The Bowery Presents
John Prine

John Prine

Sarah Jarosz

Fri, November 16, 2012

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Merriam Theater

Philadelphia, PA

$75, $59.50, $49.50

This event is all ages

John Prine
John Prine
Some four decades since his remarkable debut, John Prine has stayed at the top of his game, both as a performer and songwriter. Recently honored at the Library of Congress by US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, he’s been elevated from the annals of songwriters into the realm of bonafide American treasures.

Long considered a “songwriter’s songwriter,” John Prine is a rare talent who writes the songs other songwriters would sell their souls for. Evidence of this is the long list of songwriters who have recorded gems from his extensive catalog, including Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, the Everly Brothers, John Denver, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Ben Harper, Joan Baez, and many others.

“He’s so good, we’re gonna have to break his fingers,” Kris Kristofferson once said after being justifiably stunned by a Prine performance. Bob Dylan remarked, “Beautiful songs… Nobody but Prine could write like that.”

But long before these awards and accolades, all the concerts and many, many albums, John Prine trudged through snow in the cold Chicago winters, delivering mail across Maywood, his childhood suburb. “I always likened the mail route to a library with no books,” says John Prine. “I passed the time each day making up these little ditties.”

On October 25th, 2011, Oh Boy Records will release The Singing Mailman Delivers. This two-disc archival release features the earliest studio and live recordings from Prine dating back to 1970, one year before that prolific debut album.

In August 1970, John Prine went to Chicago’s WFMT Studios to be interviewed by Studs Terkel. “I asked after the show if it were possible to stick around and tape all the songs I had written up until then,” Prine continues. These studio recordings were simply and sincerely recorded with Prine’s trademark guitar finger-picking and early vocal style. The disc closes with the unreleased track titled “A Star, A Jewel, And A Hoax,” a brief and whimsical look into an often-overlooked cranny of everyday life.

The live performance was recorded at the Fifth Peg in Chicago in November 1970, where Prine would play three nights a week, while still delivering mail during the day. Prine says, “I still maintain that Chicago winters and postman-hungry dogs finally drove me to songwriting.”

With just his acoustic guitar, some audience banter and a friend on bass, 24-year old Prine takes the live audience through 12 of his classic tunes, a few of which already sound like crowd favorites. “I was just learning how to sing a full set of my songs and still manage to talk in between without getting shot or anything thrown at me,” he admits.

These amateur recordings on The Singing Mailman Delivers truly show Prine as a poet whose consummate songs were refined since inception. Even the then-titled “Great Society Conflict Veteran’s Blues,” his studio and live versions of “Sam Stone,” bestow the listener an intricate sense of understanding and compassion from a humble and unassuming songwriter who wrote such words to pass time on his mail route.
Sarah Jarosz
Sarah Jarosz
Recently nominated for a Grammy© Award for the first time. Her original composition "Mansinneedof", off Song Up In Her Head, has been chosen as one of four nominees for Best Country Instrumental Performance!

No musical community has proven more nurturing of emerging talent than has bluegrass and its acoustic tributaries. In part this is because precocious youth has proved a wise investment - from Marty Stuart to Alison Krauss to Nickel Creek - but mostly this is because the players themselves are drawn together by their innate love of the music, pure and simple. And by a common quest for new ways to play it.

Enter Sarah Jarosz, who will turn 18 a few weeks before her debut, Song Up In Her Head is released by Sugar Hill on June 16, 2009. And it's quite an entrance. The shortest distance is simply to list (in alphabetical order) her collaborators: Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Chris Eldridge, Samson Grisman, Alex Hargreaves, Byron House, Paul Kowert, Tim Lauer, Kenny Malone, Mike Marshall, Tim O'Brien, Aoife O'Donovan, Luke Reynolds, Mark Schatz, Darrell Scott, Sarah Siskind, Ben Sollee, Chris Thile, and Abigail Washburn. These are not trifling musicians. They are the cream of the post-'grass movement (or whatever it is to be called) much afoot today, and their presence in Jarosz's debut is far from simple courtesy; it is a celebration.

There is much to celebrate. Jarosz (juh-ROSE) has a fine, supple singing voice, occasionally reminiscent of such disparate artists as Natalie Maines, Patty Griffin, and Rickie Lee Jones. She has a deft writing voice, unusually assured and observant in her debut, and it is more than telling that the album's two covers (the Decemberists' "Shankill Butchers" and the Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan co-write, "Come On Up To The House") fit unobtrusively next to her own eleven songs. And of course she can play: mandolin, clawhammer banjo, guitar, and piano.

Born in Austin, Texas, and raised in Wimberley, 45 minutes south and east of Austin's city limits, Jarosz began singing at two, playing piano at six, took up the mandolin at ten. "Then," she says, "I found out about a weekly Friday night bluegrass jam in Wimberley. My parents took me to that once, and I was just hooked. I asked them to take me back every week. Once I showed an even greater interest in this music thing, they made it possible for me to be able to travel around the country and learn and grow as a musician."

It worked like this: For the last seven years Sarah has attended the week-long academy which precedes the RockyGrass festival in Lyons, Colorado. This year she'll be performing at the festival itself. "It's all just really built upon itself," she says of her career. "I feel like I've never had to push or force anything to make it happen. It's been a really beautiful, natural thing." Already she's played Telluride and Wintergrass, Old Settler's Music Festival in Austin, Grey Fox, and, even, the Country Music Association Festival. She joined Earl Scruggs and Ricky Skaggs on national television during the 2005 CMA salute to the father of bluegrass banjo, and was a special guest at the Del McCoury Band's 2008 New Year's Eve party at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

All of which is to say that she belongs.

The making of Song Up In Her Head with producer Gary Paczosa (John Prine, the Duhks, Chris Thile) was a comparatively simple affair, given that it had to be scheduled around her high school classes and that she was learning how studios worked while making the album. (Learn she must have; Jarosz is credited as co-producer.)

"We started pre-production in March of last year," she says, "and then we really started diving into it around June of last year. I cut the majority of it in Nashville, at Gary Paczosa's studio. We had a session here at Blue Rock Studio in Wimberley, and I traveled up to New York City in December to record with Chris Thile and Paul Kowert. We did one little thing at Blackbird Studio in Nashville. And then we did one more song at [Dixie Chick] Martie McGuire's studio in Austin. Gary was working with her at her studio, and I was able to record one of my songs there."

Simple, see?

"Gary and I would build off of things, and then make more layers," she says. "It was all new to me, so it was an incredible learning process. To have all of those musicians who are pros at it just lend their talents to it was such an honor. And it was such a learning experience in itself to watch them doing their thing."

Jarosz will spend the summer of 2009 doing her thing. And then she's off to college, in Boston, at which point the balancing act - and the learning - will continue.

- Grant Alden
Morehead, KY
March 2009
Venue Information:
Merriam Theater
250 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA, 19102