Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear

[[SOLD OUT]] eTown Live Radio Show Taping w/ Madisen Ward & The Mama Bear and Lindi Ortega

  • When: November 13, 2015 Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Where: eTOWN HALL / 1535 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO 80302
  • Cost: $25 Plus applicable service fees
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More than just a regular concert, eTown is a unique live experience! Audience members will watch the eTown Broadcast recorded before their very eyes, complete with performances and interviews with both of our visiting artists, as well as the eChievement Award segment, eTown's opportunity to honor everyday heroes who are doing their part to make the world a better place. You won't want to miss it!

Doors: 6:00pm
Show Start: 7:00pm
Show End: 9:00pm


 

Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear


Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear

At home, Madisen and Ruth Ward are family members. Onstage, they're the leading members of Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear, a soulful folk band whose sound is anchored by twin guitars and two big, booming voices.

The music started in Kansas City, where Madisen grew up watching his mom perform cover songs at local coffeeshops. Before long, he was writing his own tunes, mixing the old-world influence of his family's folk records with the unchained, energetic stomp of modern-day rock & roll. The two began playing entire shows together, ditching the cover songs in favor of Madisen's original material. Both sang, both played guitar, and both watched as their band's audience slowly grew.

For years, though, they kept a low profile. This was honest music, performed by a band of blood relatives with no record label, no manager, no budget. Still, it was hard not to notice Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear. Onstage, they were solemn one minute and electrifying the next, able to command an audience's attention with little more than two acoustic guitars and Madisen's super-sized baritone vocals.

"Most of the musicians I've really loved have very unique and slightly awkward voices," he says. "Voices that stand out among the rest. When we were playing those early shows, I'd think, 'Belt out something that makes people set their coffee down and really pay attention. Do something to make them stop in their tracks.'"

Madisen Ward & Mama Bear's songs spin tall tales (and a few biographical truths) about life in the Midwest. They unfold like short stories, with Madisen -- who grew up writing fiction -- preferring to cut things off before any sort of ending can be reached. The goal isn't to paint a concrete picture for the audience. It's to hand the audience the paint brush and allow them to finish the design.

Word spread beyond Kansas City. The band headed south to Muscle Shoals for their first out-of-town performance, stole the show during the 2014 Americana Music Festival in Nashville and opened for blues legend B.B. King. Even so, it was the support of Kansas City's alternative-rock radio station, KRBZ, that truly turned the tide. Programming director Lazlo Geiger took the group under his wing, eventually connecting the Wards to the team at Glassnote Records. A record deal followed, and Skeleton Crew— the Wards' first release on Glassnote's roster— will arrive on May 19th.

Produced by Jim Abbiss, known for his award-winning work with Arctic Monkeys and Adele, Skeleton Crew captures Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear in their most natural setting. The two recorded most of the tracks live, sitting across from one another in the recording studio. They didn't use a click track. With help from a handful of session musicians, the two Wards captured the sound they'd been making since those coffeeshop days— a mix of folk, rock and driving roots music that nods to the past while still pushing forward.

The family connection may be unique, but this is a duo that is purely about the music.


www.madisenwardandthemamabear.com



Lindi Ortega


Lindi Ortega, photo credit Julie Moe

There’s a sign on the outskirts of town.

A buzzard sits atop it. The grass brown and parched below. It’s dusty, faded, chipped at the edges, graffiti filling the empty white spaces, a bullet hole or two visible in the large, black letters that read:

Welcome to Faded Gloryville. Leave your dreams behind.

In the eyes and imagination of acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Lindi Ortega it’s a place we’ve all been, we’re all familiar with or will one day know all to well.

Some visit. Some stay. Some escape. Some leave only to return again.

And for Lindi, it was also the source of inspiration — in title and in spirit — for her stunning new collection of country-kissed songs that make up her fourth full-length release set to come out on new Last Gang Record imprint, The Grand Tour.

It is an album that is filled with the sights and sounds and souls of those who’ve found themselves in Faded Gloryville, brought to its saloons, flophouses and cheap motels by drink, by debt, by vanity, heartbreak, failure, fear or misfortune.

Her first glimpse of the place, oddly enough, was in another artistic vision, that of the Jeff Bridges film Crazy Heart, which depicts a fellow musician exiled in a similar metaphorical town, down-and-out, drunk and debasing himself and his talents for those who could care less.

“I had a moment where I thought, ‘Could this be me? Could I wind up like this?’ ” says Lindi. “That was a very honest question to myself.”

That fact, the idea that she would question that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those familiar with the subject matter of her past work, specifically 2013’s Juno Award-nominated Tin Star, considering much of it was powered by Lindi’s experiences as a young, struggling artist in the equally as fabled and dream-dashing place of Nashville, where she now makes her home.

Just as it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those familiar with her incredible gifts that the feisty, fiery and fierce force of nature had no intention of taking up permanent residency in Faded Gloryville.

It was a pitstop. She took what she needed, saw the sights, hung with the locals, and high-tailed it out of there, hitting the road to capture its essence in three very different recording sessions.

The first two were with producers familiar to her work, Dave Cobb who was behind the boards for Tin Star, and fellow Canadian castaway Colin Linden, who helped her realize her vision for 2012’s Polaris Prize nominated Cigarettes & Truckstops.

The results of those, Lindi says, should be pleasing to those many fans who’ve discovered her over the years, fallen hard for her own unique take on the torch and twang of her country influences such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn that has taken her around the world to enthusiastic audiences everywhere.

The final session, though, was one that took her in a somewhat different direction, towards a more Muscle Shoals sound utilized by those that came before her such as Solomon Burke, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke — artists she expresses an affinity and fondness for.

Helping her navigate the new terrain were John Paul White from The Civil Wars and Ben Tanner from the Alabama Shakes, who co-produced in their studio in the deep south what Lindi describes as three of the album’s more “soulful tunes.”

“I feel like country music, itself, is all encompassing. There are different facets of it,” Lindi explains.“And I love all of it, and I’ve always wanted to explore all sounds country-wise. I’ve explored bluegrass, I’ve explored outlaw country, I’ve explored classic country. And now I’m exploring this vibe. Maybe it isn’t necessarily country but it’s connected to the south. So I feel that it makes sense.”

And despite the three different directions Lindi took in the recording process, together, the nine originals and a heartfelt cover of the Bee Gees’ classic “To Love Somebody”, do all make sense, delivering what is the singer-songwriter’s most assured, varied and engaging release to date.

It features everything from barnburner songs and the good ol’ foot-stomping, toe-tapping numbers to the ballads that Lindi has made her calling card, all delivered with an energy and emotional investment that makes them utterly her own.

And, of course, wrapped up in those fashionably tattered yet toney musical threads are the tales of those long-time denizens of Faded Gloryville, delivered with a remarkable amount of smarts, heart and humour.

“There ain’t no stars in Faded Gloryville,” she croons on the title cut. “We’ve chased our dreams into the ground/If disillusion has some hope to kill/Here nobody wears a crown.”And here’s where you’ll find the downtrodden and forgotten, the sinners and saintless, the jaded and jaundiced.

There’s Cheech & Chong-esque enabler couple in “Run Down Neighborhood”, whose derelict dates are down to the local convenience store.

There’s the victim of addiction in “Run Amuck”, who learns the hard way that, “When you run with the Devil you burn everything you touch/Bridges and money and everyone you love.”

And here, too, is the very Lindi-like subject of affection in the song “I Ain’t That Girl”, who warns her would-be suitor that his money, status and Mercedes convertible aren’t going to get the job done: “Ain’t gonna tell you any lies/I’ve got a thing for long-haired guys/You’re too clean-cut with polished shoes/I like ’em rugged with tattoos.”

These are just some of those that find themselves in that town where dreams are left behind and all but forgotten. They may be those we know. They may be us. They may one day be.

But lest you think that the album is one with no hope, an obituary for those who find themselves at the outskirts and on their way into a life from which there is no return, Lindi points to the opening song “Ashes”, which speaks of rising, Phoenix-like, out of that heartbreak and despair and finding oneself, evolving into something more. Ultimately this story, her story, everyone’s story can and should be one of redemption.

“I always look at it like in order to get to Paradise you have to travel through Faded Gloryville,” she says.

Amen.

And Welcome to Faded Gloryville.

 


www.lindiortega.ca