Growing up in Fresno, California is easier when you get an electric guitar for Christmas and start playing rock music in the garage with your brother. And that's exactly what Joel did. He also went up to the lake a lot with his friends.
But then he moved to San Francisco in 1990 and started writing original songs and formed a band named Paddlefoot with some of his friends. Seven years, three cassette tapes, two CDs, three tours, hundreds of shows, and thousands of beers later, Paddlefoot decided to call it quits.
After Paddlefoot broke up in 1998, Joel formed 86 (the band) with Jason Kleinberg, the fiddle player from Paddlefoot. 86 also features Joel's brother, Tom Murach, on drums as well as Andy Davis of the Bay Area's Spikedrivers on banjo, and Joe Rut on electric guitar and lap steel. Over the years, 86 has gigged extensively at clubs in and around the Bay Area and has recorded three CDs. Joel continues to play bass for 86.
In 2003, Joel self-released his first solo album, Greetings from the Middle of Nowhere. Painstakingly recording over several years in a series of basements, garages, sheds, and cabins, Greetings features ten Murach originals comfortably nestled within intricate layers of acoustic guitar, fiddle, pedal steel, electric guitar, bass, drums, organ, musical saw, and broom played by some of the SF Bay Area's finest local musicians including Carrie Bradley, Jason Kleinberg, Joe Rut, Melanie DeGiovanni, Max Butler, Paul Rustigian, Cynthia Wigginton, and John Ormsby. This album was co-produced and engineered by Joe Rut.
In 2005, Joel self-released his second solo album, Free Range Donut. Unlike Greetings with its multi-layered instrumentation and numerous guest musicians, Free Range Donut features only Joel's voice and guitar resulting in an honest and compelling lo-fi album that forsakes studio trickery. This album was engineered and co-produced by Brett D. Cline.
In 2009, Joel self-released his third solo album, Lucky One Way. This album features Joel's backup band, the Low Rollers. Members include Earl Butter (of the Buckets) on electic guitar and backup vocals and Tom Murach on drums. Some of this album was recorded by Sean Coleman, some by Andrew Gerhan, and some by Joe Rut.
Since 2009, Joel's band The Low Rollers reformed with Earl Butter leaving, Colin Peden joining on bass, and David Cuetter sometimes joining in on the pedal steel. They released three albums Sun, wind, etc. (2012), Louder (2015), and Mexican Stringray Doctor (2017).
Joel is currently working on a solo album and playing shows whenever he can.