Singer, Songwriter slash Mom
Congress House All Stars (Day 7)
7th Aug 2014 Posted in: Blog, shopkeeper Comments Off on Congress House All Stars (Day 7)

Welcome to Day 7 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.


Buzzie is an Austin band fronted by John McElhenney, the former lead vocalist of Blue Cartoon who have been called “rootsy and emotional.” According to FUFKIN, also very affecting: “Love songs are just so much more effective when the singer sounds like he’s in love (or just had his heart broken).”

And by the way, their blog has so much interesting information about music and Austin in particular, you really ought to check it out.


David Byrne

Um, David Byrne? Do I need to introduce him?  After the Talking Heads, Byrne’s solo career has been diverse and fascinating. I got to see his powerpoint presentation at SXSW about the music business. He came to the Congress House to record the horns for his album Grown Backwards.

Here’s “Glad,” from that album, but what’s weird is that even though the horns are credited, I don’t hear them. Hats off to him for crediting who he hired even if he made a different final choice:

 Brandi Carlile & Susanna Choffel

Okay, I have scoured the internet to try to figure out what project these two worked on together at the Congress House, but it’s too late to email Mark, so I’m just going to talk about them separately.

Brandi Carlile: country music based, alternative artist who caught the attention of T Bone Burnett at a young age – songs on a GM commercial & Grey’s Anatomy, Rolling Stone’s 10 Artists to Watch in 2005, produced by Rick Rubin, dueted with Elton John. She names as her influences  Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Thom Yorke, k.d. lang, Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison – came out in 2005 and married in Massachusetts in 2012. Whew.

Brandi Carlile:

Susanna Choffel – I don’t even know how to describe her career. You have to read this.  But Chicago Sun-Times critic Jim DeRogatis wrote, at SXSW, that Choffel “impressed me more than any I’ve heard here with a unique sound equal parts Beat poetry, smoky soul grooves and indie-pop eccentricity. Think Feist meets Erykah Badu, with a hint of Tex-Mex seasoning.”[3]

Susannah Choffel – here she is on The Voice: