The musical partnership between Alasdair Fraser, long regarded as Scotland’s premier fiddle ambassador, and the sizzlingly-talented young California cellist Natalie Haas may not seem an obvious one. Fraser, acclaimed by the San Francisco Examiner as ‘the Michael Jordan of Scottish fiddling,’ has a concert and recording career spanning 30 years, with a long list of awards, accolades, television credits, and feature performances on top movie soundtracks (Last of the Mohicans, Titanic). Fraser has been sponsored by the British Council to represent Scotland’s music internationally, and received the Scottish Heritage Center Service Award for outstanding contributions to Scottish culture and traditions. Natalie Haas, a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, wasn’t even born when Alasdair was winning national fiddle competitions on the other side of the Atlantic. But this seemingly unlikely pairing is the fulfillment of a long-standing musical dream for Fraser, whose cutting-edge musical explorations took him full circle to find a cellist who could help him return the cello to its historical role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music.
Hayley Perry’s layered and textured collage paintings appear to have a history, to belong to some time and some place. Using color, transparent and opaque materials, and various textures, Perry creates rich, inviting surfaces that excite the senses and invite viewers to contemplate their own physical and emotional place in the world.
Perry, a Fall River resident, is currently earning her M.F.A. in Painting from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Image: ‘Round It,’ 2010, acrylic and collage on paper, 6.5′ x 10.5′
Through ceramics, collage, painting, and encaustic, these three artists explore the natural world and the human condition. All creatures need to nest, and humans are no different. We create emotional and physical spaces that comfort, nurture, and protect us.
Ben Anderson’s sculptures call to mind lush, leafy environments where life is abundant and also stark house-like forms whose inhabitants are unknown. Taleen Batalian’s transluscent, waxy gems evoke mysterious interior and exterior landscapes fraught with emotion. Claudine Metrick’s paintings stitch together natural imagery such as birds, clouds, and other organic forms to explore issues of mortality and nothingness.
All three artists’ work is deeply personal, and each artist has a strong connection with materials and the physicality of object-making. ‘Nesting’ explores the process of making and the way in which objects and materials can bring us home.
Guest Curator: Michele L’Heureux
Image: Taleen Batalian, Red Bird Illuminated, 2010, Encaustic, Oil on panel, 16′ x 12′ x 1′
Time hangs heavy on the vine/Let’s make wine,’ Ryan Montbleau sings in the lulling, sensual verse that gives his group’s new album its title. Ryan Montbleau Band has been tending its own musical vineyard for a few years, on the patient cusp of a breakthrough. Their distinctive, long-fermenting blend of neo-folk, classic soul, and kick-out-the-jams Americana finally comes to full fruition in Heavy on the Vine. It’s an album that represents the product of ‘ and further promise of ‘ a very good year. Don’t worry if the classic sounds they’ve bottled up remain a little hard to put a label on. ‘I’m not one of these people who say ‘Oh, we can’t be pigeonholed.’ I honestly wish we could, just so I could describe it quickly to people,’ says Montbleau. ‘This record has folk songs, funk songs, country tunes, a reggae tune . . . and the end is almost like prog-rock. It’s all over the map, but it’s all us, and we do it all wholeheartedly. We’ve sort of come up in the jam scene, and that’s where our hearts have been in a lot of ways, but we don’t go off on 15-minute epics. We’re actually trying to make the songs shorter as we go. So I would lean much more toward the Americana thing than the jam thing. But, more than anything, we’re definitely about the song.’
GuitarOne magazine calls guitarist/vocalist Coco Montoya ‘the hottest southpaw in the blues’ and raves about his ‘master touch and killer tone.’ The Boston Globe succinctly states that Montoya’s music is ‘hot, blistering soul.’ From his early days as a drummer to his current status as one of the top-drawing guitarists and vocalists on the blues-rock scene, Montoya earned his status through years of hard work and constant touring.
Lifted off the Ground may be Chely Wright’s seventh album, but on a number of levels it feels and sounds like her first, revealing an artist who has undergone a dramatic artistic transformation, emerging as a singer/songwriter of the first order. But the new album would never have come to be were it not for an equally dramatic personal transformation, which she has candidly and painstakingly documented. Though she made her name as a commercial country singer, recording songs from some of Nashville’s top writers’including modern-day classics like ‘Single White Female,’ ‘Shut Up and Drive’ and ‘Jezebel”Wright had been honing her craft as a songwriter since her teenage years in rural Kansas. She was signed as a writer in 1993 and wrote half of her first and second albums before realizing she still had a ways to go before she was ready to bang ’em out with the big boys. But she kept working at her craft, placing a handful of original songs on each of her subsequent records, and coming up with a Top 10 hit for Clay Walker before penning eight songs on her most recent album, 2005’s Metropolitan Hotel, including the zeitgeist-capturing hit ‘The Bumper of My S.U.V.’ That release followed on the heels of the rarities collection Everything, containing previously unreleased originals.
Ottmar has been nominated five-times for a Grammy award. Ottmar first pursued his rock and roll aspirations in his native Germany and then in Boston where he played in the alternative band RED with his brother Stefan. Ottmar then moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. By 1989, he had founded the first ‘Luna Negra’ band. The ground-breaking album Nouveau Flamenco began life as a self-produced local release called Marita: Shadows and Storms, copies of which local artist Frank Howell distributed in his art galleries. When the record found its way to radio stations and began generating a response among listeners, Higher Octave Music picked it up and released a re-mastered version. Since 1990, Ottmar Liebert has released a total of 25 albums including live releases, Christmas CDs, 15 CDs of original music, a DVD and remixes. He has received 38 Gold and Platinum certifications in the USA as well as certifications in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. His debut album sold double-platinum and has become one of the best-selling guitar albums of all time. In May 2006 Ottmar was ordained as a Zen Monk by Dennis Genpo Merzel, at the Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Singer/songwriter Joe Purdy released his 10th album ‘Last Clock on the Wall’ on March 17th, 2009 at 4:00 in the morning, because that is when he finished it. Purdy releases his albums on his independent label, Joe Purdy Records, and with the help of national TV placements and a grassroots fan base, has been able to sell a staggering 850,000 direct track downloads in the US on Itunes without ever signing to a label. Because Joe’s writing process is heavily influenced by the environment that surrounds him, Purdy’s albums act as a travel guide for his experiences. Last Clock On The Wall was recorded over 6 days at Old Mill Studios, located in a 17th century mill converted into a live arts theater in Strathaven, just outside of Glasgow. Take My Blanket and Go (2007) was recorded in NYC following a UK tour in 2006, You Can Tell Georgia (2006) was recorded outside of London immediately following a European tour with Tom McRae, while Paris in the Morning (2006) was recorded during a short visit to Paris a few months later. Canyon Joe (2007) was recorded at his home in California, after being stranded in New Mexico during a blizzard over New Years Eve. Purdy also has the glowing endorsement of Pete Townsend, who invited him to duet on his ‘In The Attic ‘ Pete Townsend and friends’ concert series. The DVD release of this concert series features Townsend and Purdy performing an acoustic version of ‘Let My Love Open The Door’ and a touching performance of Joe’s song ‘Daisy,’ as accompanied by his father Dave Purdy on mandolin.
Bassist/composer Ben Allison is one of a few band leaders working in jazz today who has developed his own instantly identifiable sound. Known for his inspired arrangements, inventive grooves and hummable melodies, Ben draws from the jazz tradition and a range of influences from rock and folk to classical and world music, and seamlessly blends them into a cinematic, cohesive whole.’
Shaun Hague is a man of many, many talents. By day, he books bands into a 280 cap venue by the beach and writes articles for the likes of Acoustic Guitar magazine. By night,he is either onstage performing live or ripping some licks in a session. Hague, now 27 years young, has built quite the resume in the last decade of his life. At just 17, Hague was named ‘The Best Young Guitarist’ by The House of Blues and by 21, the young guitarist was playing guitar for blues phenom Kenny Wayne Shepherd. In the past 3 years alone, Hague has played guitar for Amos Lee, Terra Naomi,performed on Jay Leno and sat in with John Fogerty. To kick of 2011, Hague is moving ever so slightly away from the sideman role and going out on his own terms. The New Year will see some local & national touring in support of his forthcoming EP and a better concentration on his own solo work.