First: the making of a Sun Tribute Record! Boy, it was cool. We recorded half of it at Sun and half of it at Phillips Studio. It included the likes of Jimbo Mathus, Valerie June, John Paul Keith and Chuck Mead just to name a few. Luther Dickinson produced it I was lucky enough to be in the house band with Cody Dickinson on drums. I can tell you the rhythm section was smokin’! I got to sing on one of the tracks as well. I chose a cool number called “Ten Cats Down” by the Miller Sisters – Sun Label rockabilly gals that I always loved. The tune was on the Juke Box in the Soda Shop side of Sun when I worked there and probably still is! I’d always perk up when it came on. It was a blast to cover.
Immediately following that project Luther and I drove down highway 55 to the Zebra Ranch Studio in Coldwater MS to begin a different sort of record. A recording that began as a total experiment, felt like just a bunch of teenagers in a clubhouse in the making of it and turned out breathtaking. I am SOOOO excited about this. The recording is a collective of talented folks sharing a few songs each and allowing the whole group to contribute to the recording of the song. It was a very inspired collaboration with Amy Helm, Luther Dickinson, The Como Mammas, The Birds of Chicago, Sharde Thomas and little ole me… A few other musicians guest on the thing too – Will Sexton played a little guitar, Brian Wells played drums on a couple tracks. It’s really something. The working title that had us all giggling is “The Songbird Sisters of the Strawberry Moon – Summer Solstice Session.” Rolls right off the tongue doesn’t it? 🙂
The Motel Mirrors new record is just off in the distance. It will have an early Fall release. It’s taken forever! I barely remember what it sounds like it been so long – but I remember thinking “this will be magic on a turntable.” It was recorded with the help of a Pledge Music campaign and I bet a bunch of folks think we took the money and ran but I promise it’s coming. With all of us touring in different directions it’s been really tricky to get us all back together again for the final touches, photos etc… But the summer is here and we have carved out a time to pull it together. It’ll be worth the wait.
Although we will still be touring on the weekends, I’ve given myself some time off this summer to write and reinvent the live show. It’s difficult for me to write on the road and I have desperately needed some downtime to finish songs and get a new record ready to record this fall. I also want to learn some new tunes that inspire me, compliment my originals and lift the live show into something a bit more fun. I wanted to teach Will some matching dance moves but he ain’t havin’ it.
Lastly, I have an unconventional acting project being filmed this summer with my friend and Sculptor/Director Brian Pera. It’s more of a galley piece than a film. It’s working title is “Sorry, Not Sorry”.
……and that’s about it for now.
Amy LaVere is heading back to Europe and the UK this spring, and this time she’s bringing along her husband, noted Austin, Texas guitarist, songwriter and producer Will Sexton. The duo will tour Germany, the Netherlands and the UK in support of their critically acclaimed 2015 album Hallelujah I’m A Dreamer.
Beginning March 28, they’ll play shows in Germany and the Netherlands before heading to Liverpool, kicking off a leg of the tour that will treat their loyal UK fan base to 11 shows, everywhere from London to Edinburgh to Chesterfield.
Fans will know the material by now – Hallelujah I’m A Dreamer was released in the spring of 2015, recorded by Amy, Will and noted guitarist Dave Cousar in the course of just a few afternoons at Music+Arts Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Hallelujah is a sonic portrait. In these 11 tracks, Amy and Will have captured the immediacy of the live show they’ve developed on the road together, reveling in a more stripped-down sound and celebrating the freedoms and limitations that come with it in stunning form.
The duo won’t have long to rest upon their return before they dive in to a summer U.S. tour that will take them from Tennessee to Kentucky, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio and more. New dates are still being added, so stay tuned to AmyLaVere.com for the latest.
Just nine months after the release of her critically acclaimed 2014 album Runaway’s Diary, Amy LaVere has a sweet surprise for fans –Hallelujah I’m A Dreamer, recorded with husband and noted guitarist Will Sexton, is out on Archer Records April 7 in the USA and May 11 in the UK and Europe. (Proper Distribution)
Hallelujah is a sonic portrait.
In these 11 tracks, Amy and Will have captured the immediacy of the live show they’ve developed on the road together, reveling in a more stripped-down sound and celebrating the freedoms and limitations that come with it in stunning form. Recorded to magnetic tape (with the help of engineer Daniel Lynn and longtime band mate guitarist Dave Cousar) in the course of a few afternoons at Music+Arts Studio, the arrangements are lithe and uncluttered, allowing Amy and Will’s disarming harmonies to rise to the top.
At times their voices blend so well you can hardly find the place where they split – it’s a dance matched only by the complimentary guitar work of Sexton and Cousar. The gems of the album are its new tunes – the playful and evocative “Cricket (At Night I Can Fly)” and “It’s the Thing to Do,” a co-write with Will– plus a new almost sunny take on the macabre “Red Banks,” which originally appeared on Amy’s 2011 studio album Stranger Me and a sublime cover of David Egan’s “Hallelujah I’m A Dreamer,” the album’s namesake.
Hallelujah I’m A Dreamer is immediate and striking, a masterfully played (and curated) mix of old, new and reimagined. Amy played several SXSW shows, including the New West Showcase with Luther Dickinson (who produced her 2014 critically acclaimed Runaway’s Diary LP) as well as a handful with John Paul Keith as Motel Mirrors. Now, Amy and Will continue doing what they’ve long done best: touring relentlessly across the U.S. and, this summer, in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and more.
For more information contact:
Signal Flow PR
Amy is back in Austin this week for SXSW, and if you’re making the trek you’ll have several opportunities to see her slap that bass – and maybe even hear a song or two from her upcoming album — throughout the week. On the agenda are a few solo sets, plus some gigs alongside friend and Runaway’s Diary producer Luther Dickinson. Check out the full list below.
And as is always the case with Amy, there’s more — she’ll hit the road yet again following SXSW for a duo tour with Will Sexton, kicking off March 29 in Kansas City. Will has been sharing the stage at recent gigs with Motel Mirrors, Amy’s collaboration with John Paul Keith and Shawn Zorn. Check out this review from Sound Observations of a recent Asheville, N.C. gig that featured Will and his brother Charlie and take a gander at the full tour here.
A little farther out, some important save the dates for your calendar: you can get your copy of Runaway’s Diary on May 26 in the UK and May 27 in the US, and around that time she’ll be joined again by her full band for more touring on both coasts and overseas. If you’re in the Memphis area you can catch Amy (and some special guests) at one of her favorite venues, the Levitt Shell, on June 8.
AMY AT SXSW // SOLO
Thursday, March 13, 9 p.m.
MXMW (benefit for HAAM)
Authentic Smiles, 211 San Antonio Street
Saturday, March 15
Opening for Will and Charlie Sexton
StrangeBrew, 5326 Manchaca Rd.
One to One Bar, 1509 S. Lamar
AMY AT SXSW // WITH LUTHER DICKINSON
Thursday, March 13
New West (Day Party)
Threadgills, 301 W Riverside Drive
Friday, March 14
Continental Club, 1315 S Congress Ave
New West (Official Showcase)
Continental Club, 1315 S Congress Ave
Amy LaVere and Shannon McNally first became aware of each other through their mutual mentor, Memphis producer, Jim Dickinson. They didn’t actually connect until Luther Dickinson brought them together to form the band The Wandering in 2012. “We were both instantly struck by our numerous similarities. It’s not your average gal that drinks bourbon neat, walks around with a pocket atlas and a drives a big white gear van,” McNally reflects, “I thought she was charming and awfully funny.”
The Chasing The Ghost Tour, which officially begins October 13th, 2012 in Joshua Tree California, was born in the immediate post partum of The Wandering tour of May 2012.
“Shannon and I related to the intensity with which we both approach our craft. It’s nice to have a friend that is also a peer. Our voices blended as well as our personalities”.
The two women, armed with a satchel of each artist’s songs, headed to the Music+Arts Studio in Memphis, Tennessee for rehearsals a few days before getting into the van for the cross-country trek to California. Instantly the feeling in the room was electric and fun. Someone had the good sense to press record.
Chasing The Ghost – “Rehearsal Sessions” features Amy LaVere on stand up bass and vocals, Shannon McNally on acoustic guitar and vocals, Robert Mache on guitar and mandolin and Shawn Zorn on drums.
Chasing The Ghost – “Rehearsal Sessions” will be released on the Archer Records Label. As the band hit the road engineers Daniel Lynn and Kevin Houston worded overtime to mix and master an EP which will be available at their first appearance on October 13th in Joshua Tree, CA.
Chasing The Ghost – “Rehearsal Sessions” will also be available via leading digital retailers such as iTunes, Amazon and also directly from the artists’ websites and label websites.
$6.99 Digital Download
Available now from Songs of the South Records: the debut album Go On
Now, You Can’t Stay Here from The Wandering, featuring Luther
Dickinson, Shannon McNally, Amy LaVere, Valerie June and Sharde
Thomas. Buy your copy here.
“If Luther (at left) calls you with a wild idea, you show up, you know?” said LaVere, a former Sun Studio employee who plays standup bass and began her solo career under the guidance of acclaimed producer/musician Jim Dickinson, the late legend whose sons Luther and Cody co-founded the North Mississippi Allstars.
Produced by Don Was (Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones), the 14-song set was recorded last year in Nashville with the Colorado-based Americana band Great American Taxi and features cameos from Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, Elizabeth Cook and Amy LaVere.
The 78 Project is a documentary and recording project by Alex Steyermark. With just one microphone, one authentic 1930′s PRESTO direct-to-disc recorder, and one blank lacquer disk, musicians are given the opportunity to make a recording anywhere they choose.
The Wandering gathers five traditionally-minded artists from Memphis and North Mississippi and features the string work of Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars, Black Crowes) and a quartet of distinctive female voices—Shannon McNally, Amy LaVere, Valerie June, and Sharde Thomas, erstwhile leader of the Rising Star Fife and Drum band.
The Wandering’s first album Go On Now You Can’t Stay Here will be released on May 8th and the group will tour during the month of May.
The women are all accomplished musicians, and it was actually for this reason that Luther initially gathered them together.
“The idea for the band came together one day when I saw a picture of Valerie playing the banjo, which led me to think about Amy playing upright bass, which led me to think about Sharde playing drums and Shannon playing guitar,” says Luther. “So I called them up and arranged a session. We had no idea what to expect and I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it couldn’t have been lovelier.”
The record was cut at the Dickinson family’s Zebra Ranch studio in Coldwater, Mississippi in just three days, and Luther recalls that the music fell readily into place.
“Everyone got along well and as soon as we started playing we all felt that it was special. Amy and Sharde have the coolest pocket together and Valerie’s banjo parts are the magic ingredient. Shannon played rhythm guitar on everything, and I played guitars, mandolin and banjolin.
“I love having Sharde’s Mississippi cane fife paired with banjo, mandolin, and upright bass. It sonically represents the culture of the modern Southern folk experience.”
That experience is also represented in the group’s repertoire, which includes traditional standards and classic Americana from Southern-born artists including Robert Johnson, Kris Kristofferson, Little Willie John, Ray Charles, and Sid Selvidge.
Luther Dickinson and The Wandering will be touring during the month of May.
This spring Amy LaVere will tour with The Black Crowe’s Rich Robinson for several weeks, including stops in Nashville, Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland and New York City.
3/1/12 @ Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
3/2/12 @ Smith’s Olde Bar – Atlanta, GA
3/3/12 @ Cosmic Charlie’s – Lexington, KY
3/7/12 @ Radio Radio – Indianapolis, IN
3/8/12 @ Old Rock House – St. Louis, MO
3/9/12 @ Schubas Tavern – Chicago, IL
3/10/12 @ Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH
3/11/12 @ Ninth Ward – Buffalo, NY
3/15/12 @ TT at the Bear’s Place – Cambridge, MA
3/16/12 @ World Cafe Live – Downstairs Philadelphia, PA
3/17/12 @ Red Palace – Washington DC
3/18/12 @ Rams Head On Stage – Annapolis, MD
3/19/12 @ Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
Dear Friends, Family and Fans,
We’ve returned home safe and sound from a very full year of touring in support of my third record “Stranger Me.” The tour has taken us from Memphis to Seattle to New York, London, Paris, Oslo, Stockholm and many other wonderful cities. It has been a remarkable journey.
I’ve always been grateful but never more proud of my team that makes this all possible. Thank you…
Some highlights for us have included the love we received at SXSW, iTunes, Starbucks and NPR. Mostly for me, I’m especially thankful to those of you who show up to the live shows and keep us inspired.
A special thanks to those of you who supported the Kickstarter campaign that enabled us to take the show to a few new countries and many new people:
Have a wonderful Holiday and Happy New Year.
Archer Records is excited to announce that Amy LaVere has confirmed a run of West Coast tour dates in support of her latest album, Stranger Me. Currently on a tour with stops along the East Coast and the Midwest, her second leg of tour dates will hit major cities along the West Coast, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland. In their eight (out of ten) star review, SPIN declared, “Part winsome alt-country gal and part avenging angel, Amy LaVere has made the breakup album of the year.” The full list of tour dates is below.
Produced by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire), Stranger Me is LaVere’s third record and is the follow up to the Jim Dickinson-produced Anchors & Anvils. Always texturally rich and often employing dissonance and off-kilter instrumentation, Stranger Me is her most exploratory work to date. Alternately haunting and exuberantly defiant, it is a perfect backdrop for this collection of songs about frustration and feeling emotionally disconnected.
Stranger Me has already received glowing praise. NPR gave the album the First Listen treatment, calling the songs “textured, ethereal, and even haunting at times.” The track “You Can’t Keep Me” was chosen as a “perfectly crafted tune from the talented LaVere” for USA Today’s weekly podcast. Paste Magazine, impressed by LaVere’s witty lyrics and eccentricity, asserted “she has crafted a well-rounded album that is already among the year’s best.” While the Associated Press commended her “weird, wonderful…fabulous anti-love songs,” The Washington Post enjoyed the album’s “enticingly sultry” feeling.
“An impressive achievement from singer and upright bassist Amy LaVere, an intriguing musician who’s ready to break out to a larger audience.”
“Real art is personal, close to the bone, unshakable and undeniable. Stranger Me slices throats and raises the black flag.”
“On her third solo album, though, Miss LaVere refocuses our attention with some of the most atmospheric country songs this side of Neko Case, de-emphasizing her strength as a bass player and presenting herself as a full-package Americana artist.”
“LaVere could rest on her lyrics alone, which are witty and feisty enough to stand on their own, but by giving her band boundless license to indulge any whim or eccentricity, she has crafted a well-rounded album that is already among the year’s best.”
“Part winsome alt-country gal and part avenging angel, Amy LaVere has made the breakup album of the year…”
With a sweet voice and double bass that’s way taller than her, Memphis singer Amy enchanted with last album Anchors & Anvils. Now she’s heading to broader horizons in her lyrics and music. Stranger Me is a richly atmospheric, darkly seductive song-cycle with the handsome gait of Damn Love Song setting the tone. The sprightly power pop of You Can’t Keep Me, with its euphoric horns, moves her further away from the alt-country brigade. And a cracking cover of Captain Beefheart’s Candle Mambo reveals the breadth of her ambition. You’re sure to revere LaVere.
The Sun, 7/1/11
The sight of petite, Louisiana-born Amy LaVere playing her big upright bass isn’t one that’s easily forgotten. Luckily, there’s more to her than that. Growing confidence as a songwriter (the dark, twisted love stuff), arrangements that push the boundaries of Americana, even an unlikely Captain Beefheart cover (Candle Mambo) make Stranger Me, (ARCHER), her third release, extra rewarding.
Q Magazine (August issue)
The stand-up bass-slapping starlet takes her country rockabilly grooves into some unexpected twists, turns and deep ravines on this third album. Her Songs have dynamic intelligence and just the right amount of deadpan humor with vocal skills that are both delicate and sensual.
Daily Mirror, 7/1/11
Amy just finished taping NPR’s Mountain Stage. The episode will begin airing on June 17 and air-times will vary by station.
Archer Records is excited to announce the release of Amy LaVere’s new record, Stranger Me, on July 19, 2011 (July 4th in the UK). Produced by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire), Stranger Me is LaVere’s third record and is the follow up to the Jim Dickinson-produced Anchors & Anvils. Always texturally rich and often employing dissonance and off-kilter instrumentation, Stranger Me is her most exploratory work to date. Alternately haunting and exuberantly defiant, it is a perfect backdrop for this collection of songs about frustration and feeling emotionally disconnected.
LaVere was originally planning on making this album with Dickinson. He had not been in good health for some time, and she felt that she might not have many more opportunities to record with him. “He was the one who really got me to believe in my own voice,” says LaVere. When he passed in August 2009, in addition to grieving one of her greatest mentors and champions, she was back at square one in the recording process. One of her first thoughts, after she was ready to begin thinking about producers, was Silvey. They met in London through a mutual friend at the BBC, hit it off immediately and he volunteered to run sound for her performance on Later With Jools Holland. Like Dickinson before him, Silvey encouraged LaVere to follow her own muse, even when (especially when) it led her to more esoteric choices, like the one to cover Captain Beefheart’s “Candle Mambo.”
LaVere experienced other upheavals last year, beginning with the departure of her guitar player, Steve Selvidge, who left to join The Hold Steady. Even more devastating, she and her boyfriend/drummer Paul Taylor decided to call it quits after six years. After starting the recording process without him, it was evident that she missed his musical contributions, so she called him, and he eagerly agreed to play drums on the album. The process of recording became a healing experience as they redefined their relationship.
Along with Taylor, LaVere brought together a group of musicians that provided the right aesthetic for the album. Her first call was to Rick Steff (Lucinda Williams, Cat Power, Lucero) whose love for all things left of center appealed to her. He brought to the recording process a fertile imagination and a repository of odd instruments, including toy pianos, organ, Buddha boxes and the Theremin. Guitar player David Cousar, whose style Silvey describes as “beautifully eccentric,” was her next call. Other musicians include Anchors & Anvils violinist Bob Furgo (Leonard Cohen), floutist/saxophone Clint Maegden (Preservation Hall Jazz Band), cellist Jonathan Kirkscey and violist Beth Luscombe (Memphis Symphony), trumpeter Nahshon Benford, saxophonist Jim Spake and bassist John Stubblefield (Lucero).
Amy LaVere was born in Louisiana and moved around as a GM brat (“Dad moved around to open factories”), and the family eventually settled near Detroit, at least everyone but her father, who continued to travel for work. The family structure eventually gave way. She and her sister rebelled, and one of the ways Amy did so was by joining a band at age 14. Rebellion is still a potent theme for her, and she continues to defy and test love’s constraints in many of her songs.
Stranger Me is the next step in the exciting evolution of Amy LaVere. — clearly more confident in her musical point of view, possessing more wisdom about what love is not and ready to embrace the ideal of the stranger, whatever its iteration.
# # #
For more information, please contact Ken Weinstein at Big Hassle Media:
44 Wall Street 22nd Fl. New York, NY 10005 Tel: 212.619.1360 Fax: 212.619.1669
“The singer’s blend of charm, insight and tragic love has always gone over well with listeners. But with orchestral arrangements by the remarkable Jonathan Kircksey, those songs took on a profound depth and resonance.”
Read John Beifuss’ report about The Romance of Loneliness, Amy’s first starring movie role:
Amy LaVere’s new studio album on Archer Records, Stranger Me, is set for release July 19th in the USA and July 4th in the UK. The highly anticipated album was produced by Craig Silvey whose work with Arcade Fire resulted in 2010’s album of the year at the February Grammy Awards. Planning for touring in the USA and UK is well underway beginning with a special media event scheduled in London in April.
Stranger Me features Amy on upright bass and vocals, Rick Steff on keyboards, David Cousar on guitars, and Paul Taylor on drums. Other contributors included Jonathan Kirkscey and Bobby Furgo (strings), Jim Spake (saxophone), John Stubblefield (bass), and Nahshon Benford (trumpet).
Additional recordings were made in New Orleans at Preservation Hall with horn arrangements by noted Preservation Hall Band member and Bingo Show leader, Clint Maedgen.
Recording engineer Daniel Lynn assisted Craig Silvey with the recording and mixing at Music + Arts Studio in Memphis and additional mixing at The Garden Studio in London. Stranger Me was mastered by George Marino at Sterling Sound in New York.