Weekend Nights @ The Center
Nationally touring artists Kate Campbell and Claire Holley will be joining us on Saturday, April 23rd @7pm.
on independant national tours, these musicians will be stopping in
Memphis to play a very special concert for us here at the Center for
Southern Folklore."I've always written stories about
people and everyday living," says Kate Campbell. "But after reading a
quote from Frederick Buechner, I kept thinking about the phrase, 'save
the day,' and it just began to have a life of its own."
With her compassionate tone and
sometimes-quirky approach, Kate Campbell has made a musical niche for
herself telling stories exploring the complex topics of race, religion,
history and human relationships. It started with her award-winning
debut record, 1995's Songs from the Levee, and continues with her latest offering, Save the Day.
The new project also includes shades of Kate's entire musical history
-- running the gamut from R&B and pop rhythms to gospel, country and
Longtime fans will recognize this
CD as a quintessential Kate Campbell record. But Campbell confides that
she arrived at this collection of songs from a little different
approach. "I usually have a theme that I've thought about for two or
three years when I start writing for an album, but this time I decided
to write about things as they came to me."
With no set agenda going into the
project, Kate naturally called on her trusted circle of musician friends
to help flesh out her burgeoning ideas. Alabama native Walt Aldridge,
whom Kate has known since her days as a staff writer at Fame Music in
Muscle Shoals, stepped up as producer, as he did on her previous
collections Monuments and Blues & Lamentations. Legendary keyboardist Spooner Oldham, who served as Kate's musical partner on 2006's For the Living of These Days, returns to accompany her on the To Kill a Mockingbird-inspired song "Sorrowfree."
The incomparable John Prine sings
along on "Looking for Jesus," a tune with a unique spin on modern-day
pilgrimages. Nanci Griffith's distinctive voice is heard on
"Fordlandia," which tells the story of industrial pioneer Henry Ford's
failed attempt at building a tire factory in the Amazon. These tunes
are the latest examples of Kate's knack for uncovering peculiar, nearly
forgotten stories and weaving them into song.
People often ask Kate where she
gets her song ideas. Kate explains, "I just find certain things
interesting and pay attention to them. That's the way I've always
been." Kate's lyrics have often been compared to the works of southern
wordsmiths Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty, so it's no surprise that
several tunes on the project found their inspiration in the literary
world. While it may seem daunting to capture the emotion of a finely
written novel in a five-minute song, Kate rose to the challenge quite
poetically when Gene Cheek asked her to write a song for the audio
release of his powerful Jim Crow era autobiography, The Color of Love.
Growing up in the midst of the Civil Rights movement in the '60s, Kate
has addressed racial tensions head-on throughout her recording career.
"These issues with race are things I feel strongly about," Kate admits.
"I keep writing about it as a way to reflect upon the past and to
hopefully dialogue toward a better future."
As on songs from Kate's previous
albums, Mac McAnally lends his unique harmonies to "Falling Out of
Heaven," a phrase borrowed from the Langston Hughes poem "Daybreak in
Alabama." Joan Didion's National Book Award-winning exploration of
grief, The Year of Magical Thinking, inspired a rare love song
from Kate, titled "More than One More Day." The writings of Saint John
of the Cross and Teresa of Avila inspired "Dark Night of the Soul," one
of Kate's most requested since first appearing on 2006's For the Living of These Days.
Here, it's re-cast in a full band setting, while another track,
"Everybody Knows Elvis," explores the isolation felt by both the King of
Rock and Roll and Jesus Christ. The upbeat "Shining Like the Sun"
reflects upon the epiphany experience of spiritual author and Trappist
monk Thomas Merton.
Kate is now curious to see how
these twelve songs fit with the rest of her material in concert. As she
continues her musical journey, Save the Day rightfully takes its place among her previous releases, which have earned high praise and features from media outlets like Entertainment Weekly and National Public Radio.
Whether it's someone who discovers
Kate Campbell for the first time, or a longtime fan, the listener soon
realizes that each of Kate's tunes resonates with the hopefulness of the
Buechner quote found in the CD liner notes:
"It is no wonder that just the touch of another human being at a dark time can be enough to save the day."
-Hunter Kelly, August 2008
Claire Chamblin Holley, a native of Mississippi, was exposed from an
early age to the southland's rich variety of musical influences, and
from an early age she responded. She took a ukulele to church and sat
out in the hot car strumming it between Sunday school and the church
service. She ruined her father's classical guitar by replacing the nylon
strings with steel strings so she could imitate what she'd been hearing
on her favorite record Chet Atkins and Merle Travis Traveling Show.
"Between all my father's records and my mother's collection of
musical instruments, there was plenty to learn from. When we listened to
music, my father and I would pretend to conduct the orchestra in front
of us. I remember my mother showing me how to play the autoharp, and I
still have a wooden music box that she played for me when I was a girl.
Now I play it for my son sometimes when he goes to sleep; it's a
beautiful, melancholy tune." Her grandmother was an accomplished jazz
pianist and made sure that Claire took piano lessons for seven years,
though it was playing guitar that really interested her. "I was never
that good at playing piano, and maybe that's because I didn't practice
enough, but I found the guitar fun to play. It wasn't a chore to
She moved to Chicago for college and began performing at coffeehouses
and writing songs. At the suggestion of one of her professors, she
studied the poems of William Blake and set one of them to music. That,
along with two songs she wrote for the college arts CD, Kodon, set a nice foundation for recording songs for Night Air, her
first independent release. She moved to North Carolina, where she
collaborated with producer John Plymale on the 1999 release, Sanctuary,
a visionary collection of traditional hymns and gospel songs which
struck a chord with many radio listeners: "Every time we play 'Bounty of
the Lord' or 'Come Thou Fount' the phones ring and ring." (Keith
Weston, WUNC Chapel Hill, NC). She signed with Yep Roc Records soonafter
and her self-titled release from the label was featured on NPR's Weekend Edition with Liane Hansen. Performing Songwriter calls her work on this record, "straightforward, unabashed, and beautiful."
Since then, Claire has established a significant presence as a singer
and a songwriter."...She is graced with a fine voice," says Dirty Linen "but more than that, she has learned how to use it expressively." Of her latest release, Dandelion,
also on Yep Roc Records, Claire "displays the instincts of a master
short-story writer, crafting vivid, folkie vignettes of everyday folks,
eccentric and otherwise." (Harp). "Simulaneously sweet and
gruff, she can sing luxuriant, summer-drenched ballads with the best of
them, but there's something of the honky-tonker lurking underneath." (Paste Magazine)
These songs and performances display Claire's commitment to staking
out new musical ground while still remaining true to her southern
song-writing roots. She continues to tour nationally and is currently
working on new material, including a song for a compilation benefiting
cystic fibrosis. Last year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art used two of
her arrangements of seasonal songs for one of their music releases.
Claire lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Chad, and son, Jack.
For more info on Claire Holley, please contact Yep Roc Records.