|Benefits, holidays, come on out!: Folks, hope you are all well and ready for the holidays. Since my last update, I've been working hard on an album that will be finished this winter and out next year. For a peek into the process, you can check out the fall/winter edition of Columbia Magazine where author Paul Hond did an in depth piece on the recording process.
I'm honored to be playing two fundraisers in December, first the 4th Annual Downtown Elves benefit this Sunday at 11th Street Bar, details here.
On December 11th, I'm joining many musicians at The Rock Shop in support of Mark Spencer, a friend I've made music with since 2004, both on the road and in the studio. Mark and I have spent a good bit of time this year working on my new album both in Nashville and here in NY working at his Tape Kitchen studio. Both Mark's home and studio were severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy and will take several months to recover. Proceeds of the show will go to the restoration and Mark will be onstage with myself, Jimmy Ryan, Amy Allison, and several others confirming that several feet of water from the Gowanus hasn't kept him down! All details here. See you there!
|Farewell to the Queen:
A remembrance of Kitty Wells I wrote for www.TheDailyBeast.com here.
An interview with The Daily Beast with short performance here.
As I digest the news of Kitty Wells' passing this week, a lot of folks have been in touch with remembrances of her music and accomplishments. Kitty's place in the industry can't be understated: her commercial success proved that female country music artists could be as successful as their male counterparts, a fact we take for granted today but was far from certain in her time. Her songs proved that country music made from an explicitly female point of view would resonate with all listeners. Personally the thing that always grabbed me was her voice, high and plaintive, something ancient and visceral but well suited to cut through the hard edges of 1950s honky tonk. And I've tried to emulate how she sang it straight, put the heart in her songs, and made really affecting music without a lot of extra drama or frills.
The times I met her, Kitty was delightfully no nonsense and unassuming but also poised and slightly opaque. She had been called the "Queen of Country Music" for decades, and she could carry that title with an easy grace, though her realm seemed an older world where music business was done between individuals and independent operators, venues were modest, the fans were paramount, the bus got parked in the driveway, and having a cook book to sell on the merch table was a good thing. I remember loving her speech accepting the Grammy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991, she was so modest and sweet, saying that the Grammy's were acknowledging something she "loved to do: to sing and perform" as if all that breaking down of gender bias against female artists was just a footnote. To paraphrase Cliffie Stone, the great LA based country music impresario, maybe she and Johnnie Wright weren't trying to make history, just a living. Whatever their intent, I'm glad that Nashville girl and her Tennessee Mountain Boy made all that music, and I am honored that I got to share a couple of musical moments with them, right at the end of their time together.
|Radio Free Song Club: Things are still cooking at the
Radio Free Song Club's monthly podcasts featuring new songs from myself and Freedy Johnston, Peter Holsapple, Victoria Williams, and founder Kate Jacobs. Bandleader Dave Schramm has been joined in recent shows by the amazing David Mansfield, and the proceedings are ably hosted by Nicholas Hill who's introduced outstanding guest performers such as Beth Orton and Robin Holcomb. Check out my page here! Expect new "song casts" on a monthly basis!
Remembering Vic Chesnutt: Folks, it is with heavy heart that I pass along the following obituaries of my friend Vic Chesnutt. I met Vic when he was a guest of the Radio Thrift Shop on WFMU in 1995, and over the years I was always amazed at his humor, grace and the power of his music. The first obituary was written by Rene Spencer Saller for Ted Barron's blog Boogie Woogie Flu. It references two songs Vic performed live on the Radio Thrift Shop in 1995, when Nicholas Hill and I were broadcasting live from the Musuem of Television and Radio. I believe Vic appeared that day with his wife, Tina, Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico, and Alex McManus of Lambchop. We had had a tense day, arguing with the museum over moving some furniture to allow Vic's wheelchair passage through to our broadcast studio. In the end, Vic prevailed and I remember, after all the hustle of getting a remote broadcast on the air, settling into the wonder of Vic's performance. Read on about Vic and his music here and the circumstances of his death here. He will be missed.
|20 Years of Merge! Our friends at Merge Records
are celebrating their 20th year. Laura proudly
participated in two anniversary projects:
Score: Twenty Years of Merge Records, The Covers, to which she contributed "Cowboy On The Moon" by fellow Nashvillians Lambchop.She was also included
in an oral history of Merge called Our Noise: The Book. Check it all out at here!
|Recently on the web: Folks, I really enjoyed the Million Dollar Quartet show on Broadway and wrote a piece about it for VanityFair.com. Read it here.
Also, some of our 2003 visit to Mountain Stage with the Schramms popped up at this blog, sounds pretty good!
|Remembering John Peel: Laura's reminiscences of John Peel are included in the box set Kats Karavan: The History Of John Peel On The Radio. The set is as varied and interesting as John's programs, and contains material from several of artists recalling their Peel sessions.|
|Laura at Vanity Fair: Read an essay on the Patsy Cline crash site written by Laura for Vanity Fair magazine's blog. Find it here!|
|Real Live Dolly!: Laura contributed a testimonial to the booklet for Dolly Parton: Singer, Songwriter, Legend, Icon
a new, career-spanning box set in
|Patsy vs. Kitty: Check out Laura's contribution to the book, Rock And Roll Cage Match, Music's Greatest Rivalries Decided. Laura details her fascination with Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline, telling how, in her eyes, there can be only one "Queen of Country Music." You can buy it here!|
|Fit for a Queen: Thanks to everyone who came to see Laura's tribute to Kitty Wells at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. What a special treat to get asked at the last minute to play some of Wells' songs on the Grand Ole Opry's new Country Classics Thursday night broadcast. In case you missed, check out here!
|Lucinda Speaks! Lucinda Williams describes how hearing Laura's cover of "Letters" on "Humming By The Flowered Vine" influenced the song choices on her new album, "Little Honey." Read it here!|
|Check out Laura's interpretation of the NYC subway map, featuring streaming audio of her entire 2005 album "Humming by the Flowered Vine."|
|Laura's acoustic version of the New Order song "Love Vigilantes" is included on the soundtrack of the film, "Body of War," a profile of Iraq veteran Tomas Young. The soundtrack is available now from Sire Records, and also features tracks by Eddie Vedder, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, and others.|
|Elvis & Laura on TV!: Elvis Costello and Laura harmonize on the old James Taylor/George Jones duet "Bartender's Blues" on the fourth episode of Costello's new Spectacle show on the Sundance channel. In case you missed it, check it out here!|
|Check out the reviews and previews of Laura's recent East Coast tour in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Philadelphia City Paper and New Haven Advocate, read her rant on her musical heroines at the record collector blog Boogie Woogie Flu and hear her recent appearance on WNYC public radio.
|Don't Get Lost! This week's episode of Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan (entitled "Don't Get Lost") opened with Laura's recording of "14th Street" from "Humming By The Flowered Vine." WOW, the third song of Laura's to be played on Theme Time Radio Hour, we are not worthy! The program airs again on the SIRIUS XM Deep Tracks channel (SIRIUS 16, XM 40) Sunday at 8 am and Monday at 8 am ET.
|July 2012 - Heading South: Folks, I hope your summer is off to a good start and you're enjoying the heat wherever you are. I'm personally looking forward to spending some time down South where I'll be appearing at the very cool Music City Roots concert series and live radio broadcast on Wednesday, July 11. The show will feature artists such as Kim Richey and Bill Lloyd and will be hosted by Jim Lauderdale. Gonna be a lot of fun. Later that week we'll be headed to St. Louis for a house concert courtesy of the series Wood House Concerts. Info on either show is available here!.
If you're bored of Facebook, check the cool photos from our February residency at Hill Country BBQ at Jasper Coolidge's photo blog Gimme Shutter and a preview and review from Neville Elder's blog at No Depression, and a nice mention in The Nation here.