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Alice Wallace and The HawtThorns
February 15 @ 12:30 am - 2:30 am UTC
The Evening Muse presents Alice Wallace and The HawtThorns @ INTO THE BLUE — Alice Wallace By Holly George-Warren “It’s a song about taking the risk to do what you love,” Alice Wallace says of the soaring track, “The Blue,” which yields a lyric entitling her spellbinding new album. With Into the Blue, the California-country singer-songwriter conjures the atmospheric sound of the Golden State’s canyons and deserts, mountains and crashing waves, its crowning beauty and its tragic losses. At the same time, the supple-voiced Wallace tells her own and others’ stories, weaving tales that resonate as we grapple with so many disturbing national issues. Into the Blue is Wallace’s fourth album but marks her debut on the brand-new Rebelle Road label, an imprint founded by a trio of women dedicated to strengthening the California Country music community and expanding visibility for female artists in the Americana/roots genre. “They care so deeply about giving women a stronger voice in the music industry,” Wallace attests. Having spent the past six years writing songs and touring the nation – from AMERICANAFEST® to county fairs, barrooms to coffeehouses – Alice Wallace is ready to break out. “It takes bravery to ‘sail away into the blue’ and grab it,” she says. “It took me until about six years ago to finally take the plunge, quit my job and go for it. I haven’t looked back since.” – “…one of the most unheralded singers in independent country/Americana.” – Saving Country Music – “It doesn’t take long after Alice Wallace takes the stage to realize we are hearing an exciting new talent to the world of roots music.” – Terry Paul Roland, No Depression – “She’s stunning, and McQueen ‘The Cincinnati Kid’ cool” – Ray Wylie Hubbard It was after Wallace’s return to her birth state of California that she fully embraced her calling as a singer-songwriter. Her musical family had relocated to rural St. Cloud, Florida, when she was a child. She grew up around the sounds of her parents playing guitars and singing, with “Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, their favorite,” she recalls. She also absorbed the country rock of ‘70s-era Linda Ronstadt on the turntable. “I really taught myself to sing by mimicking their styles,” she says. “The powerful belt that Linda has. The emotive lilt to Emmylou’s voice. Trying to navigate those different elements helped me find my own voice nestled in between all that.” She first picked up guitar at age 10, with her dad teaching her to finger-pick at 15, and by senior year in high school, Wallace was performing original compositions at the local Borders bookstore. It was in college that she discovered yet another calling: yodeling, that haunting vocal style that blends blues, country, and western. Wallace’s own “A Little Yodel” added her to the ranks of legends Patsy Montana and Carolina Cotton. In 2008, when the Wallace family relocated back to Southern California, she joined them. There, she began focusing on writing, performing, and touring, both solo and with a band. Since 2013, she performs some 200 dates a year. One of those with whom she’s shared stages is singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, who says she and her “stunning” songcraft have that “Steve McQueen ‘Cincinnati Kid’ cool.” Pundits agree: she won the 2017 Female Vocalist of the Year at the California Country Awards and the previous year’s Best Country/Americana Artist at the L.A. Music Critic Awards. She was recently singled out by the Los Angeles Daily News and Pollstar for her “dead-on lovely version” of Ronstadt’s “throbbing” “Long Long Time” at the “Palomino Rides Again” event celebrating the legendary California honky-tonk. Into the Blue represents Wallace’s evolution as a recording artist, showcasing her growth as a songwriter as she embraces a fuller sound, backed by some of Americana’s most distinctive players. Co-produced by Steve Berns and Rebelle Road’s studio veteran, songwriter and musician KP Hawthorn (who’ve made a name for themselves working with artists in the West coast Americana scene), the album is brimming with soul. The formidable rhythm section, including drummer Jay Bellerose (Bonnie Raitt, Elton John, Aimee Mann) and bassist Jennifer Condos (Jackson Browne, Graham Nash), underpins instrumentation ranging from Tom Bremer’s crunchy electric guitar to Kaitlin Wolfberg’s lush string arrangements to keys and pedal steel from Jeremy Long (Sam Outlaw). Wallace uses an intoxicating array of vocal styles to bring her songs to life: a dusky alto on “The Lonely Talking” (co-written with KP Hawthorn); gospel-tinged belting on “When She Cries” (inspired by the end of a six-year drought in California), and a soaring soprano on “Santa Ana Winds.” The latter, a country-rock chronicle of California’s devastating wildfires, is a co-write with Dallas artist Andrew Delaney, a frequent collaborator whom she calls “the most brilliant lyricist I’ve ever met.” Wallace inhabits his stirring “Elephants,” giving voice to women who refuse to be “quiet as a mouse in a room full of elephants.” The Wallace-Delaney-penned “Echo Canyon” is, she says, “a southwestern cowboy ballad that’s a modern take on a yodel song.” Wallace’s heart-wrenching “Desert Rose” tells of a young mother’s struggle to give her baby a better life across the border. Lyrically, the heart of the album is the luminous anthem, “The Blue,” says Wallace. It describes her own journey to “get over my fears and go for the thing I love the most.” She knew that being a traveling troubadour and committing herself fully to music could be a dangerous choice. “In some ways, I wish I had done it sooner,” she says. “But I’m also glad I have the life experience to help fuel my songwriting and survive life on the road.” The highly charged emotional feel of “The Blue” derives in part from its exquisite layered harmonies – Wallace’s vocals joined by those of her father, mother, and brother. Known as “blood harmony,” when kinfolk sing together, it conveys a rapturous kind of purity and strength. That buoyancy radiates throughout Alice Wallace’s Into the Blue, lifting her listeners up, transporting them into the world of a seasoned troubadour looking back from a dream realized and dues paid without regret. ************** @ An Americana band whose sun-kissed songwriting, fiery electric guitar, and lush vocal harmonies evoke the California coastline as much as the Bible Belt countryside, the HawtThorns are rooted in the collaborative chemistry of husband-and-wife duo KP and Johnny Hawthorn. – #25 Best Album of 2019 in ALBUMISM – The HawtThorns excel at expertly weaving pop into Americana, which is what makes Morning Sun a special album.” – “Already a leading light in L.A.’s independent country scene, the HawtThorns swing for the heartland country-rock fences with “Shaking,” whose brightly-strummed guitars and sunny harmonies channel the warmth of the band’s west coast home.” – ROLLING STONE COUNTRY Before forming their band in Los Angeles, the Hawthorns both enjoyed acclaimed careers of their own, leaving their marks upon the intersecting worlds of rock, country, and pop music. California native KP (formerly Kirsten Proffit) launched her solo career with 2006’s Lucky Girl, a singer/songwriter record whose tracks found their way onto TV shows like Friday Night Lights and Dawson’s Creek. By 2012, she was also touring the country with Jaime Wyatt and Manda Mosher as a member of CALICO, a trio of songwriters whose warm, nostalgic sound nodded to Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, and other icons of California’s country-rock golden days. The group hit the ground running, playing 200 shows during their first year together. CALICO was a true collaboration, too — a group whose members shared songwriting and singing duties — but after two albums together (both of which were co-produced by Kirsten), the band called it quits. Life and the grind of the road had taken its toll. Besides, KP had become excited about collaborating with another musician: guitar slinger Johnny Hawthorn. As a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, lead guitarist, and record producer, Johnny had already performed with bands like Toad the Wet Sprocket and Everclear by the time he crossed paths with KP at the Cinema Bar in Culver City, CA. He’d also released three albums as a solo artist, with Guitar Player Magazine likening his phrasing to Jimi Hendrix and his vocal melodies to the Eagles. The connection between KP and Johnny was immediate, and the two spent their first date playing songs together. Before long, they were writing songs of their own — melodic music that made room for KP’s voice, Johnny’s guitar, and plenty of collaboratively-written hooks. The two became newlyweds, too, their sound mirroring the mutual respect and reverence found in their marriage. 2019’s Morning Sun is the HawtThorns’ official debut, a collection of warm, West Coast-influenced songs that balance the most engaging parts of the bandmates’ different backgrounds. It’s an amped-up Americana album for guitar enthusiasts and singer/songwriter fans alike. Laced with touches of lap steel guitar, strings, organ, and thickly-stacked coed harmonies, Morning Sun also introduces the HawtThorns’ full lineup — a roster that includes drummer Matt Lucich and bassist Eliot Lorango — while making room for additional contributions from Sasha Smith, Kaitlin Wolfberg, and Arthur Barrow. From the heartland rock & roll of “All I Know” to the soulful empowerment anthem “Rebel Road” to the lushly-harmonized highway ballad “The 405,” Morning Sun shows the full range of the HawtThorns’ interests and abilities, with production from Eric Corne (founder of the band’s label, Forty Below Records), Steve Berns, and KP Hawthorn. The album also includes a John Moreland cover, a revamped version of Johnny Hawthorn’s “Give Me a Sign,” four songs co-written with Berns, and the chiming, high-spirited lead single “Shaking.” In a genre that often trends toward moody sounds, Morning Sun is every bit as bright as its name indicates — an Americana album inspired by the sun-streaked California landscape in which it was written and recorded. It’s a record about intersecting lives and finding that balance, with songs that rely equally on Johnny’s guitar lines (which he approaches with the nuance of a songwriter) and KP’s melodic sensibilities. KP and Johnny aren’t newcomers — they’ve both weathered the ups and downs of the music industry for years, struggling to overcome musical (and personal) breakups along the way — but they’ve tapped into a new beginning with Morning Sun. Here’s to fresh starts.