Shelley King plays tracks from Building A Fire and talks about quitting her day job and developing an instinct for backup vocals. Also on this episode, backwoods country rock from Shovels & Rope, soulful anthem from Ben Glover, high speed bluegrass from Town Mountain, country rock from The Felice Brothers, outlaw rock from Waylon Speed, country from Billy Joe Shaver, blues from Paul Thorn, country from Philip Claypool, and lo-fi blues from Grace Askew.
This bonus episode is sponsored by the Sandy Beaches Cruise. Don't forget you can enter to win a free vacation for two on the cruise. The drawing is on Sept 30, 2014 so enter soon before it's too late!
Fish Assassin / Shovels & Rope / Swimmin' Time / 1:24
Too Long Gone / Ben Glover / Atlantic / 3:23
Tarheel Boys / Town Mountain / Live At The Isis / 2:10
Real Goodbye / Paul Thorn / Too Blessed To Be Stressed / 3:46
Katie Cruel / The Felice Brothers / Favorite Waitress / 2:37
Smooth The Gain / Waylon Speed / Kin / 3:40
American Me / Billy Joe Shaver / Long In The Tooth / 3:25
Three More Beers / Philip Claypool / Come On Back Home / 3:17
Scaredy Cat / Grace Askew / Scaredy Cat / 4:18
Shelley King Info
Shelley King interview recap
Calvin notes that they are talking on the eve before the official release date of the album and he asks Shelley King how it feels. She says, “I'm so excited! Woo Hoo! I feel like I'm having a baby! [laughs] I'm so relieved. I've been working on this for so long and so hard. I'm so happy that it's finally ready for everyone else to hear. It's an exciting moment.”
Calvin notes that there seems to be a heavy soul/gospel influence on the album and he asks Shelley if that was a deliberate direction she took with it. She says, “No I don't think it was a deliberate vibe. They way I recorded this album and the last album, Welcome Home, I record with members of the subdudes, John Magnie and Steve Amedée. We get together in the studio, not really knowing what we're going to record and I play them a bunch of songs I've written and we all kind of gravitate to one. When we get in there and I go through some songs, everyone goes 'well, I like that one, let's work on that one. So it just came to be that they had that thread that ran through there, but not necessarily on purpose. It's just the way it happens when I work with them. They are kind of my soul brothers so I that soul comes through.”
Shelley King sets up “Grace.” She says it's a “song with a gospel vibe but it's not a gospel song.” She goes on to say, “I'll tell ya how the song came about. I had a gig booked in Washington, D.C and the next night was supposed to be in Cincinnati. While I was in the air to D.C., the Cincinnati gig fell through. So when I got to D.C., I tried to book a flight back to Austin and it was going to be like a $1000 and I was like 'oh no!' So I got creative and ended up spending an extra day or so in D.C. To catch a cheaper flight on another day. I booked myself in a nice hotel. I got something online pretty cheap. I just said, 'you know, I'm going to make the best of this. I'm going to take myself out to dinner. I'm going to have a nice evening of writing a song. This is going to be like an artist date.' That was my goal, to come out of it with a song. All I could think about was how I'd gotten stuck there in D.C. And how much it was costing me. And what I realized is no matter how hard you try to make something go your way, sometimes you don't have any power over what's going to happen. And there are going to be times when things just do not go your way. And the best thing you can do is take it gracefully. And so this song is called 'Grace' and it's about getting through life gracefully even when the hard times come.”
[Calvin plays “Grace” from Building A Fire by Shelley King.]
Calvin asks about the band line up and who did the hair-raising backup vocals on that track. Shelley King says, “Like I said, I worked with John Magnie and Steve Amedée of the subdudes. We got in there in John's studio in Fort Collins, Colorado. And we recorded the tracks with just the three of us. Steve played drums and percussion. John played keys and accordion. And I played acoustic guitar and we did all the vocals there. And then on the last record, I had Tim Cook of the subdudes playing bass, but he had broken his shoulder when we got into the studios so he wasn't able to play bass. So I got Sarah Brown, my bass player back in Austin to play bass on it. And then I added Marvin Dykhuis who plays with me in Austin. He added some guitar work. He added the slide guitar on that song. But the vocals are me and John and Steve. And we had a couple of guests here and there. But mostly it's me and John and Steve. And that's one reason I love singing with those guys. Because our vocals blend so great, plus they just have an amazing instinct for backing vocals.”
Calvin asks Shelley King about her upcoming appearance on the Sandy Beaches Cruise. She says, “First of all, it's the Delbert McClinton and friends Sandy Beaches Cruise. And it is the most fun that anyone, if you go on it, will have in a week, in your life. I had so much fun on it last year. It was my first year to perform on it. I had performed on music cruises before, but none were like that The caliber of music is just amazing. There's so much music, non-stop. It's a floating music festival. Every day you get up and check the schedule and have like five different stages and think we'll let's go see Paul Thorn play and then we're going to go see The Mavericks with Raul Malo and then let's go over hear and catch the Band Of Heathens. It was just one great band after another. And the way it was set up, it didn't overlap so much that you had to miss your favorite band. It was really laid out nicely. Plus the fact that it's a cruise. And there's food, and swimming pools, and great destinations. I think this year we're going to Antigua and St. Croix. And it's the most fun you ever had.”
Calvin asks if the fans get the chance to talk to the performers. Shelly King says, “Oh yeah, we're hanging together! That's what's really cool about this cruise. I was actually hanging out with Delbert back stage and Marcia Ball. And they said, see this. There is no actual 'back stage' There's no line that you can't cross. There's no security guards standing there saying I need to see your passes. It's really open, so anybody can go up to the artists and hang out with them. It's like a family reunion. That was my first one. But most everyone else it was like their twentieth one.”
Shelley King sets up, “The One You Don't See Coming”. She says, “I was in Oklahoma on tour the weekend of the big tornado in Moore Oklahoma. Everybody heard about that one But all weekend tonadoes popping up all over Oklahoma and it seemed every time I got set up at a venue I'd check the radar on my phone and there would be a big read splotch over the venue where I was playing. [laughs] I just couldn't believe it. And I'd check the weather and the weather men kept talking about these 'rain wrapped tornadoes.' That was something I'd never even considered. One thing I thought about tornadoes was you can see them coming, but not these. The thought of that terrified me but I started thinking about how I could equate that to hear break because sometimes that can be right in front of your face but you don't see it coming.”
Calvin asks Shelley about running both the creative and business side of the record. She says “I kind of go in phases. I was in the creative phase for a long time working on this record. And then I moved into the business phase. Now I'm full on in the business phase for the record and I'm going to have make room for creating more music. It's hard to wear all the hats and keep a balance. This is a great time to be independent. We have a lot more opportunity to market music online and things like that than we used to. I think for anyone who wants to do something like that. You gotta really really want it. You gotta be able to live and breath it and love every minute of it no matter what. I'm blessed to get to do what I do. I quit my day job in 1998 and have been doing music solely, and independently, original music, Americana music the whole time. And people may request covers from me at a show. And I'm like 'I write songs I'm here to do my songs. I do very few covers. I only do the ones that really really move me'. Just the idea of staying with it and really focusing on it. It's not something that's going to be an over night success. But this is Americana music, not pop music. I mean there's a difference between say the crowds that Merle Haggard gets vs Lady Gaga. It's a whole different thing, you know? And most of the time people that are in Americana Music and roots music are in it because they love it. It's part of them. I would say that if that's something a young artist wants to pursue and they want to be independent. I think it's very gratifying to know every aspect of my business to have that kind of control. I know a lot of people who lose control or never had it to begin with. And for me it's my music and I'm putting it out there and it's making it's way and I'm so happy about it.”
Calvin asks if there was a point where Shelley King felt she was going to make it. She laughs and said. “Yeah, It was the day I quit my day job. As soon as I got home the day I quit my job. All the way home I thought my god have I gone crazy. I have a mortgage and grown up bills. What am I thinking?' I was not well known I had not even put out my first CD at that point but I knew I needed to focus all my energy on it. And I came home that day and called everyone I knew in music business and told them what I'd done and I booked eleven gigs that day. And I knew I was on track. And every single day something great happens even if it's tiny, I recognize it and know it's a sign I'm on track. Every day miracles happen and every day I know I'm doing the right thing and am on the right path.”
Shelley King sets up “Building A Fire.” She says, “I wrote that after I'd been to my first Americana Festival in Nashville. It was a few years back. The song starts off. I'll start writing a song from one perspective and then as I get into it a story develops in my head and I create a story. Well, this one had started out about my passion for music and as it went on it turned into some other kind of story a kind of love story, [laughs] a story of passion. It was sort of a story about the business bu
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