Nashville's Hannah Aldridge and Lilly Hiatt co-headline at Atlanta's Red Light Café! Special guests Sara Rachele and Liz Brasher open the show.
$7 Adv – $10 Door
Doors @ 7 PM
Hannah Aldridge is steeped in the music both of Nashville and Muscle Shoals, the two cities where she was raised as her father — a Muscle Shoals legend as well as a much-honored Nashville songwriter, musician and producer — plied his craft. Her musical youth was spent being trained to be a classical pianist. She didn’t begin writing songs until, as a 21-year-old sound-engineering student at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN she took a songwriting class as an elective. “I literally thought we were going to learn how to write songs,” she says. After discovering students were expected already to have written songs, she turned to her dad for help. “I found out it really wasn’t that hard: It’s just saying things that are true and making them rhyme,” says the young woman who began her performing career at Nashville’s most famous singer-songwriter venue, The Bluebird Café, after she was among students chosen to represent MTSU in a showcase. “It was so wild: I had gotten picked out of all those people who wanted to be songwriters.” She sang her entire three-song catalog that night. Two years later, Hannah signed a publishing deal after her song “Lonesome” was featured on the “Hart of Dixie” television series. “That song has been a launching pad for me,” she says.
“Dark Americana,” is how the daughter of Muscle Shoals' royalty describes the ghostly, unflinching, sometimes gritty tales that separate her 10-song Razor Wire collection from the mainstream. The title song —reprised as an acoustic “bonus” at CD’s end — is evidence of how this daughter of Shoals' tunesmith and icon, Walt Aldridge uses her stark poetic soul to visit life’s dark corners. The song is a lust-and-melancholy retelling of the day she took her wedding ring to a pawn shop and then “was sitting around in a bar with a guy I met there. It’s 100 percent real.” While in some ways the song — the arms and bed of the barfly is eventual salve for love lost — is reminiscent of classic country standards about marital heartache and sexual healing, it demonstrates the raw musical texture and lyrics flavoring her entire album.
Hannah's song “Black and White,” is inspired by her 6-year-old son, Jackson (named for musical hero Jackson Browne). “I have a picture of my little boy, Jackson, in black-and-white. He's playing guitar and smiling. I wish I could go back to those black-and-white days, when a box of rocks beneath the bed was cause for joy," she says. Then there is “Lie Like You Love Me,” a sort of “For the Good Times” song of sex that’s flavored with imagery of addiction: “I miss you like morphine straight to my veins.” “Howlin’ Bones” is an angry declaration of independence. “You thought I was a dirty scoundrel, but you've done cross the devil now,” she proclaims in the song she says set the mood for her raw Nashville analogue sessions…"nobody is going to tell me what to say.” “Lonesome,” Razor Wire’s final track (save for the title song’s reprise) -- a bitter mood piece about her parents’ divorce – not only explains her against-the-grain musical quest but closes the album out in appropriate melancholia. “I can’t put my finger on it, I don’t who’s to blame, but the one thing that I’m sure of is lonesome goes both ways”.
Lilly Hiatt’s a young woman wise beyond her years. Listen. You’ll hear.
Hiatt’s songs back equal measures edge (“3 Days”) and energy (“Big Bad Wolf”) with stunning lyrical elegance. Clear evidence: The Nashville resident’s buoyant Let Down. Hiatt’s seamless debut fortifies earthy (“Master”) and ethereal narratives (“Oh Mister”) with storytelling as sharp as a seasoned songwriter (“Young Black Rose”). Youthful restlessness guides the journey. “There was a self-loathing theme throughout all those songs, hence the title,” the 28-year-old explains. “It had a lot to do with being in the first half of my twenties and being in this transition from child to grownup. It’s kind of like hitting puberty again.”
If discovery defines early adulthood, Hiatt certainly spent fair time seeking out songwriters far and wide to shape her own vision. “John Prine’s always a good place to go for inspiration for writing,” she says. “I really like early Liz Phair and Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt and Neil Young and I’m obsessed with Pearl Jam.” Accordingly, the rapidly rising songwriter’s new collection soars with wild diversity. Hiatt moves and grooves between country-folk (“Championship Fighter”) and gnashing Crazy Horse rock and roll (“Angry Momma”) with an ease that boldly suggests all songs arrive branded within a single and uncompromising genre: Music.
“When people ask me, I usually end up saying I play ‘spacey country,’” she says, “but the lyrics and the band aspect are equally important to me. To me, it’s just singer-songwriter stuff with an emphasis on the band. I guess I’d put it in the indie or Americana or country category, but I’m just as big a fan of rock and roll. That’s what I’m trying to get at eventually.” Either way, Hiatt’s endless lyrical and musical searching scarcely wavers throughout Let Down.
Rewind “Knew You Were Coming.” Now, turn up the volume. Words dampen stereo speakers with tears so painful and pure. “And I felt like a woman, working and trying to fill in the blanks that come with someone dying,” she sings on the perfectly circular coming-of-age confessional, a song written as sharply as Lucinda Williams and sung as sweetly as Patty Griffin. “And I knew you were coming and I knew I was ready, but the hills were on fire and the heat was so steady.” Fighting through angst. Sounds like an Americana songwriting icon we all know whose composure, as Lilly sings, sometimes “turns to country gravel.”
His name: John Hiatt. Lilly’s bond with her father runs deep. “My dad definitely serves as one of my biggest inspirations,” she says. “I really look up to him. I draw from his music. He’s my hero and always has been and he’s very good for advice. When I was younger, he’d treat it more delicately but now he shoots pretty straight with me. He doesn’t hesitate to give constructive criticism. He’s really supportive and sweet and roots for me.” Her father’s irascible wisdom (“People Don’t Change”) frequently appears on the new album, but Lilly’s hardly a facsimile.
In fact, the collection undeniably shows that she’s an accomplished songwriter in her own right. After all, Lilly’s been writing original songs more than half her life (since age twelve). Let Down only serves as her first official declaration of personal independence and purpose. “To listen to Lilly, you can hear a young artist discovering herself,” says the abum’s producer Doug Lancio (Patty Griffin, Todd Snider, Jack Ingram). “She also has a terrific sense of humor, listens attentively and draws from diverse music, creating a style that is personal and distinctly her own.”
She’s ready to tell the world. “I finished this record over a year ago,” Lilly says. “I’m so emotionally attached to it. I’ve never made a whole record before and I felt really invested in the whole process. All I want to do is get on the road. If I can make any sort of living, even if I live in a tiny house, I would feel pretty great. I want to play live shows and share the record with anyone who wants to hear. I’ve worked in a coffee shop for six years and that’s fine, but I get restless and I like to get out.”
Recorded in her hometown of Atlanta, the NYC-based Sara Rachele’s debut, Diamond Street, rides out slow and dark as a jet-black 1960s Chrysler New Yorker. The live-to-tape LP—produced by Kristofer Sampson (B-52s, Balkans, Coathangers)—was recorded in just two days, and captures the East Village nightlife of a young songwriter in a timeless, vibrant rock ’n’ roll statement. Diamond Street’s sparkling lo-fi charms span the decades, Rachele channeling everything from classic Fleetwood Mac and Petty’s Heartbreakers to Lucinda Williams and David Lynch muse Julee Cruise.
Of working with producer Sampson (who plays in New West Records band Ponderosa), Rachele says, “He’s a real studio vet—he’s got patience with songs, and he challenged me. He really took the sound to a new place without it seeming disingenuous, and I think that it shows in the record.”
The daughter of a baby-boomer painter and Italian/Slovak immigrant, Rachele (pronounced ra-kelly) grew up a studio rat and folk child. Working for free cleaning out the cupboards at famed Atlanta acoustic hotspot Eddie’s Attic, she met countless musicians and writers and fell into bands as a side-player before she even knew how to write a song. While still a teenager, she met Virgin Records artist Hope Partlow and guitarist Ryan Wilson, and became backing vocalist and keyboard player for The Love Willows, who promptly signed to Decca / Universal, writing and recording with producer Mike Daly (Whiskeytown, Lana Del Ray, Grace Potter).
Eventually, though, Rachele decided to leave behind The Love Willows’ bubblegum pop sound, moved to Boston and enrolled for a time at Berklee College of Music, before dropping out to live in her newly adopted home of New York City. Inspired by its long history of seedy bohemian songwriters and poets, and by the energy of the city itself, Rachele filled up journals with her ramblings and penned ballad after ballad as she roamed the coffeehouses & nightclubs of the East Village, trading innocence for experience. Word spread quickly about her passionate delivery, her honest, unadorned lyrics and her uniquely Southern sound. Along with sidekick and fellow Atlanta expat Charlotte Kemp Muhl (with Sean Lennon, half of Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger), Rachele found a home—musical and otherwise—in New York.
"For such a big city, New York can be a pretty small town," Rachele says. "I saw an ex across Houston Street once—he was playing a show I think, everyone always is, you lose track. But I remember running across four lanes of traffic—just seeing him, turning, and running through the East Village. No one ever leaves you in New York. You still have to learn how to know them. It’s the continuousness of it all—nothing every really ends. And the cabbies just know to get out of the way—’cause at any moment some heartbroken woman might run out into the street."
While in New York, Rachele befriended veteran music photographer Perry Julien, who was intrigued by and shot portraits of Rachele at The Chelsea Hotel, that sacred place of rock lore. Her session with Julien was one of the haunt’s final photo shoots before it closed its doors to guests. Rachele’s images from The Chelsea Hotel—once home to Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith & The Sex Pistols—have been featured in SXSE photomag, Creative Loafing, and art galleries up and down the East Coast. She and Julien’s collaborations were published in Julien’s book Secrets (2013), and forthcoming Chelsea Hotel photo book Guests. Rachele is a photographer herself, her work having appeared in Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan, Creative Loafing and Stereogum.
In addition to producer Sampson, Rachele’s new debut Diamond Street features the musical contributions of budding folk hound J. Thomas Hall (New West imprint Normaltown Records) as well as a cast of Atlanta-based heavy hitters including Lightnin’ Ray Jackson (Washed Out, Gringo Star), Spencer Pope (Ocha La Rocha), Spencer Garn (Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics) and Snowden’s Chandler Rentz. Diamond Street represents the gorgeous clash of Rachele’s folk-centric upbringing and her beat rock & roll adventures in New York City. With five years of stories under her belt, she has created a moody musical pulp, resounding with smoky memories of ambling city nights.
From the time she could talk Liz Brasher was placing words to melodies. Originating from Charlotte NC, the storytelling, sounds, and rawness of the South flow through her songs. She began playing live in high school, but it wasn't until moving to Chicago for college that she realized the talent she possessed in songwriting. While forming a band in Chicago for a short time, she met her drummer, Phillip Potter, who would encourage her to pursue a solo career and contact Producers to record her songs.
Through a beautiful series of events she was connected to Mark Neill (Grammy award winning Producer/Engineer for The Black Keys "Brothers") and began recording with him August 2013 at his Soil of the South Studios in Valdosta, GA. This led to her desire to move back to the South in pursuit of every sound she was raised to love. She is currently in Atlanta, GA performing, writing, and recording her first solo album. Whether it's playing the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, or the piano, the most empowering trait to her music is her large voice. By echoing soul singers of the past (Aretha Franklin, Bill Withers, Etta James, Otis Redding, Dusty Springfield) incorporating americana, folk, and country songwriting styles (Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Bobbie Gentry, Son House, Lead Belly, Loretta Lynn) and adding a rock infused edge (Jack White, Norman Greenbaum, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles) she creates songs that reflect the great attributes of music history while constantly moving towards the future.