"My personal goal is to get people to understand that health is our responsibility." - Melissa Etheridge

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Riverside Concert Review by Music Minded

Source: Music Minded

Melissa Etheridge concluded her summer solo acoustic tour in Riverside, Calif. on Sunday night and made it extra special for fans.

The two-hour concert, held at the Fox Performing Arts Center, was so warm and inviting that it was almost like sitting down for a coffee with the rock singer/guitarist. Coming right on the heels of Etheridge’s next studio album This is M.E., set for release Sept. 30, the excellent show featured guest Neyla Pekarek from The Lumineers on cello and backing vocals for two of the new songs.

This is M.E. includes more experimental music and collaborations with a different crop of writers than usual. It was co-produced by Mark Batson (Dave Matthews Band, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals), Jon Levine and Jerrod Bettis. First single “Take My Number” is at radio now.

Various guitars were lined up on one side of the Fox stage. The other had a grand piano and a couple of handheld drums that Etheridge manually used to loop a backbeat for each song. Lava lamps and scarves draped around everything added to the cozy vibe.

Clad in a black top and shiny silver pants, Etheridge strolled onstage and began the 14-song set strumming an acoustic guitar for a rousing “Bring Me Some Water” (her Grammy nominated top 10 AOR radio hit from 1988) and did some gritty vocals.

Taking a poll of which fans hailed from Riverside and beyond, Etheridge marveled at the magnificence of the Spanish Colonial Revival style Fox building, built in 1929. She reminisced about how she used to play a Pomona lesbian bar in the 1980s before landing a recording contract and how even back then the freeway drive from Long Beach was killer.

Before creating a rhythm for pleading love ballad “Mercy,” the artist affirmed that all the music would be “natural and organic,” meaning nothing was pre-programmed. An earthy “Don’t You Need” had a quiet intensity and found her playing harmonica, then layering electric guitar on top of the acoustic.

Longtime enthusiasts probably tried to guess which song would come next by the drum beats Etheridge crafted, but it wasn’t easy. Grabbing a double neck guitar, she proceeded to do the slinky riff rocker/title track off 1989’s Brave and Crazy.

Pekarek added subtle cello to the riveting new ballad “Who are You Waiting For,” which Etheridge originally penned for her marriage vows last spring to Linda Wallem in Montecito, Calif. Performing on the piano with vocals nearly whispered, you could almost hear a pin drop in the venue.

The spirited “A Little Hard Hearted” found Pekarek providing wordless counter vocalization. Etheridge performed on acoustic guitar and wailed away. “Every time I play this, it makes me happy,” she admitted before doing hit single “Come to My Window.” Always electrifying live whether she’s with a band or not (the same held true of “I Want to Come Over” later in the set), fans sang along loudly to the seductive empowerment lyrics and gave a standing ovation.

Returning to the piano for stark Joan Armatrading cover “The Weakness in Me,” Etheridge said she used to play it at that Pomona club and then humorously added: “I also used to play Juice Newton’s ‘Queen of Hearts’ there and some guy had a heart attack. He was the only one there. It’s true!”

Another strong new track, “Monster” was driven by swampy slide guitar work and harmonica (on the album, it contains soulful female backing vocals).

Finally, she implored fans to go “spread some joy this week” and did a brawny, extended “I’m the Only One,” totally belting the vocal. Come encore time, Etheridge played frequent concert closer “Like the Way I Do.” Giving it a passionate delivery, she vigorously strummed an acoustic guitar for the 10-minute epic.

Simply astounding.

Stream Melissa Etheridge's New Album This Is M.E. on Amazon

Click here to visit Amazon website and stream This Is M.E.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Melissa Etheridge's "Take My Number" Phonebook Challenge

Designed to appeal to music and game lovers alike, Melissa Etheridge’s “Take My Number” Phonebook Challenge is a fast-paced mobile game that immerses players in the rich meaning of Etheridge’s latest track. It features elements of classic games like Tetris and Bubble Blast, in addition to its own unique gamification of the names and numbers in players’ phonebooks to bring the song to life like no other before it. Coming soon to the iTunes App Store and Google Play!

Video posted on Youtube by HyperJamz

Listen to the Album Version of I Won't Be Alone Tonight on the AARP Website

Click here to visit the AARP site and hear the song: AARP

"When you hear this album," says Melissa Etheridge of This is M.E., "you're not going to be able to sit still. You’ll want to put this on in your car and drive somewhere."

"I Won’t Be Alone Tonight," which you can download for free below, makes fine use of the throaty alto that has earned the 53-year-old singer, songwriter and guitarist five platinum albums and two Grammys. While much of the CD captures her happiness at falling in love with Linda Wallem, whom she married in late May, "I Won’t Be Alone Tonight" finds the rocker in a wistful mood.

"The songs range through many emotions," Etheridge says of her 13th studio album, "including some older feelings. Yet each of these tunes has the soul and spirit of me. I love these songs so much. I can't wait to perform them live."

Melissa Etheridge appears on the upcoming October/November issue of AARP The Magazine with fellow songstress and breast cancer survivor, Sheryl Crowe. Now healthy and happy, the two survivors sat down with AARP The Magazine to discuss what they’ve learned and how they’ve each found a renewed sense of self.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Melissa Etheridge performs Who Are You Waiting For, and A Little Hard Hearted, with Neyla Pekarek

Melissa Etheridge performs Who Are You Waiting For featuring Neyla Pekarek

Video by Eco-Friendly Street Team

Who Are You Waiting For, and A Little Hard Hearted featuring Neyla Pekarek

Video by Frank Cverna


Video by Stella K


Video by Eco-Friendly Street Team

Melissa Etheridge Interview with Rage Monthly

Source: Rage Monthly

Integrity. That’s the word that comes to mind after speaking with Melissa Etheridge. She is one of the most popular singer/songwriters of our generation, with millions in album sales and multiple Grammy nominations. If there ever was a musician that represented our LGBT community artistically and in music, she is it.

Part of a generation of women who were very active, very organized and very vociferous, she, along with the likes of k.d. lang, Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell and Urvashi Vaid pushed the boundaries in music, film, television and politics. Doing so by being some of the first to publically acknowledge and live as who they are. Out, proud and doing it across America’s airwaves.

A new chapter has begun with her aptly titled album This Is M.E., the full release of which is coming Tuesday, September 30. Though its throwback Etheridge-style single “Take My Number” is already receiving radio play and praise. There is a great deal to glean from her life, her music and her concept of what it takes to survive.

You have talked about emotional loneliness growing up and how that pushed you into music, I’m curious about how much of that still motivates you. It seems to me that composing and writing is at its core, sort of an isolated process.

You know, it usually is. Up until this album, the process has been me alone in a room, looking up to the sky and saying “come to me, inspiration please come to me…thought, emotion, what ever it is, help me and let me make it universal.” For the first time, with this album, it was unique for so many reasons. This is my first independent release; it’s the first time I actually own the record, so the whole process of making it was different.

Usually a record company gives me a chunk of money and then I go into the studio, hire a producer, write the songs and boom… it’s done. You just go in and do it. These days, you don’t have up-front money anymore. Now it’s, I am going to collaborate with you Mr. Producer… I going to come into your studio and you’re going to give me studio time and your time. Let’s try to create something together and if it’s good, we’ll move forward with it. If it’s not good, then it’s “thank you very much” and that’s it. No money, no foul, no anything.

With this album I collaborated much more. There were some instances where I created songs right there in studio, together with other people. I had never done that before. The urban the more R&B soul stuff that I was doing was just “here we go, we’re cookin,’ makin’ soup and we’re all throwing everything in.”

It seems like it harkens back to the ’50 and ’60 acoustic recording sensibility, more spontaneous. Performers and bands jammed and laid tracks down without the advantages of mixing boards and the like.

Absolutely. It was magical and gave me things like “Monster,” “Do It Again,” and “Ain’t That Bad.” They have a culture of freestyle that is just amazing. Sort of turn the microphone on and sing what ever comes—however you are inspired—It was frightening to me (laughs). It was also exhilarating too; I really enjoyed it so much.

Tell me a little about of “Take My Number” it’s a bit of a throw back to your earlier music.

It was one of the reasons we wanted to put that song out first. To reestablish a connection to people who are familiar with my music. The song is a beautiful little nugget that opens the door to the rest of the album that goes deep into all kinds of musical genres. It is filled with fun, strong songs—it’s still essentially me—just in different vehicles.

It’s refreshing to see you experiment, I especially love “Monster,” it has such a distinct feel. It speaks to so many serious things, homophobia and fear of any kind of differences. Yet there is a humor to it. All I kept picturing in my mind was Godzilla.

Exactly, he’s a big old monster, but he’s really sweet. That’s how anything that we’re afraid of is, any kind of diversity and adversity. There’s a hard first impression, but there’s really love inside of all of it.

I love how different the world is now. There is still a large lesbian following in my crowd, but there’s a good percentage of it that isn’t now. They make up about 30 percent and the rest is gay men, straight men and women, and even kids, pretty much everything.

You collaborated with an amazing array of people for This Is M.E., Jerrod Betti, Jon Levine, Jerry Wonda and RoccStar. What was it like working with RoccStar in particular?

My favorite story about RoccStar was when we first met. He was looking at me and I was checking him out and thinking, well, I guess this could work (laughs)… we got along great and he started by playing a single beat, sort of a marching drum bass. I pulled out my electric guitar (laughs); he’d never used real guitars (laughs)… He was like what’s this?

I’m playing and after that, I started to sing. We laid down some vocals and he jumps on the computer in the engineer’s seat and started trying to do something. He turned to the engineer and says, “Where’s the Auto-Tune?” (Laughs) The engineer says, I would never presume to put Auto-Tune on Ms. Etheridge’s voice.” RoccStar said, “She’s been singing like that with out it?” He couldn’t believe that I could actually perform without it. I laughed and said, “Long ago, there was this time before Auto-Tune, when you actually had to sing on key!”

That is hysterical. It does seem like there is a shift back towards real musicianship again, you actually have to be able to carry a tune.

Yes. I find that true not only in music, but also in everything. Even with my children, they resonate and know when what they are hearing is candy. They know when it’s fake. They like the candy and it has its place, but they have such a great appreciation for someone who can actually sing. They know the difference when they hear a really great acoustic guitar. When they hear a live band, my kids call them “civil war bands” (laughs), artists that are playing real acoustics with true strings; it makes a difference to them.

I enjoy immensely that you have always managed to stay true to that ideal. I believe that it really counts for something.

It’s a funny thing, because there are moments when the public is in that space with me at the same time and that is so great. Then there are times when they are very far away (laughs). But I know that the choices that I make are the ones that I have to because that’s what is real for me.

You have talked a lot about coming from Kansas and the Midwestern influences, I am curious though about who your early music influences were.

Well, you know, growing up in the ’60 and ‘70s, it was varied because we had only one radio station in Kansas in those days. It was the AM station WHB (sings the call letter ditty) and they would play The Archies, Chantells and Tommy James, they played all the pop music and they’d throw in Led Zepplin, or Tammy Wynette and then Marvin Gaye. It was all true top 40. I fell in love with Diana Ross and the Supremes and The Jackson Five, along with The Who. So I am falling in love with Rock’n’Roll music and then in the ‘70s, boom… it branches out and we get the FM station and I got into Bruce Springsteen and Ricky Lee Jones. There was also the soul music station at that point and I fell in love with Ohio Players and the Commodores, Kool and the Gang. Then in the ‘80s, it became more about Springsteen and Peter Gabriel and Joan Armatrading. I have always been a Paul Simon fan too. I am a Barbra Streisand fan and I love showtunes… I love music that is thrilling and truthful in any form.

It’s interesting to me that as you get a little older, how you begin to see how cyclical most things are. Is that something you have a sense of now?

Oh yes. I think that’s what being this age is about. We’re just starting to get the wisdom about having been there before. I don’t have to sweat the small stuff anymore because I know it’s going to come back around at bat. I love that.

We’ve made it this far, so I guess we must be doing something right!

Absolutely, I’m doing something right.

I love to ask performers about the moment in their careers, when they realized that everything had changed. Did you have that sort of an “ah-ha” moment?

You know, it was a gradual slow kind of thing. It was a slow climb up the ladder and really it still is. I was grateful when I got my first job here in L.A. playing at a bar five nights a week, makin’ money and thinking how unusual that was. It was in Long Beach actually, The Executive Suite was the first place.

Such a small world, we actually have had them in the magazine as advertisers.

That’s so funny. Unfortunately they don’t have live music there anymore. After The Suites I went to the Que Sera Sera and I played there for five years. That’s what supported me and every time a record executive came to her me it was, maybe, maybe… and then finally after five years I got a record contract. But even then you still gotta work that. It’s a constant kind of thing.

Even in ’94 when finally my fourth record hit big, I didn’t really realize that I was “in it.” It wasn’t really until the turn of the century, where I began to think that I had really done something. You just keep working and still climbing and loving it—that’s the key—loving it.

I have come to realize that it’s really never going to be about arriving.

True, and you don’t really want to do that, because then it’s over! It’s about moving on, there is something else out there.

Was there a specific moment when you decided it was time to come out and be more involved in the LGBT movement?

That was a gradual process. Playing the women’s bars and being a part of the huge women’s community in the ‘80s in Los Angeles and in Long Beach, which was politically charged and highly organized at that time. Those women were the ones that would come to the bars every Wednesday and Friday to hear me play. I knew them well and they taught me and showed me what politics was about—how things needed to change and how we could change them.

Those were the days when I was hanging out with k.d. lang, Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell and we were all working on our careers. Then, once we get into the ‘90s, I was totally out and hanging with people like Urvashi Vaid and Alan Hergott, these leaders of our movement, giants who were making a difference. Margarethe Cammermeyer, people like them made me realize that I needed to be more out.

You have to remember that there was sort of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” mentality in the recording industry then. I was completely willing to talk about it at the time but no one was asking me about it. It was during my time helping on Bill Clinton’s campaign that I walked out and just said, “Hey, I’m a big lesbian!” (Laughs)

One of my fondest memories of you, is your Grammy performance after your cancer battle—It was such a powerful moment. How did your perspective change on your career after that?

The biggest thing was just surviving the cancer in general and that health crisis. Coming out the other end and realizing that my health is the most important thing. If I don’t have that, I have absolutely nothing. It really set me on a journey of what is health, what does that even mean for me?

Deciding to be on the Grammy’s was a very personal thing. I remember getting the call and at that time I was still very sick from the chemo and thought, “I don’t know if I can actually do it.” Then, realizing that I really wanted to do the Janis Joplin tribute, “Piece Of My Heart.” If I said no, I would have hated sitting at home, watching someone else sing it. So, I had to do it, bald or not, or sick off chemotherapy, I didn’t care. I had to perform that song.

From the moment I walked out on stage I was blown away. Holding that moment and just taking it in. Then as the hours, days and weeks unfolded, I came to understand that it was a big deal. Doing something for myself, something to come back and show everybody that I am strong. Letting everyone know that this is not taking me down, I am winning now. I have my health now and I know what I am going to do with it. It was an amazing moment.

Well I’m certainly glad you’re still around.

Me too, you can’t get rid of me that easily (laughs)!

Tell me a little bit about what taking on the role for American Idiot was like for you. It looked like you were having a blast.

That was one of those “out of left field” things. When they first asked, I sort of thought, “Isn’t that sweet… and then no, no, no, no…” My current wife then looked at me and said “Why not?”

In my mind, I had many reasons. Because it’s new, because it’s scary, because it’s some thing that I haven’t done, it was such a scary but exhilarating experience. Literally, there was this stage move at one point in the show where I had to fall off this staircase, they called it “the death drop.”

I thought, wow, I am literally taking myself to the edge and I am going to drop off this staircase and fall into these guy’s arms… trusting that it’s okay. It was such a metaphor for how I wanted to live my life, to be fearless and take the leap. That was such a great experience and I am so glad that I did it.

Tell me about your recent performances with various symphonies around the country, how is that for you?

I love that experience; it is so thrilling. It’s an amazing thing to make music with two or three people. But to make music with 75 other people who all have the same intention and feeling the same music… I was totally swept away by the power of it.

I read in my research that you have been working on a Broadway show of your own, is that true?

Yes, it is sitting in the line-up. My wife has three television shows and I have this album so those are taking priority. I would give us a couple or three years. It’s a real labor of love that we want to do, and do it right. We want to make it special, because we both have such a love for Broadway. Not just a show that reflects some of my songs, but a show that has some significance.

I was fascinated about the premise; it has the potential to be very interesting. It kind of reflects this move back to intimate shows and what we were talking about earlier around quality and musicianship.

Again, the real stuff that moves the human spirit, not just technically brilliant, but something that really moves you. That’s the story I want to tell.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Article by Press Enterprise

Source: Press Enterprise

RIVERSIDE: Melissa Etheridge gets 'M.E.' time at the Fox

When Melissa Etheridge takes the stage in Riverside for the “This is M.E.” tour Sept. 21 night, the Kansas-born rocker will be performing solo, but making the sounds of a much larger ensemble.

“The solo tour is not just me sitting on a stool singing,” she said in a recent telephone interview. “I’m using a little bit of technology by creating loops in front of people. Everything you hear is coming from me. But I’m just showing them how it’s done.

“I have all my guitars lined up. I play a bunch of guitars. I play piano. I do some drumbeats in some of the songs. It’s just really fun.”

Etheridge said she made significant changes in her life in 2013, including leaving her record label and getting new management. The result was a spurt of creativity and a new album, also called “This is M.E.,” which will be released Sept. 30.

It is an independent release on her own ME label, yet Etheridge said it was a more collaborative process than she is used to, especially the songwriting.

“My version of collaborating is writing in front of someone ... I’d never done that before. Actually, other people are much nicer to me than my own editor in my head,” Etheridge said. “She can be really nasty sometimes with me. It was really beautiful. These people helped me to go, ‘No, that’s perfect. You don’t need to change that.’”

The album cover is a “This is M.E.” mosaic, a composite image Etheridge made from photos submitted by her fans on social media.
She thought the concept was perfect for this stage of her career.

Etheridge said she plans to do “two news songs at the most” in her Riverside show. Most of the show will be “reinventing” songs from across her nearly 30-year career.

Her biggest hits include “Bring Me Some Water” and “Come to My Window,” the latter for which she won the first of her two Grammys for best female rock vocal performance for 1994. The other win came two years earlier for “Ain’t it Heavy.”
Etheridge also achieved awards show glory in 2007, when she won an Oscar for “I Need to Wake Up,” the theme from Al Gore’s climate-change documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Etheridge said she couldn’t pick one awards show over the other.

“The Grammys are fun. It’s all those crazy musicians. It’s all the kids that had to sit at the back of the class … Grammys are crazy,” she said. “There’s something magical about the Oscars. It’s like the pinnacle of those things. I really enjoyed going, although the Grammys know how to have a good time.”

Even though she is doing a solo show, Etheridge said it is a collaboration with her audience, fans who help to bring her own music to life for her.

“I am so grateful to have songs that when I start them, the audience knows them,” she said. “There is nothing like being joined by the audience in that energy. I have such respect for that. Every time I sing ‘Come to My Window,’ you bet I’m happy. I’m grateful that people are singing at the top of their lungs, (that) people stand up to hear it, you bet.”

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Audio Interview With KVMR

Click here to listen to Elisa Parker's interview with Melissa Etheridge on KVMR.

This Is M.E. Tour Special Guest Alexander Cardinale

Picture from Artist Arena website

You may have noticed on the AA a page a new banner listing Alexander Cardinale as the special guest for the This Is M.E. Tour. Click here for Alex's website.

Alexander Cardinale (aka Xander) was born in Monterey, California. He was raised in a musically diverse home. His mother Laura was a disc jockey and manager of the local classical station, 92.7 KBOQ. As a young boy, Alexander was always encouraged to study the classics. His father Vince played the guitar and introduced Alexander to the iconic singer/songwriters of the 60s, 70s & 80s. When Alexander was 3 years old, he told his mom he wanted to play the violin. He began studying the Suzuki method with local teachers, and went on to be 1st chair violin at the local youth chamber orchestra.

Alexander now lives in Los Angeles where he works as a professional singer, songwriter, producer & actor. He has worked as an actor in Film, TV and Web Shows. He can be seen in his first starring role in Chad Peter's dark comedy "Apocalypse, CA" now available on DVD, Netflix & iTunes. He had a combined role (both on and off screen) when David Fincher cast him to play the jewish steel drummer in the film "The Social Network." Alexander was seen on screen as the steel drummer, but also wrote and recorded the steel drum part for the soundtrack of the scene as well.

Alexander works with his producer, Morgan Taylor Reid. Morgan also produces/co-writes for other bands, including: Plug-In Stereo, The Ready Set, Bridgette Mendler, and the new Backstreet Boys album, among others. Morgan's been producing Xander since they met at college in 2005.

Recently, Alexander's song "Sick Of Dreaming," was the featured music montage in episodes of One Tree Hill (CW) and Rookie Blue (ABC). Other songs Alexander has written have been in episodes of Ghost Whisperer (CBS), Castle (ABC), Grey's Anatomy (ABC), Friends With Benefits (NBC), 90210 (CW) & more. Alexander has also co-written (top-line) songs for other artists.

A few years ago Alexander launched his fan pages online. He now has a dedicated following of over 500,000 fans on his Facebook, Twitter & Instagram pages. The word seems to be spreading via electronic grass roots about his music.

Today he continues to perform live, establishing his position as an emotionally revealing and talented new artist. He been seen on tour with pop star Aaron Carter on his #AfterPartyTour, after finishing another sold out national tour opening for YouTube darlings: Pentatonix.

In the current renaissance of pop singer/songwriters, Alexander Cardinale stands out with dense, contagious melodies and honest, poetic lyricism.


This year, the Hollywood Music in Media Awards honored Alexander with the HMMA for 'Best Song in a TV Series' for his song "Traffic Lights" featured in the show "90210" on the CW network. He was the first place winner on the "USA Songwriting Competition", the "Show Me The Music" contest, and the "Seagate Music Competition" among others. He was invited to play five showcases at SXSW in 2012 and 2013, including Quantum Collective AmazonMP3, AudioWall, Red Gorilla & more. He's also showcased at: The Indie Music Fest, NAMM, and the DRIVEN Music & Art Conference. He's been a finalist in the international competitions: The UK Songwriting Contest, and the prestigious International Songwriting Competition (ISC).

Music Connection Magazine named Alexander Cardinale #2 of their "HOT 100 UNSIGNED ARTISTS" of the year, for the 2nd consecutive year!

Melissa Etheridge Interview With The Union of Grass Valley

Source: The Union of Grass Valley

Melissa Etheridge: not in Kansas anymore

“It’s a great place to be from,” Melissa Etheridge laughed when asked about growing up in Kansas. She spoke with The Union in a telephone interview Aug. 29.

She was quick to add, “I have beautiful memories of my hometown. I think it’s a wonderful place. They even gave me a day.”

As depicted in “Behind the Music,” a VH-1 documentary, the town of Leavenworth honored the Grammy-winning rock star with a parade in 1994 for her generous donations to her high school and community.

Nevertheless, when she graduated from high school, she – as they say in Kansas – got the hell out of Dodge. She went to the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston but she dropped out after three semesters. She returned to Kansas long enough to earn money to buy a car, and moved to LA.

It took some hard years to get “discovered,” but when she was, the rest is rock’n’roll history: two Grammys, 15 nominations, an Oscar, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 13 original albums – and now, in concert at the Grass Valley Veterans Building Friday night.

“I’m so excited to show off my guitar playing,” Etheridge revealed. “I have learned so much in the last 10 years musically.”

She added, “I’ve really taken over the guitar. I want to be the lead guitar player – and now I am!”

Etheridge is bringing “about 10” of her “40 or 50 guitars” for this show, but her signature guitar has always been a beautiful 12-string instrument.

Actually, “I’ve had the same model forever, but I go through them every couple of years, because I beat them up so bad,” she admitted. “I just wear them out.”

Regardless of how many she’s beat up over the years, that guitar, literally, is her signature guitar: the Melissa Etheridge Signature 1598-MEII 12-String by Ovation.

“They (Ovation) made one with my specifications, and I’m just very grateful for it.”

Friday’s concert “is a huge show for being a solo artist,” Etheridge noted. Aside from all the “guitars she’ll have on stage, she’s also bringing a sophisticated “looper.”

A looper is a device that allows Etheridge to create her own rhythm section in front of the audience. “It’s all created on stage, so I can have some layers [of backup music] to play to,” she explained.

Nevertheless, she called the show “intimate,” because it’s just her and her audience.

Although the tour is named after her 13th original album, “This is M.E.,” which is due out later this month, her fans won’t miss out on her classics. “I’ve been doing a new song a night … and stuff from the other 12 albums I’ve made.”

Opening for Etheridge will be self-taught guitarist/singer/songwriter Ed Masuga, who was suggested by Sara Zahn, a program associate at the Center for the Arts.

Opening for Etheridge is a one-off opportunity for Masuga.

“I okayed him for the opening act, but I’ve never met him,” Etheridge said. “I’m looking forward to meeting him.”

This will be the first time Melissa Etheridge has performed in Grass Valley – and this is the first time concertgoers at the Vets Hall will have individual backrests and cushioned seats in the bleachers, said Julie Baker, executive director for the Center for the Arts.

“The plaques aren’t on yet, but the seatbacks are being installed right now,” she said last week. Each seatback was sponsored by a donor and will bear the name of a past or current veteran of the donor’s choice.

The Center may have your back, but they’re running out of seats in general admission. Premium tickets sold out a long time ago, Baker said.

The show was close to selling out, Baker said last week, but she urged last-minute concertgoers to give it a shot and show up at the door. Early.

In a recent interview in The Salt Lake Tribune, Etheridge said, “I am old enough to be wise and young enough to be dangerous.”

Asked what that meant, she laughed again, and then got serious, giving just a hint of her social and political activism: “You know, I’m 53, and I have endured cancer, I’ve been through presidents, Republicans and Democrats. I’ve been through recessions. I’ve been through the crazy good times.”

Then she answered question: “I’m young enough still where I’m in prime health. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been – and I’m not afraid. There’re a whole lot of things I’m not afraid of, and I think that makes me dangerous.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Concert Review by A News Cafe

Source: A News Cafe

Melissa Etheridge Rocks the Night Away at the Cascade Theatre
By Jon Lewis

Melissa Etheridge went straight to the vault to kick off her solo show at the Cascade Theatre Tuesday night, emerging on stage without an introduction and grinding out the chords to “Bring Me Some Water” on a 12-string acoustic guitar.

The hit from her 1988 debut album sounded as fresh as ever and so did the 53-year-old rocker’s voice, which filled the Art Deco theater to the brim and induced the first of many whistles and shouts of encouragement from the predominantly female audience.

One look at the stage, with its array of 10 guitars, a 12-string electric mandolin and a grand piano, and it was clear Etheridge meant business. She relied on some technology to create an even bigger sound, using a computerized looping system to add a percussion backdrop to several of her songs.

She picked out a 12-string electric Fender for “Chrome Plated Heart,” also from her self-titled debut, and then offered up “California” in honor of her “This is M.E.” tour being on a swing through the Golden State.

Reports of the devastating Boles fire in Weed on Monday “was the saddest news I heard all day,” Etheridge said, before cracking a smile at the mention of Weed burning. “Couldn’t I at least watch?” she said with a laugh. “Sorry. I’m making Northern California jokes.”

An activist who credits marijuana use with helping her overcome breast cancer, Etheridge has long advocated for legal pot in addition to marriage equality, environmental causes and human rights issues.

Tuesday night belonged to music more than politics, and Etheridge emphasized that by strapping on a double-neck guitar and clicking a harmonica into a brace for the bluesy “Don’t You Need.” Technology, which she acknowledged “isn’t going away,” came into play again as she committed a section of rhythm guitar on the 12-string to a loop and switched to the lower six-string guitar to play a lead.

She retreated to the decidedly low-tech piano for “The Letting Go” before returning to the guitar for the rockin’ “Must Be Crazy For Me.” She followed that up with “A Little Bit of Me” from her latest recording, “This is M.E.” that will be available Saturday on Etheridge’s own label.

More cheers were elicited with a thunderous version of “Come to My Window” before she took the intensity down a notch with “Shadow of a Black Crow.” The song, from 2012’s “4th Street Feeling,” featured some nice work on an electric resonator guitar.

A gregarious sort who smiled and interacted with the audience throughout her show, Etheridge returned to the piano to cover Joan Armatrading’s “The Weakness in Me,” explaining that she used to sing the song in bars when its tale of tormented love struck a personal chord. She added that was also the period when you could catch one of her shows for $10.

Today, she said, her life is full of joy. (Etheridge recently married the actress and screenwriter Linda Wallem.) She paused and looked out at the three-quarters full theater and the people who paid between $60 and $80 for their seats, thanked them, and said they were helping the oldest of her four children pay for college.

Etheridge said her children were finally OK with her rock star status, but chide her for being a “stalker.” That served as an introduction to “I Want to Come Over,” which featured a snippet of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.”

The rollicking “Monster” from her brand new album and her hit, “I’m the Only One,” closed out the show and led to a jaw-dropping rendition of “Like the Way I Do” for an encore.

Redding resident and musician Barbara Ward, who had second-row seats, said she was in heaven throughout the show. “It was a pure pleasure from start to finish. From the first growly note to the 15-minute encore, she owned the stage!”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Performs At Star-Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem

Click to watch the full episode on the PBS site

Premiere date: September 13, 2014 | 1:56:46
Acclaimed actor, musician and author John Lithgow will host Star-Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of Our National Anthem live from Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore on THIRTEEN’S Great Performances on Saturday, September 13, 2014, at 8 p.m. ET on PBS. (Check local listings.)

The television event, to be co-hosted by multi-platinum recording artist and actress Jordin Sparks, is a highlight of Star-Spangled Spectacular, a weeklong celebration of the 200th anniversary of our national anthem.

Also featured are performances by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and accomplished singer Kristin Chenoweth; Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge; celebrated mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves-Montgomery; Grammy Award-winning country group Little Big Town; vocal sensations Pentatonix; legendary singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson; Grammy Award-winning Country Music Hall of Fame member Kenny Rogers; Tony Award-winning baritone Paulo Szot; multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning band Train; the U.S. Navy’s official chorus The Navy Band Sea Chanters; the Grammy Award-winning Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Music Director Marin Alsop; and more to be announced soon. The patriotic special will feature a diverse star-studded line up of entertainers paying tribute to our nation’s ideals in a thrilling and inspiring concert at the Pier Six Pavilion. The Baltimore harbor, replete with tall ships and naval vessels will serve as a stunning backdrop. The program will also include ceremonial activities at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, historical highlights and an extraordinary fireworks crescendo.

Two hundred years ago, Francis Scott Key, a Maryland-born attorney, was inspired to write the words to what would become the United States’ national anthem. In 2012, Star-Spangled 200 and the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission began a multi-year commemoration of this legacy which will culminate with Star-Spangled Spectacular, a weeklong festival taking place on September 10–16, 2014. Within this festival, Star-Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of our National Anthem will take place. The festival will include tall ships, Navy gray hulls, a performance by the Blue Angels, landside festivities, and this special television program to honor the national anthem.

Musical Program
(Program of live broadcast subject to change)

“This Land is Your Land” (Train & Melissa Etheridge)
“Till There Was You” (Kristin Chenoweth)
“Make Our Garden Grow” (Kristin Chenoweth & Paulo Szot)
“Boondocks” (Little Big Town)
“Stay All Night” (Little Big Town)
“Summertime” (Denyce Graves-Montgomery)
“Come to My Window” (Melissa Etheridge)
“Take My Number” (Melissa Etheridge)
“‘Merica” (Kenny Rogers)
“Drive By” (Train)
“Angel in Blue Jeans” (Train)
“My Country ‘Tis of Thee” (A Cappella) (Pentatonix)
“La La Latch” (Pentatonix)
“The Tracks of My Tears” (Smokey Robinson)
“Being with You” (Smokey Robinson)
“Overture to ‘Candide’” (Marin Alsop/BSO)
“The Star-Spangled Banner” (Jordin Sparks/US Marine Band/Morgan State Choir)
“Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture” (Marin Alsop/BSO)
“God Bless America” (Little Big Town/Kenny Rogers)
“America the Beautiful” (Denyce Graves-Montgomery)
“Patriotic Medley” (Marin Alsop/BSO/Navy Sea Chanters)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Interview with Baltimore Gay Life

Source: Baltimore Gay Life

Melissa Etheridge To Perform at Star Spangled Spectacular Sept. 13

Melissa Etheridge has been busy. Since May, the singer has gotten married to writer and producer, Linda Wallem, gone on a honeymoon to St. Bart’s, and put the final touches on her forthcoming twelfth album, This Is ME, set to release at the end of September.

Despite the whirlwind of major life events, Etheridge is not too busy to take part in Baltimore’s Star-Spangled Spectacular Concert, along with many other talented artists including Smokey Robinson,Kristin Chenoweth, and the Grammy Award-winning band Train.

The concert will be hosted by John Lithgow and Jordin Sparks, and is the marquee event in a week long celebration (September 6th-16th) that will also feature an air show by the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, a convergence of naval ships on the Harbor, and a stellar fireworks display. The week commemorates the bicentennial of the penning of the National Anthem, or as Etheridge laughingly puts it, “200 years of the most difficult song in the world to sing.”

Etheridge will perform a couple of solo songs at the concert, as well as a not to be missed duo with Train to “This Land is Your Land.”

As for the new album, she hopes to visit Baltimore during her upcoming tour, but dates haven’t been finalized. This Is ME marks Etheridge’s first independent release since her debut in 1988. “The record industry is really hurting right now, they are in emergency mode,” she said of the reason for branching out on her own. “I don’t think that’s a good place to create art.”

Judging from her tone when she talks about the new album, the independence has been invigorating. “From the beginning to the end I was responsible,” she said, sounding almost giddy. “I made all the choices.”

Among her choices was the final song on the album, “Who Are You Waiting For,” which she wrote for her wife and debuted at their wedding. When asked to rate her nervousness surrounding that moment on a scale from 1 to 100, Etheridge belted out a deep laugh.

“Ninety-eight!” she exclaimed. “I can play for 100,000 people, but to stand up in front of someone that means so much to me and look right in her eyes and just sing to them, I have never done that before, and it was so intense.”

Etheridge, who has been something of a trailblazer in the gay rights movement, came out in 1993 at an event celebrating the inauguration of then President Bill Clinton who later instituted the infamous Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, something that Etheridge was all too familiar with in her own life.

Having been signed in a lesbian bar the singer came to the music scene as an out artist, but was encouraged not to “flag wave.” She abided by this request for several years, neither denying nor advertising her sexuality, but found that this left her in a strange state of limbo. “People were assuming things and it looked like I was lying,” Etheridge said of that time. Thus, on a spur of the moment decision she found herself exclaiming to a room full of people that she’d been a proud lesbian for her entire life. “Sometimes your personal health is worth more than what you might lose publicly or professionally,” she said. But Etheridge’s career never faced any major setbacks attributable to her sexuality. If anything, fans rallied around her.

Over twenty years later, Etheridge feels good about the progress of the LGBT movement. “There’s no turning back. Hundreds of years of old things are falling away and that’s going to continue to happen and change our society.”

She is also thrilled to finally be legally married. “I’ve had a wedding before but it was not a legally recognized marriage and it makes a difference. Not only legally and financially. It makes a difference to my children and to me.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Performs At Cities97 Studio C

Melissa Etheridge - August 8, 2014 at Cities97 Studio C Performance

Video posted on YouTube by Charlie Kehl

Melissa Etheridge Interview with Smashing Interviews

Source: Smashing Interviews

Melissa Etheridge Interview: "It Is an Absolute New Day," Rocker Declares with Her Latest, "This Is M.E."
Written by Melissa Parker

Rock singer, songwriter, guitarist and activist Melissa Etheridge has been in the music business over twenty-five years. She has received fifteen Grammy Award nominations, winning two and an Academy Award. Her breakthrough album, Yes I Am, released in 1993, peaked at #15 on the Billboard 200 and spent 138 weeks on the chart, earning a certification of 6x platinum, her largest to date.

Etheridge’s latest studio album and 12th collection of new material, This Is M.E., is set for release on September 30, 2014. Recorded in New York and Los Angeles, the record features eleven new songs all written or co-written by her along with writers such as Jon Levine (Andy Grammer), Jerrod Bettis (Birdy, Adele), Jerry Wonda and Roccstar and includes tracks produced by Levine, Bettis and Mark Batson (Grace Potter and The Nocturnals). This Is M.E. album cover features a mosaic of photos submitted by fans.

The music superstar married Nurse Jackie creator Linda Wallem on May 31, 2014.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Melissa, I just can’t stop listening to this album!

Melissa Etheridge: That’s what I want to hear!

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Several articles on the Internet have the title as This Is ME rather than This Is M.E.

Melissa Etheridge: It’s This Is M.E. It’s a play on words. This is ME, this is M.E. Isn’t that clever? (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): (laughs) Very clever, and it’s the first record on your label. After being on Island Records for so long, why did you decide to change?

Melissa Etheridge: Well, it’s a new day. It is an absolute new day in the music business. We hear more and more that the record industry is just in a free fall. Every time I’d go back to my record label, there’d be less and less people there (laughs). It all conglomerates together, and it’s in a free fall decline. They were no longer able to guarantee me the kind of promotion that I needed and the kind of attention that I needed and the biggest factor is I can now own my record where they owed the masters before.

If you want to use “Come to My Window,” the record company gets paid, not me, because of the master, but now with this album, I own it. Of course it’s much more responsibility on my part, and I have no one to blame but myself, yet with social media, it’s a new day. I can absolutely reach my fans and do all the work and reap much greater benefits.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That’s an interesting idea about the fan photos covering the album cover. Do you know how many you have?

Melissa Etheridge: Oh, you know what? I should find out exactly how many we ended up with. We got over 2,000 entries. It would only take so many, but it was just really amazing and lots of fun.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How did This Is M.E. come about?

Melissa Etheridge: Last year when I went through this big change, I got new management, new lawyers, new everything, the whole setup. Then leaving my record label, I thought, “Okay. What do I need to kick start my career to just really come out of the box? I need a new album.” I had such a freedom writing new music, writing the songs. I had such a freedom making any type of new music I wanted, and that’s why you get this rich sort of … you know it’s me, yet there are many different styles on the album. I just had a blast doing it.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): The sound is more raw and definitely more rocking than 4th Street Feeling.

Melissa Etheridge: Yeah. 4th Street Feeling was more introspective. It was more like, “Okay. I’m going in with my band, and we’re just going to make the music that’s there, and these are the songs, and they’re about the past.” That’s what that was all about. This album is much more “outroverted.” It’s like, “Yeah! Let me work with the hip-hop producer. What does that sound like? Let’s just make it richer! Turn it up!”

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): My favorite is “A Little Bit of Me.” You said that your daughter turned you on to the Lumineers?

Melissa Etheridge: Yeah, a few years ago. My daughter … both of my kids are great at bringing the new music to me. She’s seventeen now and such a music lover. She went to Lollapalooza and Outside Lands. She just loves that sort of community feel that music has nowadays.

They love to sing along. They love to clap their hands and say, “Hey, ho,” and do that sort of thing (laughs). You can see a little bit of that in “A Little Bit of Me.” Everybody can sing along. That’s where that comes from. Everyone likes to participate and playing live is my favorite thing to do, so having people sing and clap along is awesome.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I understand that “Who Are You Waiting For” was your wedding song?

Melissa Etheridge: Yes. I am so corny.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I thought it was very sweet (laughs). Congratulations on the marriage!

Melissa Etheridge: Thank you so much. It was really lovely and an amazing experience. I’m so grateful I was able to get married and have my state recognize it and really go through all of the … to have a real honest to goodness marriage license, a marriage that’s sanctioned by my state and federal government.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you think in the next twenty years same sex marriage will be legal in all fifty states?

Melissa Etheridge: Oh yeah. I definitely think in the next twenty years, we’ll be there.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was it a surprise to fall in love again?

Melissa Etheridge: (laughs) I was like, “I’m done. That’s it. It’s over. I don’t ever need to ever go through anything like that again. I’m obviously not very good at this and really think I’m just going to take care of my needs as they come along, but no relationships.” The only reason that I did fall in love was that Linda was my best friend, and I was seeing her every day. She was helping me out, and then I fell in love and went, “Oh, that was not what I was planning!” But I was waiting for her. It was perfect.

It was the opposite way of what I had before. You meet someone you think is attractive, you are sexually attracted, you have sex. That all works out, and you try to be friends with them. Sometimes that doesn’t work out (laughs). This was done completely the opposite. I was friends with her. My children knew and loved her. All of that worked out, and then I was also attracted to her. That was perfect.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You recently performed with the San Francisco Symphony. Is this the beginning of performing with symphonies around the country?

Melissa Etheridge: I hope so. This summer I did Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, and it was one of just my all time favorite things that I’ve done. It’s really exciting, very musical. There’s just nothing like hearing all the parts. I loved it, and the audience seemed to love it too, so I do hope in the next few years that I put together a whole symphony tour.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is the preparation for performing with a symphony different than singing solo with your band?

Melissa Etheridge: The biggest difference is that it is set music. With my band there’s a lot of open-endedness in the songs. My band knows they’ve got to be on their toes and watch whatever I do because I can go anywhere. If the crowd’s right, if something feels right, I’ll go over here, and it will be eight bars instead of four, so it’s very improvisational in nature. Well, with an orchestra, you can’t do that (laughs). If you make a mistake, if you miss a measure or two, all seventy-five of you are going down (laughs). You have to study the arrangement and exactly what the form is and stick to it. It’s very disciplining for me.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): When we last spoke, you said that you’d love to do a musical on Broadway. Are there plans for that?

Melissa Etheridge: There are still plans. My wife and I are writing it, and she’s only got three television shows she’s working on now. It’s this constant “it’s there in the wings.” We’ll go on vacation, and say, “Yeah. Okay,” and we do a little work on it. It’s going to come up in the Rolodex soon. I would give it another couple or three years though, and when it does, its just going to be perfect.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You are celebrating ten years cancer free! That is so great. What words describe that journey?

Melissa Etheridge: Triumphant, thriving. I’ve gone from surviving to thriving that knowing beyond any doubt that my health is everything. If I don’t have my health, I don’t have anything. The way to take care of myself is to take care of me, to watch my stress levels, to understand that every food that goes into my body effects my body and to know what I’m putting in my body, keeping myself physically fit and yoga. Nothing crazy, just a dedication every day to make sure.

I call it 70-30. The 70% of what I’m doing every day is a positive health for my body whether it’s stress or food or activity. Then the 30%, yeah, I can have a little bit here and there, you know, because I’m also that, too. I need that also. 70-30 is now I got here.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you currently actively working to get medical marijuana legalized?

Melissa Etheridge: Yes I am. Ten years ago when I went through chemotherapy and used it, I thought, “I don’t know why anyone should have to go through chemo and not use this as an option.” Sticking with it and having cannabis a part of my life, I realized this is so good on so many different levels.

I think definitely in the near future, the legalization of cannabis is going to be just on the forefront because it’s an alternative medicine, plant medicine. Just seeing where the pharmaceutical thing has led us is just … I don’t think there’s a lot of future in that. I think plant medicines are where we’re going.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s next for you, Melissa?

Melissa Etheridge: I’m doing this solo tour, and the new album comes out September 30. I’ll do promotion for that in September and October, and then come November, you’ll see me back on tour with a full band and just loving that. I’m just loving being in the moment and the process and doing what I love to do.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Interview with The Press Democrat

Source: Press Democrat

Melissa Etheridge headlines B.R. Cohn Music Festival

When Melissa Etheridge said things were “going to be a little different” on her new album, it still didn’t quite account for the day she spent “building beats” with a guy named RoccStar.

Picture this: The lesbian rocker chick, who is performing at this year’s B.R. Cohn Fall Music Festival in Glen Ellen and who is known for sing-along anthems like “Come to My Window,” and the rapper known for producing Chris Brown singles like “Fine China,” together in a studio with no Auto-Tune.

“He kinda looked at me, and I looked at him. He didn’t know what to expect, and I didn’t know what to expect. He said, ‘Well, I just put a beat up.’ And it was this humongous-sounding march of a cool thing. And I said, alright, and I threw on my Les Paul (guitar) and — he doesn’t work with real instruments, you know — he was like, ‘What, you just plug it in?’ ”

After they got something down, a version of what would later become the song “Ain’t That Bad,” “(RoccStar) pulled it up on the computer and asked the engineer, ‘Where’s the Auto-Tune?’ And the engineer said, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t dare put Auto-Tune on her voice.’ And he said, ‘She’s singing like that without Auto-Tune?’ ”

It’s quite a departure for the gravelly-voiced kid from Kansas who strummed her guitar all the way out to Los Angeles in the ’80s, making a name with songs like “Bring Me Some Water” and “I’m the Only One” (and later making more headlines when she tapped ’60s folk icon David Crosby to be her baby-daddy sperm donor).

With her latest, “This Is M.E.,” due out Sept. 30, Etheridge has officially jumped ship from Island Records and “made a choice to go independent and own my own record and take all the responsibility,” she says.

At 53, things are going well. Along with becoming her own boss, in May, she got married to “Nurse Jackie” TV producer Linda Wallem. At the wedding, Etheridge gave her vows in the form of a song, the same love song that closes her new album.

Before she headlines day one of the B.R. Cohn festival on Saturday, Sept. 20, Etheridge took a break to chat about love and marriage and who she might anoint as her modern-day David Crosby:

Q: I think a lot of your fans are looking forward to hearing the song you wrote for Linda, “Who Are You Waiting For.”

A: Awww. When I started writing it on the piano — it was one of the first songs I started writing for this album — I knew I was writing it about Linda and how we were best friends and how at some point you see them in a different light and you’re like, “Oh wait this could be something amazing.”

Then, when it came to the third verse, which starts with “I stand in the aisle,” I was like, wait, this is all about marriage. This could be my wedding vows, wow. I usually play the songs for her as I write them, but I didn’t play this one for her, and I kept it a secret.

Q: I imagine she was very surprised at the wedding.

A: I told her ahead of time, “I’m not going to ambush you here. I’m going to sing my vows to you.” But she didn’t know what it would be. It was very intense.

Q: Did you think about just keeping it between the two of you and not putting it on the album?

A: Yes, I absolutely did. It was a last-minute thought that I made a little demo of it and sent it to Jon Levine, who produced most of the other tracks. I said, “Here’s just a little something I wrote for Linda.” And he wrote back and just gushed about how incredible it was, and he said, “please let me produce it.” Then I went to Linda and said, “This is a very intimate thing and in no way does this have to be out there for the rest of the world.” And she was the first person to say, “Are you kidding? I’m so delighted and proud that my wife would do something like this for me.” She had no problem sharing it with the world.

Q: If you were looking for a sperm donor today, in 2014, who among this latest generation of rockers or musicians would you choose to be your David Crosby?

A: Hahaha. Really funny. Wow. It’s funny because the reasons I chose David Crosby were many, many, many, and I don’t know if anybody fits that bill. The stability that he had in his marriage and family was of utmost importance, that he wasn’t going to come looking one day. And then his mind and talent were certainly part of that.

Oh, let me see, probably somebody like Jared Leto. This time around, we’ll just give up all the rest of the stuff. Just make him pretty.”

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Concert Review in Edmonton Sun

Source: Edmonton Sun

Melissa Etheridge has fun with Edmonton fans at Jubilee Auditorium
by Mike Ross

It’s perfectly OK to make it all about you when you’re a singer-songwriter. Write what you know, you know?

No need to remind Melissa Etheridge. This 53-year-old heartland rock chick has been writing about herself for about 30 years now, songs about her sexuality, her desires, her heartbreaks, her brush with death from cancer, her becoming a mom, you name it, and has become so good at it that her most loyal fans must think she’s writing about them. That’s the trick.

And for her latest stunt, Etheridge is delivering her personal- universal songs all by herself! For about 1,000 of her most loyal fans at the Jubilee Auditorium Wednesday night, she was literally a one-woman band. She was accompanied only by her own solid rhythm guitar – sometimes piano – and also some “magic.” This involved creating her own loops live on stage with the Acme Loop-o-Matic or some such contraption, which is all the rage these days.

Whatever. It takes a lot of guts to pull something like this off. Everything is exposed, naked, there’s nothing to fall back on, nothing to hide behind, and the quality of the songwriting, or lack thereof, is felt more keenly. It’s like the next level of live performance. No band. No junk on the voice. No backing tracks (save the loops she made herself). In short, it’s all about you.

Even with a couple of warts and a screw-up or two – nice to remind us there’s a human being on stage – Etheridge’s show was a breath of fresh air next to the pre-programmed pop concerts we’ve been getting used to. She told the crowd at one point, “Nowadays you don’t know what you’re getting. It’s like food. You have to read all the ingredients.” She added, “This is all organic and natural.”

No Katy Perry she, Etheridge had more impact and was able to communicate her music better than she has in several past appearances with the full rock band. Who needs a boring rock band?

Strumming her favourite black 12-string acoustic guitar, she made her entrance with her first and biggest hit Bring Me Some Water, as in “Baby’s got another lover and I don’t know how I’m gonna survive.” Her distinctive voice was in beautiful form, all the high notes intact, the Janis Joplin growl and Stevie Nicksian gruff just enough, with the passion coming through all the way to the show-ending I’m the Only One and the encore: going for the gusto to scream her lungs out in Like the Way I Do.

Even more telling self-absorption can be found in the title of her forthcoming album, This is M.E., from which she did a couple of songs, including Just a Little Bit of Me, one of the happiest songs she’s ever written. Sounds like she’s connecting with some latent folk roots here. Also, she’s “indie” now, as in “not on a big record label anymore.” She said it’s so she can connect with her fans more effectively, and way to look on the bright side.

Other highlights included the captivating ballad Meet Me In the Dark, performed on piano; and another relatively new song called The Shadow of a Black Crow – not the happiest song she’s ever written – with its key line, “I would rather die fast than to ever live slow.” Who says you can’t do both? But never mind.

Etheridge’s new toy was a bit of a distraction at times, killing the pacing as she set up the beats with a tambourine and some kind of booming native drum. In some songs the one-woman band got a bit silly. In All the Way to Heaven, she deployed percussion loops, played double neck guitar, looped one rhythm, played a solo with the other, and she’s no Bonnie Raitt when it comes to guitar solos, then came the appearance of the dreaded harmonica harness, and what’s next, a couple of cymbals attached to her knees? She didn’t go that far.

But through it all, it was clear she was having fun. That means a lot. It’s fun to watch an artist have fun with their own songs they’ve played a million times before. Some of these pop diva superstars like Katy Perry ought to try it sometime. If they dare.

Melissa Etheridge Concert Review in Edmonton Journal

Source: Edmonton Journal

Multi-faceted powerhouse Etheridge shines

EDMONTON - “Joe Nolan!” a voice echoed down from one of the Jubilee Auditorium’s two balconies on Wednesday night. Or it might’ve been: “Go Nolan!”

In any case, the shoeless wonder and Ft. Saskatchewan-bred singer-songwriter easily won the crowd over during his Jube debut, serving up bluesy folk tunes and nervous charm as the opening act for Melissa Etheridge.

“I’ll do whatever you want,” drawled Nolan in his quiet, barfly voice. “You can take me home for 20 bucks. It’s a pretty good deal.”

Over the course of 30 minutes, the twentysomething delivered his woozy, raspy tunes about girls — including Did Somebody Call the Cops and Tightrope Dancer — with the help of Russell Broom, who added layers of texture with his electric guitar.

While Nolan tended to scrunch himself up and stare at the floor, Etheridge was a ball of energy — striding out on stage as she strummed the intro to a sparse but no less fiery rendition of one of her biggest hits, Bring Me Some Water.

“Welcome to me and my friends,” said the 53-year-old cancer survivor, referring to her arsenal of 10 guitars, sitting in a semicircle at the back of the stage, in among some lava lamps and fake candles. “My friends that have never let me down. I’ve got some magic to do.”

Her pals also consisted of a piano — used for the spiritual Meet Me In The Dark — and pedals to allow her to create drum loops for tunes such as Similar Features, Brave and Crazy, Lucky and All The Way To Heaven. (Like Nick Cave’s opener, Reggie Watts, though not quite the mad genius he proved to be.) “Yes, basically I’m playing with myself up here,” Etheridge quipped in front of about 1,000 fans.

Appropriately enough, This Is M.E. is the name of her current tour and the title of her 15th or so release, due Sept. 30 — not to be mistaken for Demi Lovato’s single, This Is Me, which she may perform on Oct. 4 at Rexall Place.

There are many facets to M.E. The Kansas native proved to be a gifted multi-instrumentalist. A raspy powerhouse. A perfectionist. (She fluffed the lyrics to one of her new tunes, Just A Little Bit of Me, but instead of trying to cover up her mistake, she stopped and resang the line ­­— even though no one had heard the song before.) An entrepreneur. (Her new album is her first as an independent artist.)

Etheridge might also be a lucky charm of sorts.

The last time she trekked through Western Canada, she asked Serena Ryder to open, and shortly after, the Canadian singer-songwriter blew up and became a bona fide star with hits such as Stompa and What I Wouldn’t Do.

Might Etheridge also work her magic for Nolan?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Melissa Etheridge Concert Review in Calgary Sun

Source: Calgary Sun

Melissa Etheridge rocks solo Calgary gig

It’s not easy staying relevant in this business of art. But after 30 years of triumph and tragedy, activism and perseverance, loving and living . . . and rock and roll, in a lot of ways Melissa Etheridge remains the female face of acoustic rock - even if not enough people are currently paying attention.

For those who had forgotten, or perhaps just needed a gentle reminder, the 53-year-old Leavenworth, Kansas native finally returned to Calgary and got back to some gut-level basics.

Flanked by only a piano and a semi-circle of maybe 10 guitars (including a twin-neck Gibson SG that even Jimmy Page would be impressed with), Etheridge laid it all out in customary fashion. She has always possessed the rare gift of being comfortable and engaging as she spills her heart and her mind into every word.

She smiled and greeted the small, but loud, boisterous and passionate crowd of just under 1,000 people at the fabulous Southern Jubilee Auditorium, before quickly jumping into her breakthrough hit, Bring Me Some Water from the 1988 self-titled debut.

The post-Labour Day weekend vibe was loose, relaxed and warm as Etheridge dug back in time, while still living in the present with a couple of cuts from her new release, This Is M.E. (out on September 30). Pity those lazy souls who chose to stay at home.

Using a loop pedal to record and play her own backbeat, Etheridge proved to be a one-woman show to behold! “Hi, Calgary-eee!” she bellowed and was answered right back with long, raucous applause. “It’s just me tonight – there’s no blaming anyone else! Everything you hear tonight . . . is just me.”

She carried the self-created ebb and flow of The Angels, the Joplin-esque Chrome-Plated Heart and I Gave You My Soul, before jumping behind the piano for a gorgeous interpretation of The Letting Go from the darkly beautiful 1992 album, Never Enough.

By the time she played a brand new number called Take My Number, the Grammy-award winning monster Come To My Window and I Want To Come Over from ‘95s Your Little Secret, it was already clear that you could not possibly see an artist of this talent level and magnitude under better circumstances. For a one-woman show, Etheridge makes a big and beautiful racket.

I’m The Only One was merely the topper of a terrific evening filled with surprises.

As an activist, a singer, a songwriter, a cancer survivor and a human being, Melissa Etheridge still has something to say . . . and this was the best way to hear it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Concert Review from Times Colonist

Source: Times Colonist

Melissa Etheridge brings energy and old-fashioned musical ability
Mike Devlin

Melissa Etheridge is nothing if not a ball of manic energy and she proved Sunday at the Royal Theatre that her feisty spirit hasn’t ebbed a bit, even as she turns the corner on a quarter-century as a performer.

Sporting a gold-coloured leather suit, Etheridge, 53, wowed 1,200 fans during her return to the Broughton Street theatre, a venue she visited during her 1989 tour. That was a lifetime ago, Etheridge noted on Sunday, but her memory of the Royal was still vivid. "It was the nicest place I had ever played,” the rocker joked.

How times have changed.

Etheridge is now one of the most decorated rock singers of her generation, female or otherwise, with a devoted fan base to match. They were out in full force Sunday, supporting the Grammy-winner on her first official solo tour since 2001. Without a backing band, she operated seemingly off the cuff, satiating longtime fans of her early work with a setlist that drew almost exclusively from her first four albums.

Of the 14 songs she performed Sunday, four were pulled from her self-titled 1988 debut, with an additional three from 1989’s, Brave and Crazy. Two each from 1992’s Never Enough and 1993’s Yes I Am filled out the bulk of her setlist. On almost every song, the Kansas-bred, California-based performer accompanied herself on percussion, thanks to a looping software that created rhythms in real time.

She recorded and synced together various instruments — tambourine, hand drum, electric and acoustic guitar — through what she called her "magic box." ‎The approach, which many performers employ on solo tours at the moment, approximated a full band, but did not have the same visual appeal or underlying oomph. That was perhaps the lone drawback on an otherwise excellent night.

The first strums of Bring Me Some Water emanated from the side of the stage and when she eventually emerged from the shadows to kick off the two-hour concert, it was to a huge cheer from the audience. She played another song, You Can Sleep While I Drive, solely on guitar, before the tone of the night was set on Similar Features, her first kick at the looping-software can.

It wasn’t as tech-heavy as it might appear. She never abandoned that which made her famous — old-fashioned music ability — and some of the night’s most vivid accents came courtesy of her guitar, harmonica and piano. Each instrument, recorded or otherwise, took a backseat to her unmistakable voice, however. Seemingly cut from gritty sandpaper, it gave resonance to her most emotionally complex material. Only once, during the higher-register chorus of I’m the Only One, did her vocal abilities not shine through.

She engaged the audience with The Weakness in Me, a jaw-dropping version of the Joan Armatrading original, whose lovesick poetry ‎was paired perfectly with Etheridge's piano. It was the lone cover of the concert, but it counted as perhaps the night’s best moment.

Etheridge has a new album due Sept. 30 and by all accounts it will be a stylistic about-face. Perhaps, then, her return to Victoria was her way of closing a chapter on the past, if only for the time being. Should she embark on a new direction in the coming months, fans in attendance Sunday were given a final look at one of the finest female rock performers of the modern era. Etheridge, for her part, left no doubt about her abilities, especially on guitar. She used at least a dozen in concert, including numerous 12-strings. She also played a double-necked Gibson (she called it “the girls”), a Fender electric mandolin, and a resonator guitar.

The audience remained on its feet after the main set, which gave her extended encore - consisting solely of her authoritative take on Like The Way I Do — the feel of a long-awaited celebration. The crowd matched Etheridge emotion for emotion, which seemed fitting. For those who give, there is much to receive in return. Suffice to say, both performer and fan couldn’t have asked for more on this night.

Melissa Etheridge Interview with Scene Newspaper

Source: Scene Newspaper

Melissa Etheridge: “This is M.E.”
By Michael Casper

I’ve been a fan of Melissa Etheridge’s gritty, folky, rhythm and blues, rock sound since I first heard her music in the early 90’s. She reminded me of a female Springsteen. She’s been nominated for fifteen Grammy’s, has won twice, she’s also won an Oscar, she came out in ’93, lists “activist” as one of her occupations, was diagnosed with breast cancer in ’04, and has a new album due out later this month.

Michael: Your latest album…is it still as exciting after all the others you’ve put out?

Melissa: Oh, it’s totally! First, because it’s a completely different world. Secondly, I love making music. I love doing it and creating it. The experience making this album was completely different because it’s my first album not going through Island Records. I had been with Island for over 25 years. The whole record industry and music business has changed so much that I can actually make my own album and release it myself and own it. It was a big, huge move and meant that I had to be ‘big boss lady’ and not just leave the business to everybody else, but step in and take care of my business. I worked with these amazing producers and writers and had a blast and I believe I’ve created some of my best music. Have you heard any of it?

Michael: Yes, I have!

Melissa: Oh good, because it’s kind of hard to explain. The reason I call it “This is Me” is because it’s a collection of my influences, which range from country to rock to R&B and soul. I grew up with one radio station that played them all. They’re all equally my favorite inside me and I really enjoyed exploring all of those, instead of just kind of writing in one musical vein. So, I’m really excited about this album.

Michael: So, the team you assembled…

Melissa: I got out from underneath the conglomerate…um…let’s just say there are so many things that limit you when you work for one corporation. To get out and say, ‘Okay I’m in charge of it.’ One of the ways people work now, instead of a producer working for that big fee, and you pay him…and you make music. They do it without the fee, yet you give them writing percentages. You give them a little piece of the song so it’s a different sort of investment now. You get them invested differently. It’s like, ‘Okay we’re offering you back end now,’ instead of just the upfront money and of course the upfront money is gone. Nowadays the budgets are so much less because you make an album for less. So it’s a different way of making the album. I had the opportunity to go to this producer writer, Jerry Wanda, in New York City. He was part of the Fugees with Wyclef Jean and I got to really explore him. Working with a rock star, who’s a hip-hop artist, but working through the connections with my new management, I was able to say, ‘Look, I want to step my foot into this world. I think there is a marriage here that can happen.’ And I’m just thrilled with the results. I don’t know if anybody else is going to love it, (laugh) but I certainly love it! I still love jumping around my room playing it.

Michael: So it is still as exciting as when you cut your first album.

Melissa: Absolutely, I cannot wait for people to hear this. I can’t wait to perform these songs live. I want to still be thrilled and excited about it all. The thing is, I’m more confident now than I used to be so I’m enjoying it more.

Michael: You say things are different now than back in the day. What’s touring like now?

Melissa: Well, touring is the golden egg for me. That’s my bread and butter right there. It’s something I’ve cultivated and if an audience knows that it’s a Melissa Etheridge show, you’re guaranteed something. That’s something worth investing in. You’re going to get a good show. I’m really proud that people believe that. That even though I don’t have a hit song on the radio they know they can go hear a good concert. So, that’s still in place. As I’m starting to assemble a new band, a new feeling for this new record, there’s going to be new spice in it, there’s going to be new fun. But, it’s still me doing what I love on stage.

Michael: Can your music still find a place in today’s niche radio formats?

Melissa: I think this record can. I’ve been not focusing on the radio because it has narrowed itself so far down to very specific sounds and such. I’ve been outside of it. I believe what Chris Blackwell told me 25 years ago. He said, ‘Don’t make music for the radio, make radio come to you.’ I think this album is just within reach of radio if radio really wants it. If I can spark it just enough to where maybe it’ll catch fire, then I think it can work. If not, then I have a great album that I love playing and I’m completely happy with, but it certainly would be nice if radio could maybe step out just a little and try it.

Michael: Tell me about “Take My Number.”

Melissa: It is very different. Most of the collaborations on this album are collaborations with rhythm track. My drummer programs beats. That’s something I never learned. Music wasn’t sitting in a room with a computer for me at all. And when that started in the late 90’s and the turn of the century, all those beats sort of lost me. So coming back around to it and working with a guy who’s a fabulous drummer and can make these beats, he would give them to me in a 3-minute version of this beat, and I would write a song to it. So that’s that collaboration with him. When I collaborated with John Lavine, who is an incredibly talented keyboard/piano player, he would create beats and he and I would be in his studio creating the music, then I would take it and go write the lyrics. It’s different than when I go in with the song. For example, a song like, ‘Rockstar,’ he created the beat, I created the music and he and I both created the lyrics and I’ve never really worked on lyrics with anybody else.

Michael: And you worked with Jerry Wanda.

Melissa: And with Angela Hunt in the studio. She wrote “Empire State of Mind” and has incredible R&B hits. She and I worked on, “Do It Again” lyrically. There’s a culture within the urban world, you create it right there in the studio. It wasn’t the way I ever wrote Rock & Roll. I’d go into my room and spend hours working on the words and the melody. They create it in the moment. It’s very much a freestyle thing, which I really loved. It was a different way of creating. The Jerry Wanda tracks were full collaboration, in the studio, in the moment. We worked until 4 in the morning. It’s a very different culture. I enjoyed all of them. I’d get an email of the track and I’d write the rest of it. Jerry and I created it from beginning to end, in the moment, right there in the studio.

Michael: It seems opposite.

Melissa: It was like I have always won the gold medal in the long run, and then it was ‘Okay, now try to do the sprint.’ Well, okay…I’ll try to see how good I can do. And I did. It’s a different muscle. It’s a different way. It’s like, ‘Okay I have to come up with a rhyme right now.’ I don’t get to go have dinner or take a shower and come back and get the rhyme. It’s right now. ‘What’s good here?’ And everyone’s watching you doing it out in the open. It was fun, different and challenging and I enjoy that!

Michael: Was the whole album written that way?

Melissa: No, no, no, just the Jerry Wanda tracks. And actually ‘Monster,’ which is a Jerry Wanda track, I was able to take that home that night and worked on it and came back. But, ‘Do It Again’ and ‘Rockstar’ we did right there in the studio. But the John Lavine tracks I took home and I did all the writing by myself, but the music was with him.

Michael: Besides the road, where is ‘home’ these days?

Melissa: Home is Los Angeles, I’m here right now. I just got back actually from a weekend tour of a couple festivals. Right now it’s sort of piece meal. I have a couple weeks off now. I’m actually on vacation with my family. This summer has been sort of here and there, doing some solo stuff and some symphony stuff.

Michael: Symphony?

Melissa: Yes! For the first time, this year, the Boston Pops did six arrangements of my tunes, like “Come to My Window,” and I performed it with the Boston Pops. Then I went to the Chicago Symphony, and they did four more tracks. There’s just nothing like hearing, “Like the Way I Do,” with full strings. It was amazing. But that’s sort of the thing I’ve been doing this year. Different stuff that my fans haven’t heard before.

Michael: You ever get back towards Kansas?

Melissa: Not often. I don’t have family there anymore. My mother is out here with me. And I didn’t have any relatives beyond that because my parents moved there from Arkansas. I do get back there every couple of years because I have strong connections with my friends. The town welcomes me. There’s a sign “Home of Melissa Etheridge” and that means a lot to me.

Michael: What do you do on vacation?

Melissa: I do NOTHING! And it’s wonderful (laugh).

Michael: You are a breast cancer survivor. How are things going?

Melissa: 10 years cancer free. I’m very healthy. It completely made me see that it is all about health. If you don’t have your health, you’ve got nothing. The food that I eat and how I take care of my body and stay in motion, and my emotional life, those are the most important things to me.