Lee Ann Womack, The  Travelin' McCourys, Caitlyn Smith and more

Mountain Stage with Larry Groce

Lee Ann Womack, The Travelin' McCourys, Caitlyn Smith and more

Sun · June 3, 2018

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

$20 - $35

This event is all ages

UPDATE: Due to travel conditions Lee Ann Womack was be unable to make her  appearance as advertised on March 25. Mountain Stage will honor tickets for the March 25th show. If you purchased tickets online you must call 1(877) 435-9849 BEFORE Friday, March 30 to transfer your ticket to the rescheduled June date. 

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! mountainstage.org/member

Lee Ann Womack
Lee Ann Womack
Artists don’t really make albums like Lee Ann Womack’s THE LONELY, THE LONESOME AND THE GONE anymore. Albums that seem to exist separate and apart from any external pressures. Albums that possess both a profound sense of history and a clear-eyed vision for the future. Albums that transcend genres while embracing their roots. Albums that evoke a sense of place and of personality so vivid they make listeners feel more like participants in the songs than simply admirers of them.

Anybody who has paid attention to Womack for the past decade or so could see she was headed in this direction. THE LONELY, THE LONESOME AND THE GONE (ATO Records) — a breathtaking hybrid of country, soul, gospel and blues — comes from Womack’s core. “I could never shake my center of who I was,” says the East Texas native. “I’m drawn to rootsy music. It’s what moves me.”

Recorded at Houston’s historic SugarHill Recording Studios and produced by Womack’s husband and fellow Texan, Frank Liddell (fresh off a 2017 ACM Album of the Year win for Miranda Lambert’s ‘The Weight of These Wings’), THE LONELY, THE LONESOME AND THE GONE marks the culmination of a journey that began with Womack’s 2005 CMA Album of the Year ‘There’s More Where That Come From,’ moving her toward an authentic American music that celebrates her roots and adds to the canon. It also underscores the emergence of Womack’s songwriting voice: She has more writing credits among this album’s 14 tracks than on all her previous albums combined.

Womack had made the majority of her previous albums in Nashville, where the studio system is so entrenched it’s almost impossible to avoid. Seeking to free herself of that mindset, Womack says, “I wanted to get out of Nashville and tap into what deep East Texas offers musically and vibe-wise.”

So Womack and Liddell took a band to SugarHill, one of the country’s oldest continually operating studio spaces. In an earlier incarnation, the studio had given birth to George Jones’ earliest hits, as well as Roy Head’s mid-‘60s smash “Treat Her Right”; Freddy Fender’s ‘70s chart-topping crossovers “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” and “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”; and recordings from Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Sir Douglas Quintet, the 13th Floor Elevators and Willie Nelson.

Womack found the lure of East Texas irresistible. "I love local things, and I missed local music,” she says. “I grew up in Jacksonville. It was small, so I spent a lot of time dreaming, and about getting out.” It required only a short leap of logic to view Houston, and specifically SugarHill, as the place to record.

Womack and Liddell found a perfect complement of musicians, players who clicked right away and became a one-headed band. Bassist Glenn Worf (Alan Jackson, Bob Seger, Tammy Wynette, Mark Knopfler and others), drummer Jerry Roe (numerous Nashville sessions and his band Friendship Commanders), guitarists Ethan Ballinger, Adam Wright (Alan Jackson, Solomon Burke and others), and Waylon Payne (son of singer Sammi Smith and Willie Nelson's longtime guitarist Jody Payne) formed the SugarHill gang. Engineer and co-producer Michael McCarthy, known for his production work with Spoon, brought vintage gear from his Austin studio and help capture a sharper sound for sessions recorded entirely to analog tape.

“I got everybody out of their comfort zone and into a new element,” says Womack. “And it was funky there. This place was not in the least bit slick. Everybody there, all they think about is making music for the love of making music. Everyone comes in with huge smiles and positive attitudes. It was much different than what we were used to."

Womack had brought a handful of songs to record, including the gospel-inspired original “All the Trouble”; the poignant “Mama Lost Her Smile,” in which a daughter sorts through her family’s photographic history looking for clues to a long-secret sorrow; and the love-triangle conversation “Talking Behind Your Back,” which she penned with Dale Dodson and Dean Dillon, the writer of several George Strait classics. To make the final cut, Womack and the band had to be able to get to the heart of the songs and shine their light from the inside out.

A trio of long-time favorites found their way onto the album, too. Womack joined a long list of legendary voices irresistibly drawn to Harlan Howard’s “He Called Me Baby,” putting a sultry Southern groove underneath its mix of sensuality and sorrow. On “Long Black Veil,” a tale of betrayal and closely held secrets that became a ‘50s classic as recorded by Lefty Frizzell, she taps into a ballad tradition that runs centuries deep. Womack recorded the album’s final track, a haunting version of George Jones’ “Please Take the Devil Out of Me,” standing on the same gold-star linoleum floor where Jones cut the 1959 original.

Capturing the reality of East Texas music isn't always easy. Being in Houston and at SugarHill helped make that happen, inspiring an approach to the recording process that everyone embraced from the first note played. "Music down there — including Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and all the way through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — is this huge melting pot,” Womack says. “I love that, and I wanted that in this record. I wanted to make sure it had a lot of soul in it, because real country music has soul, and I wanted to remind people of that."

“When you make albums, and aren’t just going for singles, you really have to treat them with respect,” Liddell adds. “We did that at SugarHill, taking a bunch of like-minded lunatics and seeing what happened."

In Houston — with all its history, its eccentricity, its diversity and its lack of pretense — those like-minded lunatics found a place where they could flourish.

“We all felt we weren’t going someplace just to make a record,” Womack says. “We were going someplace to make a great record.” Don’t just take her word for it, though. Listen. And when Womack and the music take you there, you’ll find you want to stay.
The Travelin' McCourys
The Travelin' McCourys
The Travelin’ McCourys do not stand still. They are on the road—and online—entertaining audiences with live shows that include some of the best musicians and singers from all genres. It’s always different, always exciting, and always great music.

No other band today has the same credentials for playing traditional and progressive music. As the sons of bluegrass legend Del McCoury, Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Rob McCoury on banjo continue their father’s work—a lifelong dedication to the power of bluegrass music to bring joy into people’s lives. And with fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Alan Bartram, the ensemble is loved and respected by the bluegrass faithful. But the band is now combining their sound with others to make something fresh and rejuvenating.
Caitlyn Smith
Caitlyn Smith
CAITLYN SMITH
STARFIRE

“Each song is a little snapshot of something I picked up along the way,” says Caitlyn Smith. With her new album, Starfire, Smith has created a true portrait of an artist as a young woman, full of insightful observations, personal revelation, and commitment to craft. Powerful and nuanced, the record marks the arrival of a true musical force.

Though she began her career as a performer, in recent years Smith has become one of Nashville’s most celebrated songwriters, with her compositions recorded by artists from James Bay to Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton to John Legend and Meghan Trainor (for whom she co-wrote the multi-platinum duet “Like I’m Gonna Lose You”). Since she returned to the stage on her own, tastemakers immediately began taking notice: Rolling Stone has called Caitlyn’s voice “soaring and expressive” and Elle magazine praised her “powerful, affecting songs,” and she was named one the “top female vocalists” on Billboard’s SXSW 2017 Music Discovery.

“I was wandering around Nashville, writing for other people, but I hadn’t figured out what I wanted to say as an artist,” says Smith of her new focus for Starfire. “I started writing songs that only I could sing—I would go in with the intention of writing for myself, after years of not doing that. This record is me opening my heart and telling my story.”

St. Paul, all those nights that you made me love you

St. Paul, all the trouble we got into
I might run a million miles though a million cities
But there'll never be another one that's ever gonna get me
Like St. Paul
— “St. Paul”

Growing up in the small town of Cannon Falls, Minnesota, Caitlyn Smith was drawn to music at a young age. She put together her first band when she was 12 years old, drafting her brother as the drummer, and started cold-calling local venues for gigs. By the time she finished high school, she was writing and performing so often that her parents asked if she wanted to use her college fund to finance a record; she went on to make three albums before she turned 19.

“I cut my teeth in the Minneapolis clubs,” she says. “All those times sneaking into shows was a defining time of my life, it left a huge mark on me. And the fact that there were these great artists who had come from Minnesota—Prince, Bob Dylan, Jonny Lang—made the idea of being a musician more attainable.”

Smith moved to the Twin Cities and played everywhere she could, but she had also been told that Nashville was a gathering place for songwriters, so she drove south to check it out. Discovering a city of kindred spirits, she began finding connections in the writing community. “As often as I could afford it,” she says, “I would take my Dodge Neon and drive for 14 hours, and started a period of going back and forth between the two cities.”

The Starfire song “St. Paul” stands as her tribute to this chapter of her development. “It captures that spirit of how it all started,” she says. “Wherever I travel, Minnesota will always be home.”

Nashville, you win

Your steel guitars and

Broken hearts have done me in
I gave you my soul

‘Cause I wanted it so bad

And now I just wanna go home
This town is killing me
—“This Town Is Killing Me”

“You always have a picture in your mind of how things are going to go,” says Smith, “and it always turns out different.”

Newly married, she made the decision to move to Nashville full-time, and soon secured a publishing deal. Some country acts started recording her songs, then some country legends, and then artists in the pop world. “The crazy thing about Nashville is you get in a room with people and you have no idea what’s going to happen,” she says. “Meghan [Trainor] wasn’t a star when we wrote that song, she didn’t even have a record deal yet, but it ended up working out swimmingly.”

Being a staff songwriter has its own complications—“you’re putting your art on the line daily and being judged,” she notes—but it was a key stage in Smith’s ultimate plan. “I took a break from the stage because I wanted to learn how to craft a song,” she says. “I saw that you can have the greatest voice in the world, but if you don’t have a song, you have nothing. So I took a few years to really study songs and learn how to write.”

Eventually, though, she began to grow restless and feel the urge to get back behind a microphone. Trying to re-launch herself as a singer, though, proved more difficult than she expected. “I heard ‘no’ from every label in town,” says Smith. “I remember sitting on my guitar case on the sidewalk, crying after a horrible label meeting, and it started to rain, and I thought ‘This will be a great scene in the movie someday.’ “

On Starfire, “This Town is Killing Me” encapsulates this period in Smith’s journey. “That song is the cornerstone of the record,” she says, “the story of what we all struggle with as songwriters.”

But you won't burn out this Starfire
There's fearless dancing in my flames
Blow me out, I’ll just burn brighter
No, you can’t burn out this Starfire
No matter what you say
—“Starfire”

Smith hunkered down and committed to creating her own music, eventually connecting with producer Paul Moak. Just as things started rolling, though, she found out that she was pregnant with her first child. After lengthy discussions with her husband, she decided to keep working as long as she could. “He said, ‘This isn’t going to stop you—you can still sing, still move around,’” she says. “So I was cutting the record and still touring through my entire pregnancy. We released a few songs before I had the baby, just to put some music out there, and the response was way more than I ever anticipated.”

As she continued writing for Starfire, leading up to and following the birth of her son, Smith found more and more clarity about her ambitions. “When I started, it was difficult to know which parts of my story to tell,” she says. “But the more that I did it, the easier it was to identify which pieces to share. The writing became more honest once I finally had my sights on what I was doing.

“After so many years, and so many closed doors, ‘Starfire’ really is my theme song,” she continues. “This is my opportunity to pack up my little gypsy family, take it on the road and keep going.”

The twelve songs on Starfire illustrate the range of Smith’s storytelling and the striking impact of her voice. “Don’t Give Up On My Love,” which she wrote by herself in a cabin in North Dakota, is almost painful in its intimacy, while “East Side Restaurant” is more cinematic in its detail and dramatic in its delivery (“That’s about a past relationship that was quite toxic,” she says, “so I know it’s a song people can connect with”).

From small-town Minnesota to the stages of Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits festival, Caitlyn Smith is now living a dream she’s had from a very young age—and with the release of the mature, masterful Starfire, there’s no telling what happens from here.

“The path sure wasn’t what I thought it would be,” she says, “but it took all those ‘no’s and this whole journey to find what I needed, after trying too hard to do what other I thought other people wanted me to do. I needed to ask myself, ‘What do I love, what can I do that no one else can?’ And now I know that I’m not going to give up…This is what I was made to do.”
Haley Heynderickx
Haley Heynderickx
It takes a mix of skill and luck to tend a garden well, but it’s impossible without a certain amount of kindness tended. While the cyclical nature of gardening seems inherent, in some ways, Heynderickx is just beginning. Her debut album, named I Need to Start a Garden out of a search for calm through these waves of uncertainty and upheaval, is out now via Mama Bird Recording Co.


For the empathetic singer/songwriter, the reasons for seeking such acceptance and understanding stem from a life of paradoxes. Heynderickx grew up in a religious household in Oregon, closely identifying with her Filipino roots, but also straddling multiple cultural identities. Now residing in Portland, her faith is not overt, but her introspection and continued struggle for self-actualization are easily accessible and relatable.


Likewise, the tracks on I Need to Start a Garden reflect these seemingly disparate elements. Through soft acoustic guitar picking and deftly accented trombone sighs, Heynderickx’s music immediately recalls folk music of the '60s and '70s mixed with a love of jazz radio. But Heynderickx’s singing—her vocals that range from sultry to operatic—belie a tenacity in her soul.


It’s a balance then, between exposing and protecting herself on I Need to Start a Garden. Heynderickx vacillates between powerlessness (opener “No Face”) and empowerment (lead single "Oom Sha La La"). But her generosity of spirit remains the constant throughout the whole album.


You can hear that exceptional care in “Jo”, as she whispers, “You tended your garden like heaven and hell / and you built the birds houses to see if it helped at all.” Aware of the birds, the garden, and anyone listening acutely, Heynderickx’s music serves as an invitation for all to join her. Because the beauty of a garden is that, while it’s often started for deeply personal reasons, its bounty is best consumed and shared with others.

I Need to Start a Garden was produced, engineered and mixed by Zak Kimball at Nomah Studios in Portland, Oregon. Haley Heynderickx co-produced the album. It was mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk at Stereophonic Mastering in Portland. The record features Lily Breshears (Bass, Keys, Backing Vocals), Denzel Mendoza (Trombone, Backing Vocals), Phillip Rogers (Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals) and Tim Sweeney (Upright Bass).
Anthony da Costa
Anthony da Costa
Anthony da Costa’s songs don’t extend metaphors or spin yarns. They shoot straight. The singer-songwriter and guitarist speaks plainly, from the heart and the gut.

With his latest work, including his recent solo album DA COSTA, he adds the musical force of some of American folk and roots’ seminal cities to his forthright style. “In the past few years, since I moved from New York to Austin and then to Nashville, I’ve found my voice as a songwriter,” muses da Costa. “I’ve honed my band, made strong musical friendships. I felt like I started over and found what I needed to say.” You can hear it clearly in his songs, whether they are steeped in rock-country grit or frank folk.
Venue Information:
Culture Center Theater
West Virginia State Capitol Grounds
Charleston, WV, 25305
http://www.wvculture.org/agency/cultcenter.html