Loudon Wainwright III, Dar Williams – Tickets – Aladdin Theater – Portland, OR – January 13th, 2013

Loudon Wainwright III, Dar Williams

Loudon Wainwright III

Dar Williams

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Aladdin Theater

Portland, OR

$30.00 adv/dos

Loudon Wainwright III
Loudon Wainwright III
2010 Grammy winner Loudon Wainwright III's new album Older Than My Old Man Now will be released on April 17 through 2nd Story Sound Records. Having now lived longer than his father, esteemed Life Magazine columnist and editor Loudon Wainwright Jr., Loudon examines life, family, and mortality with candor and humor on fifteen new original songs.

Loudon Wainwright III was born in Chapel Hill, NC in 1946. His father was Loudon Wainwright Jr., a columnist and senior editor for LIFE Magazine and his mother was a housewife/yoga teacher, Martha Taylor. He studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon University but dropped out to partake in the Summer of Love in San Francisco.

Loudon wrote his first song in 1968, "Edgar", about a Watch Hill, RI lobsterman, and was soon signed to Atlantic Records by Nesuhi Ertegun. Several years later, Clive Davis lured him to Columbia Records, where 1972's Album III yielded the top 20 hit "Dead Skunk".

His recording career spans a total of 23 albums, including 2009's Grammy-winning "High Wide & Handsome", a musical tribute to Charlie Poole (1893-1931), the legendary, yet obscure NC singer and banjo player. (Awarded 'Album of the Year' status by Entertainment Weekly editor and NPR contributor Ken Tucker.)

Wainwright has collaborated with songwriter /producer Joe Henry on the music for Judd Apatow's hit movie "Knocked Up", written music for the British theatrical adaptation of the Carl Hiaasen novel "Lucky You," and composed topical songs for NPR's "Morning Edition", "All Things Considered" and ABC's "Nightline". Loudon Wainwright songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Earl Scruggs, Rufus Wainwright, and Mose Allison, among others.

Loudon's acting career includes an early recurring role as Capt. Calvin Spalding, the singing surgeon, in TV's M.A.S.H. and a stint in "Pump Boys & Dinettes" on Broadway, and more recent work in films directed by Hal Ashby, Tim Burton, Cameron Crowe, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Guest, and Judd Apatow. He also appeared as a regular in Apatow's critically acclaimed TV series "Undeclared."
Dar Williams
Dar Williams
"With every album, I'm trying to figure out what I don't have to say, while still giving each song its due," Dar Williams says. Of her latest album, _Promised Land_, Williams commented, "On this one, I was paring the stories down to their core. I wanted the songs to sound simple and down to what they were meant to be, which is hard to do. It takes a lot of knowledge to get to the point where you can say what you need to say — no more, no less."

To peel her insightful, melodic story-songs down to their essence, as well as inject them with the energy and momentum they clearly called for, Williams enlisted Brad Wood, a Grammy-nominated producer and musician known for his work with rock singer-songwriters Liz Phair, Pete Yorn, and Ben Lee. "Dar was looking to try something different and get out of her comfort zone," Wood says. "She had made a number of records and it seemed like a good time, career-wise, for her to make a change. I was flattered that she thought to ask me to help. Her voice is so great that you can do just about anything behind her and it's going to sound cool!"

Personally inspired by the spindly live feel of late '70s/early '80s albums by The Police, Elvis Costello, and the Pretenders, Wood manages to make Williams' elegant, worldly songs sound visceral and urgent, while preserving the integrity and emotion that have been hallmarks of her sound (along with a beautifully intimate, bell-clear voice) since Williams began playing out on the Northeast singer-songwriter circuit in the early '90s.

"Brad understood the songs and gave them the space they needed," Williams says. "I love that clean, straightforward sound he gets." And so Promised Land includes several immediately engaging toe-tappers, such as "It's Alright," "The Easy Way," "Buzzer," and "Go to the Woods," as well as Williams' trademark thoughtful balladry, including the keenly felt "Book of Love," "The Tide Falls Away," and "You Are Everyone."

There are also two covers, Fountains of Wayne's "Troubled Times" ("I'm a sucker for a tragic protagonist conveyed through what seems like a really pleasant pop song," Williams says) and "Midnight Radio" from the stage musical and film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, whose soundtrack Wood produced, though Williams says he had nothing to do with her choosing to record the song. "Midnight Radio" was written by composer Stephen Trask, an old friend of Williams' from her college years. "Stephen and I go way back. He wrote a song for a student film I was in where I played a dancing potato," she recalls with a laugh. "But we also go way back in that spiritual sense, so I always wanted to do that song."

Throughout, _Promised Land _brims with the renewed vigor that Williams clearly felt working with a new producer and group of musicians, including Better Than Ezra drummer Travis McNabb, who adds a welcome bounce and spring to the proceedings, and noted multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz, who has played with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Wilco, and Sheryl Crow. Other guest musicians include Williams' pals Marshall Crenshaw (guitars on "It's Alright"), Suzanne Vega (backing vocals on "Go to the Woods") and Gary Louris from The Jayhawks ("The Tide Falls Away").

In the past, Williams' songwriting has located the personal in such universal topics as politics, religion, sexuality, and family. This time, rather than tie the songs together around any particular theme, Williams presents a collection of disparate stories and characters. She writes about trying to be open to major life change on "It's Alright," trying to take the high road in past relationships on "The Easy Way," the perspective that comes with age on "The Tide Falls Away," and the Milgram obedience experiment that took place at Yale University in the '60s on "Buzzer" ("a subject I have been obsessed with since reading about it when I was 18"). However, Williams, a wife and mother of a four-year-old son, did find what she calls "the high seas of parenthood" influencing several of the songs, which she began writing after she finished her second children's book Lights, Camera, Amalee (published by Scholastic in July 2006).

"I'll go through a day where the only people I'll talk to are my husband, my son, and the person behind the counter at CVS," she says, "but being a parent has pushed me out into my town too. It connects me to all the stuff that I care about, but on a local level, like politics, the environment, one's town, and all the interesting personalities in it. I'm interested in those stories. I see them connecting to the big picture of how people approach life. I think that's in the songs."

Williams' passion for the big picture has led to a long-held connection to social and environmental issues, which she nurtures by getting involved with various projects, including community gardening and lobbying for renewable energy in the upstate New York town where she lives. "I'm as green as you get for what I do for a living, which require, you know, things like flying," she says. "I think about the environment all the time. The biggest deal to me right now is trying to get my town's elementary and middle schools to look at geothermal as an option," she says. Williams' other passions include local-food movements and arts outreach with kids. She will often perform at benefits in small towns that are struggling to save a local theater, bookstore, or farmer's market. "I love to get into these places and learn about their battles," she says. "In my mind, this country is like a patchwork of towns filled with people hanging out, growing gardens, listening to music, and talking about important stuff. In a way, that's what the album title is about. I found myself making a distinction between the _Promised Land _we claim and the actual promise of the land that we try to live up to. "

Williams' growth as a person over her 15-year career has gone hand-in-hand with her evolution as an artist. Raised in Chappaqua, NY, and educated at Wesleyan University, Williams spent 10 years living in the thriving artistic community of Northampton, MA, where she began to make the rounds on the coffeehouse circuit. An early fan of her music was Joan Baez, who took Williams out on the road and recorded several of her songs. Williams self-released her debut album, _The Honesty Room_ in 1993, then signed with Razor & Tie Entertainment in 1995, which has been her label home ever since. She has released one live album — _Out There Live_ (2001); six studio albums — _The Honesty Room_ (1993), _Mortal City_ (1996), _End of the Summer_ (1997), _The Green World_ (2000), _The Beauty of the Rain_ (2003), and _My Better Self_ (2005); and one live DVD — _Live at Bearsville Theater_ (2007).

Through it all, Williams' motivation as an artist is to "experience meaning without fooling myself," she says. "There are these moments where everything feels connected, and I think my art is about trying to find the stories that make us feel connected. That's the verve of my life. It's what keeps things interesting."