One Cannery Row
Nashville, TN, 37203
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
On January 26, H.C. McEntire, frontwoman of Mount Moriah, strikes out on her own with her debut solo album LIONHEART, a collection of songs inspired by the American South and a desire to reclaim “country” music from the hetero-normative, homogenous schtick of tailgates and six-packs and men chasing women. Stereogum describes her voice as “weary, wise, and bright as morning sunshine all at once,” and that sunshine glows throughout the triumphant LIONHEART.
For the album, McEntire collaborated with many of her favorite musicians, including Kathleen Hanna, Angel Olsen, Amy Ray, Tift Merritt, William Tyler, Mary Lattimore, and Phil Cook, while remaining bravely devoted to her most authentic self throughout the process. LIONHEART was recorded during the first few months of 2017 with additional recording and mixing taking place on the run as McEntire toured the world as a member of Angel Olsen’s band.
I came from people with machine grease on their hands. Dirt under their nails. The Bible by their bedsides. Cornmeal and buttermilk. People who need a porch to think, a red dirt row to get lost in, a revival to hunger for. But there are things that even a long, soft drawl can’t cover up. There are things you keep from even yourself.
In music, there are no rules. You make your own language. You can be both the Southern rock outlier and the twangy gospel conduit. You can be both the cherubic, honey-tongued innocent and the ardent punk. To get here-to find my lion heart-I had to become them all.
So I sank my teeth into Appalachia. I twisted toward the sky and let the sun blind me. I bought saltines from the dollar store. I shook dust off the hymnal. I set the silo on fire. I hemmed my lover’s dress. I pried white quartz from river banks and ridges. Wheeled them up the hill, barrow after barrow, in a fever. I had to mine for the truth.
LIONHEART was largely recorded in my living room, and it was mixed in the control room next to my bedroom by my best friend. If you listen close enough, you can probably hear some hound howls, some creaky wooden floors, some trains running their routes. All that’s in there. Some big grins, too, and high fives. A few tears, but the good kind-the kind that let you know you’re doing something hard. Something good and right, even if it’s swallowed you up so deep you forget what you’re making. Some days I felt so small, like the lizard on the front porch. Even smaller, like the spider in the lizard’s sight. But I kept on. I left some holes, too. Asked some friends to help fill them with whatever they were feeling-from Ojai to Atlanta, Lisbon to L.A. It was a joint effort: the yellow roses, the lamb, the dove, the wild dogs, the prickly pear.
I want this record to be, for you, whatever it needs to be. Over time, it’ll all change, come to mean something else. And that’s fine, too. Just know that it was born from a good shaking (thanks, Kathleen) and a little farmhouse at the end of a long, winding gravel road in the woods, where I gave in to the unknown, the written script, the blues, the joy-to the wild, wild world.
-H.C. McEntire, October 2017
Becky Warren's sophomore album, Undesirable, is about humanity. Distilling the stories of a group of homeless and formerly homeless entrepreneurs in her home base of Nashville, Warren relays the essence of the human experience, and shines a spotlight on the relatable, common ties that bind us together, regardless of our demographic.
Following the success of her first solo album, War Surplus, the gritty love story of an Iraq War vet and his girlfriend partly inspired by Warren's own life, many asked her, "How the hell do you plan to follow that up?" After the album earned her a Veterans Day feature on NPR's All Things Considered, a regular opening slot with The Indigo Girls, and an A rating from the dean of American rock critics himself, Robert Christgau, Warren admits that even she sometimes worried she wouldn't be able to make a second record she was as happy with. With this new and inspired set of compelling, catchy, guitar-driven songs in the spirit of heartland rock n’ roll masters like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, Undesirable puts those worries to rest.
"The rewarding thing for me about the response to my last album," Warren says, "was that it gave me a chance to write about veterans—a group of people who are often seen as somehow different or 'other'—in ways that showed listeners that their struggles and lives are actually really similar." So when Warren started planning her second project, she looked around for another group of people who seemed "othered,” and right away she thought of one of her favorite things about Nashville: The Contributor, Nashville's street paper, which is sold around town by homeless and formerly homeless vendors. The vendors buy the paper from the non-profit that produces it, and then sell it for a profit. Warren went to a few "paper releases,” the weekly event where vendors can buy the new issue for the first time, but quickly realized that the best way to learn people's stories was to approach vendors as they were selling, introduce herself, and ask to talk with them while they sold the paper.
In less talented hands, the result might have been political, didactic, depressing. But for the protagonists of Warren's songs, homelessness is never a defining characteristic. Instead, they're people who are mourning loss, ditching bad relationships, striving against ruthless odds, falling in love—in other words, completely human. "I actually thought there would be a fair amount of overlap with subjects I already knew well from writing about a veteran with PTSD—mental health, substance abuse—but I learned after just a couple interviews that those were complete misconceptions," Warren admits. "To make a living selling The Contributor, you have to get up every day, no matter the weather, take a long bus ride, and stand outside for hours making a real connection with your customers, like any good salesperson. You have to be incredibly hardworking, with an unshakable belief in yourself to make it work."
Supporting Warren on Undesirable is an impressive musical cast led by producer/guitarist Dan Knobler (Lake Street Dive, Rodney Crowell, Kelsey Waldon), including Warren's longtime bassist Jeremy Middleton (also of Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen) and her friend and musical mentor, Indigo Girl Amy Ray, whose vocals make the blistering first track, "We're All We Got", a standout, and an anthem for the people portrayed on Undesirable, who've been dealt a tough hand but are determined to play it and win.
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