29 acts. Five days. Ports of call in Belize and Mexico.
During the last week of February, Mr. Barb and I embark on our 3rd journey through song. The chartered cruise is on the same ship as last year. The returning headliners: Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Emmylou Harris, Brandi Carlile are joined by Steve Earle .
New to the line-up: Chuck Cannon, Edie Carey, Luke Doucet, Hoots and Hellmouth, Gregory Alan Isakov, Robert Earl Keen (solo), Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, Lissie, Melissa McClelland, Scott Munns, Larkin Poe (formerly the Lovell Sisters), Samantha Crain, Scythian, Ben Taylor, Francisco Vidal, Sara Watkins, Works Progress Administration, and Rachael Yamagata.
Again this year, the organizers of the event sent us a 2-CD set of 24 songs from the artists scheduled to be on the 2010 cruise.
It’s always great to see the returning artists; and we know we will discover some new artists too. In addition, there are some events I’m really looking forward to: A Songwriting Workshop hosted by Shawn Mullins and Chuck Cannon; Songwriters in the Round with Katie Herzig, Luke Doucet and his wife Melissa McClelland, Gregory Alan Isakov and Vienna Teng; plus on the last day a Session that will include Shawn Mullins, Glen Phillips, Rebecca Lovell, Chuck Cannon, and Edie Carey who will discuss their writing process and perform some of their collaborative songs. In addition, as third-time alumni we will have the chance to sit in on one of the special interviews with artists, hosted by David Dye of NPR's World Cafe.
We chose the earliest headliner show time of 6:00 PM this year. In previous years I’ve been known to (ahem) take a nap during the headliner shows, so I can be rested for the late night shows. The schedule this year is mercifully more friendly to those of us who are “morning people” and don’t necessarily want to try to stay awake until 12:30 AM to see a performer. Although I must admit some of my favorite memories are from the post Midnight shows, as you never know what you’re going to get. Our first headliner act on the day we sail is Mr. Lyle Lovett.
We expect plenty of sunshine, happy smiling faces, unexpected impromptu collaborations, and to add to our CD collection. Besides some stories for the WYEP Music Blog; I plan to bring back some sun and warmth in my suitcase for a winter weary Burgh.
Barb S.- Sunday Mix Host
A singer–songwriter is a musician who writes, composes and sings their own material including lyrics and melodies. Recently I had the chance to see a couple of sets of singer-songwriters; from the local and national level.
The quarterly local songwriters spotlight hosted by Joe Grushecky and Rick Witkowski featured guests Billy Price, Carol Lee Espy and Bob Corbin. All five songwriters took turns performing three of their signature songs, old and new. There were stories and laughter and a good camaraderie and mutual admiration and respect. I would watch the other singer-songwriters sing and play along almost spontaneously being caught up in the moment. Grushecky did some older songs “Fingerprints”, and “Pumping Iron” and something new, the title track of his latest release “East Carson Street”. Witkowski started with “Soul Control”, then did a personal song about “Love & Food & Rachel” for the daughter they never had and B.E. Taylor Groups “Vitamin L” became a sing-a-long (taking us back to the MTV video days and a #1 hit in Pittsburgh). In between the guests took their turns in the spotlight. Billy Price offered “Who You’re Workin’ For,” “Eldorado Cafe” and a new song he co-wrote with someone from France “Under the Influence”. Carol Lee Espy kept commenting how hard it was to follow Price’s energetic performances with her laid back country tunes. Espy sang what she called her signature song “My Name is Mary” along with “Cross the River” (written from a farmer’s point of view; she had to think like a man) and “The Allegheny Song”, about the river. Bob Corbin began with a new going away tune “I’ll Be There”, then did “Scooter, Michael, Danny and Me” and one the six songs which he wrote that reached #1, Alabama’s “Fire in the Night”.
The most interesting part of the evening was when each of the songwriters performed a song that they wish they had penned. “You Better Move On”, by a relative unknown (except to the Beatles and Rolling Stones) Arthur Alexander was the choice by Grushecky. Price chose an Al Green song “Love and Happiness”. Espy likes the 3-chord songs by John Prine and sang “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”, a song about the dissolution of a relationship. Another John; Hiatt, was the choice for Bob Corbin, at the piano he sang “Have a Little Faith in Me”. Witkowski went with “I Want To Hold Your Hand”.
After a standing ovation, the songwriters came back on stage to sing a song from The Band, “The Weight”. Does anyone really know all the lyrics to the song or even the words to the chorus? A sheet was passed around to each performer as they took a verse and the audience joined in on the chorus. It was an wonderful two hours of music and a great way to spend a Saturday evening.
Just a few days later Pittsburgh was the first stop on a brief tour for a trio of singer-songwriters. Ben Sollee and Carrie Rodriguez have been joined by Erin McKeown. All three came on stage to start the show, then Rodriguez did a solo set. She used two different guitars and really knows how to play the fiddle. The half-dozen songs included a couple of tracks from her 2008 release “She Ain’t Me”: “Infinite Night” and “Absence”. Her new CD is going to be a covers CD, including the Townes Van Zandt song “Rex’s Blues” (appropriate tune for the venue, The Rex Theater) and a song that her dad e-mailed to her “When I Heard Gypsy Davey Sing”. Ben Sollee’s set was filled with long, lavish instrumental introductions on the cello, proving that songwriters can also compose beautiful music without lyrics. At the end of his set, Sollee was joined by Rodriquez and McKeown and really “electrified” the stage. After a short break, it was McKeown’s turn. Despite jet lag (returning from a European tour), she took center stage. She treated the audience to three tracks from her most recent release “Hundreds of Lions”, by introducing each song as “Track 1”, “Track 2” and “Track 3”. For the encore, the trio played Cat Stevens “Wild World” and rounded out the two hour show with a rousing instrumental. Despite little rehearsal, these singer-songwriters really came together and treated the “school night” crowd to a warm, enjoyable evening of music.
Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host
A singer–songwriter is a musician who writes, composes and sings their own material including lyrics and melodies. They often provide the sole accompaniment to an entire composition or song, typically using an acoustic guitar or piano. Their lyrics are often personal. The song is more important than the performance. The sound can be sparse, direct and reflective, again placing the emphasis on the song itself. Singer-songwriters came into popularity in the early 1970’s and are still sharing their stories with us as we embark on a new decade.
Join me January 10th on The Sunday Mix as we explore the best of... singer-songwriters. From the 1940’s until the present, artists from all around the world. Sunday, January 10, 2010 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host