Buddy Mondlock writes songs. He does it so well that some great songwriters have recorded his songs on their own albums. Guy Clark, Nanci Griffith, and Janis Ian, to name just a few. You might’ve heard his song “The Kid” (recorded by David Wilcox, Peter, Paul and Mary and Cry, Cry, Cry) and maybe even sung it yourself around a campfire. He draws you into his world - where a single snowflake follows the trajectory of a relationship, where you get you pocket picked by a Roman cat, where you might swim over the edge of the world if you’re not careful and where dreams that don’t come true still count.
His latest album, Filament, finds him exploring some new territory, both sonically and rhythmically. Produced by Brad Jones, known for his creative approaches to singer/ songwriters, songs like “Problem Solved” and “Sunlight In My Pocket” are propelled along by drums and percussion. Others are painted with woodwinds and string arrangements. Buddy is at heart a storyteller and the songs cover a lot of territory too, ranging from a young artist who finds fame too soon in the title song, to the wonders and mysteries found in “The Dark,” a song he co-wrote with the great Guy Clark.
When Buddy’s not on the road you can find him in Nashville but he grew up in Park Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He didn’t have a troubled childhood. His parents were nice to him. They paid for guitar lessons when he was ten and they never said, “when are you going to get a real job?” He sang Crosby, Stills and Nash songs with his sisters and answered his little brother’s questions from the top bunk. A few years away at college puzzling over Homer and Plato and then he was back. Living in the big city this time and playing open mics at Chicago’s crucible for songwriters in those days, the famed Earl of Old town. He once opened for the amazing Steve Goodman there on New Year’s Eve. Buddy was 21. Says he could have walked out of there that night and gotten hit by a bus and he wouldn’t have felt like life cheated him at all.
When Buddy made his first trip to Texas from his native Chicago, Guy Clark heard him singing one of his songs under a tree at the Kerrville Folk Festival and liked it. So Guy went back to Nashville, opened the door and said, “listen to this kid, he’s good!” A publishing deal and a U-Haul headed south soon followed.
People were starting to pay attention. In 1987 he was a New Folk Award Winner at Kerrville and he released his first album called “On the Line”. Over the next few years
David Wilcox recorded “The Kid” on his first record for A&M. Buddy did some writing with this other new kid in town named Garth Brooks. Janis Ian heard him singing at the Bluebird Cafe and asked him if he’d like to write with her. Their song “Amsterdam” got recorded by Joan Baez. Nanci Griffith asked Buddy to sing on a show she was taping for Irish television. She ended up liking that song so much that she recorded “Comin’ Down In the Rain” on her Grammy Award winning collection “Other Voices, Other Rooms.” Garth became a star and “Every Now and Then” ended up on his album “The Chase.”
Buddy was touring all over the U.S. by this time playing coffeehouses and the occasional festival (he’d become a regular on the main stage at Kerrville). And there
were trips to Europe too. Buddy’s second album, produced by Steve Addabbo in 1994, got picked up by Son Records, a small label in Ireland started by the band U2, and he was well received on the island of poets. He’s toured there consistently ever since. 1996 was a good year. Peter, Paul and Mary recorded “The Kid” and then asked the kid himself to sing with them on their “Great Performances” TV special. He won a Kerrville Music Award for Song of the Year that autumn for “The Kid” too.
Since then he’s released a string of critically acclaimed solo recordings on his own label and on EMI. And in 2003 Buddy toured North America and Europe with Art Garfunkel and Maia Sharp in support of their album “Everything Waits To Be Noticed” which they wrote and recorded together as a trio. “Filament” will be his seventh album.
In recent years Buddy has been writing songs with military veterans through a program sponsored by an organization called Music Therapy of the Rockies and he includes several of those songs in his shows (and one on his new album). “This has been such a powerful experience and I’m honored to have been trusted with these stories of trauma and of triumph too,” he says.
Buddy and Maia Sharp have also been collaborating on a new musical called, “The Girl In the Red Dress.” It includes several songs from their project with Art Garfunkel and a slew of new material from Buddy and Maia. Set in a world where “The Leader” has banished all color as subversive, the story focuses on a young woman who must learn to believe in herself and comes to find that she can actually make a difference.
In addition to writing and touring Buddy also teaches songwriting. Along with one day workshops across the US and Europe he has also been a staff instructor at the Swannanoa Gathering, the Kerrville Folk Festival Song School, the Sisters Folk Festival Song Camp and retreats like Ellis Paul’s New England Songwriter Retreat and Cedarsongs in Tennessee.