Karl Straub's Stupid Goddamn Website


The List

RHONDA on FACEBOOK! (+ more bullshit social media)

What Karl has done (in the past). He's made records, played gigs, written songs, and whatnot.

Karl Straub is a D.C. area songwriter whose material has been covered by numerous artists, including Last Train Home, Mary Battiata and Little Pink, the Grandsons, Mark Noone, Virginia Coalition, Kevin Johnson, Lisa Moscatiello, the Kennedys, Cowlick Lucy, Eugene Chadbourne, and Lee Wilhoit. His latest album is "Harlem Hayride," the last Graverobbers full-length which was unfinished for years but recently polished off and sent out into the world.

Upcoming releases include "Hangtown Dancehall," a song cycle collaboration with Eric Brace that features Kelly Willis, Jason Ringenberg, and John Wesley Harding, as well as an album of trashy rock and roll with side project CrowTown.

His songs have been performed everywhere from open mikes to Wolf Trap, the Birchmere, and the Kennedy Center, and reportedly a festival in Antarctica. Straub's cult following includes cross dressers, rednecks, and sushi chefs, as well as many musicians and children, (most of whom remember his lyrics better than he does)Straub has been performing original songs since 1985. His former band, the Graverobbers, released 3 albums and 3 singles, as well as contributing tracks to various compilations. "

Americana Motel," (a collection of cuts by local roots-oriented acts) featured Straub's material, and a smorgasbord of local players and singers recorded his song "Don't Take Advice." The album was on the Wall Street Journal's top ten list for 2001, and the recognition by his peers helped garner Straub a Washington Area MUSIC Association nomination for Songwriter of the Year.

Straub has written all kinds of songs. A typical show features fuzzy rock and roll,

Elvis Costello-esque pop songs, bubblegum, swinging jazz, and honky-tonk country a la Hank Williams. Straub's Gatton-influenced Telecaster guitar playing is featured, and his guitar solos sound like a blend of Freddie King, James Burton, and Lester Young. The Combo ranges from stripped down guitar rock and roll unit to the deluxe version with keyboards, steel guitar, and horns.

Straub's lyrics are all over the map, sometimes frank, sometimes impressionistic. His subjects include the obsessive behavior that springs from failed romance, meeting the Devil in North Carolina, and radio stations run by mermaids. His best-known songs are often witty novelties like "Backwards Town" and "Don't Take Advice," prompting his mother's complaint that she "couldn't hear the words because people were laughing so loud." Straub's humor is definitely not from the smirky smartass school, however. Even the comic material is bitter social commentary, as if Ambrose Bierce's "Devil's Dictionary" were set to music.

Currently, Straub is performing with his Karl Straub Combo. The live shows are always a little different, and always feature the compositions that inspired Pete Kennedy to call Karl Straub the area's best songwriter.


  KARL STRAUB is a highly regarded songwriter and performer called "a world--‐class original on electric guitar" (CDBaby) and "DC's most original songwriter" (Pete Kennedy).  Karl headed the legendary Graverobbers in the 1990s and countless artists have covered his material, including Last Train Home, Virginia Coalition, Little Pink, Eugene Chadbourne, Kevin Johnson, and many more. His songs range from rock 'n' roll fuzz to Elvis Costello--‐ like lyrical surprise, from bubblegum pop to Western swing, and from Hank Williams honky--‐tonk to Thelonious Monk jazz, often in the same song.  To listen closely to a Straub composition is to come away with new hope for rock as a living art. 

  His most recent work is the 2014 release Hangtown Dancehall (Red Beet Records) with Eric Brace of Last Train Home.  The album, a romping song cycle of the California Gold Rush, also features Kelly Willis, Jason Ringenberg, and John Wesley Harding.  In 2013, Straub and Peter Fox issued the Harlem Hayride album of reworked, previously unreleased Graverobbers songs (Overtone Records). Coming up, Karl will release an album of  pure, trashy rock--‐and--‐roll with side project Crowtown, and he is also completing the long awaited Bubblegum Picasso disc.  Alongside all this, Karl teaches professional--‐level songwriting and guitar, both in Northern Virginia classes and online.

    The Karl Straub Combo gathers all--‐stars Ariel Francis on keyboards, Matt Tebo on drums, Jeff Muller on bass, and Stephen Dawson on guitar and vocals, expertly backing Straub's deep repertoire of original numbers.  Frequent guests include trumpeter Kevin Cordt and vocalist Martha Beggs.  The Karl Straub Combo plays all kinds of venues throughout DC and Northern Virginia.