Trish Murphy

Trish Murphy ::  http://www.trishmurphy.com

It’s fortunate record stores haven’t taken all that “women in rock” hype seriously enough to create a separate section for female artists. Doolittle/Mercury recording artist Trish Murphy would certainly be misfiled, having more in common with straightshooters and storytellers like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. Rubies on the Lawn is the nationally released follow-up to Murphy’s debut Crooked Mile, which was released on the independent label she founded in 1997. With Murphy overseeing her own distribution, marketing and Internet site, Crooked Mile sold 10,000 copies and took her well beyond her adopted hometown of Austin, Texas.

While still an unsigned artist, Murphy performed on nationally syndicated radio programs such as World Cafe, Mountain Stage and New York City’s legendary Idiot’s Delight, hosted by Vin Scelsa. After licensing Crooked Mile for foreign distribution, Murphy toured Europe twice and played on Dutch national television and radio. This summer she will return as a veteran to Lilith Fair, having toured for a week on last year’s bill. She also will return to Milwaukee’s Summerfest and Birmingham’s City Stages and will make her first appearance in Seattle at the Bumbershoot Festival.

Regarding her approach to lyrics, Murphy says “To me, the challenge is to evoke as many images as possible with as few words as possible.” While she generally prefers to write alone, she was inspired to write the vividly detailed “Sunday” from a poem written by her next-door neighbor, a SWAT team detective. She reworked his words into lyrics and set them to a surprisingly lovely melody. “The music has that sort of lullaby quality,” Murphy says, “and that’s not at all what the lyrics are speaking about, but it was a nice contrast — that music and then that sort of bloody, gory story.” Murphy is also conscious of the aesthetic properties of words. She notes that when she first wrote “Vanilla Sun,” the story was going in a different direction than she wanted. “But I was digging the sound of the vowels, so I kept all the vowel sounds and changed all the words.” Murphy doesn’t perform tricks with her strong, sweet, slightly dusky voice. The songs on Rubies on the Lawn reveal both a gift for melody and the ability to sketch full portraits or distill complex emotions with just a few lines. The percussive phrases in “Johnny Too Blue” capture the violent tension in a Vietnam vet who “couldn’t really look back, never really came back.” Murphy’s sharp wit gives a vinegary edge to the power-pop confection “I Know What You Are.” The bright harmonies in the catchy chorus contrast with the bleak observation: “It’s probably just as well that I don’t understand you at all.”

Murphy is the rare songwriter whose musical ambitions received strong support at home. Her father, a struggling musician and songwriter, taught his three children to sing background harmonies for him when they were preschoolers. Although he eventually had to take jobs in construction to make a living, the family kept its bohemian values even when obliged to live in a series of small Southern refining towns. At one point, Murphy says, she rebelled against her colorful background by trying to take a more conventional path. “That didn’t last very long,” she recalls with a laugh. While Murphy was working her way through college, her dad encouraged her to get gigs to support herself, rather than pursue the proverbial something-to-fall-back-on. After receiving a B.A. in philosophy, Murphy decided to turn down a job offer and fall back on music as a full-time career. “Rubies on the Lawn” will make old and new fans alike glad that she has chosen to devote all her energies to music.

 

 

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Lennon Murphy

Lennon Murphy ::  http://www.lennononline.com

How does one sum up the life of 20-year-old female rock artist Lennon Murphy? Do you start with the death of her only parent at the age of 18, the two year successful battle for adoption of her 10 year old sister, the release of her debut album on tragic Sept. 11, 2001 her departure from Arista Records due to internal problems, and give into the poor little girl tale that every article in her press book leaves you pondering; or do you look past the story, look past the sexual imagery, and discover Lennon in the honesty of her music. On Lennon

 

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Allison Moorer

Allison Moorer ::  http://www.allisonmoorer.com

I was born on June 21, 1972, in Mobile, Alabama. I was raised around there, too. I grew up in a musical family and started singing (harmony) when I was about 3, I

 

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Annie Minogue

Annie Minogue ::  http://www.annieminogue.com

Annie is the former lead vocalist for SPV Recording Artist, Ghost Of A God, with whom she toured America and Europe. GOAG’s 1998 album has earned extensive radio-play on 150 U.S. college stations, and throughout Europe. This album was produced by Leif Mases, who is credited for having worked with Led Zeppelin and Jeff Beck. The album was also recently released in Japan on the Nippon Crown label.

Annie’s latest recordings were mixed by Peter Moshay (Mariah Carey, Hall & Oates and Jennifer Lopez) and mastered by George Marino (Joan Osborne, The Black Crowes, Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses).

Her new album, “HOME” has just been released on the Nippon Crown label in Japan and the song “Paper Doll” is being used as the theme song for Japan’s national news program. Her songs have appeared in The Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame showcase in 1998 & 2001. Annie’s music has also been featured on MSNBC, MTV’s Real World, The TV Show Dawson

 

“A powerhouse vocalist whose smartly-crafted modern rock songwriting and searingly emotional performances stand out in the crowded field of female rock singers.”

-Dimitri Ehrlich, author of Inside the Music



 

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Tift Merritt

Tift Merritt ::  http://www.tiftmerritt.com

“What I’m trying to do is make an album in the style of early Linda Ronstadt, early Emmylou Harris, and early Bonnie Raitt – just trying to make my voice do the right thing and to write some good songs.”

Tift Merritt stated her artistic ambitions right before entering L.A.’s Sound Factory last September with producer Ethan Johns (of Ryan Adams fame) to begin recording Bramble Rose, her debut album for Lost Highway. And from the haunting acoustic musical introduction of “Trouble Over Me,” to the classic Appalachian twang of “Virginia, No One Can Warn You,” to the wonderful melodic country pop of “I Know Him Too,” to the bluesy autobiographical “Sunday,” Bramble Rose certainly accomplishes these stated lofty goals. But unlike her musical heroes who especially very early on were interpreters – albeit great interpreters – of other people’s music, Bramble Rose is 100 percent Tift Merritt. Which is to say she wrote all 11 tracks herself. It’s a display of amazing songwriting talent for a debut release, no matter what the era.

“I’m usually fixated on something that I feel and I don’t understand, and I try to put that into words,” says the 27-year-old, Texas-born, North Carolina-raised singer-songwriter-guitarist of the talents that were first celebrated when she began winning writing awards as a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “It’s generally more about me at a private level, and I sort of pretty it up into something I can show to other people,” she laughs, “But I think I do tend to write about the things I feel way down.”

With her longtime band, formerly known as the Carbines, Tift has been one of the most acclaimed artists on the vibrant Raleigh, North Carolina music scene for the past four years. Although she began writing songs and “playing for myself” as a young teen, she didn’t venture into the clubs – initially as a solo performer – until she was 19.

“I didn’t enjoy it,” she recalls now. “It was small college bars where I was alone and some drunk guy would be screening, ‘Play some Jimmy Buffett!’ So I stopped for a while.” She continued writing and recording songs “for herself” until meeting up with drummer Zeke Hutchins. “He set his drums up in my kitchen,” she recalls of the jam session, “and he said, ‘ I’m sorry. We have to have a band!'”

The Carbines immediately got attention on more than the local scene. A major label was there and interested at the very beginning. Writing about Tift in No Depression magazine, Raleigh critic David Menconi described her songs as evocative of “the lower left corner of Dixie – the mythic, mystic, wide-open spaces of the Southwestern frontier and the hardheaded people who call it home,” and her singing as “a malleable, drop-dead gorgeous voice that can be brassy like Patsy Cline or soft-spoken like Emmylou Harris.” He added: “And Merritt isn’t just a pretty face at the microphone; she’s also a terrific guitarist who could get by playing lead guitar in a lot of bands.” (For what it’s worth, Tift modestly describes herself as a “good rhythm guitar player.”)

“There were Sheryl Crow comparisons and all that,” says Tift. “But I didn’t think my writing was at the level where I’d come into my own enough to go into a studio and make the record I wanted to make. I hadn’t developed enough as an artist. So we just kept doing our thing. And I just kept writing. And it was all a very natural progression.”

That natural progression led Tift and the band to record an early demo tape for a major label with North Carolina power-pop legend and former dB’s coleader Chris Stamey. Although five of the songs were rerecorded for Bramble Rose, Tift now describes those early sessions as “my first album that the world won’t hear – sort of a ‘ juke joint girl’ record,” claiming the new release as a “more mature” effort.

That progression also led Tift to open as a solo performer for one Ryan Adams during his Heartbreaker tour stop in his old Raleigh stomping ground. Ever since, he’s been “really sweet and totally supportive of my music,” she says. (In fact, later, a solo Tift would also open for Adams during his Heartbreaker stop at L.A.’s Troubadour, playing in front of a crowd that included Elton John and Alanis Morissette, among numerous others.)

An impressed Ryan brought his new discovery to the attention of his manager, future Lost Highway A&R exec Frank Callari. This was not long after Tift had won the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at the annual Merlefest in the North Carolina Mountains in 2000. Jim Lauderdale – another Callari connection – was one of the judges, as was a previous Chris Austin winner, Gillian Welch. “Ryan had been pushing him,” she laughs. “And I guess enough people mentioned me to him in the same day that he said he realized he had to call.” As legend has it, Callari greeted her with “People are saying I should be managing you.” She jokingly replied: “Well, what took you so long?” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Six months later, after Callari assumed his Lost Highway gig, Tift became one of the first debut artists signed to the label. Then in late September, she entered the Sound Factory with her original band – Hutchins on drums, bassist Jay Brown, and Greg Readling on pedal steel guitar and dobro – and with Ethan Johns handling lead guitar duties as well as production. Longtime Tom Petty cohort Benmont Tench added piano to some of the sessions over the next five weeks.

“We actually did the entire record live,” she proudly says. “I played guitar and sang at the same time – and we all went in there aiming to get the take. Ethan said it was going to be live, but I always thought my voice would be overdubbed later. We went in and he put the guitar in my hand and said, ‘ OK, sing.’ So it really forced me to take my singing to the next level. I focused in on getting the performance. And I feel like I can now really call myself a singer. Because I really did sing it the way it is on there.”

The result, of course, is Bramble Rose, 11 gems from a brilliant new songwriter whose music is as fresh as it is classic…

 

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