Leo Rondeau deals in stories candid and honest and plainspoken. Based in Austin, Texas, his own story finds root in the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota where Rondeau grew up surrounded by country music listeners and pickers spanning three generations. A child of the rural American west and owning family lineage within the Turtle Mountain band of the Chippewa Indian tribe, his own history and worldview are engrained in the lines of his songs.

In his writing, Rondeau has been heavily influenced by the dolorous and at times bleak illustrations of Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and Townes Van Zandt. His marked presence within the scenes of his stories is even reminiscent of early Tom Waits tunes in their somber appreciation of the darker realities of life. The listener finds a departure from these influences, however, in Rondeau’s trademark hopefulness.

Rondeau can be found nearly every Thursday night at The White Horse when he is in Austin playing to spirited fans, and many other nights singing his stories in barrooms and dance halls throughout the country. He’s a musician for whom the man and the music are inextricable. To hear him say it on his album Take It and Break It: “Here’s my heart. Do what you want.”