Throughout Above Ground Fools, North delivers ten original songs of doomed romance, the death of newsworthy news, male jealousy, and other upbeat tales of personal failure, all of them true. The record features Nashville’s A-list: bassist Chris Donohue (Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris), guitarist Stuart Mathis (Lucinda Williams, Wallflowers), keyboardist Michael Webb (Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton), Michael McAdam (Steve Earle), Billy Livsey (Brendan Benson), Christopher Wild, and The Nashville Horns.
Raised on an equal dose of Hee-Haw and Soul Train in East Lansing, Michigan before moving to Champaign, Illinois, North began as a neighborhood drummer jamming to The Who, Devo, and Kiss albums in his garage. His great uncle is Kentucky poet laureate, Jesse Stuart, and his father’s family were Scotch-Irish coal miners in Harlan County, Kentucky.
As a drummer, he has recorded and performed with Maria McKee, Jay Bennett, Peter Case, Jesse DeNatale, Blondie Chaplin, Andy Prieboy, and Mink Stole of John Waters fame.
At age 15, he worked backstage at Farm Aid I in Champaign, IL picking up trash and blames that day for cementing his decision to pursue a career in music. After dropping out of college and forfeiting his music scholarship at the University of North Texas, North drove a Yellow Checker Cab while drumming in John Garvey’s University of Illinois Jazz Band from 1989-92.
Working at Mother Jones Magazine in San Francisco from 1994-97 as a fact-checker, he played drums in Bay Area garage bands and unexpectedly began working at The Punchline Comedy Club opening for Mitch Hedberg, Jimmy Fallon, Dave Chappelle, and was roommates with Patton Oswalt in Haight-Ashbury for two years. At 26, North was discovered by talent manager, Dave Becky. Well known for finding original voices, Becky signed North to his clientele of writer-performers: Marc Maron, Louis C.K., Mitch Hedberg, Dave Attell, and Chris Rock.
After relocating to Los Angeles in 1998, he spent the year auditioning for bands and writing “Best Western,” an original screenplay that won multiple awards and was tied up in four option contracts over ten years. Never sold or produced, the script attracted ghostwriting and story analysis jobs – skills he now transfers into songwriting.
Approaching 30, when many cut their losses, North began writing songs and joined garage punk band, The Buxotics, fronted by Rita D’Albert of The Pandoras in addition to producing and drumming on the critically acclaimed album, “I’m Not Sentimental” by New York City singer/songwriter, Rob Kendt.
With ties to the L.A. comedy community, North found himself auditioning for Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and was hired to play Jason Alexander’s William Morris agent on seven episodes in Season 2 (a tiny victory as North was dropped by William Morris two years prior). After filming one episode, HBO abruptly wrote North out after Alexander left the series to star in NBC’s “Bob Patterson.” “Curb” reached cult status as the decade’s most acclaimed comedy while NBC cancelled “Bob Patterson” in a month. North’s only comment, “Ouch.”
After losing “Curb,” he worked as a valet for Century Plaza Hotel, a custodian at Beverly Hills City Hall, and focused on nothing but music and raising his son who was born on the autism spectrum. Thrust into politics of public school special education and L.A. housing prices, North felt Nashville, Tennessee was better for his family and music career.
Before leaving L.A. in 2010, he produced and co-wrote “I Can’t Die In LA” by L.A. band, Hail The Size, featuring Maria McKee of Lone Justice. It was later called “one of the best albums of the year” by Vintage Guitar Magazine. Referrals by Maria McKee to Grammy-winning producer, Ray Kennedy (Steve Earle’s “El Corazon,” Lucinda Williams’ “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”), led to session work with Kennedy and Welcome To 1979 Studios. After settling into Nashville, North began learning guitar, piano, and recording Above Ground Fools in his garage. Looking ahead, he will release his “punk-rock-special-education protest song” about Tennessee’s Department of Education, “Tennessee IEP” in September 2017.