The Bittersweets and Friends: proceeds benefiting Nashville Welcoming Committee Featuring Matthew Perryman Jones, Peter Bradley Adams, Forest Sun and Luisa Lopez in the Lounge - 9/6/19Friday, September 06 2019 5:00pm Doors / 6:00pm Start
The Bittersweets and Friends: proceeds benefiting Nashville Welcoming Committee Featuring Matthew Perryman Jones, Peter Bradley Adams, Forest Sun and Luisa Lopez in the Lounge - 9/6/19
at City Winery The Lounge at City Winery
Tickets are $10 in Advance and $15 at the Door
Nashville Welcoming Committee is a diverse grassroots coalition of individuals, faith communities, immigrant justice, and labor organizations that has grown through word of mouth and many volunteer hours since October 2018. We offer support and encouragement to folks leaving immigration detention centers on the border on the last leg of their journey to their family in the U.S. as they await immigration hearings. We have volunteer roles involving both English- and Spanish-speakers at many different times during the week.
The Bittersweets Bio:
The music industry is not known for sure bets, but a decade ago The Bittersweets looked like that elusive band, “destined for stardom,” as the East Bay Express wrote at the time. They were on a major radio station in San Francisco before playing their first show. By their third show, there was serious label interest, and their fifth show involved opening for Train at the Fillmore West. There was the meeting with the major booking agency where they got a unanimous thumbs-up from every agent (a first for the agency). As Peter Cooper wrote on the cover of the lifestyle section of the Tennessean, “Dumb luck is meeting a high-powered music attorney at a party and sliding into a record deal that way. This band’s fortunes have more to do with Meyers’ songs, (and) Prater’s dusky, evocative voice…”
Their two records were nearly universally praised by critics, and they spent the next several years on the road, playing upwards of 200 shows a year and opening for acts such as Cowboy Junkies, CAKE, Roseanne Cash, Buddy Miller, and Emmylou Harris. Numerous songs were placed in network and cable TV shows. Despite these successes, they decided to take a break and get off the road to start a family.
But they kept writing, and after a significant hiatus, friend and producer Greg Bieck (Hall & Oates, Christina Aguilera) convinced them to get into his studio to put the new songs to tape. Joined by John Jackson (Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams) on guitar, Chris Donohue (Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin) on bass, Ken Lewis (The Civil Wars, Lorde) on drums, and longtime collaborator Jason Goforth (Over the Rhine, John Paul White), they spent a week in the studio, creating what would turn out to be their finest record to date.
In Spring, 2018, they began touring again, both as a duo and with an incredible band. The new music will trickle out to streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and YouTube over 2018 and 2019 via Compass Records. Despite immediate rumblings across the Nashville music world with talk of The Bittersweets being back, this time, they are taking everything in stride.
“We’re so excited and a bit nervous to get back out there again,” says Hannah. “But I feel like we need to plunge into this new chapter and see what unfolds. It feels like a rebirth.”
More info can be found at www.thebittersweets.com
Peter Bradley Adams Bio:
No matter the form, when it comes to art, there are a number of different tacks to take. Some artists continually push their work across new horizons. Neil Young, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Joni Mitchell come to mind, in that regard. Others — Claude Monet, Jason Isbell, and Bonnie Raitt, among them — stand a bit more still in order to continually refine the capturing of their vision. Singer/songwriter Peter Bradley Adams falls into the latter category of perfectionists chasing their own perfection. With A Face Like Mine, he may well have caught it.
There's a confidence, a completeness in the song cycle that listeners have gleaned throughout Adams' illustrious career, but A Face Like Mine, his sixth solo effort, brings it all into sharp focus. As Adams sees it, “On the long plod of finding my voice as a singer and a writer, the singing has slowly developed from the sound of a scared guy to someone who believes what he's saying and the writing, I hope, has become less rigid — both in the lyrics and the phrasing.”
Less rigid, indeed. Adams' brand of Americana nestles his often delicate, always heartfelt voice in the warm embrace of gentle guitar, tasteful dobro, subtle banjo, supportive bass, and unhurried percussion. The result is a sonic scape that, in turn, wraps itself around the listener like a soft blanket on a cold day. With A Face Like Mine, Adams further refines the simple musical sophistication that has become his trademark.
Throughout the self-produced set, Adams tells tales of love and loss, homes and hearts. The territory he mines is a deliberate mix of fact and fantasy. “I feel like I'm, firstly, a storyteller, but it's inevitable that my own stuff gets in there deep. And it's funny how, sometimes, I don't realize it until the song is done,” he offers. “At the same time, there are times where I take very directly from an experience or a relationship, but I try to be very careful when that happens. I don't want to ever sound like a journal entry.”
Regardless of the details, there's always a philosophical bent that is often more under than on the surface, firmly grounding Adams' songs even as they stretch outward. By his own admission, Adams is a seeker who spends considerable time wrestling with matters of faith, though he's the first to admit he doesn't have any real answers. “I honestly don't know what the hell I'm doing... nor do I have the language for any of this stuff,” he says with a laugh. “But there is a constant tug on me in that direction and, the older I get, the more present it becomes. Music can often be the most direct way to step into that river.”
That seeker's heart is the tie that so often binds these songs together. Whether the search for place and purpose is of a spiritual or geographical nature, few writers capture the journey as thoughtfully as Adams. An Alabama native, Adams says he feels most comfortable in motion and doesn't have a strong sense of being Southern, even though his music is rooted in that world in so many ways. The first verse of the album's mesmerizing lead track, “Good Man,” exemplifies his plight: “This old house is falling down. Every step I take makes a hollow sound. Should I walk away? Should I push on through? What in the world can a good man do?”
Even as Adams goes on to sing of “laughing eyes with a touch of grey” and walking “a mile across the kitchen floor” in order to set various scenes, he leaves room for the listener to crawl inside his stories and make them their own. Striking that balance is the songwriter's eternal struggle, but one Adams seems to have mastered after years of toiling on his own and collaborating with co-writers like Kim Richey, Caitlin Canty, and Todd Lombardo.
“I don't think I'm very good at co-writing because my process seems so weird and long and tedious to me,” Adams confides. “It's hard to allow someone into that space, but there a few folks where our sensibilities are aligned and we're not just trying to bang out a song in a day. I want to feel as close to the songs I co-write as the ones I write alone. Writers like Kim Richey have such an economy and depth to the ideas that come out of their mouths and hands — there's wisdom there. I want to be more like that.”
In addition to this release, Adams is currently putting his classical composition studies to work on a piece for violin and piano — an aspect of his craft and education that got set aside somewhere along the way to now. “I've wondered a lot why I spent all that time studying music in school and how my composer hat fits in with or hinders my songwriting,” he says. “Some of it was definitely useless to me, then and now. But some of it has left its mark on how I listen, and how I think of arranging songs, and how I communicate with players who are playing on them. Also, writing in such an extremely simple and constrained musical language makes all your choices much more delicate, so I spend a lot of time crafting even the simplest melody.”
A Face Like Mine's songs were composed all over the world, from Alabama to India, and they dig into topics are disparate as the desperation of addiction (“Lorraine”), the grappling of self-image (“Who Else Could I Be”), the vitriol of politics (“We Are”), and the genetics of suffering (“A Face Like Mine”). “We Are” and “Who Else Could I Be” were originally written for a dance piece that Gina Patterson choreographed for the San Angelo Civic Ballet. Even so, Adams made sure the songs could stand alone in their own world no matter what else was swirling around them — confidence and completeness in action.
As a work of musical art, A Face Like Mine fulfills the promise of Peter Bradley Adams. And rarely has an artist's standing still sounded so divine.
Matthew Perryman Jones Bio:
“One day I’ll know as I am known,” Matthew Perryman Jones sings in “Happy,” the opening track of his fantastic new album, The Waking Hours. The line is both a hopeful prayer and a knowing promise that tugs at the heartstrings of the song cycle: the idea of letting control go and giving ourselves over to the transformative power of love and life.
The narrator of “Happy” has “all that I've wanted, more than I need. I’ve got a girl on my arm who loves me.” The chorus, though, concludes with a question: “Why can’t I let myself be happy?” It's a question he answers further into the set, on “Half-Hearted Love,” when he confesses that, “...the truth is I’m afraid to love what I could lose.” It's a fear he's not alone in suffering.
To convey the song's “idea of moving in love with no thought of return, with the eagerness to have it, even if it completely ruins you... in the best way,” Jones turned to one of his favorite Goethe poems, “The Holy Longing,” and borrowed the tried-and-ever-true imagery of a moth being drawn to a flame. After all, you have to risk the sorrowful depths of loss in order to rise the joyful heights of love. That's the grand bargain of life.
And that's, ultimately, the central thesis of The Waking Hours, Jones's fifth studio album.
Relentlessly considering life from and through every angle is classic Matthew Perryman Jones, as evidenced so clearly on his past releases, especially 2012's Land of the Living. The Pennsylvania native is a seeker of truths who also happens to be a writer of songs, so his existential rumblings and reckonings get turned into art that is both beautiful and meaningful. Even so, that art, according to Jones, can't — mustn't — be a stopping point for others on their particular journey. It can only be a sign post.
“Life is not found in concepts or interesting thoughts that others have lived and whittled into words,” Jones muses. “We have to have our own experiences to form our own way of being and thoughts about things. And then you have another experience that shapes it all into something different.” Letting go, it seems, is actually the most vital part of holding on.
Jones touches on this throughout the album, on the seductively stuttering “Careless Man” which features both Young Summer and Marilyn Monroe, on the eminently singable “Anything Goes,” on the quietly haunting “Coming Back to Me,” and on the gloriously anthemic title track.
Closing the album, Jones took a turn into Tom Waits' “Take It with Me,” which was captured in the first and only take of it he did, as a way of honoring the song's spirit. “This song conveys whole-hearted living beautifully,” he offers. “I thought it would be a great way to close this record out.”
Whole-hearted living, whole-hearted loving... there's no other way through this album or this life. It is not easy, but it is simple. And Matthew Perryman Jones shares the secret in “Carousel,” singing, “Close your eyes. Forget where you’re going. Joy can take you by surprise. Just let it in.”
Forest Sun Bio:
Born in upstate New York to folksinging back-to-the-land hippie parents (Forest’s dad literally built the floor that Bob Dylan stood on at manager Albert Grossman’s Bearsville studios in Woodstock, NY. His mom heard Pete Seeger and Joan Baez play in her uncles living room in Boston and dated one of the Chambers Brothers before she met his dad), weaned on a diet of Jackson Browne and Toots and the Maytals, some of Forest’s earliest memories are of his dad playing “Poncho and Lefty” by Townes Van Zandt and his mom singing Elizabeth Cotton’s “Freight Train”. Forest wrote songs with Rory Block when he was six years old, learned to juggle from WavyGravy when he was 9, and studied drumming with the late African master percussionist Babatunde Olatunji as a teenager. In college he played in a band with SNL star Maya Rudolph. They opened for No Doubt at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz before Forest left to study art in Spain.
A pioneer of the DIY movement he recorded his first record in his bedroom in San Francisco with bassist Seth Ford Young (Tom Waits, Edward Sharpe) and toured Europe for the first time, including playing at the Rally on Dam Square in Amsterdam for the Tibetan Freedom Concert.
He’s played festivals from California (Strawberry Music Festival, American River Music Festival) to Europe (Belladrum in Scottland, Fiesta City in Belgium) and opened for such luminaries as Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Rait, Steve Earle, Keb Mo, Brett Dennen and the Beach Boys (Forest met famed Beach Boys producer Van Dyke Parks at festival porch jam and later swapped songs at his house in LA). Collaborations include the jam band scene (ALO -Animal Liberation Orchestra on Jack Johnson’s label) the bluegrass scene (Hot Buttered Rum), and indie folk artists like Jolie Holland. Forest’s songs mine his deep folk roots and embrace his love of gospel, reggae, Americana, country, soul, jazz and funk.
Sun’s music has appeared on Showtime and MTV and in several film scores and soundtracks. He has also had several cameo roles in independent cinema including playing fireman in “Who there?” directed by Cassie Jaye and premiering at Tallgrass Film Festival.
Having done two successful kickstarters Forest is releasing his putting out his music on Vinyl and releasing a new song each month this year.
Forest is also a visual artist and his original paintings and prints have been shown at the Sala Lola Anglada in Barcelona and the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art.
Forest resides in the Redwoods of Mill Valley, Ca when he is at home.
Luisa Lopez Bio:
Luisa Lopez proudly describes herself as a singer-songwriter from the South, yet she hopes her newest album, 45, will transcend those boundaries.
“What I really want audiences to do is to find themselves in these songs,” the Nashville musician says, “and I think that people can.”
The numerical title represents Lopez’s age when she began to record the album, as well as her personal response to the 45th president. As a child, she absorbed the music from her mother’s collection of 45s – mostly the pop records of the day – while her aunts and uncles preferred listening to country gold. That influential mix of soul and country, merged with the electronic soul music she loved as a teenager, creates a singular style on 45, which she produced and recorded in San Francisco and Nashville.
Although her mother’s family roots are in Mississippi, Lopez grew up in Houston, Texas. As a latchkey kid, she spent many afternoons of her childhood keeping an eye on her younger brother. When she was around 10, she started passing the time by humming made-up melodies and then coming up with lyrics, often based on the loneliness she felt. “I think the writing was a way to express myself in a way that I normally wouldn’t know how to express,” she says.
The father of a childhood friend lent her an electric guitar and she spent her teen years teaching herself how to play it. Later in life, she added acoustic guitar, drums, bass, and piano to her repertoire. Though she developed her singing talent by studying tenors like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, she finally discovered her own natural voice when she was around 20 years old. “I was learning how to relax and sing a song the way I sing it,” she says. “It felt momentous, like, ‘Oh, I actually like this voice!’”
As a young adult, Lopez served as a supply specialist at Fort Jackson, an Army post in South Carolina, then settled in Nashville in 1997. Six years later she formed her first band, FINNA, and wrote, arranged and produced their 2005 album, Protect Me From What I Want. She followed that with a solo album, Cigarettes and other dirges…, in 2010, which earned positive notices from the Nashville Scene. In time she issued a clever, country-tinged single and video titled “Charley,” as well as a holiday track, “Spend Your Christmas With Me.”
Although Lopez spent years traveling the world as a single woman, she briefly set music aside in the mid-2010s to find a partner. She also spent time volunteering for Thistle Farms, a residential recovery program in Nashville for women who have survived violence, prostitution and addiction. Now married to a professor, Lopez found a renewed inspiration to create music during a year spent in San Francisco.
Although Lopez considers it “my social commentary album,” the eight songs on 45 also represent a positive new phase of her life and career. “It’s liberating to be able to say the things that I need to say, and how I need to process culture right now,” she believes. “I want people to feel something. I want them to feel inspired. I want them to put themselves in these sounds and I want them to want to hear from me again. I want them to be curious about what will be next.”