Singer, Songwriter slash Mom
Congress House All Stars (Day 18)
20th Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper Comments Off on Congress House All Stars (Day 18)

Welcome to Day 18 of the Indiegogo Campaign for The Shopkeeper: A Documentary about Mark Hallman and the Congress House. Every day during the campaign I am featuring a few artists who have recorded at the Congress House.

Ray Wylie Hubbard Elana James

The Hoyle Brothers

The Hoyle Brothers approach their music the way a preacher might prepare for a sermon: Reference the good Book, find a theme that resonates and deliver it with fire and passion.

That’s what makes The Hoyle Brothers so special. Their brand of genuine country music draws from the genre’s deepest traditions–lyrics that speak universal truths, melody lines that melt your heart and two-step rhythms that make your boots scoot.

Since the start of weekly residencies at Chicago’s The Hideout and The Empty Bottle in 2002, The Hoyle Brothers have earned respect and recognition from a growing number of fans and music critics who find the boys’ purity of purpose and first-rate musicianship irresistible. Some go a step further, predicting The Hoyle Brothers will eventually show Nashville that its current roster of pop-minded, new country stars needs a little of The Hoyle Brothers’ battered boot leather and real country soul.

Sara Hickman

Sara Hickman has garnered recognition as a captivating singer/songwriter, vocalist and musician, with artists such as Shawn Colvin, the Flatlanders, Robert Earl Keen, Willie Nelson and many others covering her songs. On her Kirtland Records debut release Shine, Hickman delivers another memorable collection of 10 songs that will take the listener on an intense journey destined to evoke a broad spectrum of emotions.

As Rolling Stone puts it, “Tuneful, clever and carefully observed, Sara Hickman’s material has all the strengths expected of a contemporary Texas songwriter, plus one more – whimsy.”

Since she started performing at the age of seven, Hickman has been embraced by both followers and critics. The Associated Press proclaims, “Seek out her albums and club shows for her melodic sense, excellent guitar playing, rich voice and mix of sunny optimism with heartache.” Hickman’s home state of Texas loves her too, naming her the 2010-2011 “Official State Musician of Texas,” joining luminaries such as Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett.

A guest performer on at least 25 albums by other recording artists, Hickman has toured with Billy Bragg, Dan Fogelberg and Nanci Griffith, and has opened for other artists including the Decemberists, John Hiatt and Lucinda Williams. She has also appeared in and sung on national ad campaigns for Walmart, Popeye’s, Daisy Sour Cream, Southwest Airlines, Fannie Mae and numerous others.

Well! Those are the cold, hard facts. But the other fact is that Sara is my friend and she rocks and I love her!

This video captures the essence of a Sara Show:

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Hubbard wrote “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker’s 1973 recording. Hubbard recorded for various labels but struggled with sales; his mix of country, folk and blues elements didn’t find an audience. After leaving the scene and struggling with personal problems, he returned to recording with Lost Train of Thought in 1992 and Loco Gringo’s Lament in 1994.

Today Ray Wylie Hubbard is an elder statesman of the Texas music scene. From New Braunfels, Texas, Hubbard hosts a Tuesday night radio show called “Roots & Branches”. This program promotes new and established Americana artists. Like some other performers in his genre, he is perhaps as popular in Europe as in the US—Hubbard has been invited by record companies in the Netherlands to produce albums.

And I got to be in the audience when he sang “Screw You, We’re From Texas” in the post-taping segment of the David Letterman show.

I can’t embed the video, but here’s the link!

Elana James

We met Elana yesterday in her band the Hot Club of Cowtown. She is a really interesting person. This is from her Wikipedia page:

James grew up in Prairie Village, Kansas and began playing Suzuki violin at age four. Her mother is a professional violinist who used to play in the Kansas City Symphony.

James graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Comparative Religion from Barnard College, Columbia University, in New York while studying violin and viola at the Manhattan School of Music as a student of Lucie Robert and Karen Ritscher. She studied improvisation and swing fiddle with Marty Laster in New York City and studied Dhrupad, an early form of North Indian Classical music, with Pandit Vidhur Malik in Vrindavan, India.

James is a former Managing Editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. In the early 1990s she worked as a horse packer and wrangler at the Home Ranch in Clark, Colorado and played fiddle in the ranch’s cowboy band. James is an alumnus of the Meadowmount School of Music, the New York Youth Symphony, the Columbia University Chamber Music Program, the New York String Orchestra Seminar with Alexander Schneider and the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France.

And here she is on “Orange Blossom Special”: