Christian Kiefer grew up in an area of California famous for the gold rush of the 1840s and 50s. It was a childhood spent around the ever-present detritus of that period of history: abandoned mine shafts, rusting hulks of stamp mills, ruins long since forgotten. As he began working towards a life in the arts, these images returned to him, appearing again and again in fiction, poetry, and music, becoming the thread which binds his work together.
Kiefer began his life in the arts through a fascination with the written word. This fascination is reflected in a long line of publications. His poetry and fiction have appeared in many of America’s most prestigious literary journals. He is the author of three novels, the most recent of which is Out of Iron.
Kiefer’s path led him to Los Angeles, where he studied with novelist T. Coraghessan Boyle and poet David St. John. He then returned to Northern California where he spent several years researching and writing about revisionist Westerns at California State University Sacramento. CSUS awarded him a Masters degree in Literature in 1997.
His interests in academia has continued and he is now working towards his Ph.D. in 20th century American literature at University of California, Davis, where he is focussing on the novels and poetry of Jim Harrison.
Kiefer’s 2000 release, Welcome to Hard Times, was embraced by music critics and fans as defining a new genre of American music. Hailed by one critic as “the inventor of country ambient” and described by another as “folk music free of its leaves and deadwood,” Kiefer’s project redefined the history of the American West, casting a musical response in line with current revisionist historians and scholars. The album’s spoken word track “Giants” received heavy airplay in Europe and the album’s closer, “Erendira,” was popular with college radio in the U.S. (Interestingly, “Erendira” is back on U.S. college radio again, this time in a cover version performed by San Francisco-based indie rock band Above the Orange Trees.)
Medicine Show, Kiefer’s newest release, is a collection of songs centering around a narrative of regeneration and emotional survival. Medicine Show features performances by Stephen Yerkey, Joan Jeanrenaud (Kronos Quar-tet), Mike Madden (from Welcome to Hard Times), Rob Bonner (South Loomis Quickstep), Darol Anger and Mike Marshall (Anger-Marshall Band), Joe Craven (David Grisman Quintet), and Jason Sinclair Long (Blue Man Group).