Writers love phrases with multiple meanings; they're so much handier than mere single-idea word strings. That's why it's so perfect that The Trishas' first full-length album, High, Wide & Handsome, kicks off with a track titled "Mother of Invention." Not only does it hint at the four members' capacity for resourcefulness and their entry into motherhood, it also, by extension, suggests the concept of family itself. And family not only describes the sisterlike tightness of their bond, it's literally what drew them together in the first place. (The Zappa nod is just icing.)
When Jamie Wilson, Liz Foster, Kelley Mickwee and Savannah Welch first shared a stage in January 2009, their intention was simply to perform a couple of songs as part of a tribute to Savannah's father, singer-songwriter Kevin Welch. They had no plans to pursue a joint musical future they didn't even have a name, and wound up calling themselves The Trishas on a whim (it popped into their heads because they were covering a Welch-authored Trisha Yearwood hit).
But when magic happens, sometimes you have to give in to its power. The sound of their voices soaring in close four-part harmony so transfixed listeners that night in Steamboat, Colorado, that show offers began to come in, luring them into testing the waters as a group. By that September, The Trishas were showcasing at the Americana Music Association Conference & Festival in Nashville, where Raul Malo caught them. He invited them to sing on his Sinners & Saints album. Ray Wylie Hubbard recruited them for his lauded release, A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no c). Warner/Chappell Music signed them to a publishing deal. They toured with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Todd Snider, performed with Malo and joined Savannah's dad on his album, A Patch of Blue Sky.
All of that happened before they'd even gotten around to recording their EP, the somewhat tongue-in-cheekily titled They Call Us The Trishas. (Astute readers have likely noticed by now that there is no Trisha in the band, though fiddler Trisha Keefer Beckham was an auxiliary member until recently.) That August 2010 release signaled to them, as well as fans that their commitment was real.
High, Wide and Handsome makes an even more definitive statement. "We're in this for the long haul," it almost shouts. "On our terms." (The phrase itself means "in a carefree, stylish manner," as in the prancing step of a spirited horse.) Those terms include collaborating with some of the finest tunesmiths in Nashville and Austin Bruce Robison, Natalie Hemby, John Eddie and Savannah's dad, along with his firstborn, aka her brother, Dustin. Jason Eady, Owen Temple and Turnpike Troubadour Evan Felker are among other co-writers. Jim Lauderdale helped out on a bonus, download-only track, "A Far Cry from You," a Peter & Gordon-worthy gem which also features Malo on vocals.
Though The Trishas are all talented instrumentalists, they also recruited an all-star team to back them during sessions at Nashville's Sound Emporium: guitarist Kenny Vaughan and drummer Harry Stinson of Marty Stuart's Fabulous Superlatives (Stinson and daddy Welch were Dead Reckoners together); bassist Viktor Krauss (Lyle Lovett, Elvis Costello); fiddler Tammy Rogers (another Dead Reckoner); and steel guitarist/"utility player" Russ Pahl. Veteran engineer Mike Poole produced.
Respect from such major-leaguers isn't surprising, considering the bandmates' backgrounds. Memphis-reared Mickwee, the group's main mandolinist, honed her talents in that music-rich town before becoming half of the duo Jed & Kelley; Wilson was a member of renowned Austin band The Gougers; and Foster, who can wail on harmonica, performed on the Texas Opry circuit and spent seven years touring with a Motown revue before forming the duo Liz & Lincoln. Nashville-raised Welch moved to Austin after high school to pursue acting and screenwriting, and other than a short stint in L.A., has been a Texan for 10 years. Her brother and father eventually joined her, leading to her singing in Dustin's band.
But together, well they just keep making more magic, and earning more invitations to contribute to special projects such as This One's For Him: A Tribute To Guy Clark.
No, it doesn't hurt that they're witty, charming, earthy and beautiful but as Wilson notes, "We just happen to be four chicks."
NENA ANDERSON & THE MULES
"Excellent. Finally a female vocalist who doesn't sound like all the other female recording artists today. Distinct as late career JONI MITCHELL, strong as EMMYLOU HARRIS, warm as MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER all rolled into one: an original is born." ~ John Apice, No Depression Americana and Roots music blog.
Americana artist NENA ANDERSON has been nominated for TEN San Diego Music Awards in the categories of Jazz, Americana, Acoustic, and New Artist. Her debut album "Beyond The Lights" has earned comparisons to early LUCINDA WILLIAMS, RICKIE LEE JONES and BOB DYLAN with its accessible and deceptively uncomplicated lyrics and bluesy Alternative Country sound. The record showcases 10 original songs that are so familiar and warm; you think you have heard them before, and you want to listen to them over and over again. From the moody, minor-keyed, driving swamp blues of "daggers", the rollicking 60's soul groove of "Roses & Kisses", to the catchy heartache of "I Fall In Love Too Fast", Nena proves she can write timeless songs for a modern audience.
Nena has share stages with GREGG ALLMAN, RAUL MALO (The Mavericks), DAVE ALVIN, SWITCHFOOT, CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE, DAN HICKS, ANYA MARINA, CINDY LEE BERRYHILL, and JIMMIE VAUGHN. She has toured with JUNE CARTER and JOHNNY CASH tribute band CASH'D OUT, and is also a contributing songwriter and performer for book/CD/tour, FOR THE SENDER.
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