IN CONCERT: Eliza Gilkyson, Kevin Welch and Gretchen Peters

Eliza Gilkyson

The daughter of successful songwriter Terry Gilkyson, Eliza is a third generation musician who grew up in Los Angeles knowing that her life would revolve around music. "I got into it for all the wrong reasons, more as a survival tool than anything else, but it proved to serve me more than I dared to imagine." As a teenager, she recorded demos for her dad, who wrote folk music hits "Greenfields," "Marianne," and "Memories Are Made of This," among others. Soon after, she was writing and recording her own material as well.At the end of the sixties, she moved to New Mexico with likeminded souls, eventually raising a family, all the while developing a loyal fan base in the Southwest and Texas. After a period in Europe working with Swiss composer/harpist Andreas Vollenweider, Eliza returned to the United States releasing Through the Looking Glass in '96 (Private Music), and 1997's Redemption Road (Silverwave/ MTI), which she has recently reissued. Eliza started her own label, Realiza Records and put out Misfits in 1999, a collection of outtakes that received favorable press as a sound that connected the worlds of folk and modern storytelling.In 2000, Eliza released Hard Times in Babylon, her first album on the Red House Records label. The album was a critical success, followed by her second recording with Red House, Lost and Found. She has also been on several compilations issued by Red House, including a Bob Dylan tribute album, Nod to Bob, and a Greg Brown tribute called Going Driftless, benefiting a breast cancer research group. In 2003 she was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame, alongside such luminaries as Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Nancy Griffith, and others. Eliza released Land of Milk and Honey in 2004, a decidedly more sociopolitical record that was nominated for a Grammy. Her most recent CD is Paradise Hotel which has already made DJ Top Ten lists all over the US and Europe.

Kevin Welch

Kevin Welch's poetic songs paint pictures of real people--people you know, people you've seen--so clearly that you realize quickly he's a keen observer of the human experience. His songs have an almost film-like quality in their vision and beauty.

After growing up in Oklahoma, where he played in a popular regional band, Blue Rose Cafe, Kevin moved to Nashville in the late 1970s, upon the suggestion of his friend John Hadley, a professor at the University of Oklahoma. Once in Nashville, he became a songwriter for Tree International. His songs were recorded by such artists as Moe Bandy, Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, The Highwaymen, The Judds, The Kendalls, Patty Loveless, Reba McEntire, Charlie Pride, Ricky Skaggs, Pam Tillis, Randy Travis, Conway Twitty, Don Williams, and Trisha Yearwood.

Gretchen Peters

The title of Gretchen Peters' new Hello Cruel World is a pun on the famed exit line — a joke that, like the lovely melodies and deliciously textured arrangements framing these 11 songs — sweetens this captivating music spun from a year of turmoil. The Grammy nominated singer-songwriter from Nashville calls Hello Cruel World her "most close-to-the-bone work, written
at a time when I felt absolutely fearless about telling the truth." Peters and her guest Rodney Crowell sing, "life is still a beautiful disaster," on "Dark Angel." But Peters keeps the accent on the "beautiful" throughout her ninth disc, with both her poetic language and the spare, evocative sounds she created in the studio to support her organic story-telling.

Ultimately Hello Cruel World details the sheer triumph of survival and of finding strength, joy and growth in everyday life despite the challenges of our increasingly complex times. Her characters, like the broken-hearted narrator of "Natural Disaster" and the human target of "Woman On the Wheel," don't just search for fulfillment. They take risks to find it. And none, as the album's title implies, are ready to either surrender or, to quote the poet Dylan Thomas, "go gentle into that good night." Peters' warmhoney voice softens the edge of desperation in numbers like the character
study "Camille," where a gently blown muted trumpet offers shadings of cool jazz, and in " The Matador" the earthy maturity of her phrasing injects empathy — a quality that makes all of Peters' ongs ring consistently true — into a tale about the dark underbelly of love.

Explaining Hello Cruel World's genesis, Peters says, "In 2010 the universe threw its best and its worst at me. Some of it was personal, some global. All of it seemed to demand that I redefine my ideas of permanence and reevaluate what I believe in, to literally rethink what is real." First the Gulf of Mexico oil spill put an eco-disaster at the doorsteps of the cottage in the Florida panhandle where Peters writes much of her music. Then a friend of 30 years committed suicide in his Colorado home, followed quickly by the worst flood in the history of her adopted hometown of Nashville. Add to that a ray of light in Peters' marriage to her longtime piano accompanist and partner Barry Walsh, which affirmed their musical and personal commitment
of more than 20 years.

Dustin Welch

Dustin Welch was born on a cold Winter Solstice in a haunted plantation house on the grounds of a Tennessee horse farm. His birth room was heated by a red-hot $80 tin stove that burned whatever deadwood trees his dad could drag out of the woods by tractor and chains. He was the first born son of a first born son. His mother was the daughter of an Indian Princess, and the grand-daughter of one of the last living original members of the Osage Tribe. That very night his father made a silent promise, a sacred promise, that the boy would have a mandolin on his fifth birthday.

Five years later, almost to the day, his father sat in the early evening hours with the legendary songwriter Harlan Howard, talking about the upcoming Christmas holidays, and saying goodbye to each other till the New Year came. Harlan was a rich man, rich in heart and soul, and he said goodbye to the young father and left him alone in the giant publishing house. The father had not a penny to his name and the promise of the mandolin was weighing heavy on his heart. Finally, he dragged himself together and made his way down to the front door, where the receptionist was turning off the lights and locking up. She said that Harlan had left something for him and handed him an envelope. Inside were three crisp one hundred dollar bills. The boy got his mandolin, and the rest of the story just tumbles along like that.

Raised among the sons and daughters of songwriters, fiddle players, guitarists, banjo dobro piano players, publishers, song pluggers, hippie kids from Gaskin's Farm, painters, pot throwers, and pot growers, he drank deep. They all drank deep. His 10th birthday presents included a cassette tape of Merle Haggard's Greatest Hits. As the friends grew up together, they had the distinct advantage of often being able to ask, if they wanted to, how to do things from the very people who were making the records they were listening to. One kid band led to another, with second generation kids like Justin Earle, son of Steve, and Travis Nicholson, son of Gary, and Cary Ann Hearst, the girl kid down the street who grew into an astonishing writer and singer. The moms and dads attended their gigs with the same devotion with which they had come to their Little League ball games.

Probably inspired largely by his early exposure to Bela Fleck's revolutionary approach to the banjo, Dustin began devising a unique style of his own. Bare-fingered, open tuning, Appalachian flavored grooves and melodies coupled with literate lyrics, strange and beautiful, and the songs kept coming. He wrote them by himself, he wrote them with friends, relatives, the friends of relatives….

One evening in 2006, he was playing in the house band for a tribute to Townes Van Zandt at the venerable old Belcourt Theater in Nashville. The drummer that night was Ken Coomer from Wilco, who told him that he knew a band in San Diego who was looking for a guy like him. Within a week he flew out for an audition and didn't go home for 6 months, touring with the Scotch Greens all over the US and Europe, opening for acts like Reverend Horton Heat and Flogging Molly, playing disciplined, slamming shows night after night. Then they embarked on the dreaded Warped Tour, a grueling deep summer, black-top circus of all out days and all night drives. It was classic. They lived. They killed. They disbanded. However, they are currently in the process of reorganizing and finishing a record they began five years ago with a bunch of Dustin's songs.

Anyway, back in 2009, after relocating to Austin, Dustin released his first album, titled Whisky Priest, after the main character in Graham Greene's consummate novel, The Power and the Glory. Nowadays, he plays and tours with his own band, and has a new record, Tijuana Bible, which is scheduled for release in 2012. The highlight of Dustin's active schedule is hosting a weekly songwriting and guitar workshop in San Marcos for Armed Forces veterans. It's inspiring. It's a beautiful thing.

Dustin currently lives in Buda, just south of Austin with his rodeo queen bride, Kayla, a dog named Scruffy, and his feline nemesis, Dolly. They are all of 'em, spoiled rotten.

Barry Walsh

Most musicians would be ready to call it a full career after decades backing such country, folk and pop luminaries as Waylon Jennings, Roy Orbison, Dottie West, Johnny Paycheck, Jimmy Webb and Nanci Griffith on the stage and in the studio. But virtuosic Nashville-based pianist Barry Walsh isn’t like most musicians. Sure, he’s done all that and more, but he’s also fashioned a new career for himself as musical partner to revered singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters and an artist in his own right. Paradiso—his second solo album—is the sound of a player who spent years shaping his keyboard contributions to the contours of other people’s music finally staking his courageous claim to creative freedom.

You could say Walsh has been preparing his entire life for the music he’s making now. He went from high school immersion in the works of visionary French composer Erik Satie to earning a living in Top 40 bar bands before age 20. Then he studied classical piano at Tennessee State University, but left before he graduated to take the gig with Paycheck, the consummate honky-tonker. And Walsh is probably the only guy on earth who could join the revived version of one of the world’s coolest blue-eyed soul groups, The Box Tops—led by the late Alex Chilton—and find inspiration to study Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. “I wouldn’t have done it any other way,” he says of his rich and varied work as sideman and student, “because I was learning all that time.”

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