Probably best known as Tom Waits' main horn player since 1985, multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney has an impressive resume that is deep as it is wide. During his two-decade career, Carney has worked with David Thomas, Bill Laswell, Victoria Williams, Marc Ribot, Grant Lee Buffalo, Allen Ginsberg and Kathy Acker, and has played saxophone, clarinet, harmonica and clarinet. However, the banjo was his first love, and he immersed himself in it, along with bluegrass and country blues, as he grew up in Akron, OH. As time went on he embraced jazz and rock, and punk in particular; his involvement with the burgeoning Ohio punk scene included a stint with the group Tin Huey. This early eclecticism shaped Carney into a versatile sideman as well as a wide-ranging solo artist, as his 1997 debut Ralph Sounds
and 1999 follow-up I Like You (A Lot)
proved. Both albums ranged from Krautrock to Dixieland jazz, and featured him playing everything from sax to musical saw to pan pipes.