Annie McCue, Amelia White and Mary Battiata & Little Pink

Annie McCue, Amelia White and Mary Battiata & Little Pink

WHO: Little Pink

WHAT: Guitars. Harmonies. Tragic hats.

WHEN: Since about the last year of the last century, including
opening sets for Alejandro Escovedo, Neko Case, Jim Lauderdale, Michael Fracasso, Sam Baker, Eilen Jewell as well as shows with DC’s Karl Straub, The Caribbean, Alice Despard, The Spoils of Northwest …

Bluesy songstress and multi-instrumentalist Anne McCue has just recorded her 6th studio album - Blue Sky Thinkin' - with co-producer Dusty Wakeman (Lucinda Williams, Dwight Yoakam) in Los Angeles. Mixing of the album is almost complete and we are looking at a January 2014 release date. The album reunites the band from her critically acclaimed 'Roll' album and allows Anne to explore some of her favourite influences, including Billy Holiday, Charlie Christian, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King, Nick Drake, Astor Piazzola, Peggy Lee, Bessie Smith...

Alternative Country icon Lucinda Williams has said of McCue: “Initially, her stunning voice hooked me in. Then I got inside the songs. The first chance I got, I went to see her perform . . . I was floored!"

Born in Sydney and raised just southwest in Campbelltown, McCue has toured the world playing her music in Concert Halls, pubs and festivals. She has most recently been based in East Nashville, a thriving songwriting community on the Cumberland River's left bank.

Her love of music forged in Sydney, Melbourne and Ho Chi Minh City, McCue landed in America and performed on the Lilith Fair tour. After setting up shop in Los Angeles, she became a vital part of the city’s roots music scene and has since recorded 5 acclaimed studio albums and a DVD ‘Live In Nashville.’

Her music is included in Time Life’s ‘4 Decades Of Folk Rock’ alongside Bob Dylan, The Byrds, etc. and in Starbucks Artist Choice alongside Leonard Cohen, John Coltraine etc.

McCue has also produced other artists including Audrey Auld, Tracey Bunn and currently, Emma Swift and Anne is a talented sound recordist.

Expect great guitar work, compelling songs, and an eclectic set list.

"Listeners will delight in her slide guitar prowess, as well as her pointed and powerful lyrics." -- Seattle Post Intelligencer

"Anne McCue is the virtual definition of "triple threat." A potent singer, thoughtful songwriter and tough guitarist, she completely comes into her own on this new project." -- Billboard

"The Australian earns accolades with an album of songs that stretch from urgent to world-weary with bracing bluntness." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

"My new favorite artist and an amazing guitarist" -- Lucinda Williams

"She used every guitar in the battery she brought on stage, from the National steel to the Danelectro 12-string to the lap steel, and each allowed her the freedom to explore a different type of roots music, including swampy Creedence stomp, ethereal blues, and countrified jangle. These days, there are very few women working the same territory as McCue who can combine tough and vulnerable. That she does it with poise and a self-deprecating sense of humor makes her an artist worth seeing again." --Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle

NASHVILLE – Amelia White is one of the rare artists and songwriters who loves touring, and one of her favorite road stops is Los Angeles.

That makes perfect sense, since White’s music and writing are a marvelous and natural 21st-century extension of the dawn of the singer/songwriter era at LA’s famed Troubadour nightclub in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Elton John, Carole King, the Eagles, and Kris Kristofferson were among those who broke through at the Troubadour.

In a conversation near Nashville’s famed Music Row in September, Amelia said of her early heroes, “you know who really struck me a lot? Karla Bonoff.”

That discovery in itself tells you a great deal about the insight and magic of Amelia White, since although Bonoff was an integral part of that Troubadour scene and played many of those famed Monday night hoots, she has always been greatly underrated since her solo work yielded just one Top 20 Billboard hit, “Personally,” which Karla didn’t even write, in 1982.

But anyone who’s ever heard Linda Ronstadt’s cover of Bonoff’s achingly beautiful piano ballad “Someone To Lay Down Beside Me” knows Karla’s mystical, almost hypnotic melodies and lyrics, and two more songs on that Grammy-winning Ronstadt album, 1976’s Hasten Down The Wind, came from Karla’s pen.

White’s own love for music started very early. She was just 10 when she saved up her allowance to buy a guitar her brother had brought home from his Navy days, a 1968 Martin D-18 she still uses to this day.

As she began learning to play and sing, she was acquiring a love for melody as a teenager in a Lutheran Church choir whose pastor adored music and was an early champion of Amelia’s music and talents. That’s when another crucial gift began to emerge.

“I started writing quite young,” she says. “It comes naturally and completely to me. It’s something where sometimes people think I’m spacy, that’s because these songs will not let go of me.”

Each one of her songs is highly personal, insightful, and hooky. Whether it’s “Big Blue Sun” from her upcoming 2014 album Old Postcard, or earlier pieces like the picturesque “Sidewalks” from the Beautiful And Wild album and the groove story song “Full Moon (Torn In Two)” from Motorcycle Dream, every one tells its own musical and lyrical story. We hear words, rhythms, and melodies both in major and minor keys that remind us of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, early Elton John - and certainly the moody mysteries of Bonoff.

Like Karla, Amelia White’s songs deserve to be out in the world and covered often. Then, like Bonoff, White is sure to grow the passionate and dedicated audiences which have already been following her and her music for years.

Cohen, Mitchell, John, and Bonoff all were lifelong heroes of Amelia White, yet she has updated all of those threads into her own deeply personal, intelligent, and catchy songs and albums.

It’s the songs which have always driven and fascinated White, and Nashville’s well-deserved reputation as a haven for songs and songwriters was a key factor in her moving here in 2001. Current media trends, she says, are not so delightful.

“TV places all its emphasis on looks and a voice,” she says. “The focus should be on a song that’s deep and well-built, that makes a mark without all the fluff. It’s really disturbing, because artists and writers like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Neil Young would have a tough time making it today.”

A grandfather Amelia never knew played banjo on the porch of his Virginia home every night, but White’s parents often fought her “tooth and nail” over her music.

If anything, the rebellion that caused helped spur on her creativity. The young Amelia fell in love with the Beatles and Stones records in her older brother’s collection of albums, but was just as intrigued by the Chicago blues of Muddy Waters.

She was at the same time becoming a voracious reader, which she still is. An early favorite was Siddhartha, a classic novel of self-discovery Amelia says is “about a poet or a searcher. The element of the river keeps coming back.” The author is Herman Hesse, who the San Francisco Chronicle called “the greatest writer of the century.”

The Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood has been a strong writing influence on White, particularly Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. So is the late Larry Brown, the Mississippi novelist and author of books including Rabbit Factory and Fay.

White’s early fascination with Muddy Waters was a foreshadowing of her exploration of an incredible variety of music as an artist, performer, and writer. In Boston, she was in the all-girl band Sara Laughs. Grunge, rock, and Punk all impacted her performances and writing.

“I still love harmonies,” she says of her band days, and the deeply layered vocal harmonies in her solo albums are proof positive of that passion.

The Clash, the Cure, and Brit Pop artists such as the Mighty Lemon Drops frequently found their way onto Amelia’s record and CD players. She worked in Seattle and Boston for a couple years before migrating to Music City. If we listen carefully to her songs – and that’s the best way to listen to Amelia White records – we catch subtle strains from all of these styles and attitudes.

White says of her hometown the last dozen years. “Nashville seemed like a fit to me. The community feeling and the low cost of living here combined to help somebody like me keep a career going. I would get squeezed out anywhere else.”

She also likes the environment and the pressure of being surrounded by many of the finest singers, writers, and musicians in the world.

“The competition is really a beautiful and natural thing,” Amelia says. “I love the fact that I have friends who are so talented here.”

Among the many on the A-List team of musical collaborators she works with is drummer and percussionist Marco Giovino, whose own unique sense of tempo, rhythm, and feel has added a unique swing and drive to many of Amelia’s songs.

Guitarist John Jackson, who earlier worked with Lucinda Williams and Dylan, has been another key component of White’s live shows.

“John’s presence has really brought my craft to a higher level,” Amelia says.

White has emerged as one of Nashville’s most prolific songwriters. She has penned over 1,000 songs in the dozen years she’s been in town.

Music City is also arguably the strongest co-writing center in the music world. Most country songs are co-written, and though Amelia often writes alone she is doing more and more co-writes these days.

“I definitely hand-pick my co-writers,” she says. “All but one song on the new album are co-written.”

A wellspring of inspiration for her recent work has been the peace she’s made with her parents, and the exploration in words and music of the changes they and she are going through as time goes on.

There’s one other place Amelia never ceases to go for a creative jolt.

“I love touring. It helps me write,” she says, smiling. “Being away from my routine frees my brain. The shows are great. So are the moments where I have three hours to kill. I love to walk around neighborhoods, taking pictures. Part of being an artist these days is schmoozing, but I really enjoy my alone time.”

So as Amelia puts the finishing touches on what may well be one of her strongest albums – the 2014 release, Old Postcard, will be a concept album exploring many aspects of home and family – she will simultaneously be touring up a storm, delighting audiences all over the place, writing new songs every week and even releasing a book of her paintings.

So maybe one of these days Amelia White’s career will come full circle when she and her musical soul sister and hero – Karla Bonoff – play on the same tour. That would bring both the first and second generations of singer/songwriters together on the same stage.


Updated September 22, 2013


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