Lori McKenna

This past year the whispers quickly spread and music fans in Boston soon discovered a 29 year old mother of three from the south shore of Massachusetts. To describe the musical texture and sound of Lori McKenna, imagine blending the sincerity of Nanci Griffith, the heart of Lucinda Williams, and the raw power of Patty Griffin, with the clarity of Sinead O'Connor. The Boston Globe writes: "more than any young songwriter on the scene today, her work carries that stirring blend of stark intimacy and universality that marks the folk form at its finest. She brings embracing real-life aesthetic to her emotionally searing love songs. The love she considers is never just the yearning ache of courtship, but also the needy love of a child and the furiously pure and protective love of a mother, all somehow expressed as a single defining life force."

In March of 1998, Lori McKenna quietly unveiled her self-released debut CD, Paper Wings & Halo. By December, the critical praise was overwhelming. Her CD was selected as one of the Top 10 albums of 1998 by The Boston Globe and heralded as "the most impressive local debut since Dar Williams' The Honesty Room." The listeners and staff at WUMB 91.9 FM in Boston then voted Lori new artist of the year, in April she took home the Boston Music Award for Outstanding Debut Contemporary Folk Act, and in May she won the Boston Lilith Fair talent search, which snagged her a spot on this year's Lilith Fair Boston show.

As Lori continues to gain critical acclaim and wow audiences in the Northeast, her fan base is spreading across the US and even abroad, based almost exclusively on word-of-mouth. Music fans in Boston have a precious secret about an authentic, compelling songwriter with a bold new voice and they're just about ready to share her with the world.

'Lori McKenna is the most exciting new artist I have seen in years. I can't recall a performer who has moved me more.'
- Matt Smith, Club Passim

'Love her songs, love her voice, made her promise to let me be her opening act when she becomes famous."
- Don White

Pieces Of Me
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What can you say about a woman who comes out of nowhere and in the span of a few years, puts out two of the greatest records ever? Lori McKenna stunned the music world with her debut CD "Paper Wings & Halo" and has come back to release a record surpassing and expectations you thought possible. "Pieces of Me" is a collection of 11 songs, and there's not a dud in the bunch. You can't even listen and say that a few of the tracks are "okay." Each song leaps off of this album and tells you that you aren't listening to Just another record - what you are listening to is important. If you are to get any album this year, let it be this one. "Pieces of Me" sets a new standard - the bar has been raised, and Lori McKenna is sitting at the top of it. McKenna's new CD is masterfully produced by Crit Harmon and she is joined by a who's who of the best in singer-songwriters includingEllis Paul, Richard Shindell, Jennifer Kimball, Meghan Toohey and Kris Delmhorst.

Song Listing:

  1. Mars
  2. Never Die Young
  3. God Will Thank You
  4. This Fire
  5. Fireflies
  6. Girl Like Me
  7. Instead
  8. Pink Sweater
  9. Deserving Song
  10. Pieces Of Me
  11. You Are Loved

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Paper Wings & Halo
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Song Listing:
  1. As I Am
  2. What's One More Time
  3. Paper Wings & Halo
  4. Ruby's Shoes
  5. Would You Love Me Then
  6. Hardly Speaking A Word
  7. It's Easy When You Smile
  8. Paying The Price
  9. Swallows Me Whole
  10. Don't Tell Her
  11. Holy Water
  12. Never Be Back
  13. Borrow Me

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Jess Klein

“Jess Klein grabs an emotional subject, wrestles it to the ground, makes it cry or moan with passion, then rises demurely, dusts herself off, and gives the audience a big, sweet grin. We’ve seen the future and it is Jess.” [Marilyn Rae Beyer, Music Director, WUMB 91.9 fm, Boston]. Perhaps this is why Klein was nominated for a 1998 Boston Music Award, Best New Contemporary Folk Act, even with her debut cd yet to be released. A relatively new artist, she is already receiving voluminous praise from audiences, the press and her peers. The Boston Globe calls her “a soulful dynamo . . .vibrant”, and The Boston Phoenix insists, “If you haven’t seen Klein play, you’re doing yourself a disservice.” When her cd, Wishes Well Disguised, produced by Crit Harmon (Martin Sexton’s Black Sheep) was released in June, 1998, she celebrated the occasion with two sold out shows at the legendary Club Passim in Boston, MA.

The growing reputation of Jess’s live shows has led to her performing at many well-known venues. In the past year, she has performed at The Somerville Theatre, Somerville, MA, The Bowery Ballroom, New York City, The House of Blues, Cambridge, MA, The Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA, The Songstreet Winter Folk Festival, Cambridge’s Oktoberfest, and First Night celebrations in greater Boston. Word of Jess’s talent has begun to spread outside of the northeast as well. She was selected as a finalist in the nationwide Telluride Troubador Songwriting Contest and her song, “The Wading Pool” was included on The Best of Unsigned Acoustic Music 1998, a cd compilation given to all attendees of The National Folk Alliance Conference. She also performed at the Regional and National Folk Alliance Conferences in Pennsylvania and Memphis and is planning a west coast tour for fall’98.

From her first solo performance at an artists’ session in Kingston, Jamaica, while on a college study abroad program, Jess has garnered praise and loyalty from audiences. After the host, author Lady Elean Thomas declared, “She have soul, man,” there was no turning back. Songwriting and teaching herself guitar became an effective outlet for reconciling homesickness with a newfound love of a foreign land. With the encouragement of new friends, Jess soon found a niche among Kingston’s musicians and poets. For Jess, songwriting was the natural evolution of many years of short-story writing and formal musical training. A veteran of college a cappella groups, high school theatre and thirteen years of clarinet, saxophone and ballet recitals, she adapted quickly to the interactive performance/audience relationship of the folk world. After returning to the states, Jess honed her craft while opening for many Boston-based and national acts who came to perform at her college, such as Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams, Disappear Fear and Martin Sexton. Upon graduation from college, she moved to Boston to soak up more of the fertile songwriter scene that had produced many of her early influences. She quickly rose up through the open mic circuit, catching the attention of promoters and music fans alike. Within a year of her arrival she was included on the nationally distributed acclaimed cd compilation, This is Boston, Not Austin (Vol. 2) [Eastern Front Records, 1997]. Her track, “Everybody’s Crazy” is frequently requested on New England radio stations, and has been tracked in Alabama, Colorado, and many places in between.

Still a short story writer at the core, Klein constructs her songs so that the listener immediately feels engaged by the narrator’s situation and is often carried through the tale by the rich imagery of a single extended metaphor. The Boston Phoenix notes, “Her lyrical prowess evokes the smooth, focused trajectory of a short story.” She also has a refreshing flare for catchy melodies, and a voice that has been described as “sharp yet soulful.” The newsletter for a Boston venue noted, “Her incisive lyrics are accessible, she’s true to her art and she’s entertaining. And what a voice! Pressed for a description, one might say it’s a cross between Dolly Parton and Aretha Franklin.” The Tam Notes.

Having sold over 1,200 copies of her self-produced cassettes, “Flattery”, and “Jess Klein Live” and having built a mailing list of over 2,000, Jess and her fans are very proud of her debut cd, which is just beginning to get radioplay in the Northeast and which has already made her many new fans. Jess is currently joining forces with fifteen other songwriters such as Catie Curtis, Merrie Amsterberg, and Jennifer Kimball to create RESPOND, a cd compilation to benefit women’s shelters in Boston.

Voices on the Verge Live in Philadelphia
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1. Intro
2. Heaven Release Us
3. Hunger
4. Blackbirds
5. House You're Living In
6. Didn't They?
7. Louise
8. Thom II
9. Little White Dove
10. Softly Moses
11. Long Island Sound
12. You Don't Know
13. I'll Be Alright

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Draw Them Near
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  1. Little White Dove
  2. Goodbye, Goodbye
  3. Ireland Klein
  4. Cloud Song
  5. Love Is Where You Find It
  6. Song For An Angel
  7. I Tried
  8. I Sure Would
  9. Springtime Klein
  10. Open Me Klein
  11. I'll Be Alright
  12. Draw Them Near
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Wishes Well Disquised
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  1. Angelina
  2. The Clud Song
  3. Solid Ground
  4. The Wading Pool
  5. Romeo
  6. Pressure
  7. No One Would Believe
  8. Me
  9. Favorite Shade Of Blue
  10. Soldier
  11. Strong Enough
  12. Enough Room For The
  13. Sun
  14. Another Man Done
  15. Gone

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Rachel Bissex

Called "a voice to watch" by the Boston Globe, Rachel Bissex is known throughout the Northeast for her personal yet powerful performances. She has appeared on the bill with Shawn Colvin, Joan Armatrading, Arlo Guthrie, Little Feat, Jonathan Edwards, Ray Charles, and many others, and has performed all over the country. Her music ranges from the political to subtle observations about life.

A review from Vic's Music Corner at http://www.dc.net/vheyman/

Reba and I first became aware of the rare talent of Vermont-based Rachel Bissex at Falcon Ridge this past year. We participated in the showcase selection under the superb leadership of Sonny Ochs and we were all impressed with Rachel's 1995 album Don't Look Down (Alcazar 121). We were even more impressed with her live performance at Falcon Ridge and later in gigs in the DC area. Rachel has 40 years behind her now, and they have helped produce strong performing talents and the ability to choose between her own songs and covers of good songs by others. She performs alone with guitar, but her excellence shines especially when she gets a chance to interact with other performers (she did a wow of a job with Dana Robertson when we saw them together.) Don't Look Down was produced by husband Stephen Goldberg, a jazz musician in his own right. Joining Rachel are such talents as Chuck Brodsky and Catie Curtis. The album was recorded in Rachel's living room, which she called "No-Mow Studios" because she had to wait for her neighbors to quit mowing their lawns so she could record. She so liked the effect that her next album will be done the same way -- due out in late winter. The lead song is "Don't Look Down," featuring Rachel and Chuck Brodsky in a duet, accompanied by guitar, bass and pedal steel. The very different qualities of their voices make the duet work very effectively and it is a great song for track one. When I tried to dance with you and stepped all over your feet you said just one two three don't look down so I looked full in your face and met your wet and shining eyes and you said don't look away, stay with me. "Wildflowers" is a light frothy contrast to the lead love song with saxophone, trombone and a overdubs faintly in the background. As producer, Stephen Goldberg's jazz background influences much of the album, making it a more pop-folk sound than might have otherwise been expected. And Stephen is more than husband and producer, as Rachel relates in "Anchor". Sometimes the search for truth is a cupboard bare sometimes I light the brightest flare when I've looked but I can't find anyone who cares you're an anchor in my life. There are songs by Joni Mitchell (The Last Time I Saw Richard), Jackson Browne (Colors of the Sun), Carol Abair (Whistle me Dixie), and Leonard Cohen (A Singer Must Die). But the best song on the album is "Dancing With My Mother," written by Rachel: My mother stands in the living room of my childhood her arm outstretched as if trying to grasp the notes from Rosa Ponzelle on the stereo and the reject arm drops the next record and the Limelighters sing about morning on a thousand hills and she reaches for my hand and we touch and twirl and my brothers turn away and my mother's had a little too much wine but she teaches me about the joy and the desperation in music. This kind of openness and tenderness goes with a warm heart and a spirit of life that grows on you as you listen to Rachel Bissex.
-- Victor K Heyman

Don't Look Down
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  1. Don't Look Down
  2. Wallflowers
  3. Eve Of Construction
  4. Colors Of The Sun
  5. Oh Jackson
  6. Beauty In The Dark
  7. Whistle Me Dixie
  8. Toward The Ocean
  9. The Last Time I Saw
  10. Richard
  11. Leave It Open
  12. A Singer Must Die
  13. Anchor
  14. Dancing With My Mother
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Maureen Kelly

"Power and passion" are words that have been used to describe Maureen Kelly's voice and music. Maureen blends life experience with her R&B leanings and a love of folk to create her own sound in contemporary women's music.

Maureen was raised in a small town in Wyoming. "I remember the beauty of the land and all the things I could do as a young kid in rural America, but then there was adolescence..." Maureen began singing at a young age. When she was about 3 she presented her inspired rendition of "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley" and other classics like "Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home." Maureen was drawn to recording artists who could really get into the music, including Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Peter, Paul and Mary and, a little later, k.d. lang and Melissa Etheridge.

Maureen studied music, but decided to leave school, join a band and experience the real world. "I hit the road in a beat up '65 Chevy pickup, traveling around Alberta, Canada with 3 guys in the middle of winter. I knew I was in for a wild ride."

Since then Maureen has performed all over the US and much of the world. Including performances at The Amnesty International Poetry of Witness Concert and The Northwest Women's Music Festival.

While living and performing in LA her singing and songwriting ability caught the attention of song writer Burt Carol, manager Steve Binder, and harmonica player Lee Oskar who encouraged and helped her to record her own music.

Maureen now makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her partner and 2 very large dogs.

The combination of Maureen Kelly's lyrics, melodies and vocal performance is truly remarkable. When she sings people listen. Joe Puleo of WIDR radio said "..Never heard of her before, but I know I'll never forget her now."

Something Better Soon
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  1. The Distance
  2. Swept Away
  3. Something Better Soon
  4. Wild Wild Wind
  5. Sweet Reminder
  6. Soldier of Conscience
  7. Out on the Edge
  8. Lonely Town USA
  9. Can't Leave Love
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Yesterday's Child
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  1. Where the Road Will Lead Me
  2. Find Somebody
  3. American Heartland
  4. Yesterday's Child
  5. 2 Lives
  6. Next Door
  7. Give Me Your Poor
  8. Can't Hold a Candle
  9. Fades Away
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