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Edward Burch (born June 9, 1968 in Centreville, Illinois) is an American musician and journalist. As a guitarist, he is a founding member of alternative country band The Kennett Brothers and, as a suitcase player, of the quasi-skiffle combo The Viper and His Famous Orchestra. He has been a longtime collaborator of former Titanic Love Affair and Wilco multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett. He is also a regular contributor to such advocacy journalism outlets as Clamor and Pamphlet, as well as Harp and No Depression magazines.
Burch grew up near St. Louis as part of a West Central Illinois musical cohort that included nearby Belleville, Illinois's Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar (of Uncle Tupelo and later, respectively, Wilco and Son Volt). As an undergraduate and graduate student at the flagship campus of the University of Illinois, Burch entered a burgeoning Champaign-Urbana scene that included bands such as Poster Children, Menthol, Hum, and Braid. Burch performed with a number of groups during this time, including Bitter Homes and Gardens, The Kennett Brothers, The Corn Likkers, and The Viper and His Famous Orchestra. It was also during this time (as early as 1994) that he began his writing and home studio recording collaborations with Jay Bennett that would eventually see light as 2002's The Palace at 4 a.m. (Part 1).
Burch briefly relocated to Chicago in the early aughts, where he had a standing Monday-night gig at The Hideout, a center of the Chicago alt-country scene. At The Hideout, he could be heard performing with the likes of multi-instrumentalist Leroy Bach, violinist Andrew Bird, and The Handsome Family. In 2000, Burch compiled, produced, and played on a collection of Champaign/Chicago Christmas-themed recordings entitled Santa Is Real, its Burch-designed cover a yuletide parody of the Louvin Brothers' country gospel classic, Satan Is Real. In addition to tracks by the Kennetts, the Viper, and Burch (including his haunting version of the Johnny Marks tune "There's Always Tomorrow" from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television special), the collection featured recordings by Wilco alumns Bennett, Bach, and John Stirratt.
The Palace at 4 a.m. (Part I)
As Bennett's time with Wilco drew to a close (very publicly documented in the Sam Jones film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart), and on the same day on which Wilco's 2002 recording Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released, Bennett and Burch released The Palace at 4 a.m. (Part 1) through Chicago's Undertow Records, to generally strong reviews. Rolling Stone's David Fricke wrote: "If there is a Part II to this pop sunshine, may it come soon."
While Burch continued to perform in the mid-aughts, he has turned his efforts increasingly to political, advocacy, and cultural journalism, writing especially for the short-lived Champaign alternative The Paper, Clamor, and Pamphlet (an online journal Burch founded with fellow Champaign writer Jenny Southlynn). Burch's published interviews are with subjects as diverse as people's historian Howard Zinn and 1960s folk icon Dick Smothers. Pamphlet provides a wide-ranging forum in which Burch's reporting on the adoption of tasers by local police can sit comfortably next to his listener's guide to the music of T. Rex.
- "Tucson Weekly: Life After Wilco (May 30 - June 5, 2002)". www.tucsonweekly.com. Retrieved 2008-08-12.