Sharing the Stage with Heroes Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell

One thing I’m learning is that pursuing a career in music, like life in general, has its highs and lows. This last week I had one of my highest “highs” yet. I had the amazing opportunity to open the show for two artists I love and admire, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. I was pretty thrilled with that, but the night just got even better. I got to join them and the Glory Band on stage for the encore.

Photo by George DeLuca

When Emmylou and Rodney completed their set I happened to be backstage watching. They graciously invited me to sing “Stars on the Water” with them. When they were getting ready to head back on stage, Emmylou said, “Rodney goes on first and then I dance out. Dance out with me!” How could I refuse Emmylou? We danced out on stage together and joined Rodney in singing the song. What a memory! My friend and professional photographer, Evan Richman, captured the moment perfectly in the photo below.

Photo by Evan Richman Photgraphy

When they launched into the final song “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” I spotted Emmylou’s dogs with her tour manager backstage. She brings them on stage at the end of every show and gives a plug for dog rescue organization she started in Nashville called Bonaparte’s Retreat. I got to bring her sweet dogs, Keeta and Bella out on stage.

Photo by Evan Richman Photography

Emmylou and I talked dogs after the show. I really admire the work she is doing to help unwanted dogs find homes. Her mission is close to my heart because a little over six years ago, my husband and I adopted a black lab mix, Sophie. She’s now such a huge part of our lives. It’s hard to imagine that someone didn’t want her.

I have to thank Rodney for the excellent night I had. It’s because I have a history of doing some shows with him that I was able to get this opportunity. He continues to be a great support and encouragement to me in this adventure that I’m on. And for that, I’m grateful!

Good Times with Rodney Crowell

I had the absolute pleasure of supporting two of Rodney Crowell’s shows this week. I first met Rodney in Portland, Maine, when I opened for him at One Longfellow. I was moved and  inspired by his performance and told him so. He graciously offered to stay in touch. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a bit of  time with him on a few occasions and have received truly insightful feedback from him on a few of my new songs. I feel grateful and blessed.

I felt that even more this week when I got the chance to share the stage with him again, this time at The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Massachusetts (one of my favorite New England venues) and at the Sellersville Theater in Pennsylvania, also a wonderful venue. Both nights, I opened the show, which was a real treat. Rodney has a wonderful audience — people who deeply appreciate good songwriting. Opening the show was great, but the high point for me on both nights was joining Rodney and his excellent guitar player, Jedd Hughes, on stage to sing, “If the Law Don’t Want You” the song sung by Norah Jones on Rodney’s most recent album, “KIN.”

I wanted to make Rodney proud and I hope I did! Judging by the audiences’ reaction on both nights, it was a welcomed addition to his killer set. I was thrilled to find out that one of my fan/friends filmed video of the song in Fall River (watch the video below). Probably better that it was filmed that night and not the second one, as I had a little harder time with one line of lyrics (Snake hip shirt rip giving me lip). I jumbled them a bit and ended up accidentally swearing. : ) Oh, well, live music! I gave the audience a good laugh.

It was a special time that I won’t forget. I would jump at any chance to share the stage again with this remarkable songwriter and wonderful person. From talking with his fans both nights, I know that I’m not the only one who feels love and admiration for Rodney Crowell. He seems to inspire that in all those he meets and performs for. Lucky us.

Just Announced! Friday, January 4 – LIVE CD Recording at Johnny D's Somerville, MA


Amy and her full band will be at Johnny D’s, her hometown venue, for a VERY special show on Friday, January 4, from 7:30-9:00.

The show will be recorded and used for a LIVE CD that will be released in the spring.

The audience will have the opportunity to advance purchase the album (both CD and a download before it’s even released) for just $5, plus will get the chance to received a signed commemorative poster. Better than that, a group photo of all who come out will be included in the artwork for the album. You’ll be a part of the album!

Players for the show: Jim Scoppa, lead guitar; Russell Chudnofsky, rhythm guitar; Lorne Entress, drums; John Styklunas, bass + special guests.

Get your tickets to this special show today! And make sure to call and reserve a table if you plan to sit and have dinner.

BUY TICKETS HERE

Going South Tour: Recap of My Trip to Nashville and Beyond

I just got back from a great trip down South with my friends, the band, Girls Guns and Glory (GGG). We started in New York City at the Rodeo Bar – a honky tonk in Manhattan! After that, the guys hit the road and I took to the air.

I flew down to Nashville where my parents live, then drove with them to the Muscle Shoals, Alabama area where they were raised.  My mom set up a house concert for me there. Thanks, mom! Some of my her family that I hadn’t seen for years came out as well as her friends from high school and others that we have a long history with. I moved around a lot as a kid, and the Shoals area was the one place that always felt like home to me. My grandfather passed away two years ago and my grandma moved to Nashville. Their house, which served as a refuge for me for so many years, was sold and I haven’t been back since. Coming back to do a show there was incredibly special for me and for my parents too.

The next day, it was back to Nashville where we meet up with the GGG guys who had arrived at my parent’s place in the middle of the night. I said hi, then headed right into town to meet with a few possible producers for my next CD. More on that another time.

That night’s show was pretty HUGE! I played Nashville’s famous songwriter spot, the Bluebird Café for the first time and LOVED it. The house was packed. The crowd gives you 100% of their attention for two full hours. I swear, no one got up to go to the bathroom. My butt was asleep at the end of the show. It’s an “in the round” set up, so you sit all night across from the other artists playing. I was there with Ward Hayden, lead singer for GGG, Rod Picott and Amanda Shires. There were a lot of good stories told and laughter in between songs and everyone sounded great. Can’t wait to go back. What a cool place.

We had Wednesday off and I took the guys to chow down on biscuits at the LOVELESS CAFE. Lots and lot of biscuits. Yum! Then we headed downtown to go to the Country Music Hall of Fame to see the Patsy Cline exhibit. Just as we walked up the steps to enter, and I said, “I’m so excited! I’ve never been!” the attendant shut the door and locked it. Bummer! We didn’t realize that it closed at 5. But it did give us plenty of time to try on cowboy boots on Broadway. We did that for about an hour. No one bought anything, but we took some great photos! Paul Dilley (bass player for GGG) was pretty sad to leave a pair of purple boots behind. $300 was a little steep.

On Thursday, the guys headed way the heck down in Georgia without me. I wasn’t feeling great and decided to stay behind and skip the 16-hour drive (round trip). I missed some quality time in the van, but we made up for it later. It gave me a chance to record all the songs I have for the next album and send them to a producer. And I got to hang with my 88-year-old Grandma and my parents. Time well spent!

The guys got back on Friday, just in time to meet me down in Nashville for our show on lower Broadway at the National Underground. We had a fun night! I had fans who first heard me all the way up in Maine come to the show as well as my mom’s 80-year-old neighbor , a high school friend I hadn’t seen since I was 15, plus some other Nashville fans. The guy’s set ended a little earlier than planned, but that gave us time to head over to the Athens Family Restaurant (a diner really) and have a late night meal.  I gave up on eating dinner by 8 pm on this trip. And I didn’t eat one salad. Thank goodness for my mom’s green smoothies!

Friday morning, with smoothies in hand, we said goodbye to my parents (who were wonderful hosts) and their cute little pup, Ozzie, and hit the road in the GGG van heading to Chattanooga. The guys are great to travel with. Good conversation. Lots of laughs. We got to town just in time to set up for a show that was in a small arts-and-crafts-style church in a neighborhood. The turnout was small, but the audience was enthusiastic.

Starved after the show, we found yet another 24-hour dinner that was highly recommended, chowed down with some friends who came out for the show and then spent the night in style at the Comfort Inn. I was informed upon check in that the TV in my room didn’t work. No biggie. But when I got up to the room, I found an open soap and a used towel on the sink. I texted Ward a photo and he suggested that I make sure that no one was in the closet. What? Freaky! I opened the door to the hall wide before checking the closet in case I needed to make a run for it down to the guy’s room. Luckily, there was no one in the closet, under the beds or on the balcony. Yes, I checked.

Getting up at 9:30 the next morning was a little tough after going to bed at 3, but I managed and so did Ward. We headed back to the church we played at the night before to perform a few songs at the service for folks that one member described as a “bunch of old hippies.” Ward did a Woody Guthrie song, which the crowd loved, and I did a few of my new originals, one called “A Little Kindness” and the other, “Another Sunday.” I got to tell a few stories as well. The guest speaker was from Muscle Shoals! It was a definite experience. A bit new age.  Kind of like being at yoga class. I think I want to preach next time. I bet they’d let me speak on the doctrine of kindness.

We got the guys and then were on our way to the last show we were doing together at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, Georgia. I love Eddie’s. It was only my second time playing there and GGG’s first. We had a great night entertaining those who came out. And then, you guessed, we passed a 24-hour diner and couldn’t resist. We’ve decided the next time we tour together, it’s going to be a diner tour. Pancakes every night!

After a good night’s sleep for all of us at a family friend’s house, we headed out for one last journey together to the Atlanta airport where the guys dropped me off and started to make their way back home.

I couldn’t have asked for a better week on the road. I was with my family, saw old friends, reminisced, connected with my fans, played music, laughed a lot and got to know a great group of guys. Can’t wait to do it again!

Mr. Comcast, I'm Ready for My Close Up

It’s taken me SIX MONTHS to write a blog post about the amazing experience I had doing a concert for WUMB Boston and being filmed by Comcast. When I sat down to write this, I was thinking, “Oh, it’s just been a few months.” Then I counted and I was like, “That’s crazy! It’s been half a year!”  Well, time does fly. We all know it’s true. And to borrow another cliche, better late than never.

In October, I had the great pleasure of doing a live show for WUMB 90.9 FM, an awesome station here in Boston that plays folk and Americana. The station was one of the first to play my album “One Time” and has been incredibly supportive of my budding music career. They had me out (as a last minute addition) to play at their festival last summer and then invited me back to do a concert for their members in October.
The excellent Ralph Jaccodine, who I work with closely, was working on a project with Comcast and told me that they would be coming out in full force to film the show.  I didn’t really know what that meant until I got to the venue the day of the show. Comcast had a room full of equipment – multiple monitors, computers and a bunch of guys to run them all. It was command central for the five cameras that would be filming the show. There was a director (go Paula) and a bunch of other folks working for her. I think they had about 15 people in total. This is a crew that’s filmed huge concerts with a dozen cameras, so this shoot was easy as pie for them.

Perhaps the most surprising thing for me as I was coming up to the day of the show was when I saw the schedule and it read, “Amy to make up at 6 pm.” I asked, “Is someone doing my make up?” and the answer was “Yes, they are hiring a make up artist.” That was a first! And thank goodness they did hire the excellent Phoebe Ramler. She did some good work that day! Not just on me. My bass player, John Styklunas asked for a little color too (did I just write that? Sorry John!).

The show itself was a blast. Jay Moberg, the New Music Director and a DJ for WUMB did the interviewing. The crowd, about 200, were super attentive and supportive. It’s always nice when that’s the case.

My favorite camera was the jib. It was floating around and would go all the way to the back of the room then back up to the front. It was the camera getting close ups of my face. I couldn’t help but think of the cheesy moments on shows like American Idol when the singers over play to the jib like they are trying to look into our souls (unsuccessfully). I tried to avoid playing that card, but I had a few cheesy moments. I couldn’t help myself!

The guys in my band did a bang up job that night, as did the Comcast crew and the sound engineer, Grady. And Susan Cattaneo was kind enough to sing background vocals. Everyone was wonderful.

An edited version of the concert aired on Comcast for several months and I’ve got a bunch of expertly filmed high def videos up on YouTube for your viewing pleasure!

Special thanks to Ralph Jaccodine, Pat Monteith (WUMB GM), and Paula McCarthy (Comcast) for making this happen. Not only did I have a great experience and have some excellent video to share with my fans, but I also got a great make up artist out of it. : )

You can watch all most of the songs filmed that night on YouTube. Here’s the playlist.

2011: Recap of An Amazing Year

I made a decision in the fall of 2010 that I was going to go after my music career in a way I hadn’t ever before. I didn’t know all that would be involved, but I was determined to give it 100%. As I look back now, it’s been nothing short of an amazing year. How did so many great things happen? What I’m convinced of, more than ever, is that to make things happen in music you need to have a great team of people to work with you and on your behalf. I had that in 2011 and it made all the difference.

I feel a ton of gratitude for everyone who supported me and my music. I have to thank a bunch of folks starting with my awesome band, Bob Sevigny (acoustic guitar), Jim Scoppa (lead guitar), John Styklunas (bass) and Eric Pohl (drums) as well as two other musicians who played with me often, Bob Enick (guitar) and Dan Kellar (fiddle). You guys are the best.

I also want to thank my excellent management team, Ralph Jaccodine and Justine Ferland; the awesome woman who did all my booking (and cheered me on), Tracey Delfino; the Nashville folks who got my CD out to the world – radio promoter Leslie Rouffe from Songlines and Kissy Black’s team Joseph and Joy at Lotos Nile; the producer of “One Time”, Lorne Entress, who brought my music to life; all the musicians who played on my album; the folks who booked me including Patrick Norton at Narrows Center for Performing Arts, Matt Smith at Club Passim, Scott Hayward at Tupelo, George Tocci at the Bull Run and Tom Rota at One Longfellow; my incredibly supportive husband, Ryan; and lastly the fans of my music. The fans are what make everything possible. Thank you so much for loving my music, coming to my shows and providing me with so much encouragement.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Here are my 14 biggest highlights of 2011

#1 – After six months of work, in April I released “One Time”, my first album made up of mostly originals. The album was produced by the excellent Lorne Entress (Lori McKenna, Catie Curtis, Olabelle). Players included Lyle Brewer (Sarah Borges, Ryan Mountbleau), Mark Erelli, and Stuart Duncan, renowned fiddle player from Nashville (Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, EmmyLou Harris, Alan Jackson). Lorne and I spent an amazing day in Nashville with Stuart. Wow.

#2 – Debuted on the AMA: Americana Music Association charts at #58 and climbed to #42. I was a completely unknown artist to Americana/Folk radio stations in Boston and across the United States. With the help of a great radio promoter, Leslie Rouffe, out of Nashville, we were able to get the album added to the libraries of dozens of radio stations and get hundreds of “spins.” While we expected the album to do even better, we were happy to see so many stations add it and the feedback from those who did was excellent! My greatest supporter was WUMB here in Boston.

# 3 -“One Time” received critical acclaim from national publications. Like with radio, Americana media, including bloggers had never heard of me when I launched the album. With the help of Nashville marketing agency, Lotos Nile, critics (aka music lovers) across the country received, listened to and reviewed my album. Read a bunch of quotes from the critics here.

#4 – I had the privilege of opening for excellent artists including Chris Isaak, the Courtyard Hounds, Suzy Boggus, Joe Ely, Rodney Crowell, Sarah Borges and Ellis Paul. A very exciting part of this year was getting to open the show for all of these great musicians and performers. The Chris Isaak show at the Lowell Summer Music Series was an incredible start to a great run of opener slots. There were around 1,000 people there. The crowd was AWESOME. They were so into our music and supportive. It was also pretty cool to get to hang with Chris a bit before we went on. Opening for each of these artists was a total treat. One of my favorite experiences was with Rodney Crowell in Portland, Maine. Rodney put on a moving and entertaining show. He left me inspired.

#5 – The band and I played some of the best live music venues in New England, including: Club Passim, The Boston Folk Festival, The Narrows Center for Performing Arts, One Longfellow, Tupelo Music Hall, Iron Horse Music Hall and the Lowell Summer Music Series.

 

 

 

#6 – We sold out Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in April for my CD release, then played the room again in September and had a great crowd. Club Passim is a special place, one that I had dreamed of playing at for years. Thank you to Matt Smith for being kind from the first time I met him years ago and for letting me be a part of the Passim community of artists.

 

#7 – The band and I were a featured act at WUMB Boston’s Music Festival. Our showcase drew a crowd of 300. We were up against national acts that were far more well known and still managed to fill the room primarily because WUMB had been playing songs from my album and a good deal of their listeners had heard the music. I can’t say thanks enough to Pat Monteith, John Laurenti, Jay Moberg and the rest of the team for getting behind my music. You guys are the best! (Photo by Jake Jacobson)

 

# 8 – We were invited back to WUMB for a sold out member concert that was filmed and aired by Comcast. The WUMB team worked hard to make the production top-notch and Comcast was there with five cameras to film. The concert was aired for two months as the ON-Demand music feature in 2.5m households in New England. A memorable moment for me was when I saw on the schedule “Amy to make up.” I asked my manager, “Really? Someone is doing my make up?” He told me that Comcast had hired someone. That was a first! I have to add that one of my band members really enjoyed getting his make up done as well. : )

# 9 – I played my first shows in Tennessee and Georgia. This summer, I got out of New England and headed down south to do some shows. I build a band with a lot of help from musician friends and had a group of talented folks that I met up with in Nashville. We started our week-long tour with a feature on the live radio show Music City Roots in Nashville, hosted by Jim Lauderdale, then on to Eddie’s Attic in Georgia (where Sugarland and John Mayer got their starts), Blue Plate Special in Knoxville and finally back to Nashville for a CD release at the Basement. Getting to partake in the music scene in Nashville and get to know excellent musicians down there was a very special thing. I look forward to going back again in 2012.

#10 – The band and I played Narrows Center for the Arts Summer Festival. I love this great venue located in Fall River, Massachusetts. If I become the national touring artist I want to be, it will be because of organization like the Narrows. To build a career, people must give you chances. It really does take a village! I feel so much support from these folks. They gave me a chance to open for Texan singer/songwriter, Joe Ely, and then had me and the band back for their summer festival where we played to a room of about 200 (competing with the main act, Room Full of Blues). Since then, we’ve been back to open for the excellent Sarah Borges and in January, will open the show for one of my favorites Eilen Jewell. Super special thanks to Patrick and his team for all their support in 2011!

#11 – We were selected by Alternate Root Magazine for the inaugural ARTS Block Concert, filmed and aired by Alternate Root who will also feature me in the year-end issue of their magazine. They work hard to highlight independent artists like me. Having their support in 2011 was a real plus. Thank you, Bill Hurley and Danny McCloskey.

#12 – I showcased at the Americana Music Association Conference and Festival in Nashville in October. Tim Fink, a VP from my Publishing Rights Organization (PRO), SESAC, came out to one of the shows I did in Nashville. After seeing me perform, he offered me the chance to showcase as a SESAC artist at the AMA Conference and Festival in October. I gladly took him up on the offer and performed there along with very talented singer/songwriter Robby Hecht. Just the year before I had attended my first AMA conference where I had gained so much knowledge and great connections.  I was determined to come back the following year and perform. While I didn’t get an official evening showcase in 2011 (heck, I was up against artists like Keb Mo!), representing SESAC and getting to perform at the conference was an incredible opportunity. Also, SESAC highlighted me in their publication that goes out to all of their artists. Thank you to Tim Fink and Amy Beth Hale at SESAC.

#13 – I was chosen for a quadcentric showcase at New England Folk Alliance Conference. The NERFA conference is a cool event that happens in the boonies of New York State. Singers, songwriters, musicians and promoters (people who run venues and book shows) come from all over the east coast to go. It’s three days and nights of music and some panels too. I was happy to receive an official showcase and I had to chance to perform multiple times throughout the week. Not only did I have a BLAST, but I met a lot of great folks including my new friends of the band Pesky J. Nixon and singer/songwriter Matt Borrello who played with me during my showcases. Thanks, Matt! (Photo by Jake Jacobson).

#14 – I’m on several year-end “best of ”  lists from Boston to Melbourne. A nice close to the year is finding myself on a few “best of” lists including  Modern Acoustic’s top three “Breakout Acts of 2011” right next to David Wax Museum and Dawes (very good company!) and and Colin Fielding’s 2011 “best in show” from his Folk and Roots program on 3INR (96.5) from down under in Melbourne. Colin is a big supporter of Boston music and I thank him for including me in his selection.

As I head into 2012, I’m hopeful and excited. I’m writing new songs and  just added several of them to our live show.  I’m also very focused on touring and getting to as many new cities and venues as possible in New England and the East Coast. I hope to do more in NY, NJ, CT and PA. I’ve already got some great shows on the calendar that include openers, co-bills and headliners at great venues in New England. I want to keep growing this thing and doing what I love–making music and entertaining. It’s in my blood.

Thank you again for your support! Here’s to a great 2012! I hope to see you soon.

Best wishes,

Amy

My First Taste of Touring – Nashville and Beyond

A few weeks ago I had my first taste of touring. That’s right, I’m green when it comes to getting on the road. I’ve been playing around New England for the past couple years but as my music career is taking off with the new album, the time had come to hit the road. Kind of important for someone who wants to be a national touring artist (wink).

One of the most obvious places for me to play out of New England is Nashville. My parents have lived in Nashville for the past five years, so I’ve made frequent visits there for holidays, but I’ve never done anything with music. This trip was my Nashville debut. I also visited and sang for the fine people Knoxville, TN and Decatur, GA. My team (it was a team effort) successfully landed me four gigs at great venues!

So I had the gigs, the next challenge I faced was getting my band down there. It just wasn’t going to work – too much coin. I figured I could find a few quality musicians in Nashville : ), so I asked connections down there and started sending emails and making calls. It took a bit of effort to round up players, but with the help of awesome Bony Pony guitarist Nick Nyugen, it happened.

When I got to Nashville, I got together with the new band and we had a run through of the music. I was impressed with how quickly people picked it up. The rehearsal sounded great. We were ready for the first show.

Music City Roots is a live radio program broadcasted from the Loveless Barn (Loveless is an awesome restaurant that I visit every time I’m in town for my favorite, biscuits and gravy!). They get about 500 people out every Wednesday night for a two and a half hour show. The line up usual includes some pretty impressive artists on the show and they make room for emerging artists like me!

It was a great experience to be there and to get to hang with all the other folks backstage. I especially had a great time with Skip Pitts a former Stax player and the originator of the wah-wah guitar lick for the theme for Shaft. He’s a pretty cool cat. He recorded my voice mail message – “You got Amy Black, you dig?” Nice! Also, I got to meet Jim Lauderdale, Guy Davis and a number of other excellent artists.

When it was my turn to perform, the band and I got up and did three songs – “Meet Me on the Dance Floor”, “Whiskey and Wine” and “One Time” to much applause. The band rocked it. They made me proud. The crowd was great. They were really into the music. I got a lot of great feedback afterwards. And the best part is I was invited back to do a full set next time I’m in town.

Next stop was Decatur, Georgia, to play at Eddie’s Attic – a great listening room where people including John Mayer, Sugarland and many others got their start. We were meant to play the first set and another band would do the second, but days before the show, they cancelled. Last minute, my team and the club manager decided to make it a free show – Christmas in July – to get as many people out as possible. It worked! We had 50 very energetic and engaged people out to the show. The room felt nice and full. I took my time moving from song to song and told a lot of stories. The band was tighter now and I must say we rocked it. I have a recording from the engineer from that night and it’s almost good enough to release as a live CD.

Nick (guitarist), my husband and I spent the night with some friends of mine in Atlanta and then the next morning we were off to the next stop four hours away – Knoxville, TN. We were scheduled to do a 12-noon show at the visitor’s center in town. The radio station WVDX hosts a live music program called the Blue Plate Special everyday in front of an audience. I would say there were 100 people there. Nick and I did the duo thing and I got to talk about my music a bit in between songs. Always fun. : )

As soon as we were done, it was back in the car to drive four hours to Nashville for the final show at The Basement. This was my Nashville CD release show. My family worked it pretty hard to get friends to come out. We had a great crowd of 50 people. The Basement is small, so it was perfect. And, my fiddle player, Dan Kellar, from Boston can down to join me for this gig. It was so great having him there! We rocked the house (seems to be a theme), which included friends, family, fans and some industry folks. The word was that everyone loved the music and had a good time. What more can you ask for?

So that was it. There was all kinds of fun stuff in between and some not so fun stuff otherwise known as sitting in the car for hours. Oh, so this is what it means to tour, huh? Driving and more driving. And I’m sure real touring people would laugh at me and say – “Honey, that ain’t touring. That’s taking a drive to the grocery store for milk!” Well, maybe so, but you have to start somewhere. I dipped my toes in the water. There’s more to come.

We’ve got a few overnights coming up as a band – Connecticut then New York City (debut). Yay. I do see what the people I’ve been opening for are talking about when they say the best part of touring is being up on the stage and doing what you love. Sounds like everyone could leave the driving for hours part behind – but it’s kind of a necessity unless you are rich enough to fly!

Thanks for reading – until next time!

Best,
Amy

Backstage Stories: Opening for Joe Ely & Chris Isaak

One of the things I hope to be doing a lot of over the next year is opening for bigger acts. Opening is such a great way to get your music out to music lovers. I’ve seen how true that is over the past few weeks.

I really had only been the featured act until I got to open for Texas singer/songwriter Joe Ely and his band at the Narrows Center for the Performing Arts in Fall River, Massachusetts. What a great experience. The crowd was incredibly open to new music and so encouraging. It was just me and a great guitar player, Bob Enick, that I’m doing duo gigs with. He brought his Gretch guitar and played beautifully. This was a dramatic change for me without the full band, but it sounded great.

I also had the chance to meet Joe and his band before he went on. I asked them what it was like living the life of a touring musician. The answer was that it takes it toll on relationships back home and being crammed in a bus days at a time is not ideal, but when you get up on stage, it’s all worth it.

Joe told me a story about a time he picked Muddy Waters up from the airport. Joe was a younger man then just getting started in his career. He asked Muddy the same question I asked Joe and Muddy answered something along these lines, “Everyday, it’s 22 hours of hell and two hours of complete ecstasy.” The bottom line was, despite the challenges, guys like Muddy and Joe wouldn’t have it any other way. And it’s obvious when they’re up on stage. Joe and and his band brought the house down that night. They were so good, it hurt.

Last night, I opened for Chris Isaak at the Lowell Summer Music Series (which happens to be a few blocks from where I live). I was hanging back stage with the guys in my band and Chris walked by on his way to the tour bus. I introduced myself and he stopped to chat for a while. He is a storyteller! He had a lot of good ones to share.

One that I really enjoyed was when he recounted a show he did with Johny Cash years ago. He had a old photo of Johnny when he was in his early 20s and gave it to him asking for a signature. Chris was hoping he didn’t offend Johnny by have a photo from his younger days instead a more recent one. Johnny stared at the photo for what felt like an eternity to Chris, who was sweating it out. Finally, Johnny opened his mouth to speak and said, “I was a handsome young man!” Yes, he was.

Chris is not only a storyteller on and off stage, he is true showman. His act is complete with costumes and choreography. The audience LOVES it. I got to talk to Chris briefly after the show and I told him that that he was my hero. I too believe in putting on a show. His music is excellent and his voice is amazing, but it’s his showmanship that takes an evening with him over the top!

In a few weeks I will open for Suzy Bogguss at Tupelo Music Hall in New Hampshire. On July 15, I’m back at the Lowell Summer Music Series opening for the Court Yard Hounds (the Dixie Chick sisters) and then on September 16, I’ll be in Western Mass at the Iron Horse opening for Ellis Paul. I look forward to each of these shows — the chance to share my music with new audiences and to learn valuable lessons from these performs, all excellent musicians and veterans of the stage!

The reviews for "One Time" are in – Read what folks are saying!

The new CD has been getting some great reviews. I’ve rounded them up – you can read them here!

The Boston Herald

This Northeastern grad and Lowell resident had established a career in marketing when she decided it was “now or never” for her music. After last year’s debut album of mostly covers under the name Amy Black and Red Clay Rascals, the singer/songwriter explodes with this compelling album. Produced by Lorne Entress (Lori McKenna, Catie Curtis and Olabelle), the nine originals and three covers draw upon Black’s Alabama roots with a mixture of bluegrass, country, gospel, blues and rock. Her splendid voice and writing are complemented with traditional American roots instruments, highlighted by Nashville aces Stuart Duncan (fiddle) and Roger Williams (dobro) with local support from Tim Gearan, Lyle Brewer and Mark Erelli. Black shows country cred on Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” but it is the beautifully imagined sound and soul of her originals that make her a newcomer of note. – Nate Dow, Boston Herald

http://www.bostonherald.com/entertainment/music/reviews/view.bg?articleid=1327591&srvc=rss

Boston Globe

Editor’s Pick – “Whiskey and wine/that’s you and me, baby,” Black sings rather sweetly on the third track from her spirited new album. “One Time” toggles between barn-burning country [including a cover of Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man)”] and rootsy folk. The local singer-songwriter will celebrate the album with an afternoon CD release party. – James Reed, Boston Globe

Hyperbolium

For a New Englander, Amy Black sounds quite down home. Her Southern roots (she was reared in Missouri and Alabama until the age of sixteen) clearly packed their bags and traveled along in the relocation North and East, and have been renewed through visits to her family’s home town. Black sings in a folk-styled country voice that suggests bits of Patty Loveless, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Judy Collins, edged by the blues of Bonnie Raitt and a hint of Jennifer Nettle’s sass. It’s a voice that sat largely idle during a ten-year career outside the music industry, and one that wasn’t stirred back into action until a few years ago. Her 2009 debut with the Red Clay Rascals was stocked with covers, but on this sophomore outing she expands her artistic reach with nine originals that mix electric and acoustic, including guitar, fiddle (courtesy of Stuart Duncan), dobro, mandolin, dulcimer, bass (electric and upright), and drums. Though the album opens with a compelling tale of an imagined killer fleeing the law, the bulk of Black’s songs are about the lives of women. There’s straight-talking relationship advice in “One Time,” the lonely machinations of one who’s been left in “You Lied,” and tough realizations in “Whiskey and Wine” and “I Can’t Play This Game.” Black offers romantic optimism too, as she flirts with loving arms that remain just out of reach, potential yet to be realized. Among the three covers, Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man),” despite a nice dobro solo, sounds least comfortable among Black’s originals, but Claude Ely’s gospel “Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down),” provides blue notes for Black and Duncan to really dig into. This is a nice step forward for a singer-songwriter with an ingratiating voice and a pen that’s just warming up.

http://www.hyperbolium.com/2011/03/29/amy-black-one-time


RoughStock

It takes guts, especially as a female artist, to release an album that opens with a murder ballad and closes with the title track from Johnny Cash’s last album. Amy Black’s One Time is an album full of such gutsy decisions. Black fuses old and new country with bluegrass and pop setting to create an album reminiscent of country women from the 1990’s. She blends the writing chops of Matraca Berg with a singing voice that falls somewhere between Suzy Bogguss and folk singer Susan Werner. Amy Black is something uncommon in the contemporary era. She combines strong, female centered songs with a solid sense of contemporary country that never gives way to pop sensibilities. One Time is an album for all of those who have been missing simple, newfangled mainstream country of the kind that hasn’t been played for a decade…

…The 1990s were an easy time to be female, in society and in country music. Now days, it has gotten harder and nowhere is this more noticeable than in country music. The majority of the few female artists who get airplay are thinly disguised pop, and the one truly country female, Miranda Lambert, made it to the top by killing nearly every man she came across. What is missing is the half of the adult narrative that used to make up country music. For every “You Still Move Me” there was a “This is the Way We Make a Broken Heart” and a “Cry My Self To Sleep.” There was a completeness to the stories being told that is lacking in this day and age. One Time harkens back to that era in country music, and is a nearly perfect album for anyone who is missing that half of the story.

http://www.roughstock.com/reviews/amy-black-one-time

– Stormy Lewis

"Whiskey and Wine" Unplugged – Video

I was with my band this past week practicing up for the “One Time” tour. We took a little break and I asked a few of the guys to join me in performing one of my new songs, “Whiskey and Wine.” As one of my fans pointed out, it’s missing the Dobro, but it won’t be missing it at our Club Passim show. Roger Williams is coming and is going to wow the audience with his incredible skill. But for the purposes of this little video, I think Bob Sevigny did an excellent job covering for Roger. John Styklunas plays bass. Enjoy! ~ Amy