Amy Ray is best known as one-half of Indigo Girls, the Grammy-winning Folk duo she formed with Emily Saliers. Formed in 1985, the duo released an EP before signing with Epic Records and becoming one of the most popular Folk-Rock duos of all time. Although they have remained active for over three decades, Amy would use her downtime between projects to follow her own path. Beginning with her 2001 solo debut, STAG, Amy has pursued a slightly different path than that of Indigo Girls. Her voice may be instantly identifiable but her solo releases tend to travel down different musical paths that eventually converge onto the same road that she travels down with Indigo Girls. HOLLER, her 2018 album, is no exception…
The YouTube stars of today don’t understand the meaning of ‘paying your dues.’ Before American Idol and YouTube became the springboards for success, the artists of yesteryear rehearsed, played nightly in smelly clubs, and drove from city to city in a rickety van to build their audience. They wrote songs from the heart. They lived those songs before they even laid them down on tape. And the chance of them getting a record deal and achieving any level of success was slim to none. For many of them, sharing their music and baring their soul was the reason they created music. Fame was just a reward for their hard work. However, hard work doesn’t guarantee success without a little bit of luck thrown into the mix. Then again, there’s a long list of talented artists that never caught a break and have sadly faded into obscurity. Country/Americana singer/songwriter Blaze Foley spent many decades in in that sea of obscurity but now, nearly three decades after his death, this underground legend is finally getting the attention he has deserved since his humble beginnings in the mid- ‘70s.
Forty years since the release of his debut album, ALIVE ON ARRIVAL, Steve Forbert remains one of the most honest and warm singer/songwriters in Folk, Rock and Americana. Unfairly declared ‘the new Dylan’ for a brief moment in the ‘70s thanks to that debut, Forbert proved himself to be more than just a guy strumming an acoustic guitar at the front of the stage. His hit single “Romeo’s Tune” (1979) became a Top 40 hit thanks to Forbert’s earnest performance, great songwriting and that incessant piano riff. But Forbert was not one to crank out formulaic Pop or Folk – he was always moving forward while still paying tribute to his past. With more than two dozen studio, live, and fan-club albums in his back pocket, Steve Forbert still remains a songwriter that finds inspiration in the every day. His Mississippi soul may have moved to New Jersey but this is one cat that understands and connects with every inch of America.
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: THE MAGIC TREE is about to be released. How are you feeling about the way it turned out and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
STEVE FORBERT: I feel pretty good about it. We got the cat ears and legs and tail and whiskers – I think we got the cat in the bag. It’s hard to do.
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: FLOW STATE is finally being released. How are you feeling about the project and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
TASH SULTANA: Thank fuck it’s done ‘cos it was an ordeal. Like, making an album is hard work – I thought I’d just get in there and record songs I wanted to, and it’d be done, but it’s hard work. I can’t believe I can actually hold it in my hands now. The love is a bit surreal.
Scottish singer/songwriter Chris Rainbow (1946-2015) is one of those artists that appeals to different groups of music fans depending on which projects they are more familiar with. His vocal work with The Alan Parsons Project has earned respect from legions of APP fans, his UK hit singles attracted attention in the ‘70s and his production work is highly respected. However, Beach Boys and vocal harmony fans have long held him in high esteem for his often-overlooked album output. 1979’s WHITE TRAILS was his final studio vocal release and shows that he was poised to bridge the gap between the wonders of his previous albums (1975’s HOME OF THE BRAVE and ‘78’s LOOKING OVER MY SHOULDER) and the promise of the ‘80s (i.e.: Electronic Music). Unfortunately, he turned his attention away from solo material and WHITE TRAILS remains his final foray as a front man.
It has been three years since the release of his last album BRAND NEW but singer/songwriter Ben Rector hasn’t been resting on his laurels. From writing and recording new material to the birth of his daughter in July of 2017, Ben has been busier than ever. Working with producers John Fields (Goo Goo Dolls, All Time Low) and Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, M83), Ben has been inspired by all the positive changes in his professional and personal life and is now sharing his thoughts with the world. Although MAGIC is his seventh album, he approaches the material with a fresh, new outlook. In many ways, this album feels like Rector has re-energized and refocused his talents and now it is time to move forward and embrace the future.
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: METAPHORA is just about to be released. How are you feeling about the way the album turned out and the reaction to it so far?
JILL BARBER: I feel wonderful. This record is different for me, it’s a more contemporary sound and addresses a lot of issues of my inner life that I have never brought to my music before. It feels very fresh, punchy and energetic. And that excites me.
Rita Coolidge has been an important piece of Rock’s tapestry for nearly 50 years. She’s been a muse, a mover and shaker, a songwriter, a performer, a humanitarian, an artist, an author and an icon ever since she was ‘discovered’ by Delaney & Bonnie all those years ago. From backup singer to uncredited songwriter of one of Rock’s greatest songs (she co-wrote the piano coda for Derek & The Dominos’ “Layla,” yet has never received proper credit) and from solo artist to wife of Kris Kristofferson, Rita has been a part of nearly every important musical movement since her arrival on the scene in 1969. She even scored many solo hits including her warm and wonderful interpretation of Boz Scaggs’ “We’re All Alone.” When she stepped away from the solo spotlight, she formed Walela, a Native American trio with her sister Priscilla and her daughter Laura Satterfield.
Country Music has gone through a major metamorphosis over the years. Modern Country radio resembles Pop radio of the ‘90s and you’d be hard pressed to find a pedal steel guitar on any track gracing the Top 40. For those looking for a more traditional slice of Country Music, you’ll need to look outside of the charts and turn your attention to hard-working rootsy Americana outfits like Sarah Shook & The Disarmers in order to get your traditional Country fix.