This week on Beale Street Caravan, we feature the smooth, blue-eyed soul of Eric Lindell. As an added bonus, playing guitar behind Eric on this show is master-of-the-telecaster, Anson Funderburgh. Also joining us on the program is Memphis’ own Amy LaVere. We begin a new feature series, too, called Ground Zero With Sam Phillips. The feature is a series of archived interviews with The Man Who Invented Rock & Roll where he tells stories about several of the pioneering artists he produced at Sun Records.
When singer/songwriter/vocalist Eric Lindell first hit the national music scene with his 2006 Alligator Records debut Change In The Weather, critics and fans alike celebrated the arrival of a roots rocker with dozens of unforgettable original songs. With his musical roots planted in Northern California, Lindell’s music blossomed in New Orleans. His combination of sweet, blue-eyed soul with foot-stomping R&B, swamp pop, funk and blues have won him critical and popular acclaim across the country. As he toured the U.S., his fan base grew, and before long clubs and festivals were filled with happy, dancing people singing the words to every song. Now he’s back with Low On Cash, Rich In Love, a collection filled with solid grooves, insightful lyrics and one emotionally rich song after another.
Recorded at Piety Street Studio in New Orleans, Low On Cash, Rich In Love will delight Lindell’s fan base and will capture the attention of music lovers all over the globe. From the first single Lay Back Down to the undeniable groove of a totally reworked version of Gil Scott-Heron’s Lady Day And John Coltrane (the album’s sole cover song) to the New Orleans bounce of Tried And True, Low On Cash, Rich In Love is Eric Lindell at his very best. His sinewy and soulful vocals recall 1970s Van Morrison, while his guitar and harmonica work are uniquely his own. With sweet saxophones punching in all the right places and grooves building on top of each other, Eric Lindell has created a timeless collection of songs.
Born in San Mateo, California, in 1969, Lindell spent countless hours in San Francisco, soaking up the musical sounds of the city, eventually leading him to pick up the bass and then the guitar. Lindell listened to the music of The Impressions as well as Buddy Guy. He discovered blues greats Junior Wells, Jimmy Reed and Albert King before drifting toward the R&B sounds of Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, soaking up the soul and learning how to craft a song. After performing at bars on the West Coast with a few short-lived bands, Eric formed his own group in 1993 and quickly gained a loyal California audience thanks to countless performances and many late-night jam sessions. Established stars like Charlie Musselwhite and Tom Waits attended his gigs, as did overflow crowds of music fans.
Lindell left for New York in 1998, gigging there regularly before heading down to New Orleans in 1999, where he quickly discovered the roots music scene. He gravitated toward the West Bank dive bars of Gretna and Algiers, Louisiana, where he befriended many older swamp pop musicians, who helped him get more regular gigs. Before long he met up with Galactic’s Stanton Moore, and the two jammed together often. Some of New Orleans’ finest players, including keyboardist Ivan Neville and drummers Harold Brown and Johnny Vidacovich, often joined him on stage. Galactic bassist Rob Mercurio began sitting in as well, and word of Lindell’s immense talents quickly spread around the city. Stars like Branford Marsalis, The Neville Brothers, John Scofield, Chris Chew (North Mississippi Allstars), and Wally Ingram (David Lindley, Stockholm Syndrome) began showing up at his gigs and embracing this fresh California kid’s funky music. According to Lindell, “It’s a great feeling to be recognized for your music in New Orleans.”
Lindell’s 2006 Alligator Records debut, Change In The Weather, delighted and surprised music fans hungry for a truly original artist. Lindell’s deceptively simple sounding songs, laid back grooves and hook-laden melodies were fueled by guests including War drummer Harold Brown, Ivan Neville and Galactic’s Stanton Moore. Critics across the country went wild, with reviews and features in Relix, OffBeat, The Chicago Sun-Times, Harp, Guitar Player, Down Beat, The New Yorker, The New York Press and many other national and regional publications. Singer And Musician magazine put Eric on the cover and many newspaper entertainment sections did the same. The New Orleans Times-Picayune said, “Eric Lindell has arrived. He channels Van Morrison with his irresistible soul…not a moment is wasted.” The Chicago Sun-Times followed, saying “Soulful original songs fuse R&B, swamp pop and funk into a potent, party-time mix.”
Radio responded in kind. The first single, Give It Time, debuted as the #1 Most Added song on the Radio & Records (R&R) Indicator Chart (and spent 14 weeks there, peaking at #16), #1 Most Added on the Americana Chart and #2 Most Added at AAA radio overall. The song was a Top 20 single on Friday Morning Quarterback’s AAA Chart. In addition, Lindell triumphantly appeared on the nationally syndicated public radio program Mountain Stage.
Lindell’s live shows draw as much attention as his material. His unstoppable grooves, rocking, deeply rooted, original songs and excellent musicianship never fail to fill the dance floor. With the release of Low On Cash, Rich In Love, Lindell and his band will continue to tour heavily, giving the rest of the country the chanceto discover for themselves what a growing number of people already know: Eric Lindell is a musician bursting at the seams with talent, with the uncanny natural ability to come up with one instantly classic song after another, and the desire to take his music to every corner of the music-loving universe.
A fellow artist once said of her, “How can you not like a gal that drinks bourbon neat, walks around with a pocket atlas and drives a big white gear van?
That’s a glimpse of Amy LaVere.
Always moving, always writing and always true to her quirky, spirited and sometimes melancholy point of view.
Living in Memphis since 1999, Amy released her debut album, “This World Is Not My Home” (Archer Records, 2005) to critical acclaim as music writers seemed mesmerized by her voice, lyrics, and the whole idea of a beautiful woman slapping an upright bass taller that she was. In the words of the legendary producer Jim Dickinson, who produced her break out record, “Anchors & Anvils” (Archer Records, 2007), “She has the whole package-the songs, the voice, the looks, and she can triple-slap the upright bass like Willie Dixon on steroids.”
The success of “Anchors & Anvils” drew the attention of the UK market and soon Amy was invited to perform on the BBC’s “Later with Jool’s Holland” TV show which introduced her to an international audience. She also met her next producer at the show, Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Jamie Cullum). Since then the stages have gotten bigger- Bonnaroo Music Festival, Austin City Limit’s Music Festival, and the Rolling Stone Weekender Festival in Germany.
Amy and Craig Silvey teamed up to produce “Stranger Me” (Archer Records, 2011) which was praised in the US by the likes of Spin Magazine, Paste Magazine, AP and NPR and earned four stars from The London Daily Mirror, The London Sunday Times and Q Magazine. iTunes featured “You Can’t Keep Me”, the album single, which resulted in over 100,000 downloads in the first week.
Success begets success and soon Amy was invited to join a variety of side projects. The first was an all-star collaboration named “The Wandering” which included Amy, Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Shannon McNally, Sharde Thomas and Valerie June. They released “Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here” (Songs Of The South, 2012) to critical acclaim and sold out shows.
In the afterglow of “The Wandering” project, Amy and Shannon McNally found success touring together and released an EP entitled “Chasing the Ghost, The Rehearsal Sessions” (Archer Records, 2012) which featured songs from both artists and was recorded live in the studio.
But before Amy started on her next solo album, there was one more itch to scratch- A duet project with noted rocker John Paul Keith entitled “Motel Mirrors” (Archer Records, 2013). The seven song EP, which No Depression called, “Infectious”, and James Stafford labeled it “Catnip for fans of good songs and sweet harmonies” was released as a 10 inch 45 rpm vinyl EP.
Concurrently Amy has also created an impressive list of film credits. Her film career started with Wanda Jackson’s role in “Walk the Line” (2005), appearing as Jesse in Black Snake Moan (2006), playing herself in MTV’s $5 Cover (2009), and most recently appearing with Grace Zabriski as Loretta in Only Child (2014).
Through the end of 2013, Amy’s tour schedule is a mixture Amy LaVere and Motel Mirrors performances. She’s also spending time in Austin, Texas-getting her band ready for the release of her fourth and most ambitious solo album, “The Runaway’s Diary” which is slated for release in 2014. Produced by Luther Dickinson, “The Runaway’s Diary” sets to song stories of her childhood which ultimately led to her running away from home at fifteen.