Thursday, June 2, 2005

Joyce Andersen, troubadour, releases her new CD, 'Love & Thirst'

By Jon Nolan
Arts Writer

I know it's a little late, but I'd like to cast my vote for the next American Idol - Joyce Andersen. OK, we'll forget about that show and the what's-her-name who won this year, but if there was any justice in the world we'd be curling up on the couch to watch Joyce Andersen sing on TV instead. All is not lost however. On Sunday, June 5, the lovely and tremendously talented Andersen will be performing at the Inn on the Blues in York Beach, Maine, to celebrate the release of her latest and perhaps finest solo CD, "Love & Thirst" along with her truly amazing back up band. Think a sassier Allison Krauss with a smidge more rock-n-roll in her blood and you're pretty close to what Joyce Andersen sounds like. Simon Cowell will not be in attendence, thank God, but the rest of you should be. This is where the real talent will be showcased, my friends..."

It was my busiest touring year ever," says Joyce Andersen, the early 30-something, from her York, Maine, home. " It just looked like I had a batch of songs that held together well. It seemed like a good time to get going and make another record."

Make a record she did, and a fine one at that, too. Andersen's clear, stirring vocals and top-notch fiddle playing lead the way start to finish through an album that is chock full of rootsy folk gems. " It is a little bit of a feel-good album. "Love & Thirst (the album's title) sums it up pretty well," she says, " I like to let the songs to speak for themselves. "

Andersen grew up in Durham studying violin, playing all through high school, but put it down for a bit in college to do the "jock" thing at the University of Vermont. After college in the early 90s, Andersen returned home to the Seacoast for a spell and found herself scooped up by the Irish session that goes on at The Press Room in downtown Portsmouth every Friday night.

"I was reborn over those first few months,' she says of that period, "My eyes opened up to this whole world of different music out there after growing up listening to pop radio and studying classical violin."

With the fire to write and perform rekindled, Andersen was off and running on a path that led from Boston's legendary Berklee School of Music, to Nashville where she landed a coveted "side-gal" gig with a country act signed to Warner Brothers complete with cushy tour buses, huge arena shows and the whole bit. New York City was the next stop, but she found that not to her liking ultimately, either.

"I've found it's been easier for me to find my own voice living here," she says, "and not in one of those big music towns." It's a score for us, she's a local again.

The new CD is the third full length album and seventh overall release from this prolific singer-songwriter. It's also the first release since 2004's CD "Kindling the Fire" which was a co-release with international guitar phenomenon and folk troubadour Harvey Reid who, you know, just happens to be her husband. Sheesh. You think there's some talent in that house? I vote yes.

While on a break from their constant criss-crossing of the country to support "Kindling" Reid and Andersen were blowing off some steam at The Dolphin Striker one night when Harvey suggested that the band playing might make for a good back up band in the studio for Love & Thirst.

"The John Troy Band is one of the greatest kept secrets," she says, "Harvey said 'Hey! Why don't you use Mattacks and Troy?'"

Enter Dave Mattacks and John Troy, rhythm section extraordinaire. Throw in N.H.'s Bruce Derr and Boston's Duke Levine and you've got a crack band whose members have backed up a shockingly impressive list of artists. Let me throw out a few names for you so you get the picture: Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, Minnie Pearl, Bonnie Raitt, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Elton John, Jimmy Page and yes, Joyce Andersen (there are loads more too). Not exactly your flash -in the-pan types like, say...uhhhhhh, Clay Aiken? Reuben Studdard? That curly haired dude?

"This is a world-class band," says Andersen, "I just love all these guys. " So will music fans for sure, and you'll remember her name if you see her play too unlike the aforementioned "Curly."

On "You Might Live for Rock and Roll" Andersen sings "Love will lead you down the road / Help to ease a heavy load"

Well, you'll love Joyce's new CD, so go take a load off at The Inn on the Blues this weekend and check out the real talent. Joyce and her band separate the pros from the shmoes. Trust me, you'll be playing her excellent new CD a lot longer than any of those "Idol" albums. Don't miss it.