This Month's Show
An Evening with
Aztec Two Step
March 1, 2014
In 1972, Aztec Two-Step, whose name comes from a poem by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, burst upon the scene with their self-titled debut album on Elektra Records. Since then Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman have spent a lifetime making music together as the folk/rock duo Aztec Two-Step. Their first album, along with their subsequent albums for RCA Records were staples of progressive FM and college radio and helped to bring the folk/rock music of the 1960s into the 70s and beyond.
As their recording career continued, so did the critical acclaim. In 1987 Living in America, received the New York Music Award for Best Folk Album and was named in Billboard’s year-end critic’s poll. They have been praised in countless major US newspapers and magazines, including Rolling Stone, and have appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, such as the David Letterman Show, the King Biscuit Flour Hour, and World Café Live.
In 2005 they released their career-defining “Days of Horses” CD to rave reviews. Of this release, the Boston Globe said, “Fans of the duo’s harmony-driven tunes and easygoing acoustic guitar riffs will recognize their James Taylor-meets-Simon & Garfunkel sound. What’s new is the mood. This album sits back on its haunches as Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman look back wistfully at American pop culture and their own ride through it.”
2007 saw several hallmark events for the duo. In June, Aztec Two-Step performed “The Persecution and Restoration of Dean Moriarty (On The Road)” at a very special Lowell Celebrates Kerouac Festival as the author’s hometown marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of On The Road. Also In June 2007, Real Simple, a popular national lifestyle magazine, named Aztec Two-Step’s debut recording one of the top five classic folk albums of all-time, along with works by Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Tom Rush and Phil Ochs. The article cites the duo as “surpass[ing] Simon and Garfunkel for exquisite harmonies, musicianship and emotion.”
Rex and Neal were often reviewed as having the “east coast sensibility,” “intellectual lyricism,” and “ethereal harmonies” of Simon & Garfunkel with their debut album on Elektra Records in 1972. Possessing a rich musical legacy of their own, few groups, if any, were more qualified to interpret and perform the timeless songs and harmonies of their legendary predecessors. In 2008, the duo released “Time It Was -The Simon & Garfunkel Songbook” (Red Engine Records), a live tribute album of S&G’s music, featuring narration by legendary DJ and music historian Pete Fornatale, who provides commentary and insights based on his interviews with Simon & Garfunkel. Three plus years later and counting, Rex, Neal, Pete, and bassist Fred Holman, continue to impress audiences up and down the eastern seaboard with this entertaining and informative show.
To commemorate their 40th Anniversary year, early 2012 brings the official release of Fowler & Shulman’s studio CD “Cause & Effect” (Red Engine Records). A collection of songs of social significance, it is produced by Paul Guzzone and features long-time bassist Fred Holman. The album is a combination of re-worked previously recorded songs and newly mined material. From John Platt of WFUV in New York, “The secret of Aztec Two Step's longevity isn't just the harmony between Rex and Neal, it's also the quality of the songs. On "Cause and Effect" they revisit a lot of their repertoire with crisp acoustic arrangements. And while the songs were mostly inspired by a specific moment in time (Reaganomics, apartheid, John Lennon's assassination), they resonate anew today.”
Aztec Two-Step continues to impress audiences with intelligent songwriting, dazzling acoustic lead guitar, and inspiring harmonies, and remain one of acoustic music’s most popular and enduring act
“Aztec Two-Step comes with interesting and melodious arrangements and pleasantly breezy tunes.” New York Times
“Cult folk-rockers can still carry off their sweet, supple harmonies and bouncy acoustic pop with aplomb. Recommended.” Billboard
“To begin with I think they’re both a little weird. Well, maybe eccentric is a better word. With Rex it’s obvious because he’s a poet, and poets are suppose to be like that. Neal is a little different because he’s so open. But his sense of humor is not exactly what you might expect. Of course, maybe I say that they’re weird because I like them, and I think everyone I like is a little weird. I’ve always believed that you need to have a touch of madness to create any art, and the music that Neal and Rex make together is beautiful. It has depth; and sometimes they get this spooky quality that really reaches me. That’s the crux of the matter, their music reaches me.” David Bromberg