Red Hot 7 Piece Bluesiana Band
December 8, 2007
Center for the Arts
On December 8th at 8 PM, Maria Muldaur and Red Hot 7 Piece Bluesiana Band take the stage at the Center for the Arts of Homer. From "Midnight at the Oasis" to last year's #1 album on Billboard's Blues Chart, Maria Muldaur's career has spanned decades, encompassing 34 albums, 3 Grammy nominations and more than 11 awards and nominations in all.
After 45 years of exploring nearly every corner of American roots music, Maria Muldaur has come full circle, returning to the blues - the blues singers - that pulled her into music in the first place. "My voice has gotten stronger and deeper over the years," Maria says, "and I feel like I've just begun to hit my stride, musically and creatively. When I sing these songs now, I'm finally able to feel that I have the right instrument, the depth of experience and the artistic chops to properly celebrate these great pioneering artists and their music." "The early blues seem to me even more relevant and powerful today than in the 1960's when so many of the surviving blues artists were being rediscovered, or even the 1920's and 1930's when the original records were being made. This is still a bluesy world and these songs remain timeless and articulate expressions of the human condition and the human spirit." "I decided I wanted to pay tribute to the great classic blues queens who were such an enormous influence on me when I was getting started in my own career," said Muldaur of her soon-to-be-released album, "Naughty, Bawdy and Blue." "It took me 40 years to develop the voice I needed to convey those songs."
Muldaur was a young singer with the upstart Jim Kweskin Jug Band when blues legend Victoria Spivey took a shine to her. "Victoria Spivey took me under her wing when I was starting out and gave me some pointers," Muldaur recalled during a recent phone interview from her home in Northern California. "She told me, 'It ain't enough to look good and sound good - you got to have stage presence.' She would sit for hours playing all of her old records looking for something for me to sing ."
Gospel, jazz, blues, folk, and country music all mingled in the air Muldaur breathed in Greenwich Village during the 1960s. She headed south and stayed with Doc Watson and his family to learn to play fiddle; she sat cross-legged at the feet of the Rev. Gary Davis, and Victoria Spivey was her personal vocal tutor. Stints in the Even Dozen and Jim Kweskin jug bands led her to the old recordings of Memphis Minnie and a musical foundation that's still intact today.
But first came "Midnight at the Oasis", a commercial success that Maria includes in every show to this day. "I do it at every show. I've done 34 albums in 33 years since I recorded that song and believe me, I know it's the one I can never leave out of the set. People want to hear it. It stirs up X-rated memories for them. It gives them pleasure." On a visit to New York City, Maria had a chance encounter the president of Reprise Records who offered her the opportunity to make her first solo album which went platinum in two years, forever enshrining her in the minds of baby boomers the world over. Four albums on Warner Brothers followed including her acclaimed second disc, Waitress in a Donut Shop, which contained her next hit single, a remake of "I'm A Woman."
In the eighties, Maria recorded two critically acclaimed jazz albums, two gospel albums and one album of swing tunes for "kids of all ages." Sweet and Slow, a duet album with longtime collaborator Dr. John, featured songs by Fats Waller, Duke Ellington and another of Maria's blues heroines, Sippie Wallace. She also toured extensively with her band both in the States and abroad. Her frequent gigs with Dr. John led to a growing appreciation of and fondness for the New Orleans sound. She incorporated that flavor into her own musical repertoire and dubbed this gumbo of straight-ahead blues, R&B and Louisiana music, "bluesiana."
In 1992, Maria signed with Black Top Records. Louisiana Love Call, recorded in her beloved New Orleans, came at a time when American roots music began to experience a worldwide surge in popularity. The album featured guest appearances by Dr. John, Aaron and Charles Neville, accordionist Zachary Richard and guitar guru Amos Garrett. Instantly embraced by critics and fans alike, accolades coming in from everywhere, the album was awarded "Best Adult Alternative Album of the Year" by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors. Muldaur also garnered a nomination for "Outstanding Blues Album" from the Bay Area Music Awards. The follow-up, Meet Me at Midnite, also won wide critical acclaim and was nominated for the WC Handy Blues Award. Maria holds the distinction of being Black Top's best-selling artist.
Her lifelong musical odyssey continued with her debut album on Telarc Blues, Fanning the Flames. Longtime soul sisters Mavis Staples, Bonnie Raitt and Ann Peebles joined Maria on several tracks, as well as slide guitar wizard Sonny Landreth and R&B crooner Johnny Adams. Fanning the Flames garnered widespread critical acclaim and eventually cracked the Billboard Blues Chart.
Muldaur's more recent Telarc efforts include A Woman Alone with the Blues, a 2003 tribute to jazz icon Peggy Lee, and the equally jazzy Love Wants To Dance, a 2004 collection of songs about love's alternately bright and melancholy sides. Heart of Mine, a collection of love songs originally penned by legendary folk balladeer Bob Dylan, was released in August 2006 to critical acclaim and on November 9, 2006, reached #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart.
After all these years Muldaur peels back the layers of time for her most recent release Naughty Bawdy & Blue, the final installment in a trio of Grammy winning albums paying wonderfully accurate homage to female blues singers from the 1920s through the '40s. Her latest album for Stony Plain Records, Naughty, Bawdy & Blue, is a unique concept that goes well-beyond a regular "tribute" CD. It's the combination of her talent, knowledge of the music and use of musicians who've played with some of the artists saluted on this CD that enables her to re-create the sound, passion and presentation of these songs. In fact, it's fair to say that Maria is probably the only present-day singer who could pull off an album like this with the kind of authenticity that surpasses any other. That's because for over 40 years as a performer, she's literally lived the life of someone steeped in the American roots music songbook, whether it's blues, jazz, gospel, folk, country or rhythm & blues. She's the real deal, a true natural resource without any artificial affectations or jive. Naughty, Bawdy & Blue completes the trilogy of albums the acclaimed singer has released as a tribute to classic women blues singers from the 1920s through the 1940s. Richland Woman Blues released in 2001 was nominated for a Grammy for Traditional Blues Album followed by the second installment in the trilogy in Sweet Lovin' Ol' Soul also nominated for a Grammy.
Other reviewer's comments:
"Maria Muldaur spices her music with passion and a voice that's scintillating, brazen, and lightly burnished. Whether dipping into the songbook of Peggy Lee or wading into the Louisiana bayou, she completely envelops herself in her chosen style. For a tune that fits the album's "naughty, bawdy" title, try Bessie Smith's downtrodden "Empty Bed Blues," where Muldaur shamelessly delivers double entendres. ("He's a deep sea diver with a stroke that can't go wrong," she sings at one point.) Throughout the disc, Muldaur eloquently makes the point that these illustrious blues ladies were proud. Listen to the way she takes possession of Spivey's "One Hour Mama" - her voice, and the ease with which she captures the song's sentiment, renders the performance an exciting, significant tribute. By reaching back in time, Muldaur exposes her own roots. Naughty or not, these sassy blues gems are her forte." (Tom Clarke, Blues Revue)
"Muldaur approaches her material with a jeweler's precision, cutting each tune scrupulously into a fine gem. She can sing circles around the young thrushes who dominate today's pop charts." - (San Francisco Chronicle).
To listen to Maria's music, please visit: http://ellicotttalentgroup.com/mariasmusic.html
General Admission tickets are $35 and Senior tickets are $ 30 (membership discounts apply). Admission for students and children under 14 is $17. Tickets may be purchased in advance at Jodi's Hallmark and Sheridan's Fine Jewelry in Cortland, Linani's in Homer, Ithaca Guitarworks in Ithaca, through the Center's website at www.center4art.org , or by calling 607-749-4900, or at the door the evening of the performance. The Center Social Hour begins at 7:00 PM offering desserts, coffee, tea, wine and beer for purchase as a fundraiser for the Center. The corporate sponsor for this performance is Alliance Bank. Season sponsors for the Center for the Arts are The Glass Smith and Reihlman, Shafer & Shafer Councilors at Law. This performance is supported by The New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. This performance is also supported in part by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. Accommodations are provided by Country Inns and Suites.
"Muldaur has a voice that sends chills down the spine, emotional, passionate, sensual, and evocative, she can elicit a response from even the coldest of hearts. Her divine voice just gets better with age, developing a tweedy resonance that burnishes an already golden tone. Perfect pitch, excellent phrasing, and deep interpretive powers have made her one of the finest vocalists of her era." (Cindy McLeod, jazzelements.com)
The Center for the Arts in Homer, located at 72 South Main Street in the village, at the corner of Routes 11 and 90, just off exit 12 of I-81, provides the region and community with a broad spectrum of cultural and artistic activities that provide education, enlightenment, and entertainment.