April 9, 2009 | Leave a Comment
I loved speaking with Sarah Watkins about her brand new solo career, tour and record, after so many successful years with Nickel Creek. Check out the tunes and conversation in this interview! More about Sarah’s new album from her MySpace page:
In 1989, Watkins, barely out of her childhood, started playing in a nascent version of Nickel Creek at the seemingly unlikely venue of That Pizza Place in Carlsbad, California, along with her guitarist brother Sean and mandolinist friend Chris Thile (and chaperoned, of course, by her bluegrass-playing parents). The prodigious young trio built a reputation in bluegrass, folk, and country circles, then catapulted to mainstream prominence in 2000 after releasing an album produced by Alison Krauss. When not on the road or in the studio with Nickel Creek, Watkins guest-starred as fiddler and/or harmony vocalist on albums by Bela Fleck, the Chieftains, Ben Lee, Dan Wilson, Richard Thompson, and Ray La Montagne, among others. In addition, Watkins and brother Sean established an informal get-up-and-jam residency called the Watkins Family Hour at L.A. club Largo, “an uber-cool but cozy music and comedy club in Hollywood,” as Sean has put it. Watkins brings the spirit of the long-running Watkins Family Hour to her debut. It was there, in fact, that she developed and fine-tuned the repertoire for the album: “I had lived with a lot of this material for a while. It was tested and tweaked through the years playing at Largo. Songs would come and go; these are the songs that have stuck. Some are newer than others—’Lord Won’t You Help Me’ was a deliberate choice for the record. Some I had done for years, like Jon’s ‘Same Mistakes.’ ‘Too Much’ is a David Garza song, and I always loved it.”
John Paul Jones, who’d briefly toured during 2004 with Nickel Creek and Toad the Wet Sprocket lead singer Glenn Phillips in an ad hoc group called Mutual Admiration Society, had long encouraged Watkins to make a record of her own, offering his services well before she was ready to hit the studio. As Watkins recalls, laughing, “A couple of years ago we saw John Paul Jones at the Cambridge folk festival. He came up after our performance and said that if I didn’t let him produce my record he would never speak to me again. I was thrilled that he was that excited about it. He actually stayed with it and kept in touch. At that point, in Cambridge, I believe we had already talked about winding down the Nickel Creek touring, so it was a really convenient time and it helped me stay focused. It was a perfect moment to start transferring over the creative energy.”
Jones kept a familial atmosphere, and maintained an unobtrusive presence, in the studio, says Watkins: “I think he was allowing the band to be a band and play for each other, rather than have us play through a song, then look to see if that’s what he was or wasn’t looking for. Eventually, John would give us his feedback and directions to guide us in. I think that has a lot to do with the sound of the record being band-oriented, especially considering there were a lot of different musicians coming in.” Cutting John Hartford’s “Long Hot Summer Day” was especially inspired—with Rawlings playing “caveman drums,” Welch strapping on an electric guitar, and Watkins revving up everyone with her fiddle playing. The compellingly straightforward arrangements she and Jones devised allow Watkins’ personality to come through, illustrating both her sensitivity and her strength. Theses sessions had been a long time coming, but it’s clear that Watkins has only just begun.
April 8, 2009 | Leave a Comment
What a great title, and an amazing book! I loved talking about Keith’s childhood in Idaho, and the backstory to his book. More about Keith Lee Morris from the Tin House Books website:
An intriguing tale of darts, drugs, and death.
Russell Harmon is the self-proclaimed king of his small-town Idaho dart league, but all is not well in his kingdom. In the midst of the league championship match, the intertwining stories of those gathered at the 411 club reveal Russell’s dangerous debt to a local drug dealer, his teammate Tristan Mackey’s involvement in the disappearance of a college student, and a love triangle with a former classmate.
The characters in Keith Lee Morris’s second novel struggle to find the balance between accepting and controlling their destinies, but their fates are threaded together more closely than they realize.
Keith Lee Morris is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Clemson University. His short stories have been published in A Public Space, Southern Review, Ninth Letter, StoryQuarterly, New England Review, The Sun, and the Georgia Review, among other publications. The University of Nevada published his first two books: The Greyhound Gods (2003) and The Best Seats in the House (2004). He lives in Clemson, South Carolina.
April 7, 2009 | Leave a Comment
What an intriguing story! How could you not pick up this book after hearing this interview! More about Frieda Gates from her website:
Sawney Beane’s clan of brutal thugs grabs comely young Elspeth Cumming as she journeys to meet her betrothed. Her abductor, Sawney Beane’s eldest son, holds Elspeth captive in the clan’s secret hideaway deep in the caves off the coast of Galloway. The caves are home to Beane’s inbred extended family — 48 in all, each worse than the last — and exhibit acts of unspeakable brutality. As she witnesses the horror of the clan’s vicious way of life, Elspeth realizes that the dreadful rumors whispered about the Beane clan are all too true. And as she comes to know and relate to her captor, Elspeth also sees just what the clan has in store for her — and that escape from the caves is near impossible…This compulsively readable historical thriller immerses readers in one of Scotland’s most colorful legends.
April 6, 2009 | Leave a Comment
I truly enjoy the textures and scapes of Dan Goldman’s music. I haven’t heard a song I don’t enjoy immensely. Here’s a little more about Dan from his myspace page:
Luxury Pond is the songwriting project of Toronto-based musician Dan Goldman. In addition to writing and performing his own material, Dan plays regularly with Snowblink and Great Aunt Ida. He’s been a member in the Mia Sheard band, Justin Haynes’ John School, Tusks, Maps of the Night Sky, Breaking Sounds, and Kitchenmusik. He’s also created music for modern dance choreographers Jenn Goodwinn, Sara Doucet, Louis Laberge-Cote and Kathleen Rea as well as multi media producer/architect Filiz Klassen.
April 5, 2009 | Leave a Comment
I talked with Karen Brody about her successful play and brand new book BIRTH. Fascinating discussion about a topic that people don’t broach often enough! More from Karen Brody’s website:
Hailed “The Vagina Monologues for birth” by renowned women’s health expert Dr. Christiane Northrup, Birth is a documentary-style play based on over one hundred interviews playwright Karen Brody conducted with mothers across America. It tells the true birth stories of eight women painting an intimate portrait of how low-risk, educated women are giving birth today.
Since 2006 the play been performed around the world as part of BOLD, a global movement using the Arts to inspire communities to improve childbirth choices and put mothers at the center of their birth experiences.
This special edition of the book includes the entire play, playwright’s introduction and reflections,and the impact the play has had on BOLD communities. It also includes a foreword by Christiane Northrup, MD, FACOG, author of The Wisdom of Menopause, Mother-Daughter Wisdom, and Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.