I Got Enough For Some Beer If You’ll Cover The Gas:
The Songs Of Brian Belknap And Turpentine

by Kevin Vegetables on April 21, 2010

The mid-90s was a good time for folk, bluegrass, and country in San Francisco, but for my money it didn’t get any better than Turpentine.

I got enough for some beer if you cover the gas
Put your bag in the trunk and meet me back here
In about an hour and a half
And we don’t have to talk, the radio is fine
You sure had us all pretty scared this time

Turpentine – All Your Promises from All Your Promises

TurpentineBrian Belknap’s songs weren’t nostalgic recreations of the folk of the past, but honest, unromanticized visions of contemporary working-class life, the bitter and the sweet.

We used to laugh together
Shit, I thought them days would last forever

Turpentine – Saturday Night from Turpentine

And long after you sold your car with the tape deck and could no longer listen to their cassettes, the songs stuck with you. Like this one, maybe the best union song since the 70s:

Foreman should have had the brake locked
And the wheels chocked
Like he said he did

Turpentine – Keep It On Your Mind from Turpentine

Honest to God, I’d put these songs up against anybody’s.

TurpentineBacked by the bass of Keith Challberg and the guitar & crush-inducing backing vocals of Sue Sandlin (now of the Stairwell Sisters), Turpentine was the whole blessed package.

I heard that lightning never strikes twice
Flame that burns longest is never as bright
Hey, let’s get loaded and give it a try

Turpentine – Read ’Em And Weep from Dirty Water

I chose the songs I posted because they’re current favorites, but there are 18 songs on those three albums, and I give you the HV No-Clunker Guarantee.

Brian’s been kind enough to allow me to post the Turpentine albums for download (ripped from cassette — thanks Crazyfoot!), so snap em up before some label gets wise:

Turpentine – Turpentine (1994)

Turpentine – Dirty Water (1995)

Turpentine – All Your Promises (1997)

All three albums (109MB)

Lucky Us

Brian Belknap is back after a 10-year performing hiatus with new songs and an album, Lucky Me, that features those songs alongside Turpentine recordings.  Lucky Me is available at CD Baby.

Oh, the anger
In this attic rafter room
8×6 ¾ plywood floor
With no good place to fall

Brian Belknap – Can’t Come Over from Lucky Me

You can catch Belknap & band at the Velo Rouge Cafe on Saturday, May 15, 7PM. Two sets, no excuses, pepples. See you there.




{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Crazyfoot April 22, 2010 at 9:21 am

Its musicians like this that make me miss living in SF. Thanks Brian!

Brian Belknap April 24, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Thanks Crazyfoot! It’s people like you and Kevin that have gotten me playing music again.

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