Tag Archives: Rhiannon

Beau + Luci: A Q&A

Forget the wider world. Some days, weeks and/or months, it can feel like the earth is giving way beneath our feet. Maybe it’s a family-related crisis, maybe it’s something at work, maybe…well, fill in the blank. Life is life, and even those leading the most charmed existences have to face ugly realities at some point.

While music makes the good times better, its true power comes in those down moments. We turn it on, turn it up and slip away into the melodies and wordplay, in the vocals and harmonies, in the guitar solo at the bridge…

That’s Beau + Luci, two sisters from the swamplands of southern Georgia.

I spotlighted them in a Top 5 last month, and have to say – the more I listen to them, the more I love their sound. They, along with a slew of younger acts known and unknown – such as First Aid Kit, Courtney Marie Andrews, Erin O’Dowd and Rylie Bourne – are proof positive that a love for and respect of music past results in gloriously cool music present. Their Fire Dancer EP, for example, is not a one-and-done affair; crank it up in the morning and you’ll be hitting repeat all day.

They were kind enough to field a few emailed questions from me and also supply some very cool pictures.

What’s the first album you purchased (or appropriated from your parents)?

Luci: Our dad had an incredible collection of classic rock, so we were surrounded by that from a very young age! I’m not really sure what the first CD I purchased was, but I do know that the first vinyl I ever bought was the Beatles’ Abbey Road!

Beau: I don’t remember what the first album I actually bought was, but I definitely stole a few of my dad’s Allman Brothers albums after hearing them. I absolutely had to have them, luckily he didn’t mind too much!

What’s the last album you purchased?

Luci: I just got the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls and Wings’ Wings Over America on vinyl.

Beau: I lost my copy and just repurchased the White Stripes Elephant record.

Are you into vinyl? Prefer CDs? Or just downloads/streaming? (I’m a mix of all three, myself.)

Luci: If I had to pick, it would be vinyl. There’s just something about holding a record in your hands that makes it sound and feel so much better to me. It’s tangible, and it may be mostly in my head, but I do believe music sounds best on vinyl. But at the same time, I appreciate the ease and access of digital downloads and streaming, and the opportunity it gives you to discover new music. I honestly don’t use CDs very often…it’s either vinyl or digital!

Beau: I love vinyls and we have a lot of them, but with as much as we’re traveling, it’s more convenient to have a copy on iTunes to play on the go!

Who are your musical heroes? And why?

Luci: I think I can answer for both of us when I say this could shape out to be a long list! We both grew up with such a variety of music, and so many musicians have played a massive role in our artistry. The Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Emmylou Harris, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles…they’re all a part of me. I admire them for their artistry, their innovation, the soul that they put into their music. They never sacrificed their musical values, they constantly pushed to be better, and they made a legacy for themselves.

Do you like Emmylou Harris?

Luci: Yes! She’s one of our greatest inspirations.

Beau: We adore her. One of our favorite songs to play is her song “Deeper Well”!

What new(er) artists do you listen to? First Aid Kit? Courtney Marie Andrews? (Both well worth seeing in concert, for what that’s worth.) Others?

Beau: First Aid Kit are amazing! We absolutely love them but haven’t seen them in concert yet. Ryan Adams, Jack White/White Stripes/Dead Weather/Raconteurs, the Kills, the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach, the Arcs, Tedeschi Trucks Band, the Arctic Monkeys, Jason Isbell, Gary Clark Jr., Ben Howard, Monica Heldal, The Last Shadow Puppets, Kaleo, Southern Avenue and Dawes are all on our playlists lately. We got to see Dawes and Ryan Adams in concert this year, and both shows were incredible.

On your website bio, you discuss singing in church and then leading a youth worship group. How was performing in a club different? Did people pay attention?

Luci: You definitely always hope people pay attention, and that they connect with the music on a spiritual level! When we originally started singing in church and in the worship group, we were just two kids who loved music and singing, and wanted to express that passion however we could. Just like so many other artists before us, it was an opportunity to find ourselves and our calling in the music, and there’s really no way to express how much the old hymns and spirituals have influenced us even now. You can hear it woven into our music, just like it’s part of us. But by the time we got to the point of performing in a club, we were far more aware of who we were on an artistic level. We’d begun developing our sound and growing as artists and performers, experimenting and writing and pushing ourselves as individuals and as a band.

In the bio, you call yourselves “flower children with rock-and-roll souls.” Explain.

Luci: I don’t know where we first saw that phrase, but it struck us immediately, in one of those “aha!” moments. I think it’s a perfect description of us, and I love the juxtaposition: the hippie side of me meets the rock and roll lover. There’s definitely a good bit of nostalgia in the phrase as well. I would give anything to have been around the rock scene during the late ’60s and early ’70s. So many of my favorite bands were just starting to break out, and I know I look at the era through rose-colored glasses, but it offers so much inspiration to me.

What cover songs, if any, do you perform in concert?

Beau: We do perform cover songs, but we make an effort to find songs that we connect with on a deeply personal level, then put our own spin on them, like Emmylou Harris’s Deeper Well. Some of our favorite covers to play are “Midnight Rider,” the Rolling Stones’ “Play with Fire,” “Rhiannon,” and “In Flight” by Monica Heldal.

And, last: What one album (or two, if you disagree) would you call your North Star and why?

Luci: This is a hard question! There are so many records that are deserving of this, for different reasons. I can narrow it down to two: Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and the Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East. I always find myself going back to those when I need inspiration, or to find some peace, which is kind of ironic, considering the circumstances surrounding Fleetwood Mac at the time of recording Rumours. But they made what is to me a perfect record, so it worked out well enough in the long run. And At Fillmore East is pure soul. There’s no way to listen to that record and not feel something. Like Butch Trucks said, that show was almost like being in church. It’s the kind of record that leaves its mark on you.

Beau: I can’t even narrow it down to one record from the Allman Brothers, honestly the entire discography has been so influential on my life and has really shaped the way that we go about creating music. Rumours is possibly one of the most incredibly influential records of all time for SO many people across so many genres and lifestyles, so I can’t NOT mention that even though Luci got to it first! I also tend to lean on records like Elephant and Icky Thump from the White Stripes, Brothers from the Black Keys, Suck It and See from the Arctic Monkeys, and I end up listening to Ben Howard’s Every Kingdom record at least once a week, probably! But collectively between the two of us, I’d say the one we most regularly focus in on would be Rumours. It’s such a raw, honest record and has so much depth musically, lyrically, and in their performances. Definitely a timeless record that we can’t help but return to!

For more on Beau + Luci, be sure to visit their website and/or Facebook page. There’s also a great interview with them over at Middle Tennessee Music.

Today’s Top 5: An Old Grey Cat Retrospective, Part 1

Although the final stats will have to wait until New Year’s Eve, it’s safe to say that 2016 has been a banner year for the Old Grey Cat blog: 500+ more visitors and 2100+ more page views than 2015. Wow! Thank you to everyone who has stopped by from time to time.

Anyway, this week, I thought I’d look back at the Old Grey Cat’s 2016. First up: my most-viewed (new) posts of the year, along with one featured clip from each. (I’ll post a roundup of my favorite posts on Thursday.)

1) Today’s Top 5: August 1984 (via Record Magazine): Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul – “I Am a Patriot.”

2) Diane Birch – Nous: “Stand Under My Love.”

3) Today’s Top 5: Songs of the Seventies: Fleetwood Mac – “Rhiannon.”

4) Today’s Top 5: Saturday, 6/25/2016: Rylie Bourne – “Mary Ann.”

5) Bruce Springsteen in Philly, 2/12/16: We Have Met the Future and It Is Us: “Prove It All Night.”

And what would one of my Top 5s be without a few bonuses?

6) Today’s Top 5: Blake Babies: “Temptation Eyes.”

7) Today’s Top 5: September 1983 (via Musician): The Plimsouls – “A Million Miles Away.”

Today’s Top 5: Songs of the Seventies

The 1970s were an odd time in America, beginning with tumult on the streets and college campuses and ending with the closest thing to a whimper this country has ever emitted. Post-Watergate and post-Vietnam, the nation sputtered sighs that mixed relief with resignation, and a recognition that—for the first time since the Depression—the American Dream might just be out of reach. The post-WWII economy that birthed the middle class and suburbia was flailing from oil embargoes, inflation and unemployment. Times were tough, in other words, and best articulated by Merle Haggard in his classic “If We Make It Through December”.

In fact, despite his many misdeeds, and there were many, my hunch is that the Watergate scandal never would’ve gained traction if President Nixon had handled the economy with the same verve as he did, say, detente with China. Instead, inflation gradually increased; and, by his last year in office, 1974, it averaged 11 percent. While there’s only so much a government can do to lessen economic woes, perception plays a pivotal role. People expect the president to address their concerns; and Nixon never did.

Of course, when they do address them, they need to do it right. With little letup in the intervening years, President Jimmy Carter lassoed the elephant in the room with his “malaise speech” of 1979: “It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.”

Unfortunately, the message wasn’t what Americans wanted or needed to hear. Carter would’ve been better off saying: “Times are tough, and getting tougher, but we’ll get through this. Here’s how,” and then ticking off his six-point plan, instead of hectoring the American people. Leaders lift folks up, and never chastise them about “self-indulgence” and “consumption” when, for most, such extravagances aren’t options.

Looking back, one can see why the decade’s music veered hither and yon, moving from fluff and escapism to grit and certitude. Saturday Night Fever, the movie, is a good encapsulation of the need, at times, for fluff and escapism: Tony Manero (John Travolta) leads, on a day-to-day basis, a dreary life. He doesn’t live to dance, but dances to live.

So, for today’s Top 5: Songs of the Seventies. There’s a decade’s worth of material to pull from, of course, and much that I could (and probably should) use, but these five songs – mainstream all – spoke to the hearts and minds of millions of people at the time, and have spoken to many more in the years since. They articulate the dreams and desires of and for escape, however temporary, and do so in a timeless manner while eschewing saccharine sentiments.

  1. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – “Born to Run,” 1975.

2) Jackson Browne – “Running on Empty,” 1977.

3) Linda Ronstadt – “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me,” 1976. (Video from 1977.)

4) Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – “We’ve Got Tonight,” 1978. (Video from 1980.)

5) Fleetwood Mac – “Rhiannon,” 1975. (Video from 1976.)

And one bonus…

The Eagles – “Hotel California,” 1976. (Video from 1977.)