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Chris Bathgate

Chris Bathgate is a celebrated singer/songwriter whose stark, heartbroken songs (similar in tone to those of Will Oldham or Damien Jurado) earned him a strong local following throughout Southeast Michigan before an international fan base joined the fold. Emerging in the early 2000s with a sound rooted in bluegrass and folk, he gradually incorporated more diverse instrumentation and developed a songwriting style that, beginning with 2007's A Cork Tale Wake, placed him more in line with his alternative singer/songwriter contemporaries. Bathgate drew comparisons to Wilco with 2011's Salt Year, and went in a more meditative direction with 2022's The Significance of Peaches, an album that eschewed guitar for parlor organ and drone while remaining thematically tied to the artist's career-spanning rural inspirations. Bathgate grew up in Pecatonica, Illinois and started playing music when he was 16, putting in a couple years with a heavy metal band before going solo in 2001 with Dead Eyed Stranger. Eventually relocating to Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend the University of Michigan, he released his second album, Create and Consume, the following year. It was at this point that he started playing with Michael Beauchamp and Karl Sturk in an old-timey-tinged folk trio called the Ambitious Brothers. The group released a couple records, Ambitious Brothers I and Ambitious Brothers II, over the next few years, and disbanded in 2005 when Sturk moved to New York. In 2005, Bathgate released the solo effort Silence Is for Suckers and worked with the short-lived Descent of the Holy Ghost Church, which included Beauchamp in addition to local indie musicians Jansen Swy, Matt Jones, Louis Dickinson, and Carol Gray. They disbanded in 2006, after which Bathgate self-released two albums -- The Single Road I Long For and Throatsleep -- and the EP A Detailed Account of Three Dreams, all before the end of the year. He was picked up by the Ann Arbor-based indie label Quite Scientific Records soon after, and his first release on that label, A Cork Tale Wake, arrived in mid-2007. After the song "Serpentine" received steady airplay on BBC Radio 2, A Cork Tale Wake was released in the U.K. by One Little Indian. Bathgate's career in the U.K. and Europe took off, and he toured regularly as a solo act and on the festival circuit. A new EP, Wait, Skeleton, was issued in 2008, and after a string of singles, he released the album Salt Year in 2011. Produced by Chris Koltay and Jim Roll, it also included contributions from members of the Macpodz and Frontier Ruckus, among others. In mid-2012, Bathgate announced he was taking a sabbatical from the music business, and it wasn't until 2014 that he resumed giving live performances. In February 2016, Bathgate released his first recording in five years, an EP titled Old Factory, on Quite Scientific. May 2016 brought the full-length Dizzy Seas, a Bathgate-Koltay co-production that included the song "Northern Country Trail," a tune based on Bathgate's own experiences while hiking in Northern Michigan. He also conceived and directed a video for the song. After relocating temporarily to California and starting a family, the songwriter returned with The Significance of Peaches in 2022. It traded guitars for parlor organ (and piano and strings) for a more meditative set recorded with producers including but not limited to Jamie Hill (the Onlys) and Daniel Zott (JR JR).
© Mark Deming & Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Discography

18 album(s) • Sorted by Bestseller

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