Pink Martini, Beth Hart , Judith Owen feat. Leland Sklar, and Don Dixon on Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage with Larry Groce

Pink Martini, Beth Hart , Judith Owen feat. Leland Sklar, and Don Dixon on Mountain Stage

Sun · March 5, 2017

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:00 pm (event ends at 10:00 pm)

$33.50 - $43.50

This event is all ages

Prefer to get your tickets over the phone? Call the Clay Center box office 304-561-3570

Pink Martini
Pink Martini
In 1994 in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, Thomas Lauderdale was working in politics, thinking that one day he would run for mayor. Like other eager politicians-in-training, he went to every political fundraiser under the sun… but was dismayed to find the music at these events underwhelming, lackluster, loud and un-neighborly. Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world – crossing genres of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop – and hoping to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike, he founded the "little orchestra" Pink Martini in 1994 to provide more beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers for causes such as civil rights, affordable housing, the environment, libraries, public broadcasting, education and parks.

One year later, Lauderdale called China Forbes, a Harvard classmate who was living in New York City, and asked her to join Pink Martini. They began to write songs together. Their first song "Sympathique" became an overnight sensation in France, was nominated for "Song of the Year" at France's Victoires de la Musique Awards, and to this day remains a mantra ("Je ne veux pas travailler" or "I don't want to work") for striking French workers. Says Lauderdale, "We're very much an American band, but we spend a lot of time abroad and therefore have the incredible diplomatic opportunity to represent a broader, more inclusive America… the America which remains the most heterogeneously populated country in the world… composed of people of every country, every language, every religion."
Beth Hart
Beth Hart
Beth Hart is on fire. Right now, the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter is riding a creative tidal wave, firing out acclaimed albums, hooking up with the biggest names in music and rocking the house each night with that celebrated burnt-honey voice. In 2016, the headline news is Beth's latest album, Fire On The Floor (out 14 October 2016 (Europe / Australia / New Zealand) and 3 February 2017 (US / Canada) on Provogue/Mascot Label Group): a release that even this fiercely self-critical artist describes as "pretty frickin' good". But let's not forget the backstory that brought her here… The Blues Magazine once dubbed Beth Hart "the ultimate female rock star", and there's no doubt that her two-decade career is the ultimate thrill-ride. Born in Los Angeles, she released a fistful of hit albums through the '90s, then reignited in the post-millennium as both a solo artist and the head-turning vocalist for guitar heroes like Joe Bonamassa, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and Slash. "Extraordinary," wrote The Times of her once-a-generation voicebox, while The Guardian praised her "daring, brooding and angry" performances. It's no wonder she's been nominated for three Blues Music Awards. But it's in recent times that Beth has truly blossomed. In April 2015, she released Better Than Home: a critical and commercial smash that topped the iTunes Blues Chart and was crowned #4 Best Blues Album Of The Year by Mojo magazine. The release led her to fill Amsterdam's Heineken Music Hall with 5,500 fans (her largest club show to date). "Oh, that was so good, man," she reflects. "I love Holland. They've been really good to me." The US has embraced her, too, packing ever-larger venues in major cities on the Better Than Home tour – including Nashville's iconic Ryman Auditorium – and receiving a nomination from the American Blues Foundation in the category of Contemporary Blues Female Artist. "It's unbelievable," she admits. "This last tour, we were playing much bigger houses than I'd ever played in the States – and they were sold-out." Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, Beth's rocketing UK profile has never been higher. Recent years have seen auspicious headline sets at the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican (not to mention the historic Hampton Court Palace with Joe Bonamassa), and in December 2015, she chalked up another first with a spot on Jools Holland's legendary annual Hootenanny. Bringing in the New Year with a soulful take on Tell Her You Belong To Me and Nutbush City Limits alongside long-time collaborator Jeff Beck, it spoke volumes that the pair's performance rapidly became the Hootenanny's most-watched clip on the BBC's official YouTube channel (even overtaking heavyweights like Tom Jones and Paul Weller). "Every time Jeff performs, he just kills it," gushes Beth, who also joins the veteran guitarist for her first-ever appearance at the Hollywood Bowl this year. "To me, he's the greatest ever." Just as memorable, also last December, was Beth's first solo gig at London's Union Chapel (subsequently voted by fans as the venue's gig of the year). "It was the most terrifying experience of my entire life," she admits. "I got up there and I was so frickin' scared. But then, halfway through the show, I just started to enjoy it. By the end, I felt so connected to the audience, and I really felt like they did that show with me. It was like we were all the band." Fire On The Floor is sure to build on her breakneck momentum. The record gave her an emotional release following the bitter-sweet sessions for Better Than Home. Fire On The Floor is the album that Beth Hart needed to make. Likewise, it's a record that you need to hear. "I'm so pleased with it," she concludes. "I recently had to organise the sequence of the record, and while I was doing that, I was thinking to myself, 'Y'know, this is pretty frickin' good…!'" Beth Hart is going on an extensive tour that will pack houses all over the world. Time and time again Beth has sold out venues in cities as New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tbilisi, Sydney and Melbourne. But maybe her greatest live performance to date was seen by millions of television viewers, when her tribute to Buddy Guy on the Kennedy Center Honors Special received one of the only 2 standing ovations of the evening, led by President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Every live performance gets a standing ovation, because no one knows how to rock the house better than Beth Hart. When she sings clocks stop, hearts dance and neck-hair tingles…it's that compelling!
Judith Owen feat. Leland Sklar
That Judith Owen's new album Ebb & Flow evokes the spirit of the halcyon days of the great 1970s troubadours is neither surprising nor is it accidental.
In a set of potent songs about love and loss, pain and joy, dreams and despair, the Welsh singer-songwriter fearlessly explores the duality of the human condition – and to do justice to the songs she turned to the legendary musicians who created the seventies troubadour sound.
Between them her core band of drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Lee Sklar and guitarist Waddy Wachtel played on many of the landmark albums from the era, including Carole King's Tapestry, James Taylor's Sweet Baby James, Joni Mitchell's Blue, Jackson Browne's Running On Empty and countless others, and were recently featured in an article in Rolling Stone magazine celebrating their unsung contribution to musical history.

"The kind of music I write is so influenced by that sound and period that I wanted to go direct to the source," Owen explains. "When I plucked up the courage to ask them to play on the record, I was amazed they said 'yes'. But working with them was hand in glove because when I write songs, I'm hearing a sound in my head – and they knew the sound because they originated and defined it. In some ways, the record is almost a love letter to those guys and the classic sound they invented."
The songs on Ebb & Flow touch on the deepest emotions of Owen's own storied life with an unswerving honesty. But although her songs are highly personal, the emotions are universal. They can be dark; and yet they are also full of wonder, a celebration of the resourcefulness of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
"Singing about the human condition, living under the shadow of loss and frustration and sadness and loneliness and not being gratuitously sentimental about it, instead making something beautiful out of it – that's the songwriter's job," Owen says." People say I write sad songs and they're definitely emotional revealing. But they're also uplifting songs because out of human struggle comes catharsis. Sad music can be elevating, because it's a direct route into your heart."
What she describes as the "bookends" of the album are two particularly heart-rending songs, "You're Not Here Any More", about her mother (whose suicide when she was 15, was the catalyst for her foray into serious song-writing and "I Would Give Anything", about the recent loss of the greatest musical influence, her Opera singer father. Both songs are poignant expressions of the bittersweet duality that is perhaps the album's strongest theme and which is reflected in the title Ebb & Flow. "Yes, they're incredibly sad," admits Owen. "But they're also cathartic because they're the most loving songs I could write and are totally honest about the reality of loss."
The theme of how to make it through the darkest night inform several other compositions on the album, including "Under Your Door", "You Are Not My Friend" and "Train Out Of Hollywood", intimate songs inspired by a compassionate recognition of other lost souls struggling with emotional insecurities and vulnerabilities, but always shot through with glimpses of hope and salvation.
There is a seductive wit and playfulness alongside the introspection, too. A trademark of Owen's career has been her irreverent ability to subvert well-known songs with unexpected and improbable covers. Over the years she has turned-inside-out songs by the likes of Deep Purple and The Police to render them almost unrecognisable from the originals. Here it's Mungo Jerry's 1970 smash hit "In The Summertime" that gets the unique Owen makeover treatment, rendered as it might have sounded if the song had appeared on Joni Mitchell's Ladies of The Canyon. "Great songs are like great bones. You can hang whatever you want on them," she says. " "In The Summertime" is a ridiculously silly song, and so I asked 'What Would Joni Do?' It's warm, with a glint in the eye and a sense of fun."
Given the history of the musicians who play on the album backing Carole King and James Taylor, it would have been remiss not to acknowledge the roots of Ebb & Flow. A lovely cover of King's "It Might As Well Rain Until September" is complemented by a stunning version of Taylor's "Hey Mister, That's Me Up On The Jukebox". The suggestion that Owen should record the latter came from Russ Kunkel, who played on the original on Taylor's Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon album more than 40 years ago.
"It's a song that showed James's inner darkness at the time and how lonely he was," says Owen. "I changed the lyrics slightly to suit a female voice and made it a lonely piano player rather than a guitar picker. But I recognised the feeling of being isolated within yourself which he's singing about and I love the emotional juxtaposition of an easy listening sound with a deeper and darker emotional truth behind it."
But although Ebb & Flow is a highly personal, solo singer-songwriter album, in a real sense it's a 'band' record, too. "One of the great things is that Judith makes space for what we add," Kunkel notes. "She turned it into a real ensemble thing," Wachtel adds.
The combination of intimate songs and intuitive ensemble playing has resulted felicitously in the most self-assured and confident album of Owen's career to date. After emigrating to America in 1993, Ebb & Flow is Judith Owen's eighth album since her 1996 debut Emotions On A Postcard. Married to the American actor and humorist Harry Shearer, in addition to her acclaimed solo work she has for many years been Richard Thompson's female foil of choice. Both have appeared on each other's albums and Owen played a leading collaborative part in Thompson's projects 1000 Years Of Popular Music and Cabaret of Souls. She also co-created "Losing It" with Ruby Wax, a funny yet devastatingly honest two-woman show chronicling descent into mental illness that was a box-office hit in the West End in 2011.
But it is her role as an unflinching singer-songwriter baring her soul that remains at the core of Owen's creativity and Ebb & Flow, she says, feels like a homecoming. "It's the sound I heard as a kid and which made me light up. I've been on a journey to getting well with music as my best friend. There will still be struggles because that never stops. But I've ended up with the sound that first inspired me. I've brought it home and it feels nice to be here."
Don Dixon
Don Dixon was born on December 13, 1950 in Lancaster, South Carolina. His college roommate was the writer Bruce Brooks.

Dixon is considered to be one of the key producers of what is called the jangle pop movement of the early 1980s. He spent thirteen years as a member of NC cult heroes Arrogance. Around 1983, Dixon attracted attention by co-producing with Mitch Easter, R.E.M.'s landmark debut LP Murmur. He then spent several years producing the work of varied artists including Chris Stamey (formerly of The dB's) and The Smithereens. Considered to be a highlight of this period was Tommy Keene's Run Now EP (co-produced with T Bone Burnett). This success led to Dixon recording his solo debut Most of the Girls Like to Dance (But Only Some of the Boys Like To), a further affirmation of his love of classic pop melodies and spiky, Nick Lowe-inspired wordplay.

After producing wife Marti Jones' Unsophisticated Time, he released his second solo effort, Romeo at Juilliard, in 1987 and the live Chi-Town Budget Show a year later. After 1989's EEE, Dixon's recording career went into hiatus for several years and he returned to producing, helming efforts for the Smithereens, Richard Barone, and James McMurtry before finally releasing Romantic Depressive in 1995. Another lengthy hiatus preceded the early 2000 release of The Invisible Man and its 2001 follow-up, Note Pad #38. His latest release, The Entire Combustible World in One Small Room followed in summer 2006.

Besides his life as a musician and producer, Don launched an acting career playing an alcoholic director in Todd Graff's 2003 film Camp
Venue Information:
The Clay Center
One Clay Square
Charleston, WV, 25301