Tom Heyman Premieres '24th Street Blues' Title Track


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Tom Heyman News Photo courtesy Hello Wendy August 02, 2023
Photo courtesy Hello Wendy

(Hello Wendy) Tom Heyman will be releasing the title track to his new album, "24th Street Blues" officially this Friday, but Glide Magazine has premiered the song, giving fans an early listen.

Heyman will be releasing the new album on October 6th. Check out the song premiere here. Here is the official announcement: When speaking of San Francisco these days, it seems like it is stereotypically presented as either a city full of young tech nomads lining up for artisanal coffee, or as a blighted, urban hellscape of fentanyl zombies and street crime. But with his sixth solo album 24th Street Blues, Tom Heyman sings of a more rank-and-file San Francisco, balancing the encroaching darkness of an overdeveloped cityscape with the fragile, abiding beauty of the Golden Gate City.

"If you stay in one place long enough you really start to see it change." He explains, "Around 2010, the city started to feel like a movie that was sped up, jerking and lurching forward at a dangerously fast, celluloid-shredding pace with market forces feeling like a locomotive bearing down on anything or anyone in its path."

For over two decades, Heyman and his wife have lived in a sprawling, dilapidated, converted-storefront rental on 24th Street - deep in the heart of San Francisco's Mission district. 24th Street Blues details his observations and interactions from years of living and working in the neighborhood as it weathered the storms and the aftermath of plutocratic expansion. When listening to the hardscrabble sagas that thread these songs together, it doesn't sound like Heyman deliberately sought to create a concept album so much as he inadvertently followed the Mark Twain credo, "Write what you know."

Here, the characters of his songs strive to exist (and sometimes perish) under looming cranes that dot the city skyline. Heyman braids timeless sounding singer-songwriter narratives with Barbary Coastal Americana that at times recalls the rusty, boiler-room reverberations of The Basement Tapes or the smoldering boogie of JJ Cale. Other moments are reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot's beautifully sparse melodies and John Prine's penchant for an economy of words. Over mostly acoustic tapestries, Heyman sings stories of displaced families, endangered bohemians, migrant workers, sidewalk hustlers, surviving musicians, juvenile delinquents, weathered barkeeps, junkie friends, unhoused encampments, cannabis farmers, and slumlord arsonists.

24th Street Blues arrives packaged with a 60-page songbook comprising lyrics and music charts accompanied by a gorgeous collection of paintings and drawings that were designed as companion pieces for each song. These were created by Heyman's wife Deirdre F. White, an artist and educator acutely tuned into composing images of modern dystopian inequality and the housing/mobility challenges of the American West.

In addition to his solo work, Heyman has spent many years as a sought-after journeyman guitarist and pedal steel player recording and touring with a varied array of artists including John Doe, Alejandro Escovedo, Chuck Prophet, Penelope Houston, Roy Loney, Hiss Golden Messenger, Sonny Smith and Kelley Stoltz . His pedal steel playing is one of the distinct sonic threads woven through many of the songs on 24th Street Blues. The record was produced Mike Coykendall (M. Ward ) and mixed by Scott Hirsch (Hiss Golden Messenger).

24th Street Blues presents portraits of a San Francisco where dues are never paid in full, but flowers still bloom from the ashes of the digital goldrush. Like any good long-player, these songs work a deeper magic on the listener with repeated listens. His lyrics take residence in the periphery of your mind like the spectral passages of a Denis Johnson novel. Whether he's darkening the doors of the city's Victorians or sharing a drink with a veteran bartender, Heyman has haunted the enduring and evaporating pockets of San Francisco's heyday long enough to become one of the living ghosts of his own songs.

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