It took seven years and the internet for Willie Nile to rediscover his muse.
Nile, a Buffalo native, is a singer and songwriter out of the Bob Dylan folk/rock school who has just released his first album since 1992.
"I finally felt like doing it; it feels good to be back and it feels right," Nile said in a recent phone interview from his New York City apartment. "With the music on the Internet now, things are opening up and I wanted to be a part of it. You don't have to have a record deal, radio airplay or a video to sell records."
The CD is called "Beautiful Wreck of the World," and Nile released it on his own label, River House Records. It is also available on his website, willienile.com.
For the past two decades, Nile built a cult following with his blend of rock and folk. The New York Times once called Nile, "one of the most gifted songwriters to emerge from the New York scene in years." He's been compared to the Clash as well as Dylan.
Nile is best known for a self-titled album back in the 1970s for Arista Records. During the early '80s, he recorded a live album from Central Park and opened a show for the Who.
The new album, though, is bringing Nile back to the public eye. It features some rockers and softer songs, with a heaping portion of introspection, personal growth and mourning.
Count critically-acclaimed Lucinda Williams among Nile's fans, who has called the new CD "a masterpiece." Nile opened for her on tour earlier in the year.
Williams was particularly moved by one song, "On the Road to Calvary," a number Nile wrote for his friend, singer Jeff Buckley, who drowned a couple of years ago. "That song about Jeff is beautiful and moving," Williams has said. It was also hard for Nile to write.
"Jeff was a good friend of mine," Nile said. "I was going to do some work with him and when he died it was just heartbreaking. The song was a way for me to deal with those feelings."
Nile was also close to Rick Danko, The Band's bass player who died Dec. 10.
"His death really is like the end of an era," Nile said. "I saw him recently and Rick was one of those people who always made you feel good. I miss him already."
It was a younger singer, though, who helped give Nile the idea to put out his own record -- Ani DiFranco.
"When I thought about doing this, Ani inspired me," Nile said. "She's totally independent and has proven you can keep artistic control and sell records. I just followed Ani."
Nile still has ties to Buffalo. His family lives here, including a son, Bob Noonan, who is a senior at Amherst High School and captain of the hockey team.
It was Nile's phone conversation with his son earlier in the year while watching the Sabres during the Stanley Cup playoffs that inspired him to write a sports song, "Buffalo Rant." It's kind of a goofy cheer with a rocking beat.
More than that, the song reinforces Nile's bond with his old hometown.
"I'll always be connected to Buffalo," Nile said. "The city and the music was such an influence on my life."
For now, though, Nile is looking to the future and not the past. He plays New York's Bottom Line in January, and then will tour England where his records have had a following. Nile also hopes to schedule a gig in Buffalo.
"Good things are happening and it's a lot of fun," Nile said. "I just want people to know I'm alive, well and making music."
Out and About:
The fusion of jazz and rock is at the heart of Gamalon's music. The veteran Buffalo band performs Monday in the Tralf, 622 Main St. Local music will also be on display Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Tralf for the Artvoice Music Awards.
Roots rock is the speciality of Scott Carpenter & Real McCoys. Carpenter recently drew a warm response at Shea's Performing Arts Center while opening for the Goo Goo Dolls and plays tonight at 11 p.m. in Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk St.
Joe Rubino, owner of Nietzsche's, 248 Allen St., is no Scrooge. But every year on Christmas Eve, he opens the club and makes "Tiny" Tim Baldwin and friends do their annual songfest Friday at 9 p.m. It's all in the holiday spirit. Also this week at Nietzsche's, McCarthyizm plays tonight at 10 while The Thirds perform Wednesday at 9 p.m.