Rachel Ries Returns to Fairfield with a Band & a Brand New Album! Interview Wed 2/12

Singer-Songwriter Rachel Ries

Singer-Songwriter Rachel Ries. credit: Miriam Doan

Rachel Ries was one of the first traveling indie female singer-songwriters that I remember playing on the Cafe Paradiso stage.  That was right around the time I was figuring out that this was a thing that people could do, travel around and sing songs.  I was in awe of her deft finger-picking and how her voice could flutter and fly, plus she was so generous and approachable, I still have and use the little pre-amp box she recommended to use for recording from mic to computer, back when I asked her how she made some demo disc she had at her merch table.

When I heard she was coming back to Cafe Paradiso with her band for a CD release party, I shot her an email asking if she wanted to do an interview or at least send me the songs to play on Lyrical Venus ahead of time. She said yes to both and sent me a press link to download Ghost of a Gardener.

I pressed play and the hairs on my arms stood on end.  This was the Rachel I knew and loved from way back, but fully realized, grounded and settled and soaring all at once.  I felt like I was finally getting to hear what I never knew was missing, but must have always been playing in her head all along.  Horns! Strings! Keys! Drums! And not just for show, not to be fancy. Every note and nuance was there so that the songs could be their truest, best selves.

Not that those songs aren’t also great with just Rachel & guitar, as I heard them a few months ago on her last time through town.  But on Saturday, 2/15, she’s coming with her band, so you’ll get a chance to hear the full frock-rock glory!  Here’s a little sample of Rachel’s song Willow with a band:

If you are reading elsewhere, you may need to come to the blog to see the video.

We had a lovely talk about the new album, and Rachel’s journey of the past several years, where she first gave up music for a while altogether, from not even singing in her kitchen over the dishes, to realizing that she really did need it in her life, and finding her way back to a life in music, one more sustainable, true, messy, delightful and real.

Part of what I love about Rachel is her commitment to the full tactile, sensory experience. She knows there are still those of us who want something to hold in our hands. So not only is this album on CD and mp3, you can also get it on vinyl! She also has as t-shirts, as well as made a batch of several flavors of her lovely jam, that all feature absolutely gorgeous, coordinated artwork. Check out the cover by Erica Williams:

Rachel Ries Ghost of a Gardener Cover

Rachel Ries - Ghost of a Gardener Cover

The album official release date is February 18th, but she will have it at shows before then (like the one at Cafe Paradiso on 2/15 – get your tickets now Fairfielders!), and you can pre-order it and get a free download track right away.

Head over to RachelRies.com for tour dates, photos, song streams, pre-ordering Ghost of a Gardener and more.

Tune in to Lyrical Venus Radio,
on KRUU-LP 100.1 FM, Wednesday, February 12th, 9-10am Central Time US for a set of Valentine-y themed music followed by the interview with Rachel at about 9:20-ish.

UPDATE 2/18/14: Click here to listen to an archive of the interview.

10 Questions with Mandy Fer! Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer at Cafe Paradiso Fri, Nov 29

Dave McGraw Mandy Fer by-Ken-Hamilton

Dave McGraw & Mandy Fer

Well hello there!  It’s been a while since I last posted!  I’ve still been playing music weekly during the Lyrical Venus Radio hour on KRUU, and I’ve also posted the occasional music video over on the Lyrical Venus tumblr, but I’m breaking this blog hiatus for a special 10 Questions interview with Mandy Fer of the Washington state rootsy folk and Americana duo that includes Mandy and Dave McGraw.  They are coming to Cafe Paradiso in Fairfield, IA on Friday, November 29th, so if you need a little post-Thanksgiving entertainment, maybe try some tasty homegrown music?

Dave & Mandy have shared the stage with Lyrical Venus favorites such as Amy Speace, Cheryl Wheeler, Natalia Zukerman, and Lizzy Lehman, as well as some other amazing artists and bands I’ve seen at Cafe Paradiso or at folk festivals like Birds of Chicago, The Black Lillies, Carolina Chocolate Drops, David Wilcox, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Swell Season, Willy Porter, and many others.

Have a listen to their song “Slumbering Rose” while you check out Mandy’s answers to my 10 questions, plus a couple of those good ole bonus questions!

If you are reading elsewhere, you may need to come to the blog to see the video.

1) Do you remember writing your first song(s)?  How does that compare to your songwriting process now?

I wrote my first song on the piano. It was a song about ants fighting aliens, and I think I was 6 years old….it was an instrumental one.  How does that compare to my process now? The ants have been replaced by women and the aliens have been replaced by men, and well, there’s some other subjects inserted here and there…

2) Where is your favorite place to sing?

This spring we played at a festival in Europe called “A Small Town Music Walk” in Hoorn, Netherlands, and one of the venues was this giant old church, it was literally like a castle…we were set up on the balcony playing our guitars and singing (all unplugged) and the acoustics were eerily amazing… every note we would sing you could almost hear travel and bounce off all of the walls & stained glass in the building, it was a very out of body experience for sure. My second favorite place would probably be @ Evanston SPACE in Chicago or anywhere in Portland, OR– there is a certain magic to that city. Also anywhere in Flagstaff, AZ; our crowds there are always so warm and supportive. Seven Steps up in Spring Lake, MI is amazing too. Ok, the list is too long! Must stop now.

3) What’s the hardest thing about performing? What’s the best thing?

The hardest: Having to perform when you are sick/tired/ hungry.  These things happen, because we are human, so you have to sing through it and be totally present with the moment so that the people who spent their hard-earned money to come out to your show don’t throw tomatoes at your face.

The best: Getting to meet new people, and the rush of totally opening your heart in a room full of strangers.

4) What things are you passionate about besides music?

Hiking, yoga, cooking, Spanish, poetry, running, woodstoves, family, orca whales, mountains, local/sustainable food, travel, tea, cheese, wine, sunsets, sea-kayaking, avocados, bourbon, smoothies, photography, full-moons, river rafting, peace, rivers & lakes & oceans, old movies, old jazz, and being good to each other.

5) What is one thing (besides your instruments) you can’t leave for tour without?

Can’t leave for tour without Dave (of course ). And Honey Loquat. This amazing, super-thick honey stuff is a lifesaver if we are ever sick or have a sore throat and have to power through a bunch of gigs. Just throw a tablespoon in with a cup of tea, and you are ready to go!

6) What is your favorite way to relax?

Currently, my favorite way to relax is to throw on the album “Heloise” by Line of Sky, and do yoga in the living room by the woodstove, looking out at the pond outside our window. Feel blessed every time I get to do this.

7) What are you most excited for with the tour?

This next tour coming up is a 10 week driving tour all the way from our little island here in the Pacific Northwest,  all the way to the east coast and back via the midwest/south/southwest. Lots of miles ahead of us right now…for the first leg of this tour we will be teaming up with our good friends/cohorts Birds of Chicago and we’re very excited to share the stage with them again. They are wonderful musicians/people!

I’m also overjoyed to see lots of friends & family along the way as we travel, and to meet new people and create new relationships as we go..

8 ) Any new projects currently or on the horizon?

Currently writing new tunes for our next album which we hope to get in the studio for 2014. We’ll be touring our debut duo album ‘Seed of a Pine’ over the next 10 weeks on our coast to coast tour… we are excited to slip in some of our new tunes while on the road.

9) Do you have any pre-gig rituals that help you prepare for a show?

No, and I’ve always wished that I did. I’ve recently tried a trick my friend told me to lift my arms really high up in the air like a bear would lift its arms up to intimidate prey…supposedly this makes you brave and makes you feel strong. Which is always helpful before jumping on stage.

10) If you could create a musical super group with any artists, living or

dead, who would you choose and what would they play?

After some careful consideration: Jerry Garcia (guitar/vox), Ani Difranco (guitar/vox), Billie Holiday (vox), Levon Helm(drums/vox), Pat Metheny (electric guitar), Avishai Cohen (upright bass), Joe Craven (percussion), Ray Charles (piano). If that many talented singers/players came together, I think the world would implode… seeing all of these artists perform together would make me as happy as a pig in shit.

P.S. Am I allowed to be a part of this group? I would love to sing and play guitar with these folks. Oh man.

What’s your favorite sandwich?

Touchy subject. While on the road, I feel like we are constantly eating sandwiches so I like to avoid them when at all possible..but, that being said, I’d never turn down Jamon Serrano, Manchego cheese, roasted red peppers, arugula & lemon aioli on freshly baked sourdough bread.

What’s your favorite hot drink?

Herbal Tea—specifically Red tea right now—been drinking Trader Joe’s Organic Red Chai (with half & half of course)

Anything else you want to let people know!

I kept saying “we” throughout this interview and I guess I never explained that the we = Dave McGraw & I. Dave is such a phenomenal, innovative, and thoughtful musician/person. www.davemcgraw.net . Dave and I released our first album together in February of 2012. The two of us travel the world together and meet so many amazing people along the way! This world is full of so many wonderful people…and extraordinary musicians. Here’s some musical friends/acquaintances of ours you should check out if you haven’t already: Birds of Chicago, Peter Mulvey, Willy Porter, Abby Ahmad, Jenn Rawling & Basho Parks, Line of Sky, Anam Cara Dixon, Jared Rabin, Lizzy Lehman, Tina & Her Pony, Gregory Alan Isakov…and many, many more, too many to list! Thanks!





A Few Important Things in the World of Lyrical Venus

Oh hello there!  I thought maybe I’d get to slow down a little, moving back from a big city to a small town, but things seem to be going lightening speed here in Iowa!  I’m moving to a new house, have two new part-time jobs and working on getting my own EP out, just to name the few biggest things going on for me right now.  I also have my annual trip to Rocky Mountain Song School and Folks Fest just around the corner as well!

Since I need to dash off to work, here are the three quick important things:

1) Lyrical Venus Radio is moving to Wednesdays from 9-10am Central.  Same station, same hour, same shows, just WEDNESDAY!  So I hope you’ll join me in the middle of the week!

2) I am taking pre-orders for my album through Kickstarter!  The catch is, I need to reach my goal amount of pledges before August 7th or I won’t receive any of the funds pledged so far! I hope that you will go check out my video to learn more about my story from the past year and to hear little snippets of the songs: http://kck.st/Le5Zff

3) I have interviews done but not edited (see all my busy above!) coming up that I think you will really like! In the meantime, go check out the artists and start getting to know them already, don’t wait for me, you’ll be glad you did!
Screen Door Porch: http://screendoorporch.com/
Shawnee Kilgore: http://shawneekilgore.com
Bethel Steele: http://bethelsteele.com/

Thanks for hanging in there, it’s all good stuff happening!

Kat Parsons Interview on Lyrical Venus Radio! Tues 6/26!

Singer-Songwriter Kat Parsons

Singer-Songwriter Kat Parsons

Oh goodness. I do hope you’ve been following a lot on Facebook or Twitter or maybe even my personal music blog at least enough to know that I did not, in fact, fall off the face of the planet but rather have been very, very, very busy! Things like finishing recording and mixing of my EP, going to the historic Kerrville Folk Festival for the first time, completing my music program in Austin and moving back to Iowa! It’s all good stuff and of course I’ve met a bunch of awesome new musicians online, in Austin and at the festival that I’m excited to share with you as I get my footing. It still may be a bit of time before truly getting back to the regularly scheduled program, as I am also moving houses this summer and working on getting my EP recordings manufactured into CD’s (more on that later!), but I’ve already done a couple of shows live from the KRUU studios and pretty much remember how things work over there, so do tune in on Tuesdays from 9-10am Central!

If you have been tuning in already, then you’ve heard a song or two from Kat Parsons, who I am very excited to share with you this week!

Born in Vienna, based in Los Angeles and with tour credits across the US and Europe, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Brunei, Australia, Singapore, Borneo, Vietnam, and Japan, one listen to Kat’s upbeat and intelligent pop, and it’s easy to see why she has had such international success.

Her breathy, sweet vocals and catchy hooks draw in even the most casual listener, and the introspective lyrics hold discerning ears longer than the latest disposable, manufactured hit.  Spend a few minutes getting to know her and you’ll discover an adventurous, generous spirit who you’d be happy to call friend.

Check out this video of the title track of her latest EP, “Talk To Me”:

If you are reading elsewhere, you may need to come to the blog to see the video.

Get a free download of the single Talk to Me on katparsons.com

Connect with Kat on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

Tune in Tuesday 11/8/11 to KRUU-LP 100.1 FM in Fairfield or kruufm.com online anywhere from 9-10am Central time US for your weekly concentrated dose of music by female singer-songwriters! Interview with Kat at 9:30.

10 Questions with Jeanne Marie Boes! Featured Artist 5/1!

Singer-Songwriter Jeanne Marie Boes

Singer-Songwriter Jeanne Marie Boes

Like an actress changing costumes between scenes, New York singer-songwriter Jeanne Marie Boes slips comfortably between vocal stylings, one moment she’s a lounge singer beyond her years and the next she’s a smoky pop diva. But whether she’s backed by a baby grand or a synthsizer, the passionate emotion behind her songs of love and heartbreak shines through.

Jeanne Marie took some time to answer questions about her songwriting, performing, her new EP, bison, and of course, her favorite sandwich. Read on for her answers, and tune in to KRUU on Tuesday, 5/1 at 9am for a full set of her music.

1.) Do you remember writing your first song? Has your songwriting process changed or evolved since then and if so, how?
I do, it was about 5 years ago. I remember sitting at the piano, playing around with chords and this tune came to me. The song is named “Fare” and I still perform it from time to time. I really have no regular process of writing other than the music usually comes before the lyric.

2.) What was the first concert you remember going to see?
I’ve been to so many! Hmm… It might have been the Dave Matthews Band at Central Park when I was 14 or 15 years old.

3.) What’s the hardest thing about performing? What’s the best thing?
The hardest thing is walking up on stage. Once I’m up there I am home, but getting up there is still nerve-wracking. The best thing is making that walk. Conquering that fear.

4.) Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get ready to perform?
An hour or so before a show I turn off the radio, TV, phone, etc. Having some quiet time really helps.

5.) What is one instrument you would really like to play but don’t (yet)?
The Theremin (research it) :)

6.) How do you pick yourself up when you’re feeling down?
I’ll usually call a friend or watch some cute animal videos on YouTube.

7.) What are you proud of with your new album?
With my EP, Promising Girl, I really wanted to explore some new sounds. I’m so happy I was able to do that. It’s more ‘Pop’-based than my previous releases.

8.) Any new projects currently or on the horizon?
Getting a band together first and foremost, but also gaining new exposure, playing more shows, releasing new music, and making videos.

9.) What things are you passionate about besides music?
Photography, actually. I love taking pictures – at concerts with my favorite bands or nature .. it’s a hobby I really love.

10.) If you could create a musical super-group with any artists, living or dead, who would you choose and what would they play?
Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Jimmy Page on lead guitar, Alison Mosshart (of The Kills) and Joan Jett on back-up vocals, Paul McCartney on bass, Stevie Wonder on harmonica and on piano, Billy Joel. Me? Lead vocals. It would be a circus, but I’d be the happiest girl in the world!

Bonus Questions
1. What’s your favorite sandwich?

Tunafish, lettuce and tomato. It’s boring, but I love it.

2. What’s your favorite hot drink?
Herbal Tea, any flavor.

3. Do you have pets or a favorite animal?
Cats! Forever and always. Also Bison.

4. Anything else you want people to know!
Bison are people too.

Website: http://www.jeanneboes.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jeannemarieboes
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/jeanneboes
Bandcamp: http://jeanneb.bandcamp.com
iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/jeanne-marie-boes/id264855227