Showing posts with label Edmonds Center for the Arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Edmonds Center for the Arts. Show all posts

Monday, February 03, 2020

Mavis Staples, just another soldier in the army of love

Rick Holmstrom & Mavis Staples • photo MK McIntosh
On January 16th, Mary Kit and I got to see Mavis Staples and her band perform at the Edmonds Center for the Arts in Edmonds, Washington. At 80 years of age, she commanded the stage like the gospel, R&B, soul and rock 'n' roll road warrior that is Mavis Staples.

Mavis started singing with her family at eight years old, and when you times that singing experience by ten, one gets to witness a rich full-bodied voice with the heart warmth effect of a finely aged glass of bourbon.

Combined with Mavis' powerhouse voice is her hybrid rockin' soul band lead by Rick Holmstrom's mastery on Fender Telecaster guitar along with bassist Jeff Turmes, drummer Stephen Hodges, and backup singers Vicki Randle and Danny Gerrard. Lordy, this band will take you there!

Mavis' career as a lead singer starts when her father, Roebuck "Pops" Staples forms The Staple Singers as a gospel group in 1948, along with sister Cleotha and brother Pervis. In 1969, Pervis gets drafted into the army, and sister Yvonne joins the Staple Singers to give the group it's classic line up with Pops and Mavis trading lead vocals, and Cleotha and Yvonne as backup vocals. From there the group evolves and transcends gospel to crossover into contemporary R&B and Soul, not to mention their heavy activism in the civil rights movement in the 1960's.

The Staples Singers who previously had many hits on the gospel, soul and R&B charts broke through on the pop charts and hit #12 in 1971 on the Top 100 Billboard with Respect Yourself and in 1972, their smash #1 hit,  I'll Take You There. It is during this time that I began to love the Staples Singers and thought Pops Staples was possibly the coolest dad anyone could ever have. Pops born on a cotton plantation in Mississippi moved his family to Chicago in 1935 for a better life and worked in the stock yards, did construction work and the steel mills; all the while honing his unique Telecaster guitar skills and evolving The Staples Singers sound. Think of Pops as the creative force starting with his family performing at church services in the 1950's to arenas and stadiums across America in the 1970's. Along the way, Pops became good friends with Martin Luther King and Mavis herself became a lifelong champion for social justice.

What you have to love about Mavis performing today is her inherit faith and belief in people to do the right thing. Her music message of 'love and trust' still resonates in our current times as it did back in the day. Mavis is still on the Freedom Highway and as she says in song today, "We got work to do."

For my playlist this week, I mixed in some Staple Singer favorites along with Mavis's solo work mainly with Rick Holmstrom who I've now become a new big fan. You can see why Mavis and Rick just click together as Rick plays his own unique version of Pops style of Telecaster Rhythm and Blues with rocking country sensibilities. Together this pair and band create a very current Americana vibe that just must be seen live. Long live Pops, Mavis, and The Staple Singers!

Resources - 
Rick Holmstrom on Pops and Mavis Staples, Jason Verlinde, Fretboard Journal, 2011

Forgotten Heroes: Pop Staples, Michael Ross, Premier Guitar, June 23, 2015

Music Interview: Mavis’ Man — Guitarist Rick Holmstrom on Backing Mavis Staples With Taste and SpaceNoah Schaffer, the art fuse, January 29, 2014

Monday, January 29, 2018

Rosanne Cash Duo - Edmonds Center for the Arts, 1/25/18

Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal - Credit Josh Saul

I'm currently up in Edmonds, Washington visiting family and spending a couple of days with my ol' bud Bill DeVoe in Seattle before he takes off for a trip to Mexico with his wife, Marie.

We're getting a good dose of rain which is nothing new up here, but I'm definitely the So Cal "fish out of water" with the rain steadily falling down this past week. Actually it's been fun wearing jeans, a down jacket and my Vibram sole shoes everyday like when it used to rain in winter growing up on the Central Coast in California. I love my shorts and t-shirt lifestyle down in San Diego, but I'm rather enjoying the cold and constant wet along with the nighttime fireplace with the missus. I also love to listen to the rain gutter drip while you lay in bed just before you go to sleep.

Being in the lovely small town of Edmonds is always fun, and this trip we had the pleasure of seeing Rosanne Cash and her husband, John Leventhal at the 700 seat Edmonds Center for the Arts. Both Mary Kit and I throughly enjoyed this venue as the acoustics of the theater was simply fantastic to match Rosanne's beautiful voice and the guitar playing of  John Leventhal.

The boomer-aged audience were so respectful that you could hear a pin drop during every song. It was also nice not to see even one smartphone make an appearance as apparently everyone in Edmonds actually follows directions when the announcement of no photography was given at the beginning of the show. After seeing several stadium and arena shows in 2017, it was refreshing to hear music given the theater treatment and actually listened to by 100% of the audience.  It's safe to say that we're now following the ECA schedule and we'll be back for future performances! (Darn, missed Randy Newman's show at ECA last October!)

Rosanne and John, billed as the Rosanne Cash Duo are currently on tour, that started here in Edmonds and moves on to several more shows in Washington state, back to Carnegie Hall in New York and then up into Canada. (I searched for a current tour setlist, but so far nothing has been posted online as of this date.)

This show is truly an Americana experience as Rosanne's set plays across her musical catalog including her 80's hits now performed with just the Duo's harmony with two acoustic guitars, or mandolin and piano accompaniment from John. At 62, Rosanne's voice is totally intact to present the couple's songwriting together from her most recent albums, 2014's River & the Thread, and 2009's, The List. 
Rosanne is also a wonderful storyteller as she share's her life experiences and sets up each song so well. With The List she tells the story of her famous father giving her at age 18 a handwritten "list" of 100 "American roots music" essential songs. She still has that list as she learned and preformed many of the classics such as 500 Miles throughout her career. I enjoyed hearing about her going on the road right out of high school for two and half years with Johnny, Carl Perkins and the Carter family. On that tour, she learned many of the Carter family's lexicon backstage with Mother Maybelle Carter who played "badass" guitar along with the other Carter family members.

I also enjoyed learning about Rosanne and John's 23 year marriage and their "all getting along" with first husband, Rodney Crowell who is also a fantastic singer-songwriter. Being 62 myself and living a second marriage in a wonderful blended family with my wife Mary Kit and all our combined children and grandchildren, it is nice to hear their story as well. In fact, Rodney has a new song and video that I featured in My Favorite Songs of 2017, from his Close Ties album called, It Ain't Over Yet which features Rosanne Cash and John Paul White that you must listen to and I've included in this week's playlist. Life is that long winding journey filled with hope, regret and redemption that is often best captured in the written lyric with guitar in hand.

Both MK and I were struck by Rosanne's and John's total partnership- married and coupled with their musical careers, it must be quite a dance, and what a fine dance indeed to see in person. I only write about shows that I really like (you know what mom's say about "if you don't have anything nice to say...") well I have a lot of nice things to say here and that comes easy with such great people as Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal live on stage. Enjoy this playlist my friends.

Note- check out Peter Dervin's Photography of the Edmond's concert @