Singer, Songwriter slash Mom
Congress House All Stars (Day 22)
25th Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper Comments Off on Congress House All Stars (Day 22)

Welcome to Day 22 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.

Iain Matthews

Iain Matthews began his recording career in 1966 with the surf group Pyramid. The band recorded one single for Deram Records, but never really went any further and Matthews (then still known as Ian MacDonald) left after he was brought to the attention of Ashley Hutchings, who happened to be looking for a male singer for his new band Fairport Convention. He remained with Fairport for two albums, including the folk-rock classic What We Did on Our Holidays, before leaving during the recording of 1969’s Unhalfbricking (his backing vocal can be heard on “Percy’s Song”) due to creative differences. Matthews soon signed with MCA Records for his first solo effort, Matthews Southern Comfort (1970), which featured former Fairport bandmates Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol. He eventually formed a band of the same name, recording two albums for MCA and scoring a number one U.K. hit with their version of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.”

Artistically restless, Matthews formed another band, Plainsong, with Dave Richards, Andy Roberts, and Bob Ronga. From the mid-’70s on into the ’80s, Matthews dabbled in a number of different styles, from jazz-inflected pop to new wave. In the 80s, Matthews decided to call it quits after 18 years as a recording artist. This consequently led to work as an A&R man for Island Music and then Windham Hill Records, but a 1986 appearance at Fairport Convention’s annual reunion festival rekindled Matthews’ interest in performing. His retirement turned into merely a five-year hiatus, culminating with Walking a Changing Line (1988), an album dedicated solely to the songs of singer/songwriter Jules Shear.

The late ’80s saw another move for Matthews, this time to Austin, Texas, where he worked on and off with Walking a Changing Line co-producer Mark Hallman. The next decade would be Matthews’ most productive stretch since the late ’60s/early ’70s, with the release of five solo studio albums, as well as three with the re-formed Plainsong, one with the band Hamilton Pool, and a handful of live recordings. It also proved to be his most fruitful period as a writer. The ’90s also saw the release of various collections of odds and ends, including three volumes of rarities and unreleased material entitled Orphans & Outcasts.

As the ’90s came to an end, Matthews continued to stay busy, floating from project to project, recording on his own, as well as with others. Tiniest Wham was issued in early 2000, as was the Sandy Denny tribute Secrets All Told with the one-off band No Grey Faith. A collaboration with singer/songwriter Elliott Murphy (La Terre Commune) followed in 2001.

Throughout the 2000s Matthews stayed active, releasing a handful of live albums while also stretching out into unfamiliar territory and collaborations. With the Searing Quartet, he explored jazz on the 2008 album Joy Mining. He made duet albums with Egbert Derix and Ad Van Der Veen, as well as two records with the Nick Vernier Band, including a 2010 LP called Time Will Show the Wiser that also showcased Emitt Rhodes. He also cut a record with Plainsong in 2003 and one with Matthews Southern Comfort in 2010. In the early days of 2014, he released The Art of Obscurity, which he called his final solo album; he wasn’t planning to retire but rather to cease making solo records.

Mother Truckers

The Mother Truckers are a kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll band from Austin, Texas! Their music is high-octane Americana, blending elements of Country and Blues with loud guitars, big choruses and powerhouse vocals. Their creative songwriting and high energy live performances lift you up to a place that’s somewhere between a honky-tonk and a mosh-pit!

The core of the group is the singing songwriting team of Josh Zee and Teal Collins.

Josh Zee (vocals/lead guitar) has recorded 2 major label records on the SONY/Work label as the singer/guitarist and songwriter for the Rock group “Protein”. They toured extensively throughout the U.S. on “The Warped Tour” and also toured Europe and Japan as part of MTV Asia Summer Fest.

Teal Collins (vocals/ukulele/guitar) Teal’s early introduction to music was through her dad, famous Jazz disc jockey Al, “Jazzbeaux” Collins. Teal has recorded sessions for Grammy award winning producers Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston) and Stephen Bray (Madonna). Teal has also received Gold and Platinum albums for her work on Shanice (Motown records) and Third Eye Blind’s album Blue.

Josh and Teal formed the Mother Truckers in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2002 after meeting at a local open mic night. The Band recorded several self-released albums including fan favorite “Something Worth Dying for”.

In 2005, Josh and Teal moved their music to Texas, and set up shop in Austin, “The Live Music Capitol of the World”. There, they met local music scene veterans, Danny G (Bass) and Pete The Beat (Drums) who form The Mother Truckers powerhouse rhythm section. The band got a residency at the legendary Continental Club and quickly started drawing a large number of fans to their shows.

In 2007 they recorded their album “Broke, Not Broken” (Funzalo Records) at Ray Benson’s Bismeaux Studios in South Austin. The album was met with critical acclaim and received airplay nationwide. The Austin American Statesman’s Michael Corcoran placed the album on his top 10 list of the year as did the Village Voice’s Chuck Eddy. At SXSW The Austin Music Awards named The Mother Truckers “Best Roots Rock Band Of The Year”.

In 2008, The Mother Truckers released “Let’s All Go To Bed” (Funzalo Records) which was responded to immediately by the fans, the press, and multiple XM/Sirius satellite stations, Including “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” where the Truckers’ single “Streets of Atlanta” was picked as one of the “Coolest Songs in The World” . They also had many TV and film placements including HBO’s “True Blood” Series, feature film “Touching Home” with Ed Harris, and feature film “Wake” with Jane Seymour.

Now, in 2010, the band has a brand-new album “Van Tour”. An instant classic of in-your-face, touring band, rock and roll imagination!LITTLE STEVEN’S UNDERGROUND GARAGE

*the Mother Truckers song “SUMMER OF LOVE” has been chosen as one of the “Coolest Songs in the World” on the “Little Steven’s Underground Garage ” SIRIUS Satellite radio show.  2008’s “STREETS OF ATLANTA” was also chosen for this same distinction. Once again, Michael Corcoran from The Austin American Statesman has responded with high praise~ “… The Mother Truckers have penned an instant pop classic with ‘Keep It Simple’ from their new ‘Van Tour’ CD. The Tune, featuring Teal Collins’ sensational soaring vocals, has a nostalgic top 40 radio feel. Zee and Collins are probably the most talented guitarist/vocals tandem in Austin”.

The Mother Truckers will continue their “Van Tour” this Summer in the U.S., with a European tour in September!

Kris McKay

Following the dissolution of Austin roots rockers the Wild Seeds, co-lead vocalist Kris McKay struck out on her own for an intermittent recording career as a rootsy acoustic troubadour. A onetime drama student at the University of Texas, McKay had joined Michael Hall’s Wild Seeds — essentially an Americana band before the term came into vogue — in late 1987, just as the group was wrapping up work on their first full-length album, Brave, Clean & Reverent. She served primarily as a backing vocalist on the follow-up, 1988’s Mud, Lies & Shame, but was showcased as a lead singer on the album closer “All This Time.” When the Wild Seeds disbanded in 1989, McKay scored a solo deal with Arista, and released her debut album What Love Endures in 1990. Filled primarily with covers, the album failed to find an audience, hurt in part by the fact that adult alternative radio was not yet a widespread format. Arista dropped her, and McKay endured some long, lean years, working sporadically as a session singer while continuing to perform in the Austin area. Finally, in 1996, she resurfaced on the Shanachie label with her second album, Things That Show. A mix of seven covers and four originals, Things That Show featured a duet with Matthew Sweet on “How Cool,” as well as a distinctive reading of the English Beat’s new wave classic “Save It for Later.” McKay continued to work as a session singer and remained active around Austin until moving to Los Angeles; still, she played at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival in 1998 and 2000.

Dave McNair

Dave McNair is listed online as a mastering professional, so I’m not sure what he did at the CH. However, since he’s listed there, here’s a video about that!