Grant-Lee Phillips, Steve Poltz

Grant-Lee Phillips

Steve Poltz

Wednesday, May 13th

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$22 adv / $24 door

Grant-Lee Phillips
Grant-Lee Phillips
"History and legend have often found their way into my songs" reflects Grant-Lee Phillips. "But sometimes, I don't have to look quite so far to find inspiration." Walking in the Green Corn is the newest album by Grant-Lee Phillips. Its ten songs are drawn from Phillips' intensive investigations into his native lineage. Phillips, who is Muskogee (Creek), elliptically explores the intersection of past and present, personal and political. While the songs delve deeply into the subconscious mystery of his own backstory, they simultaneously reveal the resonance and insight of ancient myth in parallel to contemporary man's emotions, actions, and errors.

Composed in a concentrated burst over the course of a few winter months, Walking in the Green Corn came about almost too quickly to censor—the unfiltered sum of years of rumination and discovery. As the days became shorter, the nocturnal Phillips became more productive. "I'm pretty good in the morning," he says, a smile emerging, "which for me is about 2pm. I find that in a half-awake state, I can make a little bit of headway. Then I become more conscious as the day goes on…I have to wait until the evening and the rest of the world has quieted down to resume."

What initially began as off-the-cuff home recordings, designed to capture the songs at the moment of conception, soon took on a life of its own. "Initially I figured that, somewhere down the road, I'd get some musicians together in a cathedral-like space and re-record these songs," Phillips explains. But the disarmingly warm, bioluminescent quality of his simple home recordings had the certain weathered elegance that, in Phillips' words, "would have driven me mad if I attempted to recreate them in a professional studio environment."

With the exception of violin and vocals by Sara Watkins (formerly of Nickel Creek) and an understated vibraphone part by Alexander Burke, everything on Walking in the Green Corn was performed, sung, and engineered by Phillips. "I do my best work when nobody's paying attention – including myself," he recalls. "That's what happened: it really snuck up on me. By the end of the year, I had most of the album written and recorded. Little by little I'd play the songs back for my wife Denise (Siegel), on long drives up the San Joaquin Valley. She's an artist and writer with uncanny ears and instincts. She kept me aimed in the right direction, brought a lot of objectivity to the project. Denise was my co-producer here."

The mix of euphoria, wonder, and caution brought about by fatherhood—a heady emotional cocktail that fueled Phillips last album, the critically lauded Little Moon—also played a hand in this project, as his thoughts turned to his own mixed heritage. He has always found his ancestry, which encompasses both Native American peoples and European settlers, to be a fertile source. "Connecting to my ancestry is like having this deep trunk that's embedded in the earth, with deep roots. It was always something that was important to my grandmother, who was Creek, and to my mother. "So, after becoming a father, I wanted to be able to answer all those questions I know I'll be asked one day, when my daughter takes an interest in where we come from."

The opening "Vanishing Song" functions equally as an ode to rediscovering the ancient songs of his forefathers and as a longing for a purity and wisdom long corrupted by modern man's material lust. A similar theme pervades "Fool's Gold," of which Phillips says, "Perhaps there is no other kind of gold. Look what it does to us, look how it drives people mad. Look how it drove a whole nation westward and all the suffering that came with it."

Exploring timeless myths and rituals also lead Phillips to discover a certain palpable awe and majesty in life around him that mirrors his ancient inspirations. The loping "Grey Horned Owl" celebrates a beast long associated with insight and wisdom, equating its constancy and calm strength with the unwavering dedication of a devoted partner.
"Thunderbird," perhaps the album's most stark and intimate performance, finds Phillips overwhelmed by the mighty bird of myth—and equally enchanted with the mysteries and uncertainties of earthly attraction.

Since first emerging in the early '90s as the front-man and songwriter of the internationally acclaimed trio Grant Lee Buffalo, Phillips has been drawn to the conflicts at the heart of the American experience. The resulting body of work, which consists of four GLB albums and six uniquely divergent solo albums, has placed Phillips among
the most revered and admired songwriters of his generation. His post-GLB career in particular has found him exploring a wide range of palettes and textures, from the roiling synthscapes of Mobilize to the rootsy clarity of the pedal steel-laced Virginia Creeper.

Walking in the Green Corn shares an elemental purity and richness with Virginia Creeper, but further pairs down both the performances and the compositions. "It comes down to the purest form of expression that I can offer," Phillips explains. "I have to get off on my own, allow myself to disappear to do my best work."

Walking in the Green Corn comes together as an evocative penetration into our own troubled era. And yet, the album's optimistic title track completes the album on a meditative, redemptive note—implying that the potential for change and betterment is within reach, and that perhaps the best solutions can be found by looking backwards
and forward simultaneously.
Steve Poltz
Steve Poltz
To suggest that Steve Poltz isn't normal is about as safe a statement as one could make. You would basically require the powers of the Hubble space telescope to locate Steve Poltz from any region of normalcy.
For music fans on both sides of the equator, this is a very good thing.

Born among the hearty seafaring folk of Canada's Halifax, Nova Scotia, Poltz has lived most of his life in Southern California, where the sun treated his rocky Canadian DNA like clothes in a dryer. Naturally a spectrum of cultural and emotional tensions arose and he eventually sought refuge in the art of songwriting, where he tapped into an unforgettable and often horrifying depth of unhinged genius.

Among the music cognoscenti, Steve Poltz is regarded as one of the most talented and prolific songwriters of our time. His songs have been among the longest running ever on the Billboard Top 100 and they regularly appear in movie soundtracks, television shows, and even the odd commercial. His touring schedule is ferocious, ping ponging between continents with enough frequency to earn him manic followings in scores of different accents and languages.

Any musician who has traveled as extensively as Poltz will have their share of colorful road stories, but Poltz' adventures read like a bucket list. Starting out auspiciously, Poltz recalls meeting Elvis Presley at a small airport and beaming proudly as The King hugged his sister for an inordinately long time. Growing up in Palm Springs, California, he trick-or-treated at Liberace's house and was Bob Hope's favorite altar boy. In an alcohol-soaked haze, he infamously accosted David Cassidy, who had summoned him to Las Vegas to write a hit song for the aging Tiger Beat cover boy.

His rich and colorful legacy is the stuff of legend, but it is his distinctive style of songwriting that has caused the world to offer up its stages, clubs, and alleys. Poltz' sound is entirely unique- from his inhuman fingerstyle techniques to the inimitable melodies that roll from his guitar like cool waterfalls, you know a Poltz song as soon as you hear it. To see Steve to perform live is one of the most entertaining shows a human could ever see. Frenzied, aggressive, hilarious, and heartbreakingly sincere, his live performances have become bona fide events, with sub-cultures popping up all over the globe to entice him to come and tour. As relentless as he is in concert, he is also the guy who famously co-wrote the timeless ballad "You Were Meant For Me" with platinum-selling songwriter Jewel. Of course, because we're talking about Steve Poltz, it should surprise no one to learn that the song was written on a lazy Mexican beach, where Poltz and Jewel were soon snapped up and sequestered by Mexican Federales and required to witness and eventually assist in a large marijuana bust on the beach. Don't believe it? See for yourself in the pictures on his web site.

Poltz, an ex high school wrestler (98 pound class), is also an obsessive baseball fan, a die-hard yoga practitioner, a hopeless romantic, a smart-ass philosopher and a child-like adventurer with an absurdist's view of the planet and all of its curious life forms.

Music fans have adored him since he first fronted the hallowed punk-folk legends, The Rugburns, whose live shows earned the band a following that is best described somewhere between the terms "cult" and "crazed substance-abusing fanatics." Once touring over 300 days a year, the Rugburns occasionally reunite for wildly popular sold-out shows.

Poltz' solo body of work is an impressive collection of ballads, rockers and uniquely melodic acoustic numbers that reflect his incomparable style of alternate tunings and savage finger picking techniques. Guitar geeks fall prostrate at his feet trying vainly to learn how to play his stunningly gorgeous and deceptively complex songs. To see him play guitar is a visual feast so frenetic that close proximity to his playing exposes one to risk of seizure.

His albums reflect the depth and expanse of his influences throughout the years (One Left Shoe, Chinese Vacation, Traveling and Unraveling). He has also released a children's album (The Barn), a performance DVD (Tales From The Tavern) and a collection of other recordings that defy categorization, such as Answering Machine – a 56-track collection of 45 second "songs" culled from his answering machine's outgoing messages. Neil Young has ranked it as a favorite album.

Steve Poltz's latest recording project brought him back to Halifax, where he collaborated with Joel Plaskett, an award-winning Canadian songwriter, performer, producer and eminently kindred spirit. The two holed up in Joel's Scotland Yard studio with a 2 inch,16 track analog tape machine, a 24 hour work ethic, their comfy clothes, and all the mojo they could conjure. The result was Dreamhouse," Steve's most accomplished and focused album to date. Critically acclaimed across the globe, it has been singled out by some critics as the 2010 Album of the Year.

His live shows have captivated audiences far and wide with a mix of singing, storytelling, shredding, and the occasional spoken word rants which have been known to incite riots. He can take an audience from laughter to tears and back again in the space of the same song. Steve Poltz transcends the word "talented." He is unforgettable in all the right ways.