- Tim Easton
Inspired by roots music as a youth, Akron-born Tim Easton attended Ohio State, where he first became a fixture in the region with his college band Kosher Spears -- and later, the Haynes Boys -- before going solo in the late '90s. Making music has taken Easton from his alma mater to the streets of Paris (where he busked alongside Beck Hansen) as well as Alaska, Los Angeles, and Joshua Tree, his current home.
While his address has changed, Easton's style hasn't. He blends rustic elements (finger-picked folk, bluegrass, and country-blues) with energetic bar-band rock, serving it up with an easy, corn-fed midwestern croon that subtly recalls Mellencamp. As of late, Easton has been exploring mid-tempo pop, particularly on 2003's critical breakthrough, Break Your Mother's Heart, which boasted such tracks as the pretty Elliott Smith-like ballad, "Hanging Tree," and the mandolin-laden ode to a working-class neighborhood, "John Gilmartin." Easton followed up that disc with last year's Ammunition, a highlight of which is "Dear Old Song & Dance," a stunning travelogue of substances abused that's told from the point of view of a lost lover: "Thanks for all the fun and the seven times in jail/I wish you all the best/Be sure to call me every now and then."