There’s a lot of love in this album,” Pieta Brown says of Paradise Outlaw, her sixth album and fourth Red House release. “There’s a lot of love in the songs and a lot of love in the way it was recorded, and hopefully that comes through.”
The level of emotional engagement that Brown routinely brings to her work is evident throughout Paradise Outlaw. The self-produced 14-song set fully embodies the qualities that have already established the iconoclastic singer-songwriter as a fiercely individual musical force.
Recorded at Bon Iver mastermind Justin Vernon’s April Base studio in Wisconsin, with a supporting cast that includes Vernon, Amos Lee and Brown’s father, legendary troubadour Greg Brown, Paradise Outlaw boasts some of Pieta’s most emotionally resonant compositions, and some of her most expressive performances, to date.
Although the Alabama-bred, Iowa-based Brown’s quietly riveting tunes and gritty, charismatic performing style resist easy categorization, they’ve helped her to win a fiercely loyal international fan base that extends to many of her fellow artists.
“When Pieta sings you’re aware of something effortless and natural, like rain on earth,” Mark Knopfler observed, while Don Was called her “a great singer-songwriter who possesses major star-power magnetism,” and Iris DeMent described her as “the best poet I’ve heard in a long damn time.”
Paradise Outlaw showcases Brown’s established strengths while staking out fresh new creative territory. “On my last album Mercury, I was recording near Nashville with top-call studio musicians who I hadn’t worked with before, and was exploring the idea of craft and trying to hone in on more classic forms than I had previously,” she explains, adding, “Paradise Outlaw came from a radically different place. I was thinking a lot about freedom, experimentation, poetry, folk songs, bending forms and voices. I also wrote and delivered half the songs on the banjo, which was completely new for me.”
Location: 3329 Lincoln Way Ames, Ia
Venue: Bluestem Stage
Time: 8 – 11
Price: 10 students/ 12 adults
Mipso: Award-winning songwriting crossed with a renegade approach to American roots
The renegade traditionalists of Mipso are doing their part to push the Appalachian folk & bluegrass tradition into new territory. This NC four-piece borrows the best from bluegrass, contemporary country, pop, gospel, folk and American singer-
songwriter traditions to create their hallmark sound.
When Mipso’s 2013 debut, Dark Holler Pop, rose to #8 on Billboard’s Bluegrass charts, the success surprised a lot of people – Mipso’s four members included. “Well, we didn’t know so many people would buy it,” laughs mandolin player Jacob Sharp, “and we definitely didn’t know we were a bluegrass band.”
Since then, Mipso has performed over 300 shows and welcomed frequent collaborator Libby Rodenbough’s voice and fiddle to the fold – and has continued to grow as musicians and songwriters, while drawing continual inspiration from their rich North Carolina roots.
While the instrumentation on the acclaimed Dark Holler Pop embraced North Carolina’s bluegrass heritage head-on, the new album Old Time Reverie finds Mipso shifting their focus away from bluegrass, introducing new instruments and textures to create a distinctly different sound. Clawhammer banjo out of 1920s early country music meets atmospheric electric organ (played by Josh Oliver of The Everybodyfields) more native to 1970s pop. Add imaginative songwriting and a group cohesion gained from two years of near-constant touring, and the resulting sound is powerfully rhythmic, lyrically sharp, and woven with beautiful four-part harmonies.
Location: 3329 Lincoln Way
Venue: Bluestem Stage
Time: 800 – 1100
Price: $15 students/ $20 adults
Michael McDermott’s brand of rock n’ roll brims with the kind of well-honed style and wisdom that can only come from a career on the road and a pedigree in the studio. Effortlessly blending natural folk sensibility, pop hooks, and honest rock, McDermott’s music is as much for the outcast as the congregation. It’s an exploration of the dark corners of life’s journey and it resonates middle class truths through the passionate filter of a kid that grew up on Chicago’s Irish South Side.
If you are a fan of Springsteen, Van Morrison, John Steinbeck, Patti Smith … McDermott’s inspirational rock is in your wheelhouse, waiting late night with a guitar, spare smokes and stories of the American heart.
“McDermott’s music helped me to find a part of myself that wasn’t lost, as I had feared, but only misplaced. That’s why we love the ones who are really good at it, I think: because they give us back ourselves, all dusted and shined up, and they do it with a smile…Michael McDermott is one of the best songwriters in the world and possibly the greatest undiscovered rock & roll talent of the last 20 years” -Stephen King
JOE & VICKI PRICE/Night Owls: A husband and wife that sound like they like each other is a pretty big event right there. About the music this duo makes? It doesn’t get any more duo than this, they both pick guitar formidably with the heavy lifting done by Joe while Vicki does the heavy lifting on vocals sounding like a thrush from a speakeasy on the wrong side of town in the 1920s. Serving up blues based roots music throughout, this is one of those little treasures we’ve been hiding out here in the heartland waiting for the rest of you to catch up with to hear what white people with the blues in Iowa can deliver. A really great, heartfelt diversion from the mainstream. Check it out.Right from jump-street, the electrifying sound of Joe Price hits you in all the places you live, a one-man blues tornado who can pack, command and wring-out a dance-floor with the authority of an eight-piece show band. His own deep and varied bag of original music is so formidable that noted Grammy-award nominated singer/songwriter Greg Brown has long referred to Joe as “the Buddha.”
Vicki’s powerful bluesy voice evokes an image of a woman in a 1920’s speakeasy singing her heart out. She is a more conventional (quite good) guitar player than Joe and a song writer of some talent. She is a women who can be summoned to the stage (seemingly at a moments notice, this is no “act”) to jump onto the freight train that is Joe’s current musical number.
The duos last release “Rain or Shine” won the Independent Music Award for best blues CD of 2009. It received rave reviews in the Chicago Sun Times, Blues Review and Vintage Guitar among others. Joe is a member of the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame and the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was a finalist in the International Blues Challenge in 2008. The couple has opened for such notables as John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Homesick James, Honeyboy Edwards, Louisiana Red, Al Green, Greg Brown and Iris DeMent in their 32 years together.
“From Day One, Red Molly conjured musical magic. A decade later, they’ve honed their songwriting, their covers, their playing and, above all, their harmonies into something joyful and sublime.”
-John Platt, WFUV FM, Sunday Breakfast
Americana powerhouse vocal trio Red Molly is known for their gorgeous harmonies, crisp musicianship, infectious songwriting, and warm, engaging stage presence. Laurie MacAllister (bass), Abbie Gardner (Dobro), and Molly Venter (guitar) weave together the threads of American music—from folk roots to bluegrass, from heartbreaking ballads to barn-burning honky tonk—as effortlessly as they blend their caramel voices into their signature soaring, crystalline three-part harmonies.
Organic musicianship, a respect for the traditions of American music, and an obvious love of crafting music together lend a joyous atmosphere to their legendary live performances, and a natural balance to their studio recordings.
Gracing stages from Denver to Denmark, from Australia to Austin, Red Molly is renowned for their live shows. Four-time featured artist at MerleFest, breakout stars at RockyGrass, and the darlings of the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, the “Mollies” bring audiences to their feet, whether it’s on a grand festival stage or in an intimate concert hall.
Their latest CD, “The Red Album”, realized on May 27, 2014, was featured in USA Today and CMT Edge. It spent 16 weeks on the Americana Radio Top 40 chart, reaching #10, and it was #1 on the Folk DJ Radio Chart for all of 2014.
“Femme Phenom! No root from the grand tree of music is left untouched – classic country heartbreak, undeniable swing, authentic folk, gospel rock with an edge, and Americana stomp. With smart production, a strong thread runs throughout the album and every note sung is upheld on cosmic harmony. Red Molly is unstoppable. Highly recommended.”
-Mary Sue Twohy, SiriusXM Satellite Radiohttp://www.redmolly.com/