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Author: Subject: Amy Ray talks about her song 'Duane Allman'

Peach Head





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  posted on 1/21/2014 at 10:22 AM
Headline: Amy Ray going down the country road

BYLINE: By Chrissie Dickinson, Special to the Chicago Tribune

As half of the long-running folk-rock duo Indigo Girls, Amy Ray is a successful, longtime music pro. But calling 10 minutes late for an interview from her Georgia home, she sounds no different from millions of working Americans: a parent juggling her job, with a new baby in her arms.

"My partner is a little sick, I was taking care of the baby and it sort of slipped my mind," she apologizes about the delay. The child, born seven weeks ago, is Ray's first. "I'm getting a whole new education," she says with a laugh.

Ray, 49, has a lot on her plate with the demands of new parenthood and her ongoing work with Emily Saliers in Indigo Girls. Now added to that list is her new album, "Goodnight Tender," on her own label, Daemon Records. Ray has released a handful of solo albums, but this is her first release to tackle the country genre. An acoustic outing that opts for rustic instrumentation over the slicker production aesthetic of modern Nashville, Tenn., Ray's songs are a mix of earthy Americana and heartfelt gospel.

"I've wanted to make a country record for about 12 years," she says. "It's a genre that I really appreciate, but I couldn't figure out how to approach it, maybe because I had this big respect for it. So I would write some songs and put them to the side. Finally I had more songs that were country than the rock and punk things I'd been doing. So it felt like this is the moment."

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place when Ray found the right musicians to take into the studio with her. Among the musicians guesting on the release are multi-instrumentalist Jeff Fielder, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Heather McEntire of Mount Moriah. Kelly Hogan and Susan Tedeschi contribute additional vocals.

Born in Decatur, Ga., Ray is a daughter of the South. But even though she grew up hearing the hits of Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton on the radio, she wasn't steeped in the genre. Her country music epiphany didn't happen until the 1990s, when she started listening to bands like the Waco Brothers on the Chicago alternative country label Bloodshot Records.

"The punk kind of bands that started doing country led me to look back and listen to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn," she says. "The classic '50s and '60s stuff really turned me on to country.

"Before that, I didn't know much about it. I knew more about mountain music, Alan Lomax field recordings and gospel music, but not as much about traditional country. I knew of the Carter Family but coming at it more from a Woody Guthrie folk perspective. Then I started discovering it through these (alternative country) bands that would talk about how country music had influenced their music."

She also returned to the deepest roots of her home state. "Twenty years ago I moved to a rural area in north Georgia," she says. "It definitely influenced my writing. All around me are bluegrass and country players. It couldn't help but influence me."

Ray recorded the album at Echo Mountain Recording Studio in Asheville, N.C. She wanted to keep the proceedings as spontaneous and live as possible.

"The challenge was to keep myself from being tempted by the world of Pro Tools, making everything perfect," she says with a laugh. "I couldn't do that. I didn't want to go that route. For me, a record like this needed to be live and have a certain old feel. You're using analog tape. You're recording live. You can't belabor everything."

Among Ray's best cuts is "Duane Allman," an homage to the late Allman Brothers Band guitarist. Allman died in 1971 at age 24. Along with bandmate Berry Oakley, Allman is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Ga.

The song is a propulsive number filled with ringing mandolin, sawing fiddle and swinging steel guitar. One verse covers the tragic motorcycle accident that took Allman's life: "Now it was back in the fall of '71/ Duane met a flatbed coming home/ With his song in the charts and his Harley flying through the air/ Now he was just hitting his stride when the angels wept."

Ray was a childhood fan of the Allman Brothers Band, but only learned about Duane's death long after the fact. "I didn't figure out that Duane was gone until about seventh grade," she recalls. "When it dawned on me that the main guitar player of this band I loved was gone, it was so sad for me. It was a big moment, understanding what loss meant in a bigger way of the world. I thought, 'Wow, he's never going to play anything else. All we have are the things that he's done.' "

Ray will tour with Indigo Girls this spring and summer, and the duo plan to write and record a new album before next year. She'll also play a number of solo dates in support of her own release during breaks in the Indigos' touring schedule.

"It's definitely a lot to juggle," she says. "At this point, it's time management. I do want to get out there and play these songs, but I like doing Indigo Girls. It's a lot of music going on. My first priority is the family. It all seems to be working together."

 
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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 1/21/2014 at 12:47 PM
I quite like the Indigo Girls.

I've just listened to "Duane Allman" on Spotify and it's much better than I'd expected from the lyrics quoted. There is even a decent slide solo.

Spotify gives Susan Tedeschi a co-writing credit. She may be on backing vocal too.

"No-one could play like Duane!"




 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 1/21/2014 at 03:14 PM
Now that is cool.

 

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  posted on 1/21/2014 at 04:03 PM
Thanks. This is very cool and I had no idea...

 

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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 1/21/2014 at 04:36 PM
3' 22"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWw14MJ-xzM


 

Peach Master



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  posted on 1/22/2014 at 09:17 AM
There was another article with lots of the same info, but a bit more in-depth in the AJC on Monday:

http://www.accessatlanta.com/weblogs/atlanta-music-scene/2014/jan/20/amy-ra y-talks-new-country-album-new-baby-and-indig/

Glad to see Amy hanging w/ the locals in Dahlonega - a great little music scene up there on the town square btw, and also that former ATLien / Cabbagetown Clanger Kelly Hogan is on the record too. Kelly's got some pipes!!!!

I like what she says about changing the Indigos sound:
snip~
Her upcoming year doesn’t account for many breaks, as she and Saliers plan to return to the studio in August for a new Indigo Girls record, their first since 2011’s “Beauty Queen Sister.”

When asked if there will be any shift in their trademark sound, Ray laughs.

“Well, I wish we could make the next Fleetwood Mac ‘Rumours’! But really, it’s just fun to make a record. We really try to challenge ourselves and write different harmonies and arrangements, but it’s not going to be a disco album.”

Considering Ray’s urge to branch out musically, who knows? That day may come, too.

~snip

EAPFTheCabbagetownClangers-ThoseWereTheDaze...

 

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  posted on 1/23/2014 at 10:51 AM
Very cool! Nice song, good slide playing. Just another example of the lasting power of Duane Allman.

 

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"Elmore James was a pretty good slide player - but he never did get to hear me play!" - Duane

 
 


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