"I'm the most sophisticated hillbilly you'll ever meet." When Michelle Shocked says this about herself, it's hard not to crack up. 'Hillbilly,' after all, is no compliment. And frankly, it's tough to reconcile that reflex image of a backwoods, overalls-and-a-smile hillbilly with this focused, erudite singer-songwriter. If such a creature exists, however, Shocked is its picture, sans Billy-Bob teeth. Come to think of it, she was born in or at least near the backwoods of East Texas and get this after being conceived, if memory serves, "in the backseat of my Uncle Huby's Chevy at the high school prom." Her upbringing was more well-rounded. In her early childhood, Shocked logged thousands of miles as a military brat, living in Massachusetts, Germany and Maryland, before returning to Texas. She lived there until her early twenties, experiencing the stark contrast and copious benefits of being raised by a fundamentalist Mormon mother and Army lifer stepfather, and having a hippie teacher-slash-"ultimate autodidact" father. Eager to further expand her horizons, Shocked eventually decamped for San Francisco, assumed the peripatetic life of a community activist and, eventually, a touring musician. Fittingly, there's a phantom Texas taproot and that self-styled wanderlust in her music. Much like the work of her East Texas peers Willie Nelson, Victoria Williams and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Shocked's songs hold fast to a definite core, but owe no stylistic allegiance just like their itinerant, mercurial, utilitarian creators.
In a 23-year career that has seen critical acclaim at every juncture, she famously escaped major-label indentured servitude in 1996, subverting the artist-label relationship that helped lead to the current trend toward artistic self-containment. She has made good use of her independence, releasing more critically-acclaimed albums on her Mighty Sound label. Her 2009 album, Soul of My Soul, was the latest of these. In 2010, her efforts are focused on Roadworks, an ongoing, 5-year touring project which curates songs that are audience favorites while developing new, unreleased material.
For example, this year's theme, American Idle, will search for new songs that chronicle the chilling effects of a 'jobless recovery', inviting fellow songwriters to briefly share the spotlight as the audience helps determine material selected for a limited-edition recording available at year-end exclusively to Roadworks ticketholders, while simultaneously preparing for the launch of the 20th Anniversary edition of Arkansas Traveler, slated for late next year, by featuring young bluegrass musicians who, perhaps, grew up listening to Arkansas Traveler as part of their parent's record collection.
Political, controversial, and always brimming
with joy, Michelle brings it all with her. This performance will be with a full band, with a focus on her Americana and bluegrass roots. Sure to be an amazing show!
High Noon Saloon
701A E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
|Minimum Age: 21|
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|