who • what


when where

sundays at the post office



what to wear




EarleFest, September, 2010   Photo: Dale Godfrey



"Say what you will, Americana is alive and well in the world of music these days and Tone Bent have come to reinforce the point. Sizzling guitar parts and harmonious vocal exchanges make Tone Bent’s “Say What You Will” a roaring ride through heartland of human experience.

Built on earthy guitar parts that sometimes simmer with heat, these tracks are a collection of what is, what might have been, and what could be. Composed through lyrical compositions with a circular logic and a talent for storytelling, these tracks speak to the journey inside us all.

These songs tell the story of the world. Whether its deep emotion and sweet sensibility, these songs beg to be heard with the incessant pounding of a heart. Particular highlights on the record include the bluesy, retro-fitted “Catman,” the smooth, contemplative bliss of “Say What You Will,” and the ironic entanglement of “Blue Feather.” Furthermore, listeners in search of depth and clarity in the modern music industry couldn’t ask for more than songs like “And So It Is” and “This Little Apple."

Serious talent combines with musical passion and a knack for craftspersonship in the new release by Tone Bent." — J. Edward Sumerau, The Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA

"Put together two people who love to sing, play, and write, and you may have a recipe for success. That is what Bill Horvitz and Robin Eschner are doing under the name Tone Bent, and Say What You Will (Big Door Prize). If you are familiar with Horvitz, you’ll know that he is capable of going anywhere and everywhere with his guitar. Here he goes low-key with Eschner and goes acoustic, singing stories about peculiar people in town and perhaps throwing out hints of themselves in there too. Eschner at times shows hints of Tracey Amos, as if she had just left Rise Robots Rise and wanted to start a new thing. But it’s nothing but two guitars and voices, trading lines, harmonies, and ideas in a way that may seem folk-ish because it’s acoustic, but it’s more like diary entries for the ultra-curious. Consider it along the lines of Warren Zevon mixed in with Kate Bush or David Gilmour if he was open to let it all out like his former bandmate." — John Book, This is Books Music. com


Tone Bent is the name of the group that folk artists and singer-songwriters Robin Eschner and Bill Horvitz have selected for their musical project. With just acoustic guitars and banjo, this

duo accompanies themselves through a selection of songs written in recent years by Robin Eschner, with two newer songs written by both, according to the copyright claim.

The oldest song on their album, "Say What You Will", is "Southern Sea Song" from 1999, and the most recent numbers are "The San Joaquin" about the valley Robin Eschner grew up in, and "And So It Is" from 2008.

Robin Eschner and Bill Horvitz sing most songs together in duet form with harmony. Their voices fit together wonderfully. The songs are done in troubadour style, so pay extra attention to the lyrics describing love and intimate relationships, but also delivering occasional humorous twists and effects. In "Heading Home", written in 2006 to commemorate the death from cancer of Susan Butcher, a lady who, with her Arctic dogs, won the Iditarod Dog sled race in Alaska four times. "Pra Prababicka is a farewell song to a lady who traveled on the same train as her Czech grandmother about 150 years ago when she immigrated to Philadelphia. Tone Bent is currently in the studio recording their second album, which they hope to release in the next year. When they are finished, they will hopefully get a copy to Rootstime for review.
— Rootstime,  September, 2010

"I heard Tone Bent the other night, and was completely delighted. I had already heard their CD, and that delighted me, too, but their presence added a complete new dimension. Great stories, warm audience interaction and a stellar collection of songs; not a clinker in the lot. Can a woman, a man and two guitars generate the makings of a first-class good time? They can. Can original songs be intelligent, funny and emotional at the same time? They can. And they are probably the first poet/musicians in history to ever rhyme "Tyranosaurus Rex" and "a bowl of Rice Chex." Hear Tone Bent. See Tone Bent. Simultaneously, if possible."

— Roland Jacopetti, Music Programmer, KRCB-FM, Santa Rosa CA

"I really do enjoy the new Tone Bent release. Great,well-written and gracefully performed. It's just perfect for a Sunday acoustic radio show, or anytime you are longing for thoughtful, quiet time music."
— Bob Sala KRSH-Uncorked, KRSH FM, Santa Rosa, CA

"Great disc!!!!" — Wayne Winkler, WETS, Johnson City, TN

Bill Horvitz, the male half of this mixed duo, is already known to me as a jazz guitarist.  On the Bill Horvitz Band’s “Dust Devil” cd from 1997 he offers moderately experimental sounds within a familiar jazz context.  He sounded much more experimental back in the late 1980’s, with music that sometimes reminded the listener of his colleague Derek Bailey: The record was titled “Solo Electric Guitar and Compositions for 11 Piece Ensemble”, and was quite wild in the conventional sense.  Thus I was surprised to meet up with him again now singing with a female partner in this folk-oriented environment.That reminds me immediately of another musical “wanderer among different worlds”, Bill Frisell. 


All song texts are  published in the cd booklet; additionally, on the duo’s website one can find further background info on the individual titles, rounding out the production attractively.

The first number is is clearly not the kind of singing one normally finds in vocal duos.  Rather, we’re dealing here with an unusual kind of interweaving of distinct elements that produces a special kind of whole. The two voices each have their own strongly individualistic color.  I’m at a loss for familiar comparisons, so my evaluative attempt here must remain tentative. These vocal overlappings go in quite a different direction in the second song, working well in a more conventional way.  Instrumentally, Horvitz takes on the soloist’s role, as demonstrated by the strongly swing-oriented elements in the story of “Catman”. Catman want fish for his supper. Dogwoman want Catman stew. Dogwoman she don't mind waitin' - but [sic.]Catman do.  – Obviously whimsy is another strong element of this music, in the texts as well.


Somewhat like Leonard Cohen of old, Bill almost growls out the beginning of the third song, till he’s joined by Robin’s very differently-colored alto voice.  Here again the unusual vocal combination stands out, bringing an almost “sacred” quality to the song – though what it describes is a hot summer day in the San Joaquin Valley.  It’s a sweet song, evoking an evanescent, dreamy valley scene.This rather dreamy, introverted mood is mostly maintained until we’re shocked out of our reverie by the knife-edged electric guitar of “Beware the Woman”.  It’s a bizarre effect, evoking an atmosphere reminiscent of the good old West Coast back when Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane were calling the shots.  For sure, this number calls up that Zeitgeist.  It’s extraordinary, and I recommend a closer listening to the sometimes dark humor of the text, which clearly conjures up a conniving, possession-driven female. Another unique track is “Rubies on the Boulevard”, also accompanied by e-guitar: a woman’s reminiscences of bygone love, wandering the evening streets of Paris.  It’s a fine song full of expressiveness, the lilting, floating guitar solo appropriately filling out Eschner’s passionate vocal line. The other offerings lean towards a ballad-like, folk orientation, often projecting a street-song character in their vignettes of the lives of people of all sorts, and of life in general – for example, of a woman retracing the steps of her Czech immigrant great-great-grandmother who left the old country in 1860 (“Pra Pra Babicka”).

— Wolfgang Giese, Rocktimes, Germany, 9-16-2010  



"Tone Bent, the new duo formed by singer-songwriter Robin Eschner and singer-guitarist Bill Horvitz, provides a delightful breath of fresh air on the acoustic-folk-pop scene.  Their new, first CD, “Say What You Will”, bears eloquent witness to their wit, whimsy, tongue-in-cheek social commentary, and to their finely honed musicianship.  Precise rhythms, spot-on intonation, clear articulation, attention to recording detail turn Robin’s unique songs and Bill’s polished guitar solo work into a package that’s hard to beat for instant appeal.

Robin is one of the finest, freshest songwriter talents to come along in a generation.  Her texts are unpredictable, fanciful, sad, pensive, or joyous, and her clear, sweet alto voice showcases them masterfully.  Bill’s voice is likewise clear and honest, and blends richly with Robin’s; his greatest contribution, though, is unquestionably his deft improvisational guitar playing.  He makes intricate passagework sound easy, while keeping it always well within accessible aesthetic bounds.

The CD also contains a nifty gift: a lovely booklet with all the song texts, set against backgrounds of Robin’s artwork (she’s a fine painter too) and clever photos of Tone Bent in action. Want to have some fun, and learn some songs you’ll go around humming for months?  Buy this CD.  Then come hear them in person.  You’ll be glad."

— Philip Beard, Santa Rosa, CA

Tone Bent's eclectic range is enchanting - from campy and frivolous to heartfelt and profound, absurd alliteration to metaphysical mantras, irreverent irony to sacred songs so starkly simple. I've listened to "And So It Is" innumerable times leaving it on repeat on long car trips and felt like it became a mantra for my life journey. How ever did they capture my life so succinctly?

— John Shillington, Sebastopol, CA

ToneBent's CD “Say What You Will” has been an oft listened-to companion in our household over the past few months. Whether sitting by the fire at the end of a long day, working out in the yard, or taking a drive on a lazy afternoon (can't wait until they record that one!!), the songs are both a listening pleasure and stimulate one into thinking about some of the subtle issues of life. As fun as the CD is, seeing ToneBent live is even better. Bill and Robin have a wonderful interplay between themselves as they coax the nuances of the songs out, both vocally and instrumentally. The rich vocal harmonies and mingling of intricate guitar stylings make for a sound that is even greater than the sum of its parts. The audience is also asked to not just sit and listen passively, but engage in some active singing and reflection as Bill or Robin tell about how some of the songs came to be written. In a world full of artificial realities, it is refreshing to hear real music that is written and performed from the heart.

— Mike & Lesley VanDordrecht, Santa Rosa, CA

"Heart's full, clear, speaks to where you haven't felt maybe just yet, funny, lovely, smiles and smart. Tells you what you suspected but hadn't brought into thought. Hears like love to me, I just cant' say what. Turns yours...There's a lot you don't need which is not this that you need. Get it goddamn it!
— George Cartwright, Roseville, Minnesota

"What a thrilling debut album from these remarkably gifted and personable artists. With evocative vocals/lyrics and stellar guitar improvisations, this is the perfect CD to sit back and absorb. Check out " And So It Is" and " Catman". I love their creates visual and aural candy for my soul. If you have the opportunity, see them perform live. The stories behind the music are as meaningful and entertaining as the music.

— Ron & Chris Smith, Sebastopol, CA

"While the songwriting on, "Say What You Will," is as well-crafted,
intelligent, clever, and heartful as anything you are likely to hear
anywhere, its barely half the story of the duo, Tone Bent.
Its in their live performances that Robin Eschner and Bill Horvitz bring
the songs to life with the warmth of their singing, guitar-playing, and
between-song-stories that the real magic happens. Hearing Bill and Robin
talking about the genesis of the songs and their process of songwriting
adds an extra dimension of intimacy that makes an evening with Tone Bent an unforgetable experience."

— Claude Smith, Graton, CA

"In today’s world we need people who are curious enough to play their guitars in post offices just to check the acoustics. Tonebent helps to fill that need.

Robin’s songs sing of the details in life that matter and remind us to pay attention, from the opening “Say What You Will” to the closing details of a perfect “Blue Feather.” The brilliance of Bill’s guitar playing shares the stage and shines a fine spotlight on their intimate harmonies.

This cd makes for great listening. We first played it as the perfect accompaniment on a road trip, but to spend an evening in Tone Bent’s presence, hearing the stories behind their songs and watching their rapport, brings a soul-felt joy to the heart.

Tone Bent has bent our ears in the right direction and we know there is more to come."

— Jerry & Deborah Kermode, Sebastopol, CA