Karen + The Sorrows, Clare Burson, The Library
249 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY, 11215
Doors 8:00PM / Show 8:00PM
This event is 21 and over
Karen + The Sorrows
Brooklyn alt-country band Karen & the Sorrows are thrilled to be celebrating the release of their debut EP Ocean-Born Mary at this month's Americana Pie.
Ocean-Born Mary centers around a misremembered ghost story from band member Elana Redfield’s childhood in New Hampshire. Mary saved the lives of her shipmates the day she was born by inspiring a pirate captain to pity—instead of his original plan to slaughter everyone aboard. Eighteen years later that pirate came to Henniker, New Hampshire to claim Mary as his wife. But he got a bit more than he bargained for when she refused to let him return to sea and instead sealed him into the walls of the home they both haunt today.
“I’d been writing a lot of songs about letting go,” explains the band’s singer-songwriter Karen Pittelman. “When Elana told me that story, I knew it was time to visit the other side and write an ode to obsessive possession instead.” The band has been performing the EP’s four inter-connected songs as one piece since they debuted it in December at Dixon Place. With the help of engineer Charles Burst at Seaside Lounge, they decided to build the entire EP from one long, live take to capture that energy and flow.
Pittelman and Redfield formed the Sorrows in late 2010 and began honing an alt-country sound that combines Pittelman’s high, lilting vocals and intricate melodies with Redfield’s haunting, lonesome guitar work. Together with drummer Tami Johnson and bassist AJ Lewis, the Sorrows know that the best songs are the sad ones. They don’t shy away from a little meanness either, and the band moves easily from elegy to country stomp. “Her songs are soaring tributes to lost love, and her gentle and charming ballads are, well, country,” writes Neville Elder on No Depression.
The Sorrows are also hard at work helping to create Brooklyn’s burgeoning queer country scene. Together with the label Riot Grrrl Ink, they co-produce the Gay Ole Opry, an annual queer country music festival which has featured bands like Mount Moriah and Nervous But Excited. And they host the Queer Country Monthly, consistently packing Prospect Heights’ Branded Saloon with earnest country fans. “When I started playing country, I had to think about what it means to love a culture that doesn’t always love you back,” says Pittelman. “I wondered if there were other people out there who grew up on this sound, but didn’t always feel comfortable in the spaces it was played. I was so happy to discover that I wasn’t the only one!”
Hers is a knowing voice, world-weary like Lucinda Williams’, expressive like Kathleen Edwards’ [and] mysterious like Jolie Holland’s.”
-Fred Mills for Harp Magazine
Of her musical objectives, indie songstress Clare Burson explains, “I’ve always leaned towards poetic simplicity and subtlety in my music—wanting to express as much as I can with the fewest possible words and musical flourishes.” This desire for melodic minimalism is evident in her critically acclaimed releases, THE IN-BETWEEN, IDAHO, and THIEVES, each of which is marked by evocative imagery, subtle metaphor, and effortless harmonies.
Burson built upon this aesthetic with SILVER AND ASH, her most ambitious project yet. Released by Rounder Records on September 14, 2010, and featured in the New York Times and on NPR, SILVER AND ASH is a concept album that imagines Burson’s maternal grandmother’s life in Germany, from her birth in 1919 to her escape in 1938. The album was produced by Grammy nominated Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, R.E.M.), and with the help of her band, Mark Spencer on guitar (Son Volt, Laura Cantrell), Tony Leone on drums (Ollabelle, Levon Helm), and Andy Cotton on bass, Burson’s lush string arrangements and rich vocals – at times wistful, at times full of desperation, but at all times direct – come together to fill the 10 songs on SILVER AND ASH with nostalgia and longing.
A classically trained violinist, and later, conversant in Bluegrass, Celtic and Klezmer fiddle tunes, Burson began playing guitar while studying history at Brown University. After college and a year in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, Burson spent two years in Boston before returning to Tennessee. Currently, Clare lives in Brooklyn, NY.
The Library's graceful little songs, supple gauzy tone, and perfectly languorous pacing harken back foremost to the early 90’s softer side of the shoegaze phenomenon. Matt Long, former member of The Mayflies USA, writes with a timeless pop quality that borrows and reinterprets from the mid-60’s Mersey Beat bands through early 70’s solo Neil Young and a somewhat particular melancholy kinship with Big Star’s 1974 Sister Lovers album and on through to the mid to late 80’s dreamy minimalist psych of Galaxie 500.
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