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Posts Tagged ‘Valorie Miller’

 “Valorie Miller is early James Taylor re-transcribed in female flesh with some very distinct differences, especially the lyrics to Haunted Hand (an’, hoo boy, you’re not going to hear that one on TV any time soon!).” —FAME

(ASHEVILLE, NC)–  The critically acclaimed North Carolina singer-songwriter and guitarist Valorie Miller will officially release her sixth album, Turtle Shell, at 9pm July 12 at BoBo Gallery at 22 Lexington Avenue in downtown Asheville.

Guest musicians at the event will include Will Straughan, Mike Holstein, Justin Ray and Moses Atwood.

Miller recorded Turtle Shell in just 10 hours of studio time at Asheville’s Echo Mountain during sessions for her project as well as for fellow singer-songwriter Rupert Wates, who traveled from New York City to record his new album, At the Losers’ Motel, there with vocal support from Miller. Along with her vocal and guitar work, Turtle Shell features Mike Holstein on upright bass, Will Straughan on dobro and backing vocals, Justin Ray on trumpet (track 4) and Rupert Wates on piano (track 9). It is self-produced and was engineered at Echo Mountain by Chris Medrano.

The record is one of Miller’s strongest efforts, every track featuring her distinctive and expressive voice, expert guitar work and originality—always with a flavor that has branded her as a reviewer at No Depression Magazine put it, “pure Carolina from whisper to wail.” But she’s known far outside of the state, having gained national recognition and sharing the stage with such artists as Merle Haggard and Leon Russell. Lucinda Williams and Tony Arata (writer of multiple hits for Garth Brooks, among others) have praised her songwriting. Some say her sound is reminiscent of artists such as Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday, but these are influences. Miller’s work is strikingly original, and Turtle Shell is a case in point.

The album opens with My Acre, a song with stunning acoustic bass and engaging motion. It exudes hopefulness, curiosity and sweetness as it contrasts fear with joy, comfort with discomfort in the life and place one makes for one’s self. The song conveys great meaning in life, in dreaming about escaping one’s boundaries but feeling self-doubt and the fear of not finding forgiveness for the past. And any artist can relate to the lyric’s conveyance of digging in deep to live the life of an artist—by unwavering choice.

The title track, Turtle Shell, features excellent dobro work and vocal harmonies. One sees a turtle crossing the road not knowing the dangers of being there. The lyric explores the challenges of change, aging, and seeking redemption and forgiveness exposed out in the world versus the desire to retreat to a place of safety, like a turtle shell, although the safety may be an illusion: “Should I pray for heaven instead of hell, or just a big turtle shell?”

With great guitar picking, Peaches Ahead is an upbeat tune conveying the Southern country experience of passing roadside signs advertising produce stands in the summer and looking forward to the peaches ahead. It seems to be a metaphor for a belief that good things are ahead, but the optimism is tempered with realism and the understanding that summers—and life—are fleeting. It brings to mind the lyric of Billie Holiday’s recording of Speak Low by Ogden Nash and Kurt Weill in which Holiday sings, “Speak low when you speak love. Our summer day withers away too soon, too soon.”

Alcohol and Elephants delivers the pleasant surprise of Justin Ray’s trumpet, and it contains visionary lyrics that take the listener to the experience of ghosts in glasses of alcohol (perhaps memories of loves past that return with drink and solitude) and elephants in rooms. It reflects on human relationships and avoidance or even self-deception in the interest of keeping a love alive. “A blind eye is turned and an ether flower blooms, alcohol and elephants in the room. The heart of a good man is tested when it’s in the hands of a woman who’s a bigger bite than he can chew.”

Also very visual, Haunted Hand to speaks to desire for lasting love, a lasting touch and a fleeting opportunity to connect with an unexpected stranger who blows into a town that beforehand seemed empty. The opening line: “Met you in a ghost town tumbling like a weed, I don’t know if you want me, but you surely haunt me.” It also creatively compares the two characters of the song and a passing chance. “I am Carolina, you are Tennessee. You are a spider, and I’m a bumblebee… You better hurry up and get me, for I’m sure you’ll agree—time ain’t nothing but a miser and endings come for free.”

American Women is a witty take on a serious subject—the big-dollar ad campaigns and pop culture that make women fail to recognize their natural beauty and spend fortunes on trying to change their looks, supposedly for the better. But by whose definition? This is a protest song. “The bodies of American women are a country that’s been occupied. From bushes to eyelashes, everything gets modified,” Miller sings, concluding later in the tune that there’s nothing that needs modification. “And love is our final rebellion, intelligence our best tool. American women come home to yourselves in a mirror that’s always half-full.”

The next track, Snowflakes, moves to a jazzy feel with Mike Holstein’s fabulous bass playing and Miller’s expressive vocals and versatile performance skills. It’s another takes-you-there song about the spirit and movement of snow, how it falls on the evergreens as one sits by a warm fire inside and watches through the window.

Drunken Tattoo is country by definition—real country in the same sense that Hank Williams was. It’s about regretting a past relationship, but being hopeful about one day forgetting. It features a great guitar solo enhanced by dobro and contains a line that sums up the how long it can take to forget: “Time flies on a busted wing.”

A perfect conclusion to the album is the final track, Some Other Sky, a contemplative piece (with an unusual and imaginative piano part performed by Rupert Wates) that asks, “Did the day live up to the dream? Did the sun promise to rise, then hand you some dark alibi and light up some other sky?”

Well, maybe it lit up another sky in the song’s story, but not on the album. This one lives up to the dreams of anyone seeking a sophisticated, original and distinctively Southern album—but not by the garden-variety definition of the region. Valorie Miller is an example of what listeners can find in the real South if they look carefully off the beaten path and listen.

For more information & to listen to sample tracks from the album, visit:
www.valoriemiller.com and www.cdbaby.com/cd/valoriemiller

Show Details at a Glance:

Valorie Miller ~ CD Release Show
Bobo Gallery
Thursday, July 12, 2012
$5, 9pm

 22 N. Lexington Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
www.bobogallery.com

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Asheville’s own cosmic Willy Wonka of music and more, multi media wonder, Jenny “Juice” Greer has brewed up The Big Brown Bag Songwriters Competition to keep up warm at MoDaddy’s on Monday nights this fall. The series takes place at MoDaddy’s on Biltmore Ave in Ashevillle and began on October 5th and the last weekly round is Monday Dec 7th with the Finals on Friday December 11th. Also, big Thanks to the Wedge Brewery for sponsoring the beer for judges and musicians! Also sponsoring are Henco Reprographics for event printing needs, local music ambassador Rhoni Sampson with Gorilla Marketing, and Dreamspider Publicity.

The rules to enter each week: Each act is limited to three people on stage, no amplifiers, and two songs per act. Each week there is a rotating cast of celebrity judges consisting of local seasoned musicians and music industry professionals. This is in the spirit of fostering relationships amongst the different sectors in the music industry here in Asheville. The four judging criteria are lyrics (words, poetry, content), vocal performance, musical composition/ instrument playing, and stage presence (which includes crowd response).

For the Big Brown Bag Series Finals on Friday, December 11th, each weeks winners will be showcased. Three finalists will be chosen to perform a second round that evening from which the Big Brown Bag winner will be chosen by the celebrity judges: international touring musician David Wilcox, Rebecca Sulock (A&E Editor at the Mountain Xpress), Bad Ash (Radio host at 105.9 the Mountain and 98.1 the River), Brian Landrum booking for the Grey Eagle and producer Robert George.

The audience will also be voting on the winner of the Audience Choice Award.

Live Video Streaming on the internet of this Big Brown Bag Series Final is provided by David Conner Jones at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/big-brown-bag-songwriting-competition-finals.

What do the finalists win ? Other than the Brown Bag, past winners of the final have played at LAAFF 2007 and the Mountain Sports Fest 2008. This year, Jenny Juice has been collaborating with local restaurant/ bar Jack of the Wood to book some of the weekly winners in the pub throughout the winter and spring. The three finalists of the shootout that come back to play one song each. These three performers will go on WNCW’s Local Color with Laura Blackley within in the next month so be on the lookout. Hillcreek Studios will host  a party featuring BIG brown bag final winner the as well as the runners up.

Weekly Winners So Far (and who you should expect to see at the Finals):
Valorie Miller
Ten Cent Poetry FINALS WINNER!
Lyric Jones
Taylor Martin
Shane Connerty FINALS RUNNER UP!
Dulci Ellenberger
Kate McNally AUDIENCE CHOICE WINNER!
Lyndsy Wojcik
Mike Willis SECOND RUNNER UP!
Julian from Baby Cowboy

You can also read more about The Brown Bag Series in the recent Mountain Xpress Article.

The idea for hosting the Big Brown Bag Series here in Asheville came to Jenny Juice about three years ago. It stemmed from similar songwriting competitions that take place at Eddies Attic (which one of Asheville finals just recently won the Finals!) in Atlanta and the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. The idea of the Brown Bag is that everyone who performs puts a few dollars into the bag upon entry. This brown bag is also passed around the audience to throw in a bit of cash and it is then awarded to the winner at the end. For the Finals, the brown bag will be filled by only the people that come and partake in the crowd and not the performers. Then, at the end of the night, the one lucky winner keeps the brown bag with the cash.

Jenny is quick to point out that this is not about the money, though. This series is here to support original songs and songwriters through a listening room experience and to provide a network for the musicians to get to know one another. People are asked to keep their talking to a minimum during each performance so that everyone can really hear each person songs. 2009 Performers thus far have included many longtime Ashevillians, newcomers to the area, and everything in between across multiple genres of music and style.

Prizes for the winner include: $500, hand-made trophies by Dreamspider Publicity, one free 1/4 ad in Mountain Xpress, treasured spot on Laura Blackley’s Local Color wncw.org, poster printing from Henco, and Gorilla Marketing from Rhoni Sampson via Orange Peel and Anythings Possible Productions.
If you’d like to support the lucky winner with a prize please email jen@jenandthejuice.com

If any of you witnessed this event in the past, you can testify, it was a beautiful thing. Last time it was held at the Root Bar the finals looked like a Walmart parking lot on black Friday! 😉  Everyone that comes out should hope to hear some cool songs, be inspired, and support the the Asheville music scene.

Details at a Glance:
Big Brown Bag Songwriting Competition Finals
MoDaddy’s
Friday, December 11th
Brown Bag cash prize for winner!

Tix $6

Jenny “Juice” Greer
www.jenandthejuice.com

77-B Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 828-258-1550
www.myspace.com/modaddysbar

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