Amanda Shires, The War and Treaty,  Israel Nash and more on Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage w/ Larry Groce

Amanda Shires, The War and Treaty, Israel Nash and more on Mountain Stage

Sun · September 23, 2018

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

This event is all ages

Available to Mountain Stage Members Monday, May 7 at 10am.

On-sale to public: Friday, May 11 at 10am

Advance Tickets: $20

Day of Show: $35

Available online, by phone (877.987.6487), or at Taylor Books - Downtown Charleston.

Become a Mountain Stage Member for public radio perks and early access to tickets!

Amanda Shires
Amanda Shires
Amanda Shires is not an entertainer. She isn't looking to help listeners escape their everyday lives or soundtrack celebrations. She isn't reaching for celebrity, and she isn't concerned with cultivating a personal brand. She is an artist in the true sense of the word, meaning she creates because she has a real need for the process of creating. That is not to say that the songs on My Piece Of Land aren't entertaining, but that quality is a by-product. The real intention here is to relate.

Ms. Shires began her career as a teenager playing fiddle with the Texas Playboys. Since then, she's toured and recorded with John Prine, Billy Joe Shaver, Todd Snider, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope, and most recently her husband Jason Isbell. Along the way she's made three solo albums, each serving to document a particular period in her life while improving on the perceptive qualities of the previous record.

The songs on My Piece Of Land deal with family, with anxiety, with the phases of one young woman's life; but the primary focus of My Piece Of Land is the concept of home. Ms. Shires addresses the similarities and differences between the home she was born into, the two homes she was eventually split between, and the home she has finally made for herself. Some of these stories are from the creator's point of view and some most certainly are not. You'd be hard-pressed to identify which is which, though, considering the level of empathy involved in the creation of these stories. "The concept of home, like the concept of love, is more complex than it seems," says Ms. Shires. "You start out with this inherited idea of home, but as you grow you realize that's only a suggestion. You have to use that along with all the little pieces of wisdom you've picked up along the way to finally build your own place in the world." Ms. Shires sometimes describes songwriting as "solving the puzzles," but before the songwriter even begins to arrange rhymes and melodies, she must first be acquainted with the complicated workings of the heart.

Most of this album was written after Ms. Shires had reached the seven-month point in a summertime pregnancy, and was no longer able to travel. For a woman used to touring most of the year, being stuck inside brought challenges and offered creative rewards. "Pregnancy does weird things to you," Amanda says. "You walk around holding your arms over your belly, sometimes almost overcome by anxiety. I constantly wondered if I would be able to protect this child, if my marriage would last forever, if I'd learned enough about the world to be a good mother. At the same time, you're so excited, so hopeful, and so severely physically limited." About how the setting affected the finished product, she says "This record turned out to be a personal record, set in our home where I had lots of time for reflection and time to face my concerns and

fears." The listener can hear Ms. Shires unpacking those anxieties in a song like "Slippin,'" with its ruminations on what could go wrong in a relationship that seems stable.

There'll be a trigger, then up starts the fire, a handful of matches some faulty wiring.
You'll say you have this hollow feeling. Something's always been missing. Tonight could be the night you go slippin' away from me.

Her piece of land is one with a panoramic view, and she pays close attention to even the smallest details. Take, for instance, the first stanza of "Harmless."

A phased golden light rained down from the streetlight. It fell across your shoulder, paused just above your collar.

With this description of one fleeting moment, the writer sets an entire scene. Ms. Shires would argue that the term "poet" should not be used to mean "unusually perceptive songwriter," since the roles of modern songwriter and poet are so very different. However, it isn't hard to understand how her post-graduate education in poetry helps Ms. Shires choose which details to include. "It's all about precision. My time in the MFA (Master Of Fine Arts) program at Sewanee taught me a lot about different ways of writing and how they all have one thing in common: the better you are at editing, the better your work will be. Spending long hours workshopping poems and reading the classics gave me a solid standard when it came time to edit my songs."

Ms. Shires recorded My Piece Of Land under the guidance of brilliant Nashville producer Dave Cobb at his Low Country Sound studio. Inviting Cobb to produce My Piece Of Land was an easy decision to make, considering Ms. Shires had worked with him before on Jason Isbell's albums Southeastern and Something More Than Free. Ms. Shires knew of Dave's propensity toward arranging the songs in-studio, rather than rehearsing or making demos beforehand. Cobb believes in the spontaneity of early takes, and with the proficient rhythm section of Paul Slivka and Paul Griffith, the studio band was able to record the album in a relatively short amount of time without sacrificing performance quality. This approach gives each song on the album emotional urgency along with a groove that's loose and effortless.

Among other things, "Pale Fire" is about consciously shifting one's own priorities. There are two types of lovers: the kind we need and the kind we want. The hard part is finding someone who represents both. "You Are My Home" is written as a gift, a token of appreciation to someone who has helped the narrator define her place in the world. "Mineral Wells" is a song Ms. Shires wrote many years ago, after relocating to Nashville from her childhood home in Texas. It speaks to the part of us that never really leaves that original homeplace.

With My Piece Of Land, you get the sense that Amanda Shires has reached a personal pinnacle. This album is the creative milestone suited to accompany the recent milestones in her life: becoming a mother, developing into a true artist, and finally finding a home.
Israel Nash
Singer-songwriter from the Faroe Islands, born 4 January 1977. Owner of the record label Arlo & Betty Recordings and publishing company Arlo And Betty Music.
Byron Isaacs
Byron Isaacs
Byron Isaacs, who records and tours with The Lumineers and was one of the founders of Ollabelle, is releasing his first solo album, Disappearing Man. The album was co-produced by Hector Castillo (David Bowie, Bjork, The Brazilian Girls) and Brian Cullman (Lucinda Williams, Ghazal) recorded at Castillo’s studio in Brooklyn. Disappearing Man will be released June 12 on the Cosmic Trigger label.

Isaacs was joined in the studio by keyboardist Glenn Patscha (Ollabelle, Roger Waters, The Holmes Brothers), guitarist Chris Masterson (The Mastersons, Steve Earle, Loretta Lynn, The Golden Palominos), drummer David Berger (Amy Helm, Alice Texas, Justin Bond, Mary Fahl), percussionist Joe Bonadio (Sting, Boz Scaggs, Roseanne Cash) and arranger John Lissauer (Leonard Cohen). Byron’s songs combine the quietly relentless grooves of Curtis Mayfield with the oblique simplicity of Neil Young. If you turn the lights out and close the door, the songs continue singing themselves long into the night.

Byron Isaacs improves every musical situation he wanders into. Like Jim Dickinson and Al Kooper, he brings whatever song he’s working on into clear relief, puts a frame around it, and gives it a shine and a sparkle.

Bass player, singer-songwriter Byron Isaacs is a native Texan now living in Brooklyn. A founding member of Ollabelle and Lost Leaders, Isaacs is currently recording and touring with The Lumineers. Over the past fifteen years he has also recorded and/or performed with Levon Helm, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Scialfa, Roseanne Cash, Nina Nastasia, Ryan Adams, Chris Smither, Richard Shindell, Mary Fahl, Amy Helm, and Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams.
The War and Treaty
The War and Treaty
Michael and Tanya Trotter took distinctly different paths to becoming The War and Treaty.
After winning a talent show when she was 13, Tanya knew singing would be her life. Growing up in a tight-knit community just outside of Washington, D.C., Tanya had a voice that was already hinting at the force it’d become: honeyed and bold, guttural but angelic. She’d discovered writing, too, and every blank space was an opportunity. “My mom would come into my room late at night and catch me reading books and writing, with a flashlight,” Tanya says, laughing. “I used to write on everything––envelopes, everything.”
Michael started writing later, and for different reasons. He spent part of his childhood in Cleveland before moving with his mother, brother, and sister to Washington, D.C. The family spent time in and out of homeless shelters––a limbo Michael would experience again as an adult. He was 19 when his first daughter, Michaela, was born. “She was the first thing I felt that I’d done right––my little girl,” he says. “I joined the army for her.” Michael enlisted in the United States Army in 2003, two years after 9/11. “I didn’t know it was wartime,” he says. “People say, ‘How do you not know that?’ Well, in the neighborhood I grew up in, we weren’t patriotic. No one cared––that’s rich people’s news. Meanwhile, someone I know just got shot yesterday.”
But what Michael did know was that as a soldier, he felt proud––then scared. He was sent to Iraq, where leaders who outranked him saw the fear in his eyes and treated him not as an underling, but as a brother. Stationed in one of Saddam Hussein’s rubbled palaces, he had access to a piano that had emerged miraculously unscathed. A captain heard him play and sing with his once-in-a-generation volcano of a voice, and he encouraged Michael to pursue music. When that same captain was killed, Michael sat down to write––really write––for the first time.
Venue Information:
Culture Center Theater
West Virginia State Capitol Grounds
Charleston, WV, 25305