On The Radio

Loudon Wainwright III, Nancy And Beth, Mipso, David Childers and Liz Longley on Mountain Stage

Week after May 26, 2017

Loudon Wainwright III
Nancy And Beth
Mipso
David Childers
Liz Longley

Press Release

Loudon Wainwright III - Loudon’s long and illustrious career is highlighted by more than two dozen album releases, a 2010 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album for High Wide & Handsome, and two previous Grammy nominations for I’m Alright (1985) and More Love Songs (1986). His 2012 recording, Older Than My Old Man Now was named one of NPR’s Top 10 Albums of the Year. And in 2014, Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet), marks his the 26th career release to-date. Wainwright is perhaps best known for the novelty song “Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)” and for playing Captain Calvin Spalding (the “singing surgeon”) on the American television show, M*A*S*H. His songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Rufus Wainwright, and Mose Allison, among others. He has collaborated with songwriter/producer Joe Henry on the music for Judd Apatow’s hit movie Knocked Up, written music for the British theatrical adaptation of the Carl Hiaasen novel Lucky You, composed topical songs for NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered and ABC’s Nightline, and recorded several songs for the soundtrack of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. As an actor, Wainwright has appeared in films directed by Martin Scorsese, Hal Ashby, Christopher Guest, Tim Burton, Cameron Crowe, and Judd Apatow. Loudon’s most recent project is his one-man play entitled Surviving Twin. A solo piece many years in the making, Surviving Twin is part concert, part dramatic reading, part family slide-show, and Loudon III calls a “posthumous collaboration” with his writer father. Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet)--or HGTB(Y), for short—is the 26th album in the long and illustrious career of Loudon Wainwright III. It follows his acclaimed Older Than My Old Man Now album—“my death n’ decay opus,” as Wainwright calls it, and 2010’s Grammy-winning High Wide & Handsome.​

Nancy And Beth - Emmy Award winning actress MEGAN MULLALLY (Children's Hospital, Party Down and Will & Grace) met fellow actress STEPHANIE HUNT (Friday Night Lights, Californication and How To Live With Your Parents For the Rest of Your Life) while in Austin filming the independent movie Somebody Up There Likes Me. The minute the two started singing together they realized they had something special...and those that have come out to see their new band, NANCY AND BETH, agree! Within just three months of their inception, N&B had already played such fabulous venues as Royce Hall in Los Angeles and been featured as a musical guest on CONAN.​

Mipso - Chapel Hill’s indie Americana quartet Mipso are influenced by the contradiction of their progressive home and the surrounding rural southern landscapes. Currently celebrating the release of their new album Coming Down The Mountain (April 7, 2017), Mipso ventures further than ever from their string-band pedigree to discover a broader Americana where classic folk-rock and modern alt-country sounds mingle easily with Appalachian tradition.  Adding drums and electric instruments to their intimate four-part harmonies and powerful acoustic meld, Mipso’s music is lush and forward moving, with words that sear and salve in turn. Hailed as “hewing surprisingly close to gospel and folk while still sounding modern and secular.” (Acoustic Guitar), and recently recognized by Rolling Stone as a favorite 2016 festival performance, Mipso brings a distinctly unique sound- full of wistful beauty, hopeful undercurrents, and panoramic soundscapes.​

David Childers - Throughout his 20-year career as a singer, songwriter and bandleader, Childers has written about the tension between secular and religious impulses. His albums have always included songs of wild hedonism and uplifting faith but, as his new album, Serpents of Reformation,evolved, he found himself drawn to themes of salvation and repentance. “I wrote a few new gospel-type songs and the music took on a life of its own. The songs all look at the forgiveness that’s at the heart of Christian philosophy, even though you don’t see a lot (of forgiveness) in the world today.” Childers usually tracks his records live, with minimal overdubs. This time, he let his son Robert and co-producer Neal Harper control the creative process. “I didn’t set out to make a gospel album,” David Childers says,  “I wanted to make a hip-hop record. I’d been listening to a lot of the stuff RL Burnside recorded late in his career. He had a lot of hip hop beats and electronic rhythms in the background. I told my son Robert, who knows a lot about recording technology that I wanted to do a record like that. We started by recording ‘Life of Jesus,’ a song I did with The Gospel Playboys in the 90s, and took off from there. “Sometimes I’d do a basic track singing with a drummer or my acoustic guitar,” Childers continued. “Mostly, I was just brought in to do my vocals. I didn’t hang out in the studio. I just let them do what they wanted to do.” The result is a hybrid that blends Childers’ roots in folk, country and blues, with the atmospheric textures generated by Harper and his son Robert, a mix of acoustic and electronic sounds that span the entire history of American music. “God Is God” is a traditional tune, an a cappella tour de force that’s half jubilee gospel and half chain gang moan, delivered with deep guttural harmonies and hand claps. Childers learned “Woman at the Well” from the singing of Mahalia Jackson, but this bass heavy arrangement is full of the grating sounds of industrial decay, with Childers’ lead vocal crying for a hint of solace. On “Don’t Be Scared,” Childers sings the praises of love’s healing power, while acoustic banjo, fiddle and stand up bass offset the processed Johnny Cash thump of the backing track. “This song is about merging the physical and spiritual in a positive way,” Childers explains. “If there’s a touch of Cash in it, that’s cool. He was a redneck singing about societies ills and all God’s children ain’t free, which was not popular with Southern white people, and still isn’t.” Layers of sampled percussion give “Gospel Plow” a West African feel, while Jim Avett sings and plays acoustic guitar on a bluegrass flavored take on the old hymn “Jericho.” Andy The Doorbum adds spectral organ and baritone harmonies to the sinister rumble of “Sodom and Gomorrah,” giving Childers’ vocal an apocalyptic aura. Like many of the album’s songs, “How ‘Bout You” balances traditional vocal harmonies, sanctified baritone trumpet and handclaps with murky, processed rhythms and shadowy howls of grief. “This is an accidental gospel record,” Childers says. “It’s a contemplation of my beliefs and people can react as they see fit. I’ve had experiences that let me know there’s a positive force in my life that’s carried me through some hard times. Maybe its just good luck, but to me, it’s beyond explanation, although I do know it gets better when I open myself up to the positive things in the world.” David Childers is a musician, poet, historian, painter, father and champion of people who get tangled up in the bureaucratic legal system; he specializes in helping people navigate the maze of the Social Security system to obtain their benefits. He grew up in the cotton mill country of North Carolina and started playing banjo when he was 14. “I didn’t have the confidence to be a musician,” he says. “I sang in the church choir so I could get close to the good looking girls I knew.” He started playing guitar in college, but he was a 37-year-old practicing lawyer before he got serious about his songwriting. His first album, Godzilla! He Done Broke Out!, was released in 1994. It marked the beginning of 13 years of relentless touring, while working 60 hours a week as a lawyer. He made nine more albums before he burned out and stopped performing in 2007. “I ran into a brick wall, burned out from the touring, drinking, staying out late and my work schedule.” Childers sat in a chair for a few months before having a spiritual awakening. “I wanted to investigate God. I dove into the Quran, but I grew up with the Bible and began reading. It helped me understand the spiritual consequences of the things I was doing. I became happier and more at peace. Now, I try to set an example with my life and be decent to other people.” He started playing music again in 2010, recording two albums, Glorious Day (2010) and Next Best Thing (2013) with the Overmountain Men, a band that Avett Brother bassist Bob Crawford – a huge fan and close friend of Childers’ - helped produce.  “David is the most prolific North Carolina songwriter alive,” Crawford said.  “Everywhere I go, people ask about him.  It’s great to see people constantly discovering this man and his massive body of work.” He’ll be doing local dates with an acoustic trio or a full band to support Serpents of Reformation.

Liz Longley - Listening to Liz Longley is like diving into a vivid dream, moody and somehow both familiar and strange. At first, the dream belongs exclusively to Longley. But as she sings what she’s trying to know––her lovers, her place, herself––her fierce candor shatters any walls that may have separated us, and the dream we’re swimming in becomes more than just Longley’s. It becomes ours .“I’ve found that people respond most to the songs I’ve been most open and honest in,” Longley says. “When I write, I want to put my own story in it and make sure others hear their own in it, too.” That winning transformation of the personal into the universal plays brilliantly on Weightless, the highly anticipated follow-up to Longley’s eponymous 2015 Sugar Hill Records debut, which garnered praise from American Songwriter, Huffington Post, CMT Edge, and more. Weightless luxuriates in bold, thick pop with rock-and-roll edges. Crunchy, percussive guitars cushion the defiant songbird melodies Longley uses to deliver her bittersweet punches that explore the complexities and even dysfunction of relationships rather than the fairytale. “I grew up listening to music of the 90s, and this record feels more like the Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette in me,” Longley says. “All those powerful chick singer-songwriters I grew up loving.” The Pennsylvania native attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music and gained her first national traction in television, which recognized her ability to frame a scene early. Longley’s “This is Not the End” was featured in the 2012 season finale of Lifetime’s Army Wives, while “Rescue My Heart”––re-recorded for Weightless ––made its way onto ABC’s Switched at Birth and MTV’s Scream: The TV Series. A growing audience noticed and began following Longley’s career, craving more.  Weightless delivers the more everyone has been waiting for. Longley recorded the 10-song collection in Nashville with Bill Reynolds, the bassist and producer of Band of Horses as well as acclaimed projects from the Avett Brothers, Lissie, and others. Reynolds and Longley took their time in the studio, stretching the process out over three months. “It was such an amazing feeling to work with someone who was so invested in the record,” Longley says of Reynolds’ production. “Bill encouraged the exploration of different sounds and approaches until each song found its way. We never settled. Making this record was a creative process. It wasn’t made overnight.” While the new album’s triumphant embrace of lush pop-rock marks a musical evolution for Longley, the starkly personal lyrics and clear vignettes that have defined her songwriting to date remain. “The songs I am drawn to singing every night are the ones that carry the most truth, the ones that I relate to no matter where I am in my life,” she explains. “This record is made up of those kinds of songs.” “What’s the Matter” saunters into dicey relationship questions with confidence, crackling with electric guitar and vocals that are somehow angelic and menacing at the same time.  “It’s just a matter of time till what’s the matter with me is what’s the matter with you,” Longley cries, pointing to the challenges of perspective and timing that arise even––or maybe especially––when partners are in sync. “I’m usually inspired by the darker moments,” she says with a laugh. “It’s something I can’t seem to get away from.” Longley is exceptionally good at describing feelings and situations in new ways that only enhance our understanding. Songs “Weightless” and “Swing” capture two distinct yearnings for freedom. Longley wrote “Weightless” in her head while driving around in LA, longing to cut ties with a love that had soured. “I’d just gotten out of a relationship, and we’d been arguing about who was going to get what when we parted ways,” she says. “I just wanted to feel free and light again. And as soon as I wrote that song, I did. It helped me realize that there are so many important things in life, but none of them are the couch or the diamond ring.” One of three tracks written with Ian Keaggy, album opener “Swing” delights in refusing to settle down. The chorus soars like the pendulum it praises, with layered instrumentation that helps create an ambrosial ode to moving and self-reliance. “Never Really Mine” lets Longley’s supple voice do the heavy lifting. She relies on sparse keys and guitar as punctuation as she hauntingly conveys the abject heartbreak of realizing you never had what you just lost in the first place. Longley finished the forlorn “You Haunt Me” alone in a dodgy hotel room with a paranormal vibe. “The song is about what was an unresolved situation in my life,” she says. “Someone from my past just kept appearing in my dreams. It was almost like my mind was saying, ‘You need to figure this out.’” She pauses then adds, “It’s resolved… now all that’s left is a song about it.” Rolling “Say Anything” delights in following a chosen path, no matter what detractors say, while “Electricity” explores love’s invigorating and maddening buzz. Delivered over plaintive piano, “Rescue My Heart” pleads for a savior. “This song leaves the listener to decide a lot of things,” Longley says of the intentionally ambiguous snapshot of a desperate soul reaching up for either human or divine help. Written from the point of view of someone “crossing over to the other side,” “Only Love” imagines the different choices we’d make if we could give life another go, acknowledging brokenness alongside newness and hope. Album closer “Oxygen”––written with Sarah Siskind––celebrates the resuscitative quality of a budding relationship over heartbeat percussion. “When you meet someone new and you feel like you’re taking in a breath of fresh air, like you’re brand new again ––I just felt brand new again,” Longley says. “The song came out of Sarah and I talking about new love and how it can almost bring you back to life.” By vulnerably digging into her own stories, Longley keeps giving the rest of us the words and melodies to share what we feel but struggle to express. “In the process of writing these songs, I felt empowered and re-focused on what is important in life,” she says. “Songwriting is the cheapest form of therapy. It helps make sense of situations and emotions that aren’t yet understood. Then the hope is that it helps someone else, cause everything feels better when you can sing about it.”​