Poetic Memory: Amy LaVere (List)

MP3: Amy LaVere – “You Can’t Keep Me”

It’s no secret that we love Amy LaVere.

You may recall that we included the dark and stormy songwriter’s third effort, Stranger Me, on our 2011 year-end list. On the album, dark rock tracks collide with slow-burning, bluesy numbers and murder ballads merge into grunge at a moment’s notice. It’s a great record and has earned many repeated listens here at O&B.

LaVere — who sings and plays upright bass — also puts on a great show, and her San Diego Music Thing performance at Bar Pink last year pretty much sealed the deal for us.

The latest project by the diminutive Tennessean is called The Wandering, and it’s a charming folk/Americana effort featuring Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars, Black Crowes) and a group of female musicians and singers, including LaVere, Shannon McNally, Valerie June, and Sharde Thomas. The band’s debut, Go On Now, You CanÂ’’t Stay Here, was released in May.

Amy LaVere will play the Griffin on June 23. In anticipation of the show, we asked her to send us a list of influences; her thoughtful and interesting Poetic Memory is below.

Poetic Memory: Amy LaVere

Make believe: When I was a scrappy toddler/little bitty kid, my two most prominent memories of daily entertainment included playing out some imaginary story plot that might involve putting hats or bows on our pony Blue and the big gold glowing ’70s-era radio console in the living room of our trailer. I remember playing with it constantly and dancing around the living room pretending to be the singers on the radio. I think pretty early I became addicted to make believe and of course ’70s-era country and folk music — my first music culture.

Moving: We moved A LOT. We traveled A LOT. My mom was always really great about treating each town as an adventure for us kids and we always filled up the weekends with the local museums and events. I figured out pretty young there there was more than one way to peel an apple and always 2 sides of a coin. Diplomacy has always been a strong point for me.

Bluegrass festivals: A common weekend outing for the family. I loved the music and I loved the rowdy camping culture. I loved to request “Footprints in the Snow” probably because, being a Southern girl, the idea of the song seemed exotic.

Live music: We moved to Canada when I was in 4th grade and things were expanding. My new best friends at the Catholic School were twins named Maryellen and Maureen Murphy. They were boy-crazy already and turned me onto bands like Duran Duran and A-ha. Cory Hart was plastered all over their walls. Their dad took us to my first concert, a rockin’ band called The Spoons. And although he made us put toilet paper in our ears, which was humiliating, I was hooked on live music. Concert culture. Boys…

Ultimately, I think the culture of exploration, music, human nature, adaptation, and “make believe” have been the driving force behind my art.

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