Bruce Balmer is from Woodstock, NY. He was raised in a musical household surrounded by a noisy family and over 40 well- and often-played instruments in various states of repair. Guitar followed piano, banjo and tenor guitar as his main teacher.
Two years of harmony and analysis plus a year of piano study with Blanche Moyse at Marlboro College gave him a baroque approach to writing, performing and recording many original songs, playing lead guitar for rock, jazz, and country bands, and composition for dance performance and for film (“I Married A Strange Person,” bedroom scene, background music – Bill Plympton animated feature.)
Later, he discovered the vibrant underground folk scene in in NYC. He owes the writing and editing of many of his songs to the Greenwich Village Songwriter’s Collective. He has accompanied the late and dearly missed Jack Hardy on some wild and lean road tours in the USA and Italy.
Bruce now divides his musical time between performance with his brilliant wife, Lisa Markley, as Markley & Balmer, solo Bruce Balmer performances, and wood-shed study of 20th century standards, one at a time (in Lisa’s key.) Bruce has released three solo singer/songwriter albums, “Upstream,” “Blues/Boss/Jump/Waltz + 4,” available below, and “Get Outta Park,” available at https://soonasongs.com/product/bruce-balmer-get-outta-park-download/
BEST OPEN-MIKE PERFORMER OF THE DECADE
The Colony Open-Mike, Woodstock, NY
BEST CURSE, BEST OVERALL,
Hosting-Of-The Bards Song and Poetry Writing Contest.
Hosting-Of-The Bards Song and Poetry Festival,
Callicoon, NY, 2003
1997-98 SYNCHRONIZED MUSIC – Solo Guitar for sex scene.
“I Married A Strange Person”
Bill Plympton Animation Feature Film
“GET OUTTA PARK” – 2014 – Reviews at Time of Release:
“Listen to Bruce Balmer’s ‘Get Outta Park’ for the cool, eclectic guitar playing and the lyrical, gleam-in-the-eye rhymeplay and wordplay.” –Tom Geddie, Buddy Magazine
“If you’ve seen Bruce Balmer perform, you know he is already one of your favorite musicians, and his new album, ‘Get Outta Park,’ shows why. Using only guitar and vocals allows Bruce’s special gifts to shine through. An adventurous guitar player with a quirky ear, he punctuates his compositions with surprising musical choices that turn out to be essential and inevitable. Listen as Bruce switches from minor to major keys at the refrain in ‘Water Over the Dam’ and how the softening of the sound reengages your ear and prepares you to better hear the next verse. That’s just one example of how Bruce uses his large and nuanced musical vocabulary to decorate the album with beautiful and subtle fireworks. And for the lyric driven listener, Bruce never lets the introspective text wander into abstraction. Instead he packs each song with a slap-you-in-the-face juxtaposition of offbeat images. While at first glance, the disparate images may feel only superficially connected, they work together to communicate themes or invoke the relevant emotional responses. In ‘The End of Times’ Bruce crams together images of a sleeping Mountain God, the Roman senate, a mastodon, scarecrow, and foggy Ireland in a way that reveals both the melancholy and necessity of ending one journey before you can fully embrace the new life that is waiting. So much more than a collection of excellent songs, ‘Get Out of Park’ is a unified work of art. With a strong narrative arc, the album is organized with virtual A and B sides like the vinyl that Bruce loves so much. The first 6 cuts, from title track [‘Get Outta Park’] to ‘The End of Times,’ reflect on a Catskill Yankee’s journey away from familial roots to a new, distant home and from an easy mundane routine to the restless yet contented enmeshment of new love. The B side meditates on new found love and attendant domesticity. It begins with the Goddess of Calibration listening for the changes and proceeds to a more mature contentment and acceptance of Water Over the Dam. And sides are interwoven with subtle presaging like the way water under the bridge in the title track flows over the dam in the final track. Additionally, ‘Get Out of Park’ bears up under repeated listening. I’ve kept it in my car’s CD player for over 3 weeks, and after a dozen or so times through, I am still entertained by the performances and engaged in unwrapping the layers literal and emotional meaning. This album will remain on my (and your) frequently played list for a long, long time.”
–Alan Gann, Poet
“There’s this strange and dangerous territory between jazz and folk, complexity and simplicity, poetry and raw, honest truth that very few people are willing to enter. Bruce Balmer lives there. I admit it I have a prejudice. I consider safe folk songs a contradiction in terms, something the world we live in just doesn’t have time for. The fact that Bruce takes risks with every one of these tracks is (actually and metaphorically) music to my ears. In this tour de force one man show, he manages to let his guitar hero chops support the songs instead of burying them, a feat few have mastered. The songs, a series of quirky little one act plays, bounce off the music in unpredictable ways: take ‘Violette’ or ‘When It’s Too Wet to Plow,’ two variations on the eternal theme the war game between men and women, but played with real bullets. And concluding a song called ‘If I Were a Better Man’ with …I wouldn’t change a thing would no doubt bring a posthumous smile to the face of the notorious Mr. [Jack] Hardy, whose touch is obvious throughout. Finally, after my first listen to Get Outa Park , I paid Bruce the highest tribute one songwriter can give another. I stole one of his lines. You see, there was this a song I was stuck on… couldn’t get it outa park if you know what I mean. Anyway, thanks, Bruce. Keep it coming.” –Charles Nolan, Singer/Songwriter