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Chris Bathgate

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  • Born: Pecatonica, IL
  • Years Active: 2000s


Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

All Music Guide:

Chris Bathgate is a prolific 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. He grew up in Pecatonica, IL and started playing music when he was 16, putting in a couple years with a heavy metal band before going solo in 2001. Eventually relocating to Ann Arbor in order to attend the University of Michigan, Bathgate released his next single in 2002, Twilight Unlimited, and 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 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. The group disbanded in 2006, after which Bathgate went on to release two albums and an EP, The Single Road I Long For, Throatsleep, and A Detailed Account of Three Dreams. He was picked up by Quite Scientific soon after, and his first release on that label, A Cork Tale Wake, arrived in the summer of 2007.


Chris Bathgate (born April 21, 1982) is an American indie folk singer-songwriter and musician. He is prominent in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti folk music scene in Michigan. In 2007, Bathgate signed to Quite Scientific Records, on which he released his most prominent album to date, A Cork Tale Wake. His most recent release was Salt Year, a full length album released on April 26, 2011. Bathgate has been compared to folk singer-songwriters Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, and Damien Jurado.

^ Quite Scientific- Chris Bathgate, quitescientific.com^ Bathgate, Chris - Salt Year, quitescientific.com, August 16, 2011^ Bathgate, Chris - A Cork Tale Wake - Album Review, absolutepunk.net, September 13, 2007


Biography1.1 Early life1.2 Early career1.3 Solo career1.4 Musical style1.4.1 Lyrics and songwriting1.5 Style of live shows1.6 Influences


Early life[edit]

Chris Bathgate was born in Pecatonica, IL on April 21, 1982. He began playing music at the age of 16, and relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend the University of Michigan as an Art & Design student.

Early career[edit]

Bathgate started out in a heavy metal band for several years before turning to folk. While in Ann Arbor, Bathgate then formed the folk trio Ambitious Brothers with Michael Beauchamp and Karl Sturk, releasing a few records before breaking up in 2005.

During a trip to Northern Michigan, Bathgate and fellow University of Michigan student Jansen Swy along with other friends set music to Swy's poetry, calling the short-lived project The Descent of the Holy Ghost Church. Later on, while attending the New England Literature Program, a University of Michigan summer program in Maine, Descent resurfaced when the group managed to book itself as an opening act for Magnolia Electric Company at Detroit's Magic Stick. The group, which included Matt Jones, Louis Dickinson, and Carol Gray, disbanded in 2006.

Solo career[edit]

In 2001, Bathgate launched his solo career, while continuing to experiment with different groups for several years. He self-released multiple EPs and albums including Twilight Unlimited in 2002, Create and Consume in 2003, and Silence Is For Suckers in 2005. He would often sell his records to local Ann Arbor music store Encore Records.

In 2006, Bathgate simultaneously released two albums, A Detailed Account of Three Dreams and Throatsleep, as well as an EP, The Single Road I Longed For. During the year, Real Detroit Weekly named Bathgate 'Best Solo Artist in Michigan'.

In 2007, Bathgate linked up with Saturday Looks Good To Me as an opening act for their European tour.

Later in 2007, Bathgate signed to Michigan record label Quite Scientific Records, on which he released A Cork Tale Wake on June 26. He spent the remainder of the year on a national tour. The album received high praise for its "bruised sounding beauty" and short, simple songs that "let his voice do the talking". On January 15, 2008, NPR Music chose the opening track "Serpentine" as its Song of the Day. A Cork Tale Wake was released in the UK on Tangled Up!/One Little Indian.

In February 2008, Bathgate released a limited EP, Wait, Skeleton, on Quite Scientific Records.

In March 2008, 2009, and 2011, Bathgate played at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX.

April 2011 saw the release of his second nationally distributed full length, "Salt Year" on Quite Scientific Records.

Musical style[edit]

Bathgate's music has been described as "stripped down with liberal amounts of acoustic guitar, piano, strings, and even a little horn work here and there", with all these instruments meant to "compliment Bathgate's voice".

Lyrics and songwriting[edit]

Bathgate often references hometown Ann Arbor, Michigan sites in his songs. He references a local Ann Arbor street, Ann St., in "The Last Parade On Ann St.". Bathgate lived at 609 Ann St. "Madison House" refers to the former backyard music venue Madison House in Ann Arbor.

Style of live shows[edit]

Bathgate is known for a using a wide range of techniques, instruments, and supporting musicians during live shows.

Early in his career, he would play Hayden Carruth poems, read by him, through the amp, as he intertwined his music. He has used loop pedals to layer his instruments and vocals during shows, an e-bow on his electric guitar to mimic the sound of bows on strings, and a mountain dulcimer.


Bathgate has cited influences including American novelists John Steinbeck and Kurt Vonnegut, poets Suzanne Hancock (Another Name For Bridge) and Josh Bell (No Planets Strike), and musicians They Were Thieves, Matt Jones, and Hezekiah Jones.

^ Reges, Margaret. allmusic (Chris Bathgate- biography), allmusicguide.com^ emusic- Chris Bathgate, emusic.com^ Partying Too Hard With the Descent of the Holy Ghost Church, annarborpaper.com, November 2005^ Chris Bathgate's Silence Is For Suckers, annarborpaper.com, March 2005^ Chris Bathgate Discusses A Cork Tale Wake, bebo.com^ Cite error: The named reference quite was invoked but never defined (see the help page).^ Cite error: The named reference absolutepunk was invoked but never defined (see the help page).^ Thompson, Steven. Melancholy Gloom, Beautiful and Bruised: NPR Music, npr.org, January 15, 2008
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