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Red Wanting Blue: “The Wanting” Spring Tour w/ Liz Brasher 6/17Sunday, June 17 2018 6:00pm Doors / 8:00pm Start / Ends 10:00pm
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Red Wanting Blue: “The Wanting” Spring Tour w/ Liz Brasher 6/17
Hailed as “Midwestern rock heroes” by American Songwriter, Red Wanting Blue has spent the last twenty years establishing themselves as one of the indie world’s most enduring and self-sufficient acts, notching appearances everywhere from Letterman to NPR and reaching #3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, all while operating largely outside the confines of the traditional music industry. For their powerful new album, ‘The Wanting,’ the band handed production duties over to acclaimed
singer/songwriter Will Hoge, who helped them create their most ambitious, fully realized collection yet. Recorded in Nashville, TN, the record draws on many of the group’s traditional strengths—indelible melodies, infectious hooks, explosive performances—even as the making of it pushed them far outside their comfort zone and forced them to take an unprecedented, nearly year-long break from touring.
Alternately triumphant and melancholic, the songs on ‘The Wanting’ are both muscular and nuanced, with frontman Scott Terry’s epic, heartfelt vocals soaring above the band’s gritty brand of driving rock and roll. The record opens with the rousing “High and Dry,” a feel-good rocker that also serves as something of a mission statement for a fiercely independent group that’s as much a band as they are a family, with Terry singing, “I want to stand on my own two feet again / And when I mess up /That’s when I hope my friends will pick me up.” On “Ulysses,” the band channels early Phil Collins with pulsing synths and larger-than- life drums, while the tender “Glass House” crescendos from a delicate whisper to a triumphant roar, and the dreamy “I’ve Got A Feeling It Hurts” calls to mind the hypnotic drive of REM mixed with a touch of Jayhawks jangle.
“This is really the most collaborative album our band has ever made,” Terry says of the wide range of influences. “It’s the first record where every member contributed to the writing, and I feel like we all matured as artists because of it.” Over the course of ten previous studio albums, Red Wanting Blue brought their passionate, unforgettable live show to every city and town that would have them, blazing their own distinctive trail through the American heartland as they built up the kind of fanatically dedicated audiences normally reserved for arena acts. In 2016, they celebrated with a 20 th anniversary retrospective album/concert film entitled ‘RWB20 Live at Lincoln Theater,’ which captured the band in all their glory at a sold-out hometown show in Columbus, OH.
Born in Matthews, North Carolina near Charlotte, Brasher was raised among a family of singers performing in the Baptist Church – albeit one with a twist. “My family is from the Dominican Republic so it was an all-Spanish congregation, much different than you would imagine a white Southern Baptist church to be,” she says.
“I’m first generation, so we only speak Spanish to one another. What that did was force me to be diverse in every realm. That varied background translated into my influences and how I write,” says Brasher, who came up studying the powerful spirituals of Mahalia Jackson and the close harmonies of Lennon and McCartney.
She got her showbiz start appearing with her family on local televangelist programs, then fronted a series of rock bands in high school. But Brasher found her true creative direction when she moved away to college in Chicago and began studying the roots of American music.
Brasher went directly to the source devouring the earliest Delta Blues sides: Geeshie Wiley, Elvie Thomas, Son House, Leadbelly. “And, in a way, that led to Bob Dylan, because Dylan took from all those people,” she says. “I fell in love with Dylan and the way he was able to write pure folk songs – songs for the people.” She soon picked up a guitar and began teaching herself how to play. “What happened was my own songs started flowing out, and they kept coming every single day.”
Her material was imbued with the elemental beauty of the Staple Singers’ earliest work. “Pops Staples played these really singular guitar riffs and wrote songs based on that,” she says. “I wasn’t the best guitar player but I knew what he was doing was simple enough to sing and write around. So I started to imitate that.” Evolving her brand of spiritual soul, she found sustenance and further direction in the discographies of great Southern labels like Stax, Fame and Goldwax.
Moving to Atlanta, Brasher began performing professionally, fronting a trio and delving deeper into her guitar playing. She began writing instrumentals influenced by The Ventures. In early 2017, she booked a session for her first album with Memphis producer Scott Bomar, the analog recording guru and leader of Bluff City retro soul band The Bo-Keys. “I sought out Scott because I wanted to make a record that was truly me, that didn’t mask anything,” says Brasher. “I wanted the songs to be able to breathe and speak for themselves. That’s reminiscent of how records used to be made and Scott was very much on board with that. He said ‘That’s pretty much all I know how to do.’”
In addition to Brasher and her rhythm section, the sessions featured guest appearances by St. Paul and the Broken Bones organist Al Gamble and Bo-Keys horn men Kirk Smothers and Marc Franklin. While the bulk of the recording was tracked at Bomar’s Electrophonic Studio, he and Brasher ventured to other historic Memphis studios, including Ardent to add strings, and Royal, the home of Hi Records, to cut horns.
First single “Cold Baby” plays like a lost Etta James Chess classic. “It’s the same story that probably every human has dealt with in a relationship: not feeling appreciated,” she says. “It’s actually one of the first songs I ever wrote -- to hear it fully realized with the beautiful string arrangement is really amazing.”
“The music I’ve always loved most has always been about defiance in the face of despair. If I’ve managed to capture some of that feeling with these songs, then I feel like I’ve succeeded.”