Saturday, Sept 17, 2005

Anaïs Mitchell
on the same program with
Tom Griffith

Anaïs Mitchell

ANAIS MITCHELL naïs Mitchell was born and raised in the state of Vermont, home of Phish, Ben & Jerry's, and the Civil Union, where high school kids drive fast on dirt roads, blasting Zeppelin, where rednecks and hippies marry each other, and where there are no billboards, anywhere. Anaïs (she says that her father pronounces her name in the traditional manner, ah-nah-ees, but she prefers the easier Americanized ah-nay-is) spent a happy, happy childhood on a sheep farm in the 80's with assorted family members, animals, and guests, who taught her to love music early on, especially the folk canon from Rise Up Singing and her novelist dad's record collection of folk revivalists and psychodelic rockers.

he began writing songs at seventeen, and at eighteen she moved to Boston and started playing them for whoever would listen, usually the seen-it-all commuters waiting for trains at the Park St. T station or the types who didn't mind hanging out at 18+ open mikes. After a year of that, Anaïs enrolled in a liberal arts school back in Vermont, where she studied political science and languages, deejayed a folk radio show, and wrote and performed a good deal.

he spent a half-year in Austin, Texas, waitressing on Sixth Street and playing out as much as she could. She also recorded her debut album during that spring: The Song They Sang When Rome Fell. Anaïs spent a semester in the Middle East and did some unexpected touring there with a rock project called Circus Guy's Rock & Roll Revue. After college, with the help of Michael Chorney and Waterbug Records, Anaïs released a new album, Hymns for the Exiled. The Kerrville Folk Festival honored her work with the prestigious New Folk award in 2003.

naïs is passionate about the music of her native land, from old-school country to dustbowl labor ballads to rebel rock, however, the time she's spent in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East has lent a worldly depth to her writing, which she presents to her audience with a graceful presence of spirit.

nfluences? ... Anaïs's music is influenced by every chick-singer's muses: Joni, Ani, Dar, Rickie Lee, Lucinda, and most recently Gillian Welch. On the masculine front, Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Tom Waits have been awfully important to her.

e were deeply impressed by Anaïs' wide-ranging moving lyrics and forceful delivery at this, her debut appearance on our Hard Luck Café stage!   Viva el folk! Folk music audiences throughout our land will revel at fresh young talent like this.

thers have praised her with:

  • "Folk music is in good hands,"
        — Susan Werner

  • "Not since Bob Dylan's early years has a 23 year old songwriter had such power and meaning."
        — Jonathan Byrd

  • "I am going out on a limb to say that Mitchell may be the best under-30 year old singer-songwriter currently performing. While she doesn't sound like Ani DiFranco, she's every bit as good as, if not better, than DiFranco at the age of 23. Mitchell can write. She writes highly political and social songs, but does so with finesse and poetry. She doesn't beat you over the head, she seduces you. The song Two Kids chills while it brings a tear to your eye. Her melodies are like zebra mussels that latch on and stick to your consciousness."
        — Rich Warren, Midnight Special, Chicago, IL

  • Link to Anaïs' website:         Listen to her music:

    and on the same program

    Tom Griffith

    TOM GRIFFITH ongwriter and veteran producer Tom Griffith is highly gifted at presenting ordinary events in an extraordinary light: his silly '60s slice-of-life Strange Girl always elicits giggles from listeners, whether or not they actually do remember those halcyon Vietnam era days, and his composition He Wants to Join the Corps deftly captures a father's foreboding at his son's choice in our age with yet another controversial war raging.

    bout his music, Tom says: "For whatever reason, I have never been able to go in a musical straight line. Some might go so far as to say I've spiraled out of control instead. My songs draw on my rock and folk roots, but for me the style of music I play is always subservient to the song. The song is king. I consider my guitar playing a means to articulate my songs, instead of my songs being vehicles for my guitar playing."

    om's guitar playing, notwithstanding his overly modest appraisal, is some of the finest, tastiest, most elegant picking you are likely to hear anywhere. Tom is much in demand as a session musician because of his almost uncanny ability to add just the right part, and to perfection. Single Flame producer Mike Morrison put it directly: "You kick more ass than anyone I know, even if sometimes it's your own."

    ecently, Tom took 6 months off from his latest CD project to record a children's CD entitled The Web of Life. He premiered it at the National Montessori convention in Boston last year. The Web of Life contains musical lessons in Math, History, Biology and Interdependence for 9 to 12 year-olds.

    om played songs from his perennially soon-to-be-released album When the Boom Goes Bust. The songs are about sex and drugs, peace and love - from a Baby Boomer perspective 40 years later.

    he Hard Luck Café was very proud to have presented Tom in a very rare solo performance.

    Link to Tom's website, and listen to his music:  

    Our host tonight was Bob Westcott, and our open mike featured performances by:

  • Claude Margouleff
  • Jim Dexter
  • Mark Yodice
  • Roger Silverberg
  • Barry Be
  • Samuel P. Lazow
  • Bob Mist
  •   ... and   Martha Trachtenberg
  • If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...