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Steeped in the rich tradition of Americana artists before him like Steve Earle, Johnny Cash and Dave Alvin, Randy Burk creates music that is at once exciting and familiar, honest and soulful, fearless and introspective.
Wrought with Midwestern sensibility and a blue-collar work ethic, Burk's affinity for songs about love, life and pain can be traced to his small-town Iowa roots. Born and raised in Atlantic, Iowa, Burk spent much of his youth singing in the church and listening to his father's collection of Elvis Presley 8 tracks.
After graduating from high school, Burk moved to Springfield, Missouri to work for his father's steel company as a laborer. For the next six years, he would frame steel buildings by day and build the foundation for his music career by night toiling in bars and roadhouses with country and rock bands. In between burning both ends of the candle, he would write songs and practice his guitar playing.
Though Burk was building a grassroots following in the Midwest, he knew he had more to give and more to learn. A chance meeting with Jimmy Tittle, Johnny Cash's son-in-law, who toured and recorded with Merle Haggard and The Man In Black would soon put him on the fast track. Tittle, an award-winning singer-songwriter, took the young Iowa native under his wing and encouraged him to follow his dreams and hone his talents as a songwriter and vocalist.
Burk then spent some time in Nashville and learned a lot, recalls Burk. "It was Jimmy Tittle who helped me find myself as an artist. That's when the art of this business became clear to me."
In 1998, Burk returned to Springfield with a renewed sense of purpose to develop his own voice while working as a singer-songwriter. During the next two years he found it while playing shows between New York City and Reno, opening for the likes of Todd Snider, BR5-49, and Brian White.
In 2001 Randy Burk and the Prisoners was formed with long time friend and artist, Jared Hall. Touring with the kind of urgency you'd find at a jailbreak, Burk and the Prisoners quickly established a loyal following while playing more than 200 Midwest shows that year, sharing the stage with the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Rex Hobart and the Misery Boys, Rambler 454 and The Clumsy Lovers. In 2002, they reached even more fans, with their 7 song EP that included five originals and two Tittle tunes.
In 2004, the group recorded its debut full-length album Down To This during a two-week period at Proxy Studios in Oceanside, California. Longtime friend and Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash leader Mark Stuart produced the album, which includes melodic ballads of heartbreak, spiritual mountain songs and rip-roaring rockers. "This record is a good reflection of who i am," said Burk. "It touches on a lot of different subjects and styles, everything that defines me. I'm really proud of it." So, too, is Stuart. "I was flattered to work with them," he said. "They turned it into a party, but were committed to the songs."
Stuart also praised Burk's songwriting and singing, comparing it to early work of artists like Earle, Springsteen and Mellencamp. "He reminds me of them because his honest delivery sells the song," he said. "The integrity and the passion come through. He's the real deal."
Today, after thousand of miles and thousands of shows in the U.S. and Europe, Burk is currently writing, recording and touring. Randy Burk and the Prisoners was recently awarded $25,000 through online platform, ArtistSignal.com to further their career. They will be in the studio later this year to record their third album.