lifeblood: listlogs: 2009v11n017-news

ig-news-digest         friday, march 27 2009         volume 11 : number 017

today's subjects:
  [ig-news] article from the advocate  [sherlyn koo <]
  [ig-news] a couple of short reviews  [sherlyn koo <]


date: fri, 27 mar 2009 10:39:35 +1100
from: sherlyn koo <>
subject: [ig-news] article from the advocate

hi folks,

here's an article from the advocate.  you can read it online at


- ---begin forwarded article---
march 25, 2009
out on their own
after decades of rocking out together, indigo girls shirk the big labels
for a diy venture.
by karen iris tucker

when amy ray and emily saliers first offered up their guileless lyrics,
braided harmonies, and fevered acoustic strums in atlanta's little five
points pub in the mid '80s, the ladies in the audience appreciatively
tossed bras and underwear at their feet. pop culture has since had its
fickle way with their careers, but indigo girls are nevertheless icons to a
core of lesbian fans who through the years have comingled with frat boys
and neo-hippies as they all pumped fists in the air at shows to the duo's
signature song "closer to fine."

much has happened since that single from their self-titled album launched
indigo girls to mainstream notoriety in 1989. nine major-label studio
releases later, the pair is at a crossroads, independently issuing their
most recent imprint, poseidon and the bitter bug, after having been dropped
from hollywood records in 2007, ostensibly due to poor sales.

of going indie, ray, 44, says simply, "it felt liberating." the gravelly
voiced guitarist has always paved her way in diy subterranean scenes, both
in music and social activism.

ray is seated in an empty barroom of west hollywood's still-shuttered
troubadour club, dark eyes staring intently. ahead of the current indigo
girls tour, she paused for an interview during sound check for a solo show
- -- part of her eight-year-strong side project on her own daemon records

as her drummer melissa york of the butchies pounds away in the other room,
ray explains that on hearing that she and saliers had been dropped from
their label, famed producer and keyboardist mitchell froom "was like, 'i'm
still in. pay me whatever you can.'"

ray says that generous spirit reigned when, to save money, the act began a
breakneck three-week recording stretch for poseidon, with bassist clare
kenny, drummer matt chamberlain, and engineer david boucher on board. the
resulting 10-track set (paired with a second cd of stripped-down acoustic
versions of the same songs, plus one bonus cut) has an unencumbered
breeziness to it -- this despite its decidedly contemplative subject
matter. the opening track, saliers's "digging for your dream," is a
portrait of domestic abuse featuring the trenchant line "and you bloody
your hands digging for your dreams."

longtime listeners will note that ray continues to build on her discussion
of gender in the tender ballad "true romantic," asking, "would i still be
the girl that suits your fancy? / would i still be the boy that rocks your

of that duality, ray explains, "i've struggled to really honor the girl [in
me]. the boy is easy to honor -- that's mostly what i am."

later that night, she takes the stage for a well-attended show, in a men's
button-down shirt and tie. coursing through clash-inspired guitar lines,
sweat darkens a long strip of shirt fabric down her back. ray and saliers
have always been impervious to the trappings of image -- to the pressure to
conform to the music industry's take on how to sell female artists. their
fans have adored them for this realness, periodically complaining on the
fan site indigovortex about them wearing too much makeup in their glossy
press photos.

"i think they kind of struggled with what to do with us," says ray of
longtime label epic, which released most of the duo's cds. "they knew that
we weren't going to be any different than we were. they kinda didn't know
what to do with what we were."

by way of explanation, ray cites fellow musician pink, who collaborated on
the indigo girls cut "rock and roll heaven's gate," from the 2007 hollywood
release despite our differences. saliers and ray also lent backing vocals
to pink's song "dear mr. president," from her album i'm not dead. "when she
sort of refers to bisexuality -- her own penchant for knowing that part of
her sexuality -- she's tough, but she's femme. she's got an image and it's
a little more acceptable. if a woman is really hot and gay, it's better
than the butch lesbian indigo girls."

there was a time, however, when indigo girls were not synonymous with the
negative connotation of "butch" or "lesbian," when they enjoyed mainstream
popularity and even won a grammy for best contemporary folk recording in
1990. this is simply because their music had the potential for universal
appeal. that largely changed when the pair -- true to their socially
conscious bent -- officially came out in the media. the tenets of the music
stayed the same, but the press relentlessly branded them anew the "lesbian
folk duo."

"we were naive," says ray. "we thought we could hang on to the universal
thing we had going. you get tired of every critic and every review and
every show where you are kind of made a parody of." still, she is
ultimately happy for what she has. "now, i'm just proud, you know? i'm
proud of our community and i'm proud of our audience. and i'm proud of me
and emily, like, being gay and not shrinking from it all the time. that
would be easy,b she says, followed by a deep, satisfied laugh.

saliers, in a skype internet interview from vietnam, where she was
traveling, says, "i have no regrets about the way things have gone down.
if, by being out, we're helping in the evolution of civil rights, i'm all
for it."

saliers, 45, wrote the cd's ebullient single "what are you like,"
radio-ready pop that sounds like a blissed-out love song. she says the cut
is actually a tribute to two friends "who really saved me when i was having
a rough time." by that she means, "a relationship breakup and midlife
crisis. that, and the war in iraq and the bush administration. that's about
it," she jokes.

"what are you like" has the potential lyrically and stylistically to endear
itself to mainstream listeners. over the years, saliers says, "i do think
that we have been boxed in by labels and that we might be more easily
dismissed because of that. i have always felt that our music had a broader
scope than what we were given credit for."

the latter point stands up, particularly considering the mid-career success
saliers and ray experienced with the female-centered lilith fair concert
tour, an ideal forum to showcase their music. shaming of the sun, released
around the time of the tour in 1997, debuted at number 7 on the billboard
album chart, buoyed by the lilith appearances.

"lilith fair was remarkable; i consider that tour a highlight of our entire
career," says saliers, who recalled reveling in the camaraderie of all the
artists, from headliner and founder sarah mclachlan to sheryl crow to
angelique kidjo.

since that success, indigo girls' mainstream popularity has ebbed
considerably, while their lesbian fan base has remained true blue. this is
not to say that their shows -- typically held in theaters such as radio
city music hall, in new york, and at summer folk festivals -- are entirely
homogenous. the duo has witnessed a new generation of both gay and straight
fans -- the children of die-hard enthusiasts -- attending their concerts.
the difference now is that fans snap cell phone photos rather than tossing

"they don't do that anymore," says ray, laughing.

is she saddened that her audiences are now largely made up of gay women,
with mainstream fandom perhaps a thing of the past?

"when i listen to joe strummer, i'm not thinking, that's heterosexual white
boy music. i'm thinking, wow, i can really relate to that song. i want some
white guy to hear what i am doing and relate to it," ray explains. "and i
want some black guy to relate to it. songwriters want people to relate. you
can't pick that -- you can't choose that. you can't force it. you just have
to be happy for who does relate."

in the context of the unusual lilith fair experience, where female
singer-songwriters rode the airwaves in impressive numbers, saliers
recognizes where her music is today. "singer-songwriters will probably
mostly remain on the fringe of popular music," she says, "but their fans
are loyal. they buy records -- not just singles -- and they come to shows.
serious women writers and artists are able to maintain long, successful,
and meaningful careers. i am thinking of amazing women like lucinda
williams or patty griffin."

songwriter joan osborne met indigo girls on the road and in recent years
lent backing vocals to two of their cds. she draws parallels between the
evolution of their careers and her own.

"we have followings not just from people who have heard the recording but
from people who have come to see live concerts year after year," says
osborne, who mentions, incidentally, that rumor has it another lilith fair
tour is on its way.

"when i have been around amy and emily, i see women who are certainly not
selling millions of records like their first big hit, but who have found a
way to make music they are interested in and proud of. they have also found
a way to work on political causes they are very much involved in --
sometimes more than their music," osborne says.

ray, who lives in rural georgia with her partner, filmmaker carrie
schrader, and saliers, who lives in decatur, each lead busy lives outside
their songwriting. together they founded the organization honor the earth
in 1992, dedicated to native environmental issues. saliers is an avid wine
collector who co-owns the decatur-based restaurant watershed. she has also
written a book about music and spirituality with her theologian father, and
the two give talks around the country on the topic.

as for their future as a musical duo, anthony columbo, billboard charts
manager, sees indigo girls as part of those forging forward within a new
paradigm of independent artists.

"it's increasingly more common for artists to strike out on their own,"
columbo says. "it's more financially feasible: you can make a cheaper
record with fewer marketing costs and less overhead."

he points out that while their last cd, despite our differences, sold only
100,000 copies, "it may not have been what hollywood signed on to, but it's
not a bad number." he adds, "you don't see a lot of female artists with
careers as lengthy, from a radio and sales standpoint. this is a group that
has been around over 20 years."

so what's the key to the perennial staying power of emily saliers and amy
ray? osborne says it's the least complicated thing you can imagine. "what
you see is what you get with them, in a pretty deep way. they're wearing
their hearts on their sleeves, as far as their politics go, as far as their
music goes."

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date: fri, 27 mar 2009 10:49:29 +1100
from: sherlyn koo <>
subject: [ig-news] a couple of short reviews

hey folks,

here are a couple of short reviews of the new album.

firstly, from pridesource in farmington, michigan - online at

- ---begin forwarded review---
hear me out
by chris azzopardi
originally printed 3/26/2009 (issue 1713 - between the lines news)

indigo girls, 'poseidon and the bitter bug'

even with some solid solo projects, there's still nothing quite like emily
saliers and amy ray: the lesbian yin-yang. those rich harmonies? hard to
live without. they're in full-force on their major label departure - and
first album in three years, a beautifully nuanced 10-song set that shifts
the focus a bit from the music to the head-lingering lyrics (showcased
further on the second disc, an acoustic set with one bonus track). with
minimalistic production from mitchell froom, who also worked on the girls'
more rock-heavy "despite our differences," the record features
emotionally-fueled lines like, "we will have caught onto something by the
end of the day, but mostly we think about the one that got away." aww.
indigo girls have always been the heart-on-sleeves type, and though
"poseidon and the bitter bug" takes few risks sonically - though the r&b
grooved "digging for your dreams" is a welcome meander - it does vocally,
especially when ray trades in her hot-blooded rocker voice for a softer
higher range on "sugar tongue." finally, a "bug" worth catching.

grade: b+
- ---end forwarded review---

secondly, from style weekly in virginia beach - online at

- ---begin forwarded review---
indigo girls, "poseidon & the bitter bug" (vanguard)
"poseidon & the bitter bug," the indigo girls' 11th album, shows just how
far emily saliers and amy ray have grown apart during their two decades
together. saliers writes lilting melodies and plainspoken homilies about
love and life, and her songs "digging for your dream" and "i'll change"
could have been written for any of their albums. by contrast, ray is the
andre 3000 to saliers' big boi: a restless sonic tinkerer who seems
increasingly hemmed in by the strictures of their chosen genre. her subtly
erotic "sugar tongue" and sweetly nostalgic "driver education," with its
swerving melody and tactile details, are the best songs here, positioning
her somewhere between springsteen and strummer. "poseidon" is actually two
albums, one with full-band performances of these songs and the other with
drowsy acoustic versions. it's an intriguing idea that proves both singers,
no matter how different they may be, have at least one thing in common:
they both sound better with a full band behind them. hhhii b stephen m.

the indigo girls perform april 19 at 7 p.m. at the charlottesville
pavilion. tickets are $25-$37. they also return to richmond this summer on
june 10 at the lewis ginter botanical garden.
- ---end forwarded review---


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end of ig-news-digest v11 #17

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