…the encore is rememberable for two different reasons. The first is a spirited rendition of Rodney Crowell tune, ‘Ain’t Living Long Like This’, which sees Walsh kick his stool backwards, and fly at the keyboard with gusto, which is met by equalling shining solos from the Fender of Colm McClean. This is pure musical theatre at its best, with Little Richard present in spirit in the shape of Barry Walsh.
The second reason is very special. Gretchen Peters makes her way to the edge of the stage and delivers a spine-tingling solo version of ‘Love That Makes A Cup Of Tea’. In the hands of someone less adept, such a tittle could be a hackneyed, over-sentimental country and western song.
In Gretchen’s voice, it is a thing of pure beauty, leaving the audience with some balm, comfort and hope, in a world full of obstacles. Her voice is soft and you wish she could have sang more songs like this. But which songs would you have given up to make way?
To read this review in its entirety, visit Folk & Tumble.
While we were in Dublin during the Irish leg of our European tour, Barry Walsh and I stopped in at Beardfire Studio and played a couple of songs for Rhythm & Roots on 103.2 Dublin City FM. We had a chat with host Rohan Healy. Here’s “Say Grace”.
…the crowd loved her version of “On A Bus To St. Cloud” but the next song of the set was even better – “Idlewild” from 2012’s Hello Cruel World. This opens with a child in the back seat of the family car listening to her parents’ fractured conversations, and it covers everything from racism and JFK’s assassination, to the Cold War. The finale was a rousing, rock-and-roll cover of Rodney Crowell’s “I Ain’t Living Long Like This” complete with a duel between lead guitar and keys.
I thought this was a fine and very uplifting end to the show, but Peters wasn’t finished. The band left and she walked to the very front of the Lyric’s stage with her guitar, and sang the simple and completely endearing “Love That Makes A Cup Of Tea”. This was a thing of absolute beauty and worth the ticket price on it’s own.
To read this review in its entirety, visit Gigging NI.
I’m thrilled to be a part of John Prine’s just-announced All The Best Fest in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic November 11-15 of 2019. The lineup so far also includes Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Nathaniel Rateliff, Iris Dement, I’m With Her and more. More artists will be announced later. This is going to be a truly memorable five days and I can’t wait. I hope you can join us!
For more information and to sign up for the pre-sale, visit All The Best Fest website, and you can visit the All The Best Fest Facebook page here.
I spoke with Melissa Clarke of Americana Highways recently about sad songs, storytelling, how music creates empathy, Dancing With The Beast, and… crickets.
The album contains characters who are suffering from abuse, depression, Alzheimer’s, and there’s even one song called “Truck Stop Angel.” “It’s human centric,” I remarked. Peters responded: “I’m glad to hear you say that, because some of the most rewarding feedback about the album has come from men who’ve said these are human stories. I have a problem with the whole idea of things like “women’s literature” and I don’t think of myself as addressing an audience of just one gender. Female characters ought to interest everybody.”
To read the interview in its entirety, visit Americana Highways.
I sat down to talk to Jeremy Dylan awhile back for his great podcast, My Favorite Album. Obviously it’s impossible to pick a favorite album, but Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks would undoubtedly be up there at the top of my list any day of the week. Dylan was one of the earliest and most powerful influences on me, as a young kid learning to play the guitar. But it took me a long time to really dig into Blood On The Tracks. From Jeremy’s website:
Gretchen talks about how she fell in love with the album as she was getting divorced, the unusually soft edges of Dylan’s songwriting on this record, how he treats women in his lyrics, how his songs always bring you to a place of empathy and the importance of being brutally honest with yourself as a songwriter.
To listen to this episode visit My Favorite Album (you can also download it wherever you get your podcasts).
Originally, the Roots Unearthed series booked Gretchen into the L3 Lounge – however, tickets sold so fast that she was moved into the 2,000-seater St David’s Hall. She totally topped her new prestigious space; her performance, accompanied by arranger, husband and Nashville resident Barry Walsh and two masterful musicians from Ireland, bassist Conor McCreanor and spectacular Belfast guitarist Colm McClean, was absolutely stunning… She stands on a pedestal with Richard Thompson as being the most compelling songwriter on the scene today; like Thompson, her lyrics are astounding, cramming original ideas, words and memorable tunes into a few sharp minutes.
To read this review in its entirety, visit FolkWales Online Magazine.
…the arrangements, written by violin player Patsy Reid and worked through with Peters in the run up to the show were sublime, the woody timbre of the cello adding so much to ‘The Secret of Life’ and a brave sense of drama to ‘Hello Cruel World’. Peters paid tribute to the late Jimmy LaFave on ‘Revival’ before offering the audience ‘When You Love Someone’, written with Bryan Adams and then a real crowd favourite, ‘On a Bus to St. Cloud‘. The encore, ‘When You Are Old’, had the audience offering a standing ovation which was tonight much deserved. – Paul Kerr for Americana-UK
To read this review in its entirety, visit the Americana-UK website.
USA Today has released a list of Nashville’s best songs of 2018 (so far), and “Wichita” has made the list. The Tennessean music writer and USA Today contributor Juli Thanki writes “When Peters and Ben Glover wrote murder ballad “Blackbirds,” she described the process as similar to solving a crime. The singer-songwriter-detective duo is at it again with the grim “Wichita,” a song told from a 12-year-old girl’s point of view.”
You can see the whole list at USA Today’s website.
Dancing With The Beast is one of No Depression’s 10 Best Roots music records of 2018 (so far), according to a poll of ND staffers and regular album reviewers. Reviewer Corbie Hill writes:
Dancing With the Beast is an album of incredible humanity and depth, and listening to it requires the same mental engagement and emotional investment as reading a short story collection.
To read the article in its entirety and see the full list, visit No Depression.
…these may be female characters, but they’re universal emotions… if you depict a character with empathy, and in great detail and with respect, I think it’s genderless. I think that women are compelling to me maybe because I am one and I’ve had that experience, but I really think it’s more about humanity… I’m really gratified at the response from men. And, of course, women have responded very emotionally and strongly to these songs because, in a lot of cases, they’ve lived them.
To read this two page feature in its entirety, pick up a copy of Maverick Magazine at UK newsstands or at their website.
…hard-hitting subject matter is paradoxically couched in gentle melodies and the ethereal caress of Peters’ soothing voice… in some senses, this is a political record, albeit one rooted in personal reflection rather than placard-waving protest. It may go over the heads of some listeners, unaffected by its often stream-of-conscious messages, but it will speak to others like no other album they’ll hear all year. – Terry Staunton
To read this review in its entirety, you can pick up a copy of Record Collector magazine at UK newsstands or at their website.
…back then I was concerned with finding the answers and now I’ve realised that the questions are more interesting. Posing the questions or just describing the scene without having the answers is more open-ended, and you invite somebody inside the song. I’m a big fan of songs that don’t tell you everything… I became aware that I needed to dig deeper and make myself more uncomfortable – that a facility for songwriting isn’t enough to make people feel at the deepest level. You think you’re revealing yourself, and it’s scary, but what you’re actually doing is revealing the listener to themselves.
To read this six page feature in its entirety, you can purchase a copy of Country Music Magazine at UK newsstands or at their website.