In this interview in the Mariposa Talks series, Hamilton-based county singer Lori Yates talks about working with some of the greats of Nashville, about her struggles to overcome addiction and about a foray into stand-up comedy. She also offers telling insights into how the music business has changed dramatically during her 30-year career.
Here’s some live performance videos of Lori Yates for your enjoyment:
Iconic Lucinda Williams is Mariposa’s Saturday Evening Main Stage Headliner
Lucinda Williams has been maneuvering down a path all her own for more than three decades now. Hailing from Lake Charles, Louisiana – a town with a rich tradition in all of America’s indigenous music, from country to the blues – her creative verve is deeply informed by being imbued with a culturally rich, economically poor worldview. After several years of playing the hardscrabble clubs of her adopted state of Texas, Williams gained a solid enough footing to record a self-titled album that would become a touchstone for the embryonic Americana movement.
While not a huge commercial success at the time – it went out of print and stayed there for years – Lucinda Williams (aka, the Rough Trade album) retained a cult reputation, and finally got the reception it deserved upon its reissue. Jim Farber of New York’s Daily News hailed the reissue by saying “Listening again proves it to be that rarest of beasts: a perfect work. There’s not a chord, lyric, beat or inflection that doesn’t pull at the heart or make it soar.” In calling it “a masterpiece,” Blurt magazine dubbed it “a discovery worth making and music that will live in your heart and mind long after the disk stops spinning.”
For much of the next decade, Lucinda Williams moved around the country, stopping in Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, and turning out work that won immense respect within the industry (winning a Grammy for Mary Chapin Carpenter’s version of Passionate Kisses) and gradually growing a very loyal cult audience. While her recorded output was sparse for a time, the work that emerged was invariably hailed for its indelible impressionism: like 1998’s Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, which notched her first Grammy as a performer.
The past decade brought further development, both musically and personally, evidenced on albums like West (2007), which All Music Guide called “flawless…destined to become a classic” and Blessed (2011), which the Los Angeles Times dubbed “a dynamic, human, album, one that’s easy to fall in love with.” Those albums retained much of Williams’ trademark melancholy and southern Gothic starkness, but also exuded more rays of light and hope: hues that were no doubt imparted by a more soothing personal life, as well as a more settled creative space.
Those vibes come to the fore once again on her latest release, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone (2014). While the album stays very much rooted in the here and now, Williams also conjures up the spirit of classic ‘70s country soul – think Bobbie Gentry. The resulting warmth of tone gives the album a late-night front-porch vibe.
It is said you can divide music into three categories: the kind that aims for the head, the kind that aims for the heart and the kind that aims for the hips. Forging two of those connections at once is pretty impressive, but connecting on all three? That’s a rare accomplishment. But it’s not too much to ask of the iconic Lucinda Williams.