What do you do when your friends and fans routinely bug you for a tape of your songs? You put yourself in front of a microphone and record them, of course. Recently Anne Weiss did just that in the making of her new tape, Tomorrow's Gate. "People basically harassed me into making a tape," she laughs. "They'd stop me on the street and say,'Have you made that tape yet'" Anyone hearing Anne's new tape would have to agree that those people were right The only question is, what took so long?
Anne Weiss is an acoustic singer-songwriter whose vocal and guitar styles incorporate new folk, blues, and gospel. A resi- dent of Plain- field, VT, where she graduated from Goddard College in 1986, she recently moved to Burlington. In 1992 she opened for Richie Havens at U.V.M. and in 1993 she opened for Patty Larkin and Shawn Colvin on Geoff Bartley's Interstates album.
For the making of her new tape, Anne was able to enlist the help of some of the finest area acoustic musicians (and a few rockers, too). Dar Williams, Mary Goslant and Charlene Patterson helped with backing vocals; Keith Greeninger played acoustic guitar and sang harmony, and Jofus, with local worldbeat band Uproot, played bass. On many of the tracks, this core group was expanded to included Deb Venn on flute, Dave Keller on harmonica, Jamie Masefield on mandolin, Todd Sager on violin, and Alex Chirelstein on electric guitar, in various combinations. Percussion, when it was used, was covered by Phil Carr or Kenny Gulfield on drums and Tom Tintle on congas and rainstick. Despite the sheer number of musicians involved, all were able to back Weiss in a supportive manner and the tape's focus is always on Anne's voice and acoustic guitar.
Anne Weiss has a fluid alto voice, ranging from high Joni Mitchell-type trills to more forceful gospel and blues styles. But what really impresses me about Tomorrow's Gate is the songwriting - both the melodies and the lyrics are first-rate. On the song "Angel" all the elements come together - hypnotic guitar, poetic lyrics, and melodic refrain - "And we're standing on a whole world/and we're acting like the world is made up of/little pieces. This is the kind of quality music that deserves a place in anyone's CD or tape collection, next to your Shawn Colvin or Tracy Chapman albums (or whatever you listen to). "Moon's in the Bottom" is another standout, with Anne's atmospheric vocal, conga by Tom Tintle, and nice flute by Deb Venn. On "If I Could Find You," it's just Weiss and her acoustic guitar, with ironic lyrics that resonate with disappointed love - "If I said that I missed you, I'd be lying/in your arms and later, "l'd kick you out/if I could find you." Great stuff.
Local producer/engineer, Michael Haveson, did an excellent job engineering the project, which was recorded live to DAT at Low Tech Studio in Burlington. This tape has a nice sonic presence and clarity to it, and is eminently listenable. Ellen Kahler provided invaluable managerial help in the coordinating and scheduling of the musicians involved in this essentially live recording.
For the future, Weiss plans to distribute her tape to various labels "who put out the kind of music I like." Silo, a Waterbury, VT distributor of acoustic music, has requested the tape, and Weiss has been asked to contribute a track to an upcoming folk and blues compilation CD put out by Jeff Miller of Noonies Coffeehouse, As for playing out, in addition to her own regular gigs at The Last Elm Cafe in Burlington and the Pyralisk in Montpelier, Weiss was in the Burlington Ecumenical Gospel Choir when they played the Flynn Theater February 28th, and was honored to be given a vocal solo. "l'd like to form an R&B band someday," Weiss admits. "I love to play music for people to dance to.
The Secret of Anne Weiss? In her song "Secret," the refrain goes like this "if today was your last day/Would you horde your love/0r would you give it away?" This certainly isn't her last day, but Anne Weiss is putting some beautiful music out there for us to hear.
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