MUSIC MECCA: "She Still Wants To Kiss Me" Review
FARCE THE MUSIC - Exclusive video premiere: Bill Filipiak -"When the Blues Come Calling"
THE BLUEGRASS SITUATION - Listen: Bill Filipiak, "Conesus Lake"
AMERICANA UK - Track Premiere: Bill Filipiak "Fearing the Dawn"
THE GRATEFUL WEB - Bill Filipiak Set to Release Medicine I Need
Bill Filipiak has spent a lifetime working alongside other artists and songwriters, including now as a producer with the famed Grand Ole Opry. Each experience has provided him with renewed inspiration and influence. With his latest—and most fully realized—record to date, Filipiak taps that inspiration and wisdom, honing his lifelong passion for music and songwriting into a diverse yet cohesive, thread of musical ambitions, the aptly titled aka Billium. “I love being around songwriters and artists on a daily basis,” Filipiak says, “their stories are each so unique and their styles equally diverse. It is a constant reminder of why I love music, telling stories and finding new ways to communicate an emotion.”
And that’s exactly what Filipiak has done with aka Billium. The album—like his previous three—features a diverse palette that runs the gamut from hard core blues to folk / country and even some surf rock. Filipiak—who recorded, engineered, produced and played every sound you hear on this record—somehow manages to blend these different flavors into one cohesive menu that carry the listener on a musical ride of emotional ups and downs.
“As I’ve said before, I'm a rhythm guitarist first and foremost,” Filipiak says. “I’m a sucker for a great groove and a simple rhythmic focal point that makes your head bob. I’m a true believer in the less is more theory and have often removed elements from a mix that I felt were getting in the way of the simplistic beauty of a particular track.”
Recorded during a time that has found the country and world remarkably divided, it was only natural that some of the songs on aka Billium’s would reflect a response to the nation’s frustration and anger. “I’ve always admired music that reflected the current state of our society,” Filipiak says. “Tracks like “Knock Me Down” and “Love on Each Other” were my attempt to write from the perspective of someone who feels looked down upon or ostracized for the sole reason that they’re different. Those themes have been on every front page the last few years and only seem to be getting more prevalent. I think it was only natural that being inundated with stories of personal conflict on a daily basis would eventually find its way into my music.”
For Filipiak—each album has been a blend of emotion and musical styles and aka Billium is no exception. He wrote the sweet, heartfelt jazz infused country ballad “She Still Wants to Kiss Me” as a tribute to a loyal love that has found the strength to endure immense hardship, and the more introspective “Learning to Live” about coming to terms with mortality. “Life and the emotions we feel are so diverse,” Filipiak says, “I’m continually blown away at what the human spirit is capable of feeling. Whether we’re discovering an inner strength as referenced in “Find My Way Through” coping with the struggles of parenthood as addressed “Willow” or yearning for a love that can’t find its way like the gentleman in the more traditional blues based “Please Call Me,” we’re constantly learning how to adjust to adversity and what life throws at us on a daily basis.”
Throughout his journey, music has always been a constant for Filipiak. As a kid, he was obsessed with the eclectic set of 45-rpm vinyl singles he inherited from his older sisters—records by the Stones & Small Faces, Bubble Puppy & The Strawberry Alarm Clock, Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings and so many others. A natural, young Bill learned the piano by ear at age three and went on to play keys and guitar in bands throughout high school and college. “As long as I can remember, I was just enamored with music,” he says. “My sister was playing The Doors’ ‘Hello, I Love You,’ I heard it and that was my first word —“hello.” Most kids sleep with their stuffed animals—I slept with my records. I promise I’m not making that up. I still have them to this day.”
When he finally struck out on his own, Bill ended up working in radio, including a stint recreating popular tracks piece-by-piece for on-air parodies, an excellent musical education. Years down the road, as his career in the industry took off, he began producing music videos for Americana artists. It put him on the path to his current gig at the Opry, and to the music he’s been making as a solo artist since the laidback blues-folk of his 2016 debut, Put the Top Down, or 2020’s roots-centric Brand New Me, 2021’s blues-injected Medicine I Need. Now Filipiak, at 57, continues his creative journey in earnest with his new release aka Filipiak.
“The album’s title reflects an honest truth,” Filipiak says. “Like most of us I’m known as a lot of things. And I’m always trying to evolve and learn new things. I’ve watched my own kids grow and push themselves outside their comfort zones, so it’s only natural that I would do the same. For example, I play drums on three of the tracks and an actual bass guitar on another; something I’d never done before. It’s what makes it fun. I think it’s important to continually challenge ourselves. As I like to say, if we don’t evolve, we die; and personally, I’d prefer to keep going.”
"Can't recommend enough the music that Bill Filipiak is making. It's like a wonderful comforting hug ... and we all need of those right now."
"If Tom Waits decided to sing some bluegrass-type songs dipped in a jar of blues spices he’d be as good as Bill Filipiak. Bill comes from the same cloth as Otis Taylor – as he unravels a gritty, upbeat, convincing array of bruised ballads of glittering fragments. Medicine I Need is Bill’s 3rd LP of welded together dusty blues, undercurrents of burlesque, foot-stomping boots on the wooden porch & wailing harmonicas scaring off the crows. The penetration of his vintage-ness is ripe. He could sing folk, blues, minstrel, & spirituals, still, come out the real thing.
"His organic style and sentimental lyrics in 'She Still Wants to Kiss Me' will make you still want to hit the replay button."
"Striking ... a faithful representative of American music."
Prowls with a John Hiatt meets Steve Earl rumble ... undeniably old-school and full of edge."
"An impressive, thoughtful and healing folk-blues journey."
"Bill is a bright light on the Americana Music Horizon with sharp lyrics, deft delivery and playing and saying things in new ways. Watch him go!"
Ernie Hopseker - Ocean Beach Radio
"This is great sounding music! If you could make a road map to the music I play on my show, your tunes fit perfectly!"
- Brian Bourgoin / 90.9 - WCNI
"A talent like Filipiak doesn't’ develop overnight. As someone who has been writing music for over twenty years myself I can appreciate a musician who wants to reinvent himself and keep pushing into new territory. This is a great album from a real pro. Take a listen."
- Matt Jensen / DivideAndConquerMusic.com
"Bill Filipiak has a skillful handle on his songwriting and his vocals have that enigmatic and tender style that is sensitive and timeless."
- The Blues and Roots Music Blog
"Filipiak's album is a collection of organically arranged and produced excellence with lyrics that touch us where we live."
- iTunes review