Growing up in suburban Chicago and taking in the folk, blues, and early rock traditions that the city offered, Jim Roll
began his musical evolution as a member of Midwest rockers the Bald Willies before uprooting to Frankfurt, Germany, and becoming a street musician. Having suffered thusly for his craft, Roll returned stateside to further sharpen his skills while hitting the folk club circuit. By October of 1996, Roll's reflective songwriting and sometimes bizarre stage persona had resulted in a sizable following, a record contract, and a debut release in 1998's Ready to Hang
. After playing most of the large American singer/songwriter festivals, Roll signed to New West Records in 1999 and teamed with the Silos
' Walter Salas-Humara
to record his follow-up, Lunette
. Drawing on more eclectic and mature sounds, Lunette
garnered significant critical praise. He then signed with the Telegraph Company, a Brooklyn-based label on which he released his third full-length, 2002's Inhabiting the Ball. This album features songs co-written with two of Roll's favorite modern authors, Dennis Johnson (Jesus' Son) and Rick Moody (The Ice Storm) and was very well-received. It was named in the top ten on Amazon editors' Best of 2002 rock list, among others.