Patty Griffin plays the Historic Ashland Armory
Talented, seasoned performers are not strangers to Ashland's live music venues. It's rarer, though, when two such performers — Patty Griffin and up-and-comer John Fullbright — share a bill.
Songwriting often is like solving a puzzle, putting rhyme to rhythm and saying something engaging. Catchy hooks, laid down over the cadence of a musical journey, might possibly become a song. The puzzle remains incomplete, however, until a singer delivers those words. If the content and the voice are captivating, then the riddle is solved. Such songs can bring much pleasure and enjoyment to those who get to hear the songs' recordings, or better yet, performed live.
The singer/songwriter emerged in full force with the advent of the rock 'n' roll era. This added to the standard of vocalists taking their turn on well-crafted melodies mostly composed by professional tune-smiths, often a team of a composer and lyricist. Such arrangements remain to this day, yet the horizon for interesting and innovative tunes was vastly augmented by writers who vocalized their own creations.
“The poet and the one-man band,” as Paul Simon would intone, truly opened the field for those talented enough to create well-delivered material. Such is the case with Grammy Award-winning Griffin and Grammy-nominated Fullbright, who will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St. Advance tickets cost $30 and can be purchased at www.liveatthearmory.com or at Music Coop, 268 E. Main St. Tickets will cost $35 at the door. The event is open to all ages.
Griffin’s diversified repertoire allows her a considerable range to showcase imaginative compositions and stylized singing. The 2013 release of "American Kid," her seventh album, featured mostly new material, bringing her back to the singer/songwriter role.
There was a period when interpretations of classic gospel music was her focus, but here Griffin returns to original compositions. She also became a member of Band of Joy with group leader Robert Plant, performing a variety of folk, rock and spiritual music with him and a powerhouse of British and American artists.
Much of the inspiration for Griffin’s diverse stylings comes from a deep personal space. "American Kid" was written to honor her father, she says in a press release. She explores vast terrain, matched with her powerful voice, that enforces her ability to leave deep and lasting impressions on her audiences.
Opening for Griffin on Wednesday is Fullbright, another curious, creative soul who can turn simple thoughts into profound lyrical songs and deliver them with vocal punch. Opening the first track on his new album, "Songs," with the snappy line, “What’s so bad about happy?” Fullbright puts aside the notion that good material must come from heartbreak and suffering.
“A normal person, if they find themselves in a position of turmoil or grief, they’ll say, ‘I need to get out of this as fast as I can,' " Fullbright says in the same press release. “A writer will say, ‘How long can I stay in this until I get something good?’ And that’s a bogus way to look at life."
This is one plainspoken Oklahoma star who's managed to get some trippy recognition in his short career. In addition to standing up with the likes of Bonnie Raitt with his Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album, there are awards from such organizations as National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, among others. Not bad for a down-home country boy.
William Eckhart is a freelance writer living in Phoenix. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.