While it may seem inevitable that every musician eventually puts out a Christmas album, it took Kerry Patrick Clark more than 30 years to finally get to his. In part, it’s because he didn’t want to merely record variations of the same traditional songs. Instead, he had to let time do what time does best—cultivate life experiences, deepen relationships, hone talent and develop courage.
These are just some of the things Kerry needed in order to create an album that reflects his own experience of Christmas, which is far more than merely exulting the joy and glory of the season. “I believe in Christmas and what it stands for—peace, grace, an experience of the sacred—but that doesn’t mean I’m not also cynical, sad, frustrated, angry and intolerant. Every time I heard a new Christmas album I thought, ‘why isn’t there one that addresses the challenges of the season or tells the birth story in maybe a more profound way?’ So I decided to do that. Combine the Christian and the secular, the cynical and the sacred.”
The result is Kerry’s latest album, The Heart of Christmas, which is available now here. Recently, KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste talked with Kerry via Skype. They reminisce about the traditions of Christmas music, the way in which this album embraces, yet differs from those traditions, and the challenging process of producing an album that was 30 years in the making.
How many ways are there for a performing songwriter to “make it?”
You could hit the Top 40, as Ed Sheeran did.
A big-name recording artist could cover one of your songs, like when country superstar Dierks Bentley made Travis Meadows‘ song “Riser” the title track of his last album.
For Americana singer-songwriter Lauren Adams, it was when she met a fan who had tattoo’ed a line from one of her songs onto her foot. “I’ve shared the stage with some pretty big names and even had my song in a major motion picture but this girl’s foot is easily the most satisfying milestone of my career,” she said with a chuckle.
That kind of audience appreciation is what keeps an artist going in the absence of big-time success. From her first guitar lesson as a Florida teenager to her arrival in Los Angeles to her new album, Somewhere Else, Adam’s has always kept going.
Adams’ musical journey began on the stage of the world-famous Troubadour in West Los Angeles with a performance that was so tentative, she was completely caught off guard by the waves of applause. “The response was so positive,” she said, “that I realized, ‘Hey, I could actually do this.’” That was summer of 1978, when the club still hosted its open-mic “Hoot Night,” where songwriters could get up and play a few.
Since that time, Adams has opened shows for Leon Russell in Fort Lauderdale and for Rita Coolidge in Southern California; Gigged regularly (some would say “relentlessly”) at clubs and festivals across California, Texas, Colorado, and in Nashville, Tennessee; Released three albums of her own songs; Had her song “Thirsty” featured in the Lion’s Gate film Peaceful Warrior (starring Nick Nolte); And she has hosted LA’s longest-running Americana music event, the Americana Song Circle for 10 years.
On her newest album, Somewhere Else, Adams delivers quality songwriting in the Carol King/Eagles/Lucinda Williams vein: deep Americana roots and vivid storytelling delivered by a group of tasteful, compassionate players including her producer and friend Nick Kirgo (Nels Kilne of Wilco, JD Souther, Vonda Shepard, Pocket Goldberg and Dave Fraser).
Recently, KC Cafe Radio Music Director Kathy Forste talked with Adams via Skype. They talked about growing up with music in her life, brushing with greatness at the Trroubadour, and the uniquely rewarding connection she has been afforded between her life and her songs.
We conclude our coverage of the 2016 Folk Alliance Region West Music Conference with 2 interviews and a photo album featuring the sights of the 2016 conference. Our thanks go out to Mark Kaufman and Jeanette Lundgren, co-coordinators of the 2016 conference, as well as all of the members of the “Movers and Shakers Committee” for their invitation and cooperation that made our live and recorded coverage possible here on KC Cafe Radio. This was only our second year of covering this event, but was most certainly our most enjoyable and successful experience so far. Here we present you with 2 interviews recorded at the conference, and pictures representing our conference experience.
Our complete archived coverage from the conference is available here.
During the conference, Artist Relations Director Kathleen Coleman spoke with Britta Lee Shain, author of the book, Seeing the Real You at Last: Life and Love on the Road with Bob Dylan, released earlier this year published by Jawbone Press.
KC Cafe Radio’s live coverage from the Folk Alliance Region West conference concluded with an outstanding evening of original music representing Washington State, California, Iowa, and Oregon. Performances featured the talents of Jaspar Lepak, Rita Hosking and Sean Feder, Melanie Devaney,Claudia Russell & Bruce Kaplan, Nathan & Jessie, and Otter Creek. Here are the archived recordings of the performances:
Singer-songwriter Jaspar Lepak is best known for her bell-like voice and introspective storytelling. Sweeping across landscapes with an emotional depth that is extraordinary, her lyrics expose a brave vulnerability while her clear, pure voice touches the heart.
Hosking’s fierce and captivating country-folk voice narrates a working class legacy in songs and stories that span forest fires, culture clash, dishes, black holes and hope. Feder accompanies artfully on dobro and banjo. Their performances transform audiences and deliver authentic American folk music to stir the soul, awaken the senses and inspire action.
Classical training in piano and guitar, a degree in creative writing, and limitless curiosity combine to craft elegant, yet accessible, songs from personal experience and/or keen observations of the world and characters she encounters. Unapologetically, this rural-Iowa-bred singer-songwriter’s gentle mission is to create beauty and change the world one song at a time with compassion and understanding.
This duo has traversed a wide Americana landscape, tipping their hats to bluegrass bands, Village folkies, blues divas, jazz cats and singing cowboys. Claudia’s expressive voice and distinctive guitar style lend an unassailable authenticity to each genre. Bruce’s accompaniment, on mandolin and guitar, is the perfect polish. Their shows are warm and comfortable with a side of funny.
Delightful trilingual performances are a synchronous fusion of jazzy folk and blues on National Reso-Phonic guitars and accordion, with an interesting interplay between female and male vocals that always feels fresh and spontaneous. Often joined by Trevor Mulvey on upright bass, their shows are uplifting, fun, and bridge all ages and cultures. The duo travels worldwide.
The alchemy of patience, skill, artistry and humor presented by this charming duo with 10 instruments and 53 strings delights audiences who clamor for more. Touring coast to coast these married folkies spread their musical joy from house concerts to school assemblies to concert halls to folk radio and also license their music for TV shows.