Starting as a militant folkie, mutating into a roots rocker, followed by a stint as a noisemonger, J.C. Hopkins may have found a home with the intricate song structures more associated with Brian Wilson than Woody Guthrie. His strength is his iconoclasm, partially inspired by Charles Ives, though equally colored by the traditionalism of the Beatles.
Singer-songwriter Peter Case first noticed Hopkins in his folk incarnation, so when he formed his Americana combo Flophouse, Case stepped into produce (1990, Heyday). But shortly after, Hopkins abandoned roots rock in favor of a noisier version of Flophouse which recorded Undaunted (Harp, 1992) and two records overseas with Bettie Serveert's producer and some of its members (Upside Down, 1995 and Tulips and Chimnies, 1996).
Athens By Night (Shell/Stickshift, 1997) was Hopkins' official solo debut collection of songs-multi-layered with weird instrumentation including string and horn arrangements recalling the kind of "serious" esthetic employed by Van Dyke Parks. He performs with an orchestra and other times with his jazz Heptet, while he also holds a position as a popular nightspot's pianoman. Hopkins frequently collaborates with indie-rock diva, Barbara Manning, and naif-rock queen, Victoria Williams. In mid-1998, he had just composed a musical theater piece, "Show'Bizness," scripted by poet Pete Simonelli. It was staged in San Francisco, the singer's adopted hometown.