and said it. Piano is also tastefully introduced into Huber’s sound, almost like like it was always meant to be there, most notably in the album’s final selection, “Souls Without Maps.”

The Suffering Stage makes reference to the Buddhist philosophy of life as suffering, and to life as a “stage” that we’re all simply players on. Whether it’s a spiritual journey or a theatrical movement, the point is to walk away with something learned; something gained. This is what Joseph Huber delivers on this record. Old, forgotten memories get stirred to the forefront. Theories on life are recalled and reflected upon. And you don’t end up more happy like music is supposed to do, you end up a little sad and nostalgic, but in a way that’s strangely comforting in a manner simple happiness is incapable of delivering. - Saving Country Music

"Joseph Huber's The Suffering Stage"

As if the title "The Suffering Stage" wasn't enough to convince, Joseph Huber is clearly one of those ragged, rugged Americana troubadours who casts his emotions on his sleeve. While his work with the .357 Sting Band made only a slight impression on diehard devotees, Huber's three previous efforts have cast him the mould of such like-minded troubadours as Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, thanks in no small part to his knack for weary rumination and restless resolve. "Hard times never quite seem to end," he observes on the opening track, "Playground/Battlefield," an appropriate ode to unvarnished sentiments.

Indeed, there's a decided sadness that's inherent in Huber's musings, whether it's the dark, despondent "Diminished Things," a song that wouldn't sound out of place on Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska" or the searing "Souls Without Maps," the album's ragged send-off. So too, the uncommonly upbeat "16-10" and the sway and caress of "You Showed Me" find the Milwaukee product making an equally emphatic impression. With fiddle and pedal steel providing the usual accoutrements, Huber hones the sadness and sobriety of eternal angst, doing so with an edge and insistence that allow these songs to resonate with both drive and deliberation.

Ultimately, "The Suffering Stage" is one of those albums that instantly demands notice, given its combination of wanderlust and resolve. With insight and emotion, he ploughs the back roads and sprawling hinterlands that are the natural setting for tales that capture this degree of loneliness and remorse. It's there that Huber finds his purpose and defines his stance. As for the rest of us, we can celebrate the fact that we've been invited to share the journey and have been given the opportunity to wish him well. - Country Standard Time

"Trail Mix: Joseph Huber"

“Songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Chris Smither, and John Prine can marvel listeners in the simplest of acoustic settings, with nothing more than a guitar and a song. In my mind, that’s the measure of a gifted songwriter. From time to time, I stumble upon a new singer/songwriter whose work warrants comparison to the luminaries on this list. Right now, I have been spinning The Hanging Road, the latest release by Joseph Huber, quite a bit. Virtually nonstop, actually, and Huber’s songwriting has me comparing him to my favorites above.” - Blue Ridge Outdoor

"Album Review -Joseph Huber's "Tongues Of Fire""

“Ascending from the ashes of the country music underground’s ultimate proving ground known as the .357 String Band, banjo player and songwriter Joseph Huber releases his second solo offering, Tongues of Fire. With some songs originally meant for the now deceased .357 project, and some that speak to the causes of its demise and dealing with its aftermath, Huber compiles an engaging and surprisingly bright-sounding album that speaks true to his life, and is easy to relate to yours....Joseph Huber doesn’t fit the average mold of an ultra-talented musical artist. We’re used to the best and brightest being tortured and fey, yet Joe is surprisingly clear-eyed and relate-able. He’s just like you and I…well…except for being one of the best banjo players I have ever seen, yet giving absolutely nothing up when it comes to his songwriting, and also being able to master guitar and fiddle. He’s a creative dynamo, but the struggles he goes through are simple: trying to find his place in” - Saving Country Music

"Joseph Huber - Tongues Of Fire"

“There are few, if any, better songwriters than Joseph Huber in this broad generic field and when you add the fact that his warmly expressive vocals are of the same calibre with his ability to create an incredibly evocative atmosphere, allied to his virtuosity on several different instruments, given a little promotion his talent should take care of the rest! There are not too many artists that have been involved in several albums by a band plus two albums of their own that have all contained an equal quality and no little originality as Joseph Huber.” - American Roots UK


The Suffering Stage (2017, Self-Released)

The Hanging Road (2014, Muddy Roots Records)
Tongues Of Fire (2012, Self-Released)
Bury Me Where I Fall (2010, Self-Released)



Joseph Huber was a founding member of the .357 String Band--a group
that, despite its abrupt break-up, still continues to gain popularity
and is known as one of the most influential groups in the recent
insurgent underground country and bluegrass movement. Having moved from
.357, Huber has honed his songwriting abilities immensely and now
continues moving onward and upward captivating folks with his sincere
and well-crafted songs under his own name and with his backing band.
Whether it's irresistible, fiddle-driven, dancing tunes or honest,
heart-wrenching "songwriter" songs, Huber spans the spectrum of 'Roots'
music while preferring not to stay within the boundaries of any strict
genre classification.

His lyricism and introspective writing
style has received high acclaim from many Americana enthusiasts looking
for a more substantive substitute to much of today's modern country.
Maintaining a solid touring schedule, playing all throughout both the
U.S. and all around Europe, Huber continues to gain positive press,
including being listed on
L.A. Weekly's '10 More Country Artists To Listen To (2014).' Blue Ridge Outdoor
writes, “Songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Chris Smither, and John
Prine can marvel listeners in the simplest of acoustic settings,...From
time to time, I stumble upon a new singer/songwriter whose work warrants
comparison to the luminaries on this list. ...Huber’s songwriting has
me comparing him to my favorites above.”

4th solo release, 'The Suffering Stage' is a shift both in writing
style and in it's filled-out production style, which looks beyond his
usual minimalist folk recordings. It features many of Milwaukee's best
players, such as Ryan Knudson on pedal steel; Dustin Dobernig on keys;
Andrew Koenig on electric guitar; as well as his long-time touring band
members--Jason Loveall on fiddle; and Eston Bennett on bass. It follows
his early self-released material--'Bury Me Where I Fall' (2010) and
'Tongues Of Fire' (2012)--and  his 3rd album, 'The Hanging Road,' which
was released under Nashville's 'Muddy Roots Recordings' label in Spring

Band Members