The Handsome Family
THE HANDSOME FAMILY is Brett Sparks (music) and Rennie Sparks (lyrics) who live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They consider their songs Romantic in the 19th century sense of the word: full of an awed sense of emotion in the face of natures mysteries. Their eight CD, Honey Moon (released April, 2009) was written in celebration of their twentieth year of marriage. Honey Moon takes place under bowed branches and deep within winding corn mazes. Lovers kiss in dripping wet caves and call to each other from trembling mountain peaks. They sigh on windy drawbridges and weep silver puddles in the street. Musically, the Brother duos of country (Delmore, Louvin, Monroe, Stanley, Everly) are always a big influence on Brett's use of harmony (as can be heard on Honey Moon's When you Whispered). In writing the songs for Honey Moon African-American vocal groups like the Mills Brothers, The Inkspots and the Platters became a primary motivating force. Several songs on Honey Moon ("The Loneliness of Magnets" and "Linger, Let Me Linger" for example) explore the romanticism of Tin Pan Alley. There's also the spirit of Al Green in "My Friend." Brett was reading the book "The Beatles as Musicians" by Walter Everett while recording this new record and it proved to be a huge musical and recording/engineering inspiration.
The Handsome Family's seventh CD, Last Days of Wonder (June. 2006) was one of Mojos top ten American Albums for 2006 and called an unqualified triumph by Uncut. Of their sixth CD, Singing Bones, The UKs Independent wrote, Rarely, even in the fatalistic world of country music, has the precarious mystery of mortality been captured with such poetic grace as on Singing Bones.
They have appeared in the movie, Im Your Man (2005), a tribute to Leonard Cohen as well as Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2004). In 2004, a reader's poll in Mojo named The Handsome Family's third CD, Through the Trees one of the ten essential Americana records. Their songs have been covered by many artists, most notibly: Andrew Bird, Christy Moore, Cerys Matthews. The Sadies and Sally Timms. Andrew Bird's version of their song, "Don't Be Scared" was recently featured in the movie, The Promotion.
The Handsome Family record all their songs in a converted garage studio at the back of their Albuquerque house. In their live performances they are sometimes up to a six-piece band and sometimes just Brett and Rennie. They have toured extensively throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Marissa Nadler (born April 5, 1981) is an American dream-folk and fine artist based in Boston. She grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. She studied painting at Rhode Island School of Design but song-writing became her favored artistic outlet. While exploring old artistic techniques such as woodcarving and encaustic painting, she also began to hone her songwriting craft. She is a self taught guitarist, who as a teenager learned to play in a style similar to Travis picking, playing a steady bass pattern with the thumb and filling out syncopated rhythms with the fingers. She is also self taught as a singer.
Her voice (often bathed in a wash of reverb) is what people immediately respond to in her music, described by the popular online music website Pitchfork as "a voice you would follow straight into Hades." She is known for her dreamy, atmospheric music, that although rooted in folk traditions, is more ethereal than earthy. Her music was recently described as "ethereal reverberations" in the New York Times.
Many describe Nadler's songs as having American Gothic leanings; her stories often take place in an imagined, idealistic time with a cast of characters of her own creation. Yet, in recent years, it has emerged that the characters are less make believe than listeners thought and are based on real people, and their real lives. Her links to American Gothic are reinforced by "Annabelle Lee", the last song on her debut album, Ballads of Living and Dying, which puts the poem of the same title by Edgar Allan Poe to a musical backing. Singing in a haunting mezzo-soprano, the foundation of her songs are her delicate acoustic guitar, often accompanied by variety of instruments, ranging from organ to theremin to electric guitar.
Marissa Nadler released her first album, Ballads of Living and Dying, on Eclipse Records in 2004; her follow-up, The Saga of Mayflower May, was released in July 2005. Both records were distributed in the US by Eclipse Records, and by the UK label Beautiful Happiness in Europe. Eclipse Records' Ed Hardy is credited having "discovered" Marissa Nadler, and also bringing her into the underground music family. A Welsh Label, My Kung Fu records, released a 7" Diamond Heart / Leather Made Shoes in 2006 - two versions of tracks off of her third record. Marissa Nadler released her third record on Peacefrog Records in Europe, Songs III: Bird on the Water, on March 12, 2007. The album was released in the US and Canada on August 12, 2007 by Kemado Records. Her next record is set to be released in early 2009.
Marissa Nadler's record, Songs III: Bird on the Water, was nominated for two PLUG awards in 2008: best female artist of the year, and best Americana record of the year. Marissa Nadler won "Outstanding Singer/Songwriter of the Year" in the 2008 Boston Music Awards, with three nominations altogether.
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High Noon Saloon
701 E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
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