Sunday, June 6, 2010
10 Shots with Gracie B Curran
When people with a respected musical opinion tell me to check out another artist, I am usually all ears. I’m fortunate to have a strong connection of friends and mentors who know enough not to waste my time...
That’s how I met “Gracie B” Curran. After hearing great things from all of the right people about Gracie B, by chance I had a chance to see & hear her sitting in with Blind Billy & The Spectacles. Having ripped through an outstanding rendition of “Kansas City”, Gracie B came back out into the audience to have a few beers with the disassembled masses....
In between Pabst pints, Gracie B said all of the right things about music, I was awful fortunate to have such a strong musical network of musicians....only then did I let her know I was the man behind the wayfarers...
In between rehearsals for their upcoming gig at Mari's Place ( www.marisplace.com) in Quincy Mass on Saturday, June 12th ( 9PM to 2AM) Gracie B had a chance to step up to the bar and do Ten Shots....
As always with Ten Shots this is the artist in their own words...
Georgetown Fats - Tell me about how you got your start in music?
Gracie B - My mom was the choir director at our church. There was always music in our house, I've always love to sing. My dad and I would stay up real late; sit at the kitchen table and he'd tell me about seeing Janis Joplin, or Bob Dylan back in the day down the cape... seeing the obvious effect it had on him- made me want be that singer that dad's tell their daughters about. And the first time I sang with a live band, I knew I was ruined for anything else...
Georgetown Fats - In addition to singing, I hear you have also begun tooting away at a blues harp? How is it going for you?
Gracie B - I'll be honest its not sounding too great. Horrible actually. But check back in with me after my lesson with Blind Billy. Perhaps after I’ll suck a bit less. Or more, maybe thats the problem, I don't suck hard enough? oooh man...
GF - So do you play any other instruments?
Gracie - I was recently inspired to buy a Hammond M3. We'll see how that goes after I get to know her a bit better. Unfortunately my lack of coordination, awkwardness, and clumsiness may it difficult for me to play an instrument. I'm still working on being able to sing and tambo at the same time... I'm working on it though!
GF - Tell me about some of your musical inspirations, are they all blues artists?
Gracie - I just feel blues differently then most other genres of music.
I grew up with the Beatles, Carly Simon, Bette Midler, and Janis Joplin- but when I heard Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman" the first time, I knew I was in love with the blues and soul, and I couldn't get enough-
Then, I think it was going to record stores that made me dig deeper- I love the sound of vinyl. In a way just the medium alone led me to get an education and discover more blues and soul artists and albums.
People would give me mix CDs (which is the best gift ever)- and just talking to other musicians, what they like, what they think you should check out... then you hear Robert Johnson and Son House along the journey- its so simple but so honestly emotive. You take the influence and inspiration that comes from whatever gives you that feeling, and then you do your best to relay that emotion and feeling yourself-
I love everything from Etta, to the Black Keys and something I particularly appreciated about Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings was that they specifically recorded on equipment that would give them a certain timelessness. You listen to the album and you wouldn't think it was recorded recently. The band is just smokin'...
GF - What is the hardest part for you with the business aspect of music?
Gracie - At the moment its really the desire to play original music. The blues and soul are so much about emotion, it just feels inauthentic to do covers or covers of covers. And at the same time, its a lot of fun to play tunes that everyone knows and sings along to. I guess just finding the balance between satisfying the crowd and being satisfied creatively and hopefully one day that will be with originals and not Mustang Sally.
GF - Do you have any musical horror/funny stories you would like to share? Please feel free to emit any names of any guilty or clueless parties.
Gracie -We filled in last minute for a gig at Copperfields in Boston. It was a Thursday night in September. Two people came out to see our band that night. One guy was hammered, insisting he was a gypsy who very much enjoyed gyrating in my face (one leg on the stage even, a lot of thrusting). The other was intently watching us intently from the bar, sipping his Pabst Blue Ribbon and shooting Jack. When it came time to "work the crowd" at the end of the show, it was either talk to the gypsy or the guy at the bar in the High On Fire T Shirt. I chose the guy at the bar, we started talking and we've been dating for three years now. When we fight I remind him that I could have picked the gypsy.
GF - How long have you been working with ‘The High Falutin’ Band’, and how did you meet the guys?
Gracie - Me and the High Falutin' fellas have been playing together now for a few months. I met Geoff Murfitt about four years back, he's a sick sick bass player but he's also just a good time, super laid back. I've known Tommy for a while now too and still I think I’ve only seen probably 17% of what he can do so Im looking forward to seeing the other 83%. (is that right? math wise?). As a singer its easy to get sucked into a situation where you play with different players every night, whatever lineup you can grab. This is an attempt to make something that can grow and evolve into something good and its own. These are great guys and great musicians; I'm learning a lot, we have fun, play well together and Im looking forward to seeing where it goes.
GF - Are there any plans to take ‘The High Falutin’ Band’ into the studio anytime soon?
Gracie - I hope so. I was laid off in February from my "day job" right after I started playing with Geoff and Tom. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason so I just decided to kick the writing up a few notches and throw all my focus into music. I'm hoping we can introduce more and more original tunes as we go. So I guess by 2015-ish we'll be playing all our own stuff. Ha.
GF - If memory serves me correct, you’re hosting an open mic on Tuesdays. What locale, and how has the turnout been?
Gracie - I hosted an open mic in Back Bay for a while. Like a hundred Berklee kids every week- it was pretty fucking entertaining but pretty intense. The vibe at the My House Lounge on Tuesday nights is much different. Very relaxed and chill. Its right outside of Quincy center and it doesn't cost $12 for a Jack and coke so Im a happy camper. We've had a great crowd - I think the best part of an open mic is you never know what someone is going to pull outta of their back pocket. Like the Susan Boyle effect. You just never know who in the crowd will get up and blow you away.
GF - A ‘Janis Joplin’ cocktail is made with Southern Comfort, Sprite, and has a salted rim. Walk me through how someone would make themselves a ‘Gracie Curran’ cocktail.
Gracie - I'd have to say Root beer and Jack Daniels in a frosty mug. With a Prilosec chaser. Now thats badass!
GF - What magazine or publication will it be to run a story about you which will let you know you’ve made it?
Gracie - Time Magazine. They don't mess around and I like their music reviews. If you're in there, you must be pretty legit. Obviously if you make it into Rolling Stone, things are probably going pretty well. High Times would just be a nice big soap box to stand on. Granted I'm pretty jazzed about this 10 Shots article :)
I think the first time I hear myself on the radio is when Ill feel like I really succeeded or even playing the main stage at the House of Blues- We'll see.
GF - Van Halen used to request bowls of M&M’s with the brown M&M’s plucked out, Dustin Diamond won’t let comedy clubs mention he was “Screech” when promoting his comedy routine, what amusing thing is or will be in your contract rider?
Gracie - I don't really dig the diva-ness of all that, I'm easy. I like all M&M's equally.
Georgetown Fats - Is it possible to ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ if you’re not wearing pants?
Gracie Curran - Being Pantless is wonderful, and in itself makes you feel like you are flying- If you see me in a skirt its purely for the breeze...
Thanks again to Gracie B for being such a good sport, and for having the chops and willingness to get a little weird. For more info on Gracie B & The High Falutin’ Band check them out at;