We’re a little late on this one, but we did just get back home to California after the longest road tour we’ve done yet. And it happened to be a Honeymoon Tour.
Yuma and I got hitched on March 1st, 2014 here at our home. We later learned that we now share an anniversary with Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash!
Yuma wore a vintage western suit, and I wore my mom’s wedding dress that my grandmother made for her.
Everyone pitched in! My uncle helped plant succulents, my grandmother did all of the flowers,my sister project managed the event, our friend Kim magically produced the backdrop for the band and my dad even did some sewing, something I’ve never seen before! Yuma’s folks generously opened up their home to our guests and made it a really memorable day.
You may have heard that we are in a serious drought out here in the West. After planning an outdoor wedding during what should have been a dry part of the year, it decided to rain. And we couldn’t even complain because we needed it so badly. In fact, since we’ve been back, several people have mentioned that it may have been the last time it rained here in Paso, and suggested that we maybe renew our vows.
We just adjusted to an indoor party at the last minute and even set up to play a show after the ceremony!
A few days later we hit the road on our Honeymoon Tour!
I can’t express enough gratitude to all of the friends who flew in, pitched in, made music with us and wished us well. It felt like the start of something great!
I still want to list a few. It may give some insight into where our new record is coming from…
Blue - Joni Mitchell
The Worse Things Get the Harder I Fight - Neko Case
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
Dixie Chicken - Little Feat
Like Clockwork - Queens of the Stone Age
Rumors - Fleetwood Mac
Southeastern - Jason Isbell
Only Everything - Juliana Hatfield
- Miss Shevaughn
Instead of our end-of-year ‘most listened to’ albums, I’m going to review “Southeastern” by Jason Isbell, because it is THAT important of an album
February of 2011 was when Miss Shevaughn & I moved out of our apartment in Chicago and into our Honda Element. We spent the whole year on the road - and played over 125 gigs. In November of that year, we stopped in Seattle for a few days off. Our friend, Cristina Calle, had gotten us tickets to see Jason & Isbell & The 400 Unit. They were opening for Justin Townes Earle. I had never heard Jason’s music, even though both Cristina and I were acquainted with Jason’s keyboard player, Derry - from when we all lived in the DC/Baltimore area years ago.
Truth be told - I was just really happy to be seeing someone else play their music on stage. Miss Shevaughn & I were REALLY weary from our time on the road. I remember being quite impressed with Jason’s ability as a guitarist, even if some of his songwriting wasn’t as quite as diverse and varied as I would have liked. His band rocked what looked to be a near sold-out show. After the gig, we hung around drinking with Derry, and wisely, didn’t accompany the bands to the bar/diner they were headed to. If we had, my hangover would have been twice as crippling the next day.
Jason was still drinking then, as we all did shots of tequila with him right before he and his band left the venue. He was quite friendly, but still had the look of someone who hit the road hard and didn’t really take good care of himself.
So when “Southeastern” was released earlier this year, it was accompanied with a “I fell in love, got sober and wrote these songs” press campaign. I thought “well, good for him - even if it does sound like a ‘VH1 - Behind The Music’ plot.” I remember reading some really stunning reviews of the album, too, but my arbitrarily rebellious nature filed the album under “I don’t remember him being THAT good, I’ll get around to it eventually”.
After all, he was a pretty decent songwriter/guitarist/front man - but would the stripped-down, bare-bones presentation of so many of the tunes on “Southeastern” harm, or help his, what I felt at the time to be, somewhat average alt-country song craft?
The humbling experience of eating my own words was only part of what I feel “Southeastern” represents to me. To be released so successfully in a year when honesty, emotion and creativity took a back seat to stylized, predictable, mass-marketed homogeny - Jason’s album gave me hope. Hope for my own music career and hope for the (most likely) millions of people who are appreciating the simple beauty of the songs on “Southeastern”.
This year, at The Future Of Music Coalition summit, I heard the head of Thirty Tigers (Jason’s management/PR firm) talk about how important the story behind the song was. The narrative of Jason’s path to sobriety and his marriage were key in making “Southeastern” a success. He was only half right - the path that Jason took allowed him to sit down and pen songs that are vulnerable and draw you in almost instantaneously. The story behind the song IS the song.
People will tell you about how vulnerability is necessary to write songs that feel sincere. Emotionally dropping your guard and looking inside for the sake of writing a 3-4 minute pop song is much easier said than done. I can speak from personal experience, and say that no matter how practiced you might think you are at handling being vulnerable on stage, holding a guitar, playing a song YOU wrote, with the WHOLE ROOM staring at you (or worse - NOT staring at you and playing with their damn phones while you are singing your heart out)… It can make the most confident of performers want to run, hide, and snort up a mountain of cocaine. So “Southeastern” personifies bravery. It is brave because Jason Isbell ALL READY had a career in music. Writing and singing his personal brand of sometimes sad, sometimes rocking alt-country. He could have kept on writing what people expected to hear from him and made a decent paycheck in the process. But instead, he cobbled together a collection heart-wrenching stories about drunken scumbaggery, cancer casualties, and honest-to-goodness love for another human being. Once again, speaking from experience, writing an honest love song that doesn’t automatically fall into the territory of trite, cliched, hackneyed pap is REALLY FUCKING HARD.
Going one step further - even his SINGING sounds more emotional, believable, and consequently, more vulnerable than his voice has on any of his previous recorded efforts.
I have listened to “Southeastern” a hundred times. and I will most likely listen to it a hundred more. And every time I hear it - I think “if I live in a world where people can be drawn in and won over by songs like “Elephant” & “Flying Over Water” - then there just might be hope for me, Miss Shevaughn, Chris Darby, Simon Flory, The Quiet Hollers, Leslie Sisson, and the hundreds of other musicians we have shared the stage with in the last three years.”
If all you can play are those three chords, and all you can sing is the truth - there might still be a place for you. THAT is what an album like “Southeastern” says to a musician like me.
Thank you for reading. Have a happy new year.
We’ll be seeing you all very soon.
Brushed the Dust off, a song that might be on the album.
"Oh Tornado" is a new demo that we played out a bit this spring. It’s most likely going to end up on the new album we’re recording this summer.
The song was inspired by Stefanie Kohn, a really kind, creative and inspiring person I had the pleasure to be friends with and to play music with. If she were still here, today she would be celebrating her birthday.
When we played together in the band, in miniature, we had a song that Stef wrote called “Tornado”. Here it is: http://www.myspace.com/inminiature
5/1 - Evening Muse, Charlotte, NC
5/12 The Yucca Tap Room in Tempe, AZ
In September of 2012, Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray released their first full-length offering, entitled We’re From Here.Immediately afterwards, the Americana duo (turned psych/blues/rock/folk trio) embarked on a two month tour to support that release. Their latest digital-only album Live @ DC9 was recorded during the final show of that 45-date venture at DC9 in Washington, DC last November, where they shared the stage with Laura Tsaggaris and The Weathervanes.
Featuring DC native Ben Tufts on drums, this live album is the conclusion to a year spent in the studio and on the stage, with thousands of miles logged on the road. Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray didn’t sleep much, but their songs have never sounded more focused or energetic.
“Think back on the material Daniel Lanois produced for Emmylou Harris - this music is by turns ethereal, haunting, lonely, ferocious and bluesy, painting American landscapes in pure black and white. The harmonies are smooth and go places you wouldn’t normally expect. Frisby’s alto has a world-weary and strongly emotional feel. She is, to be sure, a great singer.” -CONNECT SAVANNAH
“A fifteen song collection of Americana music, We’re From Here seamlessly jumps from sparse folk tunes to fuzzy guitar filled garage rock. Miss Shevaughn’s haunting vocals weave through the sonic landscape provided by Yuma Wray, and when it is his time to sing the contrast is powerful. Their music is more than just songs, each tune is a story and as story tellers it is up to Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray to bring these tales to life.” - Chris Martin / ATLANTA EXAMINER
“ Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray’s We’re From Here is a classic American road trip story, with the duo expanding its sound from sparse folk balladry to psychedelic swamp stomp.” - SUN JOURNAL
“We’re From Here, the new album from Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray, is a folk-drenched look into questions of contentment, laments over new beginnings, and self-acceptance, with Miss Shevaughn sounding an awful lot like Joni Mitchell as she tells her passionate tales.” - CHARLESTON CITY PAPER
“Their blend of country, folk, rock, and blues is a thing of beauty.” – MUSIC. DEFINED.
"Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray have put together a record that is simply stunning in its scope and in the sheer size of its sound…. this is a tremendous debut.” - WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY
“Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray’s 2011 was spent on the road living out of their Honda Element, searching out their sound and cataloging their experiences and thoughts. Their time on the road was not wasted as the result is Americana personified – an amalgamation of elemental roots music into songs of real substance a soundtrack for a journey on the rural routes and black tops.” - BEAT SURRENDER
“Warm heart and fuzzed out soul come together on Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray’s new album We’re From Here.” - JESTER JAY MUSIC
“Nostalgic and reminiscent, We’re From Here is packed full of personality. Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray are both masters at merging musical genres and as a result, the album is original and full of songs that aren’t like anything else.” - SHOW ME SOMETHING DIFFERENT: UK
“Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray snake a highway around Americana, folk and good old rock & roll. It really is fabulous music making and bursting with talent, imagination and character. I could listen to it all day.” – UNDERCOVER
“Miss Shevaughn & Yuma have seen the U.S. and they sing about it with heartfelt soul and just the right amount of indie charisma. There’s nothing stuffy or snobby about their music. It clearly shines through as honest and poetic.” - John Powell / YOU HEAR THIS
“If I had a million dollars, I would pay Miss Shevaughn to sing me to sleep every night for a year. We’re From Here is one of the best albums that’s come my way this year.” - ADOBE & TEARDROPS
“Featuring an eclectic mix of instruments including – but not limited to – guitar, banjo, mandolin, percussion, glockenspiel and lap steel, this duo has a bigger sound than most listeners dare to imagine. Strength in voice and instrumental ability drives their songwriting excellence.” - THE VERMONT CYNIC
“Unique, honest and compelling storytelling.” - YOUNG MANHATTANITE
“The word “sprawling” certainly applies to We’re From Here, the new album by Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray. The duo spent the year on the road (29 states, 125 shows) and the new songs reflect their experiences and evolution.” - THE PROVIDENCE PHOENIX
“Ever since I have gotten my ears on this excellent work of Americana and folk, I haven’t been able to stop listening. A voice that captivates, Miss Shevaughn has to be one of the most passionate vocalists I’ve heard. Add in the mysterious Yuma Wray and his magical guitar skills, these two seem to be the perfect mix for creating music that has the power to make the burliest of men weep.” - THE RECORD STACHE