There’s a fair number of people who may be instantly turned off when they hear a musician described as ‘girl with a guitar’. Lilith Fair, for all its supportive female-progressive intentions, also dragged a certain stereotype into the spotlight. There was much suffering throughout the nineties and early noughts caused by ‘girls with guitars’–women with poetry on their minds who thought just strumming out a few chords in progression amounted to a song/musical career. Well, it just ain’t so. But for every feeble haiku-spouting white girl with dreadlocks, there are ladies with actual song-writing abilities who just happen to play guitar as well. See Feist, Martha Wainwright, and today’s great thing:
147. Brandi Carlile
If that name doesn’t ring any bells (no it’s not BELINDA Carlisle), you’ll thank me for introducing you to her tunes. Born in the early eighties in Seattle, Carlile was signed to Columbia Records in 2004, Rolling Stone magazine named her one of 10 to watch in 2005. Her style is difficult to categorize. A bit folk, indie, country, alt-rock. Let’s just say that she fits comfortably in the ‘songwriter’ genre–along with some of my other faves…Rufus Wainwright, Neko Case, and Arcade Fire.
Only one of her singles has even made it to the top 100 in The States. That was “The Story”, and that only reached #75. It probably received a bit of a bump after a contestant on American Idol covered it. (Though I find that program grows more loathsome with every passing year, I AM suitably impressed when a contestant chooses something unusual–so, props to season nine contestant Lacey Brown for choosing this ace tune).
So, considering how under-appreciated she is by the world at large, how excited was I to see that this person was coming over here? To Britain! To Manchester! Where I live! A concert! Of course, I bought tickets immediately.
I also purchased one for my friend Kathryn and gave her a copy of Carlile’s CD’s…creating a new fan (you’re welcome, Brandi Carlile). I was curious, actually, about what the turnout would be for the show. at The Manchester Academy (a University venue). It’s often the case that The US and the UK have different musical tastes. For instance, they like both Scissor Sisters and The Gossip more than Yanks do…even though both groups are American. Likewise, they don’t recognize the strains of “Workingf or The Weekend” by Loverboy when I sing it at the top of my lungs on Fridays at work.
Additionally, I’ve been proven wrong with a few niche-type acts that I thought wouldn’t have massive foreign followings. My girlfriend loves The Indigo Girls–they had a huge swelling of support at their gig here in Manchester–as did Tegan & Sara. I guess lesbians over the world are just supportive in general of other lesbians. Sisterhood and all that. I’m supportive of the endeavours of women. Except for Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell. I can’t get behind that shit.
So…the show was supposed to be earlier this year. I’d been anticipating it greatly. I had my best checked-shirt pressed and ready to go. Then, thanks to a certain volcano that shall remain nameless, it was cancelled. I shake my fist at YOU Iceland. A bit of a bummer, but the gig was rescheduled for October. Again, I’ve been waiting eagerly for the show…and now I just found out that it’s off. Full stop. Period. The high numbers of cancelled/volcano gigs sort of wiped them out financially and it’s not viable for them to reschedule travel at this point. I don’t know where to cast my rage. Brandi Carlile, you can totally sleep in my spare bedroom in Manchester if you want to reconsider and if it helps you save money. We can play Guitar Hero if you want.
Here’s a bit from an interview she did with the website AfterEllen.com (entire interview here–AfterEllen):
AE: You just announced your U.K./Ireland and European tour dates which takes you from mid-April to mid-May. Any plans to tour solo beyond this leg?
BC: We’re going to tour all throughout the summer. We’re doing the Newport Folk Festival, Telluride, Bonnaroo; and in the fall, we’re putting together a compilation of symphony shows. We’re going to go to Denver, Cedar Rapids; we’re going to play symphonies. We’ll get like seven, eight, nine towns going with their local symphony. It’s going to be a real charge to play with a symphony. If you think “The Story” is epic, just imagine it with a 40-piece orchestra behind it.
Gutted. I want to hear “The Story” with a symphony.
Anyway, enough typing, let me know share a few tracks with you so you too can get the gist and perhaps become a fan. These are a few of my favorite Brandi Carlile songs.
Here’s “Josephine”. My friend Michelle, who I work with, swears that Carla Bruni does a cover of this. I’ve been unable to locate it. Anyone know more about that? I think she’s wrong.
Brandi has travelled with a couple of guys that she just calles “The Twins” for a little while now. They are actually the Hanseroth twins–Tim and Phil–rounding out her touring band are cellist Josh Neumann, and drummer Matt Chamberlain. The Twins freak my girlfriend out a little bit as they are very tall and bald. It helps Karey relax a bit about it when they wear hats. Here they are performing “Dreams” live at a Borders Bookstore. Luckily, hats are present. (Short interview at the start of the clip, btw).
Pretty good so far, yes? Would you like to know more? Of course you would. Borders (I swear this is not a commercial for their store) also has a series of cool interviews on YouTube where they interview celebrity guests about their favorite books/CDs/and films. Here’s Carlile’s:
At this point, I would also like to say that I have not one copy but TWO copies of The Neverending Story on DVD…just to sweeten that offer of housing if Brandi Carlile makes good on that UK tour promise…I also have The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth of course. We could pop popcorn and have a marathon!
BC (that’s what I’m calling her now), makes comment on how important a singer’s vocal quality is to her. I don’t think she’s referring to the fact that someone might be pitch perfect. Or maybe she is, I don’t know. But, what listening to Brandi Carlile makes me appreciate is the delivery of the song…the focus of the singer on telling the story and singing the truth out of it. I know that sounds so fruitily intangible, but I think you DO hear what I mean in artists like Freddie Mercury, and KD Lang, Rufus Wainwright and Brandi Carlile.
Anyway, back to the music. I only just became aware that Elton John sings the male vocals on this track–“Caroline”:
Whilst reading another charming interview at medleyville (see here: : medleyville), I also discovered that in 2006 she played my hometown! Erie! Pennsylvania! She was there! At the Civic Center! Oh Brandi, why must we always be ships passing in the night? So many missed connections.
Oh well, best not to leave on coulda shoulda wouldas…here’s the song that you probably know IF you know any of Brandi Carlile’s songs. “The Story”.