Amelia White is musical comfort food for me, coming from that classic place between singer/songwriter, jangle pop and country that comes for the beating heart of the Americana format. I’ve been a fan for years. Her voice is plaintive and real, and her songs each have some fascinating crystalline shape that invites close attention and touch. I loved the brisk snappy mood of opener “Daddy Run” and the half desperate, tempted to the breaking point quality of “Dangerous Angel.” Really sharp was a new song with the really very funny and true observation about the ubiquity of gossip: “dogs bark; people talk.” She brought a razor sharp band that included not just one banging country-plus guitarist (Sergio Webb) but another (John Jackson) who dazzled on frets and slide respectively.
From the “long overdue” file we’ll hear from East Nashville “writer, song-singer” Amelia White, whom I discovered during my days of official discovery duty at The Tennessean. Along about 2002 came a disc called Blue Souvenirs that featured a mix of keening country pathos, urban savvy and resonant songwriting. The composition, texture and singing made me think of Lucinda Williams with better diction and range. Amelia was new to Nashville then (following development years in Boston), and I’d soon meet her in the swirl of the neighborhood and music scene. She proved to be a super-cool, positive person and a tuned-in artist who had a lot more in her than just one debut album. Her 2006 project Black Doves won her tons of acclaim and new opportunities. Her most recent project is the impressive and personal Old Postcard. A recent No Depression writeup said that “she puts her heart out for all to experience and loves to connect with her audiences.”
I asked her what’s up these days, and she wrote back that the major themes of now include a new publishing deal that focuses on her TV show placements (her songs have been on Justified and other shows), plus some songs of hers being recorded by others like Anne McCue and Wild Ponies. And she’s readying a new studio album called Home Sweet Hotel for a winter release. “It is dark, moody and rocking, and explores the tug between life on the road, and life at home,” she said. “I look forward to touring the USA and overseas behind it- and know it’s going to open some doors, and keep me chasing the crazy muse that drives me.”
This time, they brought the Blue Souvenirs with them for a live show that was being recorded, which added immeasurably to the show.
I cannot claim to have penned the phrase "writer-songsinger" but it describes Amelia perfectly. She is a songwriter first and in fact mentioned that she had to become a good singer in order to give her songs the performances they deserve.
She played in Boston's underground (i.e., the T) before moving to Nashville about 13 years ago and the move has clearly agreed with her. Surveying her four most recent albums, the music gets tighter yet freer with each release. She has a new album, Home Sweet Hotel, due in early winter and plans to run a crowdfunding campaign around it.
Sergio Webb, meanwhile, is an in-demand session guitarist who performs with many of Nashville's best. White and Webb perform together frequently and have developed a musical chemistry that works. He is one of the most expressive guitarists I have ever seen, despite his unassuming demeanor offstage. When the band was introduced as "Amelia White with Sergio Webb and the Blue Souvenirs," he clarified that he is a Blue Souvenir.
The other Blue Souvenirs are Marco Giovino (drums, vocals), Russell Chudnofsky (guitar, vocals), and Richard Gates (bass), all based in the Boston area. I hope to see them -- together or separately -- again soon.
White's songs are clearly steeped in the country music tradition, yet I think that even people who say they hate country music would like them. She puts her heart out for all to experience and loves to connect with her audiences.
This was, I believe, the first time they had all performed as a group, or possibly the first time in a long time. They sounded wonderful, although most of the songs required a second recording because they were not happy with the first. This was the beauty -- for the performer -- of this not being a true concert. The band are perfectionists who wanted the songs to sound as good as possible, and I think the retakes stemmed from the fact that they do not perform together on a regular basis. To the audience, though, they sounded great the first time!
It would be worth your while to delve into Amelia White's music, and especially to see her live. She does not play in the Boston area a lot, but she does tour with Webb. Who knows, perhaps they'll add the rest of the Blue Souvenirs in the future. Regardless, this was a terrific night of very high-quality music from some incredibly talented, nice musicians.
Just a night as usual on the road. pull in around 8 pm,,, having driven 8 hours.
Had to get half way to gig. Sergio drank a beer or two in the car (shhh) and we almost had to call the coast guard going through an hour long downpour with some tornado warning lingering…
bad weather from Tx heading east. It cleared up.
we are heading to Silver Spring, MD. to play a show with Mr. Walter “Magnet and Steel” Egan, one step closer to my Stevie Nick’s obsession. Damn.
The Days in is clean if musty and right across the street is Pizza and an asian Hibachi Grill with a broken neon sign-maybe not!
But next door, a goodwill, and a Kroger OH YES.
9pm now, and putting on my pink and purple fancy PJ pants, and feasting on cheap pinot grigio,
hummus, carrots and crackers, I am about to settle in for Dateline?
A knock on the door and there’s Sergio having bought me a new /used bowling bag
with the bowling ball intact- he’s been shopping, and I’m the recipient.
We shall make a grand entrance tomorrow night at Dave Galinski’s SLIGO CAFE
and Walter Egan is sure to open up his inner secrets about Stevie…