San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Common Ground Coffeehouse @ The First Unitarian Society
The Martha Redbone Roots Project
"Poised to be Americana's next superstar" - VILLAGE VOICE
“In a brilliant collision of cultures, the powerful blues and soul singer Martha Redbone has recorded an album called “The Garden of Love: Songs of William Blake,” which was produced by John McEuen, of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. In it, the mystical, humanistic words of the eighteenth-century English poet are fused with the melodies, drones, and rhythms of the Appalachian string-band music that Redbone absorbed as a child from her grandparents, in Black Mountain, Kentucky.” - THE NEW YORKER
Garden Of Love – The Songs of William Blake is not the debut album of singer/songwriter, producer Martha Redbone, yet it embodies a sonic rebirth and fuller flowering of her own rootsy ethos. Warm, woodsy melodies take flight through the fusion of largely prewar string-band instrumentation and her heart-worn mountain holler, as Sister Martha tells William Blake’s tales of eternal humanitarian values through music distilled in the Southland since before America was founded.
Miss Redbone’s music flows equally from her own unique, award-winning blend of Native American elements with soul and funk and her deep roots in Appalachian folk and Piedmont blues favored by the matriarchy that raised her on a rich sojourn from Clinch Mountain, Virginia to Harlan County, Kentucky and beyond to Brooklyn’s Dodge City-esque mean streets. Indeed, Garden Of Love seamlessly evokes the mid-20th century old timey gold rush when such artists as her fellow Kentuckians Jim Ford and Jackie DeShannon fearlessly infused their downhome blues between canyon air ballets and retronuevo cabinessence – before their followers developed newgrass and Redbone’s twangy forebears Buffy Sainte-Marie and Rita Coolidge brought Indigenous concerns to the rock & roll arena in the 1970s. Yet don’t call this project bluegrass or the purists might have a fit.
It may come as a surprise to some that Redbone, a junior Funkadelic, indie soul pioneer and a woman noted for purveying the wilder shores of rhythm & blues on prior releases Home Of the Brave and Skintalk, recorded her new album in the fabled center of country music, Nashville. Yet, proudly retracing the path of her uniquely American mixed heritage back to its earliest source, she is merely taking the inevitable next step of a maverick artist who has never been chained by borders. Americana is her natural homecoming, sonic and otherwise.
The album, produced by Grammy-winning Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founder John McEuen whose recent work includes Steve Martin’s “The Crow”, drafts in a stellar supporting cast that allowed Martha to focus on vocals and deep communion with the spirits of her ancestors, composer David Amram, cult troubadour Jonathan Spottiswoode and studio veterans Byron House on upright bass and Mark Casstevens on guitar. Reverence and righteous joy from sacred music animate songs like the title track “The Garden of Love”, the glorious “I Rose Up at Dawn of Day,” and haunting “A Dream,” driven by lyrical content from the brilliant mind of Romantic visionary William Blake whose credo ‘Energy is Eternal Delight’ is fiercely reinterpreted for Appalachia. The album resonates with the influence of Redbone’s southeastern raisin’, echoing an earlier time/space through elements of folk, country gospel, stomp chants, and the high lonesome of a front porch Sunday pickin’.
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Common Ground Community Concerts
Common Ground Community Concerts is a grassroots music production and event planning organization based in Westchester County NY. For the past 13 years, Common Ground has produced its flagship Common Ground Coffeehouse series, sponsored by (and hosted by) The First Unitarian Society of Westchester, in Hastings-on-Hudson NY.