Friday, April 24, 2015

Former Teamster unveils new folk album

Joel Rafael, a former Teamster and critically acclaimed songwriter and folk artist, is again striking the right cord with his latest album, Baladista, released earlier this month.

Joel Rafael
Already called "the must have Americana album of 2015," (, and "an album overflowing with gentle, melodic grace," (No Depression), Baladista delivers 10 ballads that embrace and celebrate the human spirit and reflect the half-century journey of an American songwriter.

Rafael once worked as a Teamster concert grunt at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. But his ninth album on Inside Recordings -- a label created by Jackson Browne and his management team -- is one that touches the soul, according to Browne:

Joel Rafael's songs are filled with passion and compassion. Passion for social justice, and compassion -- for those among us who have to struggle for a place at the table of American prosperity. His voice is unmistakably his own, big, warm and strong, and a conductor for the human emotions that connect us all.

The album’s first single and video, “Old Portland Town,” tells the tale of Rafael’s experience being arrested in Portland as part of a city-wide sweep of the entire underground. He had migrated there from Los Angeles in an effort to avoid the impending military draft.

Another album highlight is “Love’s First Lesson,” a number co-written with Eagles songwriter Jack Tempchin. The two have been friends since the 1970s when they met while performing at the Blue Ridge Guitar Shop in Encinitas, Calif.

Rafael has been writing and performing since 1974 and over the past decades has released a collection of eight Americana albums, including a 2CD Woody Guthrie collection with five Guthrie/Rafael co-writes. As a solo performer and with his band, he opened shows throughout the southwestern United States for artists including Crosby, Stills and Nash, Sheryl Crow, Laura Nyro, Joan Baez, Taj Mahal, Iris DeMent, Emmylou Harris, and John Lee Hooker.

Baladista is available at all normal retail outlets, including Amazon and iTunes.