Rocky's road

Rocky Votolato
Rocky's road

Rocky Votolato is that rare singer-songwriter able to convey sensitivity without slipping into sentimentality. Maybe it's because Votolato, unlike many confessional folkies, is rooted in punk and indie-rock, and brings the same uncompromising grit to his solo work.

A Texas native who currently lives in the Seattle area, Votolato formed the band Waxwing in 1996, but slowly started accumulating material that didn't quite fit that band's aggressive rock sound. He has subsequently released three full-length solo CDs, reaching a creative apex with his most recent collection, Suicide Machine.

Rocky Votolato
with Roy

Friday, May 28
1818 N. Main Street

As spare and quiet as his solo work can be, Votolato balances these tendencies with a sandpaper voice and tough-minded perspective on the big issues. In songs like "A Discourse on Killing," "Death - Right," and the title song of Suicide Machine, he doesn't shy away from his own anger. As he sings in "A Discourse: "I want to hit somebody with a baseball bat/break his fucking knees." For all of Votolato's avowed admiration of James Taylor, it's hard to imagine such a proclamation coming from Sweet Baby James.

A hard-working troubadour who manages to juggle a band, a solo career, a family, and occasional moonlighting projects (such as playing drums for the band Kentucky Pistol), Votolato is a cult hero building a fan base the old-fashioned way: one knocked-out listener at a time.

By Gilbert Garcia

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