Wednesday, April 22, 2009

MyJoog Artist: The Greencards

At the 2004 Austin City Limits Music Festival we had a chance to watch a little known group perform on a small, sparsely attended stage and thought, wow that band is really good. Sort of bluegrass, sort of Celtic; while neighboring attendees thought they were watching Nickle Creek. The next day we arrived early in order to catch Kelly Willis and who do we find supporting her, the same band from the previous day: The Greencards. We were sold. Since then we have attended several performances by the band and have practically destroyed their first three CDs (Viridian, Weather and Water, and Movin' On) from over use.

The Greencards are Carol Young, Kym Warner, and Eamon McLoughlin; who all found themselves in Austin at about the same time. Not that atypical, except Young and Warner are from Australia and McLoughlin is from the United Kingdom. Separately all were raised in households that listened to American roots and country music. But not American bluegrass, as Ms. Young relates, "bluegrass was very hard to find in Sydney". Young and Warner found success as country artists, but both foresaw limited options in their home countries. Independently, they set off for Austin were their musical tastes were more appreciated. The Greencards formed about six years ago and after their debut album Movin' On, still had to make ends meet as studio musicians. At the time we first witnessed their act, McLoughlin was also a supporting musician for Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis. Ms. Willis invited the band to perform a couple opening songs then had The Greencards accompany her for the remainder of the set. This was one of the most memorable sets we have witnessed over three years attending the ACL.

During this period, the band slowly started to click, however, there was still several lows that every artist experiences. As Ms Young describes, "... I remember was a very poorly attended show in Charlotte, NC, next to no one showed up. We climbed into the van after the show and drove to Annapolis, MD. The three of us were totally bummed out, no one was talking to one another and everyone was at rock bottom. Then my phone rang, it was our booking agent in Nashville. He said, 'Are you sitting down - you've just been asked to open for Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson on their 6 week summer tour in baseball stadiums.' We quickly changed our attitudes!" The highs and lows in the music industry. We actually attended one of these performances at the Bowie Baysox stadium. The stadium was jammed packed - great publicity.

Within the music industry, artists must continually tour in order to increase name recognition and support CD sales. The Greencards are no exception and have toured throughout the United States and on occasion have returned home to perform. Some of their favorite venues are the The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Nashville's Ryman Auditorium; Houston's McGonigel's Mucky Duck; the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis, Maryland; and the Sierra Nevada Tap Room in Chico, California. They will be performing at some of these venues, as well as some of our favorites (Jammin' Java and Knuckleheads) starting April 27th in support of their current CD, Fascination.

The band is very excited about this effort, particularly after spending more time writing and testing the material at bluegrass festivals before entering the studio. According to Warner, "Normally, we start writing a couple of weeks before recording ... and this time, we took eight or nine months”. Ms. Young believes it is their most focused CD and is more themed based than the previous. Each member "wrote differently, trying to create sound more like a unit ... starting with the title track, "Fascination." But don't worry; the CD portrays the bands trademark style - "after all we're still an acoustic band with fiddle, mandolin, guitar and bass".

We haven't listened to the CD, but will have our first taste at Merlefest, while we stalk the band during their multiple performances Saturday and Sunday. The trio are also looking forward to the festival, a chance to catch Linda Ronstadt on stage as well as the impromptu jam sessions that erupt when several artists find themselves in the same location. We can't wait - both their Merlefest sets and their April 27th show at Jammin' Java. Who knows we may even show up to the Rams Head Tavern on the 28th, Cafe 939 on the 30th.....

(Photo courtesy of The Greencards.)

No comments: