Songs for Shelter
Songs for Shelter showcases the cream of Seattle songwriters and musicians from the past 30 years (from Danny O'Keefe to Laura Veirs, Wayne Horvitz to Laura Love, Jim Page to Reggie Garrett) in a collection of mostly NEW RECORDINGS. Primarily folksy, the CD ranges from blues to funk, traditional Irish to rock. It features new compositions, reworkings of old favorites and recent releases stitched together by the performers' commitment to providing something special to support efforts to end poverty in our community. While most compilation fundraising projects only recycle album tracks, Songs for Shelter features 10 cuts that have never been released before, including 8 tracks recorded specifically for the project and two songs written expressly for it. (Details below!) The irony is that artists, whether visual, music, or written word, are often closer to the realities of poverty than many of other folks. Many of them live close to the economic fault line and have great sympathy and support for this work. All of the musicians donated their work. Four recording studios provided free studio time enabling musicians to record new tracks for the project. Tracks include: Wayne Horvitz and Robin Holcomb's ethereal take on the traditional 'I've Been All Around This World.' Known more for his jazz work, Horvitz, who learned this tune off an old Jerry Garcia album and recorded it for this project, offers a meditative, quirky reading that includes a rare vocal appearance by Wayne in support of Robin. Grace Hearn and Michael Savage's soaring 'Snow on the Ground' a personal tale of melancholy that rises and falls on the sheer power of Grace's lead vocals and Michael's harmonies, catchy guitar riffs and lush production. Paul Benoit's sloopy 'Palm Wine Drunkard.' a tale of resignation celebrated through a feast of layered slide guitars, recorded especially for Songs for Shelter. Reggie Garrett's spine-tingling 'When Daddy Gets This Way,' written and recorded for this project is a tale of a child's grappling with his drunkard father in which the pain and fear is all the more striking in contrast to Reggie's melodic soundscape and sweet high vocals. World Champion Irish fiddler Martin Hayes contributes a rare multi-tracked solo rendition of the traditional tunes The Humours of Tulla and Last Night's Fun. Setting his lilting violin against a cross-cutting viola track, Hayes, who recorded these tunes specifically for the project, brings a fitting close to the melancholy first chapter of Songs for Shelter. Danny O'Keefe amps up the mood in a tight, rocking reworking of his mid-70's classic 'The Hereafter.' Backed by snarly guitar and a crisp, driving rhythm section, O'Keefe offers a streetwise vocal that unmasks the a basic tenet of life on the streets: If you ain't here after...I'm GONE!' Laura Love opens her high-spirited live band rendition of her classic 'I'm Givin' Way' by shouting to the crowd at Seattle's Triple Door: 'It's good to be home!' Her spirited groove, available in this live cut only on this release, offers hope that all people can reach their home, no matter what they are 'givin' way!' 'In this world of misery, it's getting harder to be...' sings a road weary Jared Clifton of Seattle's roots rocker favorites, the recently defunct Radio Nationals. 'Scream' with it's downer vocals contrasted by a hint of slide guitar hope sounds like an outtake from a lost Uncle Tupelo session. Laura Veirs offers a whimsical solo reading of 'Secret Someones.' Spare and simple compared to the denser version on her recent Nonesuch release, this cut offers a 'you can only get it here' opportunity to get see into the core of Veirs' impressionistic take on life's wandering. Jim Page's 'Too Much Money' is a conversational musing on the social/political foundation of homelessness: 'Some people have too much money,' Page sings over his crisp guitar. With a keener mind than most world leaders, the internationally known songwriter posits a solution that would go a long way toward ending the inequities of our world. 'Sweet Betty Blue' is Carrie Clark's twang-tinged tale of a child abandoned to a world that 'will not change just for you.' Featuring Clark's dynamic vocals and a snaky backing band, and newly recorded for this release, Sweet Betty Blue will curl up in your brain and keep coming back. The Electric Bonsai Band's 'Lounging in the Belly of the Beast' features a hurricane of lyrical wordplay that highlights many of the factors that can lead a family over the edge. Over a galloping band of NW all-stars, Andrew Ratshin's high tenor catalogues the overstressed, over stimulated lifestyle of our age, sweetened by harmonies and hooks galore. Orville Johnson is the ultimate musician's musician. His incredible guitar and dobro playing are on display on over a hundred albums ranging from R&B to jazz, blues to ballads. 'The Sleeper' blends his syrupy smooth vocals and the dreamy clarinet of Mongrel Folk partner Mark Graham into an exhortation to all of us, homeless person to activist, community member to care provider to 'get back to the things that you believe.' Artis the Spoonman is the world's most well-known spoon player, having played around the globe and been featured on a Grammy-winning Soundgarden album. But, living in poverty and making his living playing mostly on the streets of Seattle, Artis is an embodiment of the connection between artists and poor people. For his life's struggle, his 30-year connection to Song For Shelter's beneficiary agency, and for his long career of making beautiful and meaningful music from cast off objects, Artis is the heart and soul of this project. 'Dusty Road to Dawson' features Artis dynamic playing off of a fiddle tune backed by Jim Page. Songs for Shelter closes with 'Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor,' in a new reading by street buskers Slim Pickens. This timeless cut about the displaced offsets the resignation of Jacob Landry's ageless vocals and the optimism of Annie Fords' old-timey fiddle 'Music has a magical quality, it seeps into our unconscious mind and can move us to great things,' said producer Mike Buchman. 'It is my hope that these songs burrow deep into the minds and hearts of listeners, motivating them to find the ways they can best contribute to fighting poverty in our community and their own!' Proceeds from Songs for Shelter will go to support shelter, case management and homelessness prevention programs of Seattle's Fremont Public Association's, a service and advocacy agency that helps 25,000 families each year to overcome poverty and build brighter futures. Beyond raising money to support direct services, Songs for Shelter provides an opportunity to raise awareness and motivate people to get involved.