June 7, 2008
and The Tearjerks
Amy writes "I've been told that I sat down at my grandmother's piano at age 3 and plunked out Mary Had A Little Lamb. I suspect this is myth. But I did start piano lessons at age 5, studied through high school, never practiced and became an expert at sight-reading and lying to my teacher about how many hours I practiced. I would utilize these skills while playing clarinet and tenor saxophone. I was a bit of a ham in school, and liked to make up skits and characters with my best friend Laura. We spent a lot of time in detention together. Someone got smart and figured out the best way to divert our energies was to give us both solo's in the middle school musical review. That was the beginning. A little bit of applause goes a very long way. Plus, I figured out very early that not being the most popular or the prettiest girl wasn't necessarily a problem when dealing with a 15 year old crush. Having the lead in the school musical sometimes was the best revenge."
... but that was then.
Of late, Amy Speace has won a loyal grass-roots fan base, thanks in large part to live performances that merge warmth, humor and emotional immediacy, and to a tireless touring schedule that's already taken her across the United States. She's also won considerable critical acclaim, with Time Out New York stating, "Amy Speace plays sweet, twangy folk music with a clear voice and an innocent vulnerability", The Village Voice observing that Speace is "taking her Americana away from twangy contemplation toward tangy confrontation" and noting that she's "not another of those breathy would-be child poets, but a real singing writer of songs." and The Nashville Scene noted that she "balances wry humor with open-hearted honesty."
Speace's vividly drawn songs reflect the wealth of experience that the artist has packed into her young life. The Baltimore native spent much of her youth in Minnesota and rural Pennsylvania, and studied piano, clarinet and saxophone. While in college, she acted in student stage productions while pursuing a passion for opera that led her to study classical voice in New York City. She won a spot with the prestigious National Shakespeare Company and roles in various off-Broadway production and several independent films; she wrote and directed plays while running her own theater company in Manhattan's East Village, taught Shakespeare in the New York City school system, temped, waited tables.
Bitten hard by the music bug, Speace soon began performing as half of the female acoustic duo Edith O. That twosome released a CD, Tattooed Queen, that received a fair amount of local attention until her then-partner quit to raise a family. Speace continued undaunted, performing as an acoustic solo artist. Her first performance at the historic Village club the Bitter End turned into a monthly gig, followed by a popular residency at the Living Room. In 2002, she released her solo debut, Fable—recorded with $5000 donated by fans—on her own Twangirl label. Giving up her hard-won acting career to embrace music full-time, she hopped into her car and hit the road, booking herself into every club, café and college that would have her.
Amy's D.I.Y. diligence paid off. Her roadwork won her a national audience, and her travels found her sharing stages with the likes of Alejandro Escovedo, Steve Forbert, Lucy Kaplansky, Ricky Skaggs, as well as her future label patron Judy Collins. She's won several notable honors, including awards from the USA Songwriting Competition and the John Lennon Songwriting Contest; she was also named a Finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival's competition for new artists. She was also featured in Epiphone Guitars' 2005 "Women Who Rock" Calendar. She even emerged as a civic booster of sorts when her song "Why Not Wyoming" caught the attention of that state's tourist department and was featured in its 2004/2005 national TV and radio ad tourism campaign.
She's also written "I've been called 'sassy' ... sometimes that's a bad thing. I embrace it as a good thing."
It’s all there in her songs, which often were indeed sassy. Her voice can be sweet and soft or it can be vibrant and driving with hints of Mary Chapin Carpenter. This was a strong, balanced show by a spectacular young artist. She performed on our stage with her scintillating band, the Tearjerks — guitarist Rich Feridun, bassist Matt Lindsey and drummer Jagoda.
Praises by others for her performances:
or visit her web site:
Opening tonight were our featured open mike performers:
Our host tonight was Ira Perlman.