lifeblood: listlogs: 2008-073


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date:    sat, 27 sep 2008 14:59:07 +1000
from:    sherlyn koo <sherlyn@pixelopolis.com>
subject: daily messenger article

hey folks,

here's an article/emily interview from the daily messenger in rochester ny. =
you can read it online at=
http://www.mpnnow.com/entertainment/x1824788926/theres-a-spring-in-our-step=
..

cheers,
sherlyn

---begin forwarded article---
'there's a spring in our step'
by l. david wheeler, staff writer
daily messenger
thu sep 25, 2008, 12:55 pm edt
geneva, n.y. -

since emerging in the mid-1980s and hitting the public consciousness in 1989=
with a bona fide hit in "closer to fine," the band indigo girls -- playing=
tuesday, sept. 30, at the smith opera house -- has maintained a solid=
musical career. they've earned critical accolades and commercial success in=
the adult-alternative and modern rock markets; played a major part of the=
1990s lilith fair tours; stretched themselves with challenging arrangements=
-- and, along the way, exhibited a consistent passion for political=
activism, promoting gay rights, environmentalism and other causes.

and along the way, the public has picked up some perceptions about the=
creative duo of singers and multi-instrumentalists emily saliers and amy=
ray, concepts more caricature than reality.

"i think we've been largely stigmatized as strictly a folk, acoustic act,"=
saliers said in a recent phone interview. "we've been largely stigmatized=
as hard-core lesbian feminists with acoustic guitars."

their arrangements, while often based in folk, have encompassed a=
modern-rock sensibility, and they've been known for some driving, intense=
songs where their harmonies combine with the instruments for a powerful=
assault -- though they're equally facile with quieter, melodic and=
thoughtful reflections. this is, after all, a band that arose=
simultaneously amid the athens, ga., modern-rock scene and the late-1980s=
spike in interest in female folk music.

and while they do identify as lesbians and activists, people who consider=
them dour aren't really paying attention.

"we're probably seen as a very, very serious band -- but we have a lot of=
fun," saliers said. "there's a spring in our step."

that spring was evident in their first major single, "closer to fine," an=
up-tempo piece about the search for enlightenment and fulfillment. the=
quest is unresolved at the song's end, but the refrain, combined with the=
almost jubilant harmonies, indicates that maybe that's all right: "there's=
more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line/and=
the less i seek my source for some definitive -- the closer i am to fine!"

saliers and ray had known each other since grade school near decatur, ga.,=
and began performing together as the b-band and later saliers and ray in=
high school, reuniting in 1985 as indigo girls. (they just liked the sound=
of the name, saliers said.) epic records signed them in 1988 amid the=
success of such performers as tracy chapman, suzanne vega and the natalie=
merchant-fronted 10,000 maniacs.

their first major-label release in 1988, "indigo girls," charted at  no. 22,=
with "closer to fine" going platinum and winning a grammy for best=
contemporary folk album. following was a string of critically and, to=
varying degrees, commercially successful albums: "nomads indians saints,"=
"rites of passage," "swamp ophelia, "shaming of the sun," and so on,=
through their 10th and most recent album, "despite our differences."

standout tracks along the way have included the saliers-penned "galileo,"=
which references the pioneering (and persecuted) italian physicist in a=
rumination about seeking insight and understanding:

how long till my soul gets it right?
can any human being ever reach the highest light
except for galileo, god rest his soul,
except for the resting soul of galileo
king of night vision, king of insight
how long till my soul gets it right?

and "hammer and a nail," also by saliers, about the need to move beyond=
thinking and pondering to take action:

gotta get out of bed, use a hammer and a nail
learn how to use my hands, not just my head
i think myself into jail; now i know a refuge never grows
from a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose
gotta tend the earth if you want a rose ...

"you can sit around and ruminate all day," saliers said. "the real work gets=
done when you pick up a hammer and a nail." that's a sentiment that has=
infused the duo's political and social activism as they've traveled the=
road of their career.

that's a road more than 20 years long and still winding, a road saliers says=
they've been able to walk together so long because they also walk it=
alone.

"we have very, very rich individual lives," saliers said, "so when we come=
together, we're very excited about working on indigo girls stuff." for=
saliers, these independent projects have included co-owning the=
southern-cuisine restaurant watershed in decatur with other women (sample=
menu item: creamy stone ground shrimp grits); and collaborating with her=
father, emory university theology professor don saliers, on the book "a=
song to sing, a life to live: reflections on music as a spiritual=
practice." ray runs a decatur-based independent record label, daemon=
records, which has signed such acts as girlyman and utah phillips, and she=
has released four solo albums of her own on daemon.

and both have committed, solo and together, to various political and social=
causes. with native american activist (and onetime ralph nader running=
mate) winona laduke, they formed honor the earth, a non-profit group to=
raise awareness and financial support for environmental and native-justice=
issues.

when saliers and ray do get together on indigo girls projects, a lot of what=
they do is arranging, as they both write alone -- saliers writing "a lot=
about interpersonal relationships, love and breakups and hope and what goes=
wrong," in her words; ray focusing on nature and earth-based imagery.

these days the duo have come "full circle," saliers said: after being=
dropped from hollywood records last year, they're now independent artists=
once again and making the most of it, with a new album estimated for a=
february release.

"we're happy to be fully in command of our own ship," she said, noting that=
the rise of the internet has made the labels' role in artist development=
(in some cases, lack thereof) less of an important factor.

and she's happy to see that, along with the long-term loyalists from the=
"closer to fine" days, there are some young faces in the indigo girls=
audiences.

"if your music can speak to young people, you still have something vibrant=
going on," she said.

opening the concert will be canadian singer-songwriter kathleen edwards,=
whose music blends country and folk/pop sounds. edwards debuted in 2003=
with the album "failer," which yielded the single "six o'clock news." one=
of her songs, "summerlong," was used in the film "elizabethtown." edwards'=
latest album, released this year, is titled "asking for flowers."

if you go:
what: indigo girls, with kathleen edwards
when: tuesday, sept. 30, at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.)
where: smith opera house, 82 seneca st., geneva
tickets: range from $25 to $45 (plus $2 facility fee)
details: (315) 781-live

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