Saturday, March 15, 2014

Emmylou Harris Again Teams with Vince Gill to Raise Funds for Country Music All for the Hall at Club Nokia

Back in September 2011, I wrote about how AEG LIVE  in partnership with Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame, and under the leadership of Vince Gill, organized a fundraiser at Club Nokia, as a "guitar pull' branded as All for the Hall.  It returned to LA Live on March 4, 2014, again with Vince Gill bringing long-time friend Emmylou Harris, and this time inviting Ann and Nancy Wilson (the sisters of Heart) and Jason Mraz, along with a surprise performance by Holly Williams, while also introducing rising Country star Camaron "Cam" Ochs.  Prior to the fundraising concert were dinner and cocktails for those buying tables for either $10,000 or $25,000 on the Club Nokia floor, and also individual floor tickets for $1,000.  In addition, two floors of upstairs reserved seating were available with tickets ranging from $50 to $125 that were filled to capacity., I had the chance to again interview Vince Gill and Emmy Lou Harris, and to also interview for the first time fundraising host Rita Wilson and guest artist Holly Williams (singing in the next picture).  Each of the artists contributed their time in this seventh version of the All for the Hall fundraiser that has an objective now of raising operating reserve funds for a greatly expanded Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and contributions are always appreciated..

In the prior All for the Hall ExperienceLA blog post, I mentioned that I was working on a follow-up article with a focus on Emmylou Harris for posting in October 2011.  I had all my notes prepared for that effort, but unfortunately my attention turned to other pressing matters, that have been referenced in other ExperienceLA blog posts.  Thus, here is my chance to make use of my 2011 Emmylou notes, and my first ever video recorded interview, that I have uploaded to YouTube. Please understand that this video recorded interview was a first for me, and also for my camera person, and we were using my Sony HD hand-held video camera.  Plus, I am indebted to the Fox News camera person who provided much needed lighting for this interview.

 Back in 2011, Emmylou discussed that she was getting back into the recording studio with her long-time friend and songwriter, Rodney Crowell, who was part of her back-up band (the Hot Band) playing rhythm guitar back in 1975.  The result was the 2013 release "Old Yellow Moon" with many of the songs written by Rodney Crowell and several featuring Vince Gill on a Gut-String Guitar.  When the CD was released, I immediately bought it (yes I date myself in still buying CDs and not as downloaded digital music). The album won the 2014 Grammy for best Americana album and is a delight for listening, and recalls to mind that Emmylou Harris started out as a singer who wanted to emulate Joan Baez, but became entranced by the magic of George Jones (who passed away in 2013), which opened her eyes to country music.   As I discussed in my 2011 blog post, Emmylou Harris' big break was joining Gram Parsons in 1972 to perform and record some of the most beautiful harmonies in country music, until his tragic death in 1973. Emmylou then launched her own solo career, where I heard her perform shortly thereafter at a Cal State University Long Beach outdoor music festival with The Angel Band in spring 1974, shortly after being signed by Reprise Records, and before she had even gone into the studio to record Pieces of the Sky that was produced by Brian Ahern.  To this day, I remember her performance of Boulder to Birmingham, which is on Pieces of the Sky, and it always brings me to tears.

When I interviewed Emmylou Harris back in September 2011, she had released earlier that year the album Hard Bargain.  In a conversation with Holly McKay of Fox News Pop Tarts, she stated that this album was on the sad side, and as such, as we grow older we begin to experience loss.  Ironically, two months later I experienced my own major loss.  Emmylou went on to discuss how song writing gives her a chance to clear out her thoughts and provide inspiration for new songs.  I remember when Red Dirt Girl came out in 2000, it was an album centered on her own songwriting, as much of her career has been showcasing the very best of country song writing, including performing many of the songs, she learned from Gram Parsons.

With the 2014 All for the Hall fundraiser falling on Mardi Gras Day, Fat Tuesday, I took the opportunity to ask my four interviewees as to their favorite Louisiana Cajun or Zydeco band or New Orleans jazz band, or whether they have played or attended the  New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival commonly known as Jazz Fest.  Here are excerpts from each of these interviews:

Holly Williams: In my early 20's, I dated a guy in New Orleans and used to visit all of the time for Mardi Gras before Katrina.  New Orleans is now my favorite city for food and music, and on my last visit when I played Jazz Fest, I do remember hearing Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Rita Wilson:  Do the Neville Brothers count?

Emmylou Harris: I love Marc Savoy with his traditional cajun music and especially the accordion. However my band makes fun of me. But I have a great keyboard player who also plays accordion, and you can find the accordion on  quite a few of my albums.  I did play Jazz Fest several years ago, and I had John Goodman sit in with me playing the bass.

Vince Gill: Sonny Landreth from Lafayette, Louisiana.  One of my favorite guitar players I have ever heard.  I played on his album.  We are great friends, and we played together on the Eric Clapton Crossroads show four times over  the last ten years.

That was fun asking these performers as to their knowledge of Louisiana music, even learning about Sonny Landreth, and I have seen Marc Savoy perform several times, and here is a link to a Savoy Family Band performance with Marc on accordion that I recorded at the 2012 Acadiens et Creoles Festivals of the Savoy Family Band. And for those going to the sold out California Country Music Festival Stagecoach 2014, watch for Holly Williams on the Mane Stage. Plus, if AEG and Golden Voice are reading this blog post, Vince Gill would love to have the opportunity to play at Stagecoach and Jazz Fest one of these years.

And in closing, here is my recorded video interview with the charming Rita Wilson, and followed by an excerpt from her performance of Still Gone, with the ever present clicking of the adjacent high speed photography.

 For additional details on the 2014 All for the Hall performances, here is a link to a final press release provided by the Country Music Hall of Fame. Finally, here is direct link to my 2014 All for the Hall photo set on Flickr that can be viewed as a slideshow from within Flickr or if you haven't discovered it already, from the lead blog photo, the Flickr API allow you to now click through all of the Flickr photos right from the blog post, and no longer even having the issue with it not being seen on an Ipad.

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