Titan of the Telecaster Bill Kirchen performs in Factoryville Dec. 6
FACTORYVILLE — Bill Kirchen was called a “musical treasure,” a “fantastic player” and “in these roots-conscious times, very much a pioneer” in a 2013 article in Rolling Stone.
Kirchen, a founding member of Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, who is frequently referred to as the “Titan of the Telecaster,” brings his Honky-Tonk Holiday Tour and his trio, Too Much Fun, to Northeastern Pennsylvania for a 7 p.m. performance Dec. 6 at Gin’s Tavern in Factoryville.
Kirchen, who settled in with Red House Records with his new album, “Transatlanticana,” a collaboration with British pub rock legend Austin de Lone, along with his contribution to label wide holiday record “Christmas On The Lam and Other Songs for the Season,” said he was brought to Gin’s Tavern by a friend who lives in Tunkhannock.
“Mike Chafin is a musical buddy of mine and a wonderful musician who relocated to this area, and he was the first person to introduce me to Gin’s,” Kirchen said.
Chafin, whose music career included a stint in the Star Spangled Washboard Band and ownership of a Fender guitar franchise in Virginia, moved to Northeastern Pennsylvania to record and play.
“He asked if there was any place up here he could play,” Chafin said of Kirchen. “I told him I know a place. He shows up and plays, and the (owner) says, ‘this guy is … great.’ He’s an old road dog, and he’s still doing it. I don’t know how he does it.”
Chafin will join Kirchen and Too Much Fun during the holiday set, which Kirchen promises will be Christmas-themed but carry the edgy country swagger of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens.
Kirchen said tunes will include songs from the early ’70s Commander Cody record, “Daddy’s Drinking Up Our Christmas” and the band’s rendition of Mack Rice’s “Santa Wants Some Lovin.’”
“We don’t want to make it precious,” Kirchen said. “It’s supposed to be fun. It’s a honky-tonk tour.”
Kirchen’s cover of “Santa Wants Some Lovin’” was his contribution to Red House’s holiday release.
“I feel like this is me being welcomed to the Red House fold, which is a very respected, creative bunch of people,” Kirchen said.
Kirchen’s first full-length LP on Red House, “Transatlanticana” brought him back into the studio with long time collaborator and founding member of seminal pub rock outfit Eggs Over Easy, de Lone.
“Many things came together, my Texas music scene and my London music scene, and it turned out to be good,” Kirchen said of making the record. “It turned out to be a real nice adventure.”
The album, which peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Americana chart, features a tribute to Merle Haggard in the single “The Hounds of Bakersfield,” which was co-written with Blackie Farrell.
“Whatever is identified as Americana is having a good year,” Kirchen said. “It’s been very gratifying.”
Kirchen said he’s brought his holiday tour to Gin’s twice, but Dec. 6 marks his fifth performance at the Factoryville tavern.
“There are a lot of musically aware people there,” Kirchen said. “It’s a little hotbed of cool music fans and people who’ve been paying attention throughout the years.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO:
What: Bill Kirchen’s Honky-Tonk Holiday Tour with Too Much Fun
Where: Gin’s Tavern, 268 State Route 107, Factoryville
Additional information: Tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 the day of the show. For more information, call 570-945-3617