Sleeping in the Devil’s Bed: The Music of Daniel Lanois
Produced by Hal Willner
Making music has been Daniel Lanois’ lifelong passion. As a performer, he has recorded eight bestselling albums and contributed to several film soundtracks. As a producer, his groundbreaking collaborations with U2, including The Joshua Tree, elevated him to legendary status. He has since produced albums for such varied superstars as Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel and Emmylou Harris. Producer Hal Willner’s celebrations of Thelonious Monk, Leonard Cohen and Kurt Weill, among many others, are considered landmark. His salute to Lanois, celebrating five decades of artistic brilliance, is sure to be as dazzlingly unforgettable.
As a founding member of the experimental indie pop group Broken Social Scene, as well as a member of the label that puts out its music, Arts & Crafts, Kevin Drew worked with ten or more musicians in a collective that helped usher in the chamber pop movement. He grew up in Toronto and got his creative start attending high school at the prestigious Etobicoke School of the Arts along with two future members of BSS, Emily Haines and Amy Millan. After his interests changed from acting to music, he teamed up with Charles Spearin for a recording project called K.C. Accidental and released two records. The duo gradually blossomed into the more ambitious Broken Social Scene, and in 2007 he recorded his first solo release, Spirit If..., the first in a proposed series of solo records by various members of the mega-group. His second solo record wouldn't appear until seven years later, following the success, and eventual 2011 hiatus, of Broken Social Scene. While recording his solo follow-up, Drew began working with Canadian singer/songwriter Andy Kim of classic pop group the Archies, which reignited his creative flair and inspired him to finish his second offering Darlings, which was released in March 2014.
The Handsome Family
The Handsome Family is a 20-year songwriting collaboration between husband and wife, Brett (music) and Rennie Sparks (words). Their lyrics and music are very intense, highly descriptive and full of meticulously-researched narrative and exhilarating musical re-imaginings of everything from Appalacian holler, psychedelic rock, Tin Pan Alley and medieval ballad. They pair sweet melody with sad harmony, love poetry with dark beats. This is music that makes you shiver and cry, but also makes you happy to be alive. The Handsome Family’s music and lyricism has always attracted intellectual and devoted fans. Their songs are frequently covered by many notable artists, including Jeff Tweedy, Andrew Bird, Kelly Hogan and Christy Moore, and their work has garnered praise from Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr. The Handsome Family record all their songs in a converted garage studio at the back of their house in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Sometimes live they are a duo (Brett on guitar/vocals, Rennie on banjo/bass ukulele/vocals, sometimes accompanied by a drum machine), but often of late they are joined by percussionist Jason Toth. Most recently, The Handsome Family provided the theme song to HBO's acclaimed new drama series, True Detective.
A 13-time Grammy winner and Billboard Century Award recipient, Emmylou Harris’ contribution as a singer and songwriter spans 40 years. She has recorded more than 25 albums and has lent her talents to countless fellow artists’ recordings. In recognition of her remarkable career, Harris was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008. Harris is known as much for her eloquently straightforward songwriting as for her incomparably expressive singing. Admired through her career for her talent as an artist and song connoisseur, Harris shook up country radio in the 1970s, and established herself as the premiere songwriter of a generation selling more than 15 million records and garnering 13 Grammy Awards (this year she and Rodney Crowell won the Grammy for "Best Americana album"), three CMA Awards, and two Americana Awards. Harris is one of the most admired and influential women in music. She has recorded with such diverse artists as Linda Ronstadt, Daniel Lanois, Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, Ryan Adams, Beck, Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett and most recently Rodney Crowell.
Mary Margaret O’Hara
A inspirational Canadian singer/songwriter/composer, Mary Margaret O’Hara released her debut album, Miss America in 1988 to great critical and popular acclaim. Mary Margaret followed up in 1992 with a Christmas EP and in 1994 with a Christmas collaboration called Count Your Blessings featuring Victoria Williams and Jane Siberry. Just last year, the UK’s Mojo Magazine listed Mary Margaret O’Hara as one of the top 100 “cult music” heroes of all time and Miss America as one of the Top 100 albums of the 20th Century. Canada's Chart Magazine recently listed "Miss America" as the 14th best Canadian album of all time. NOW magazine of Toronto named Miss America the #3 album of the last twenty years, just behind Nirvana and The Beastie Boys. Over the years, she has appeared as a guest artist on many records and soundtrack albums for artists as varied as The Henrys and Morrissey. During a 1999 R.E.M. concert in Toronto, Michael Stipe brought Mary Margaret on stage and declared her a “national treasure”. Other artists who are said to fans of hers include Radiohead, Dave Matthews and Rickie Lee Jones (to name a few).
With a hugely expressive voice and an arsenal of powerful songs, Martha is a beguiling entertainer and a refreshingly different, new force in music. Martha is the daughter of folk legends Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, and sister of acclaimed singer songwriter Rufus Wainwright. Born in New York City and raised in Montreal, she spent her childhood immersed in music and often performing with her parents. She took the first step in her own recording career in 1998 when she contributed her song “Year of the Dragon” to her mother and aunt’s album The McGarrigle Hour. The same year she started singing back-up for her brother both live and on record. Martha released a self-titled EP as well as a four-song EP called Factory in 2002. Her eponymous Martha Wainwright in 2005 to great critical and commercial acclaim. A dynamic performer, Martha was a part of the acclaimed Leonard Cohen tribute concert in May 2004 at Brighton’s Dome Concert Hall. Martha also took a turn performing on film in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator and contributed two songs to the soundtrack of American independent film P.S. starring Laura Linney, directed by Dylan Kidd. Martha joined her brother on his fall 2004 UK dates to rapt audiences and has also supported artists such as Cyndi Lauper and Van Morrison, Neko Case, Snow Patrol, Pete Townshend and Sean Lennon among others over the last few years. Martha’s third studio album, Come Home To Mama, is her first collection of original music in four years, produced by Yuka C. Honda of Cibo Matto. Recorded mostly at Sean Lennon’s home studio in New York City, the album displays an edgy, multi-instrumental soundscape that showcases Martha’s raw, confessional poetry with undeniable style and grace.
Whitley burst into public consciousness in 2011 as the lead singer of Black Dub, project of super-producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan), blowing people away with a voice and presence beyond her 25 years. And it’s that voice: an emotional, blues-drenched instrument that ranges from a lilting slap to a knock-you-backwards uppercut. Whitley first met Lanois at a music festival in Belgium, where he was playing a gig with drummer Brian Blade, best known for his work with Joni Mitchell and Wayne Shorter. Lanois invited Whitley to Boston to record, and asked her to front Black Dub, working with Blade and bassist Daryl Johnson. The band’s self-titled album was released in October of 2010 and the group toured well into 2011, with Whitley’s voice propelling the group’s unique groove to ultimate peaks.
On her debut album Fourth Corner, Whitley explores the range of human emotion in another set of four: utter love, total rage, unadulterated happiness, and crippling loneliness. Recorded in New York with producer/keyboardist Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman, who’s also worked with Glen Hansard, Antony and the Johnsons, Grizzly Bear and the National) and engineer Pat Dillett (David Byrne, St. Vincent, Mary J. Blige), with string arrangements by Rob Moose (Antony, Bon Iver), the record is a tantalizing mix of sounds that can come only from someone who says: “I’m from everywhere but have never felt like I belong.” Whitley lived a nomadic life: born in Belgium, she split her time growing up there and in New York, while also frequently visiting family in France, Texas, and Mexico.
With buzz-building performances at festivals like Bonnaroo, SXSW, and Celebrate Brooklyn, her 2012/13 solo tours in Europe and the US, and her 2014 win for Best Female Artist at the MIA awards in Belgium, Whitley has become one of the most talked about new artists on the international music circuit.