We continue our For Pete's Sake tradition again this year with guest curator John Stirratt of Wilco. Each day on the Museum Stage, we will honor the traditions of bluegrass, gospel and roots music, to which Pete and Toshi Seeger dedicated their lives. The format is a mix of workshops, live performances and lectures.
FRIDAY, JULY 27 – HOSTED BY JOHN STIRRATT
Although best known as the bassist in the much-acclaimed Wilco, John Stirratt also leads his own bands, most notably the Hilltops and Autumn Defense. We thank John for taking the time to so thoughtfully curate this year's For Pete's Sake program and for joining us to host the Friday session.
Johnny Irion is a rocker in and out of time. There’s something kind of timeless in the way he wrings out the sweetest melodies and deeper passions of both ‘60s Californian rock and Guthrie-era folk, and something so timely about the way he does it – there’s a reason Bernie Sanders asked him to sing at a rally in his sometimes-home of Santa Barbara. Best known for his folk explorations with his wife Sarah Lee Guthrie, including their recent Wassaic Way produced by Jeff Tweedy, and his latest rock venture with US ELEVATOR, which Will Hermes of Rolling Stone Magazine praised for its “songs that are hand crafted as lovingly as the jeans on the back of After the Goldrush,” Irion has earned a reputation as one of the most exciting artists across the folk-rock spectrum, from his uncannily Young-Nilsson-esque voice to his melodic and lyrical mettle.
COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS
Courtney Marie Andrews spent over nine months of 2017 on the road, with multiple trips across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. That’s nothing new for Andrews, though. She’s been touring relentlessly since leaving her Arizona hometown at 16. It’s a life that inspired much of her 2016 breakthrough album, Honest Life. While that album’s themes spoke to the isolation and rootlessness inherent in a life on the road, most of its songs were actually written during an intentional, extended break. The success that followed its release, however, didn’t afford her the same break to write the material for her new album. Although May Your Kindness Remain was predominately written on the road -- in the van, in hotels, and in the homes of family and friends -- it’s not a road record like its predecessor. That is, it’s not so much inspired by her life on the road so much as it is by the people she’s met along the way. It’s an inward reflection on the connectivity of their stories and her own. “More than anything,” she says, “it got me thinking about my childhood, and the people around me that I’ve known, and the stories that come from my family. It became clear how many people are struggling through the same issues.”
THE AUTUMN DEFENSE
The Autumn Defense arrived with the 21st century, capturing colors of a bygone era - the result of a collaboration between John Stirratt, longtime member of Wilco and formerly Uncle Tupelo and musical compatriot [/Wilco multi-instrumentalist] Pat Sansone. Between noontime highs and slipping sunsets, the Autumn Defense create a sound which both embraces and resists the moods of autumn, and so defines their name. The multi-instrumental duo chase the sun westward to the California coast, gathering inspiration from classic L.A. pop and well-crafted melody basking in the warmth of the 60s and 70s AM Radio tradition.
SATURDAY, JULY 28 – hosted by J.P. Harris
In short, J.P. Harris plays Country Music. Not “Americana,” not “Roots,” “Folk,” or any other number of monikers used to describe a slew of spin-off genres; he plays from the foundation of these styles, the music that has influenced four generations of songwriters. In a world where prefixes have been added to the term “Country,” JP simply sticks to the old-fashioned sounds that have called to him. Referencing influences would be like describing each stitch in a quilt; every scrap of fabric tells a story of how the weathered and comfortable blanket came to be. We thank J.P. for joining us at the Fort again this summer and taking up hosting duties for the Saturday For Pete's Sake program.
African-Canadian roots phenom Kaia Kater couldn’t have come on the scene at a better time. As a new generation takes the reins, American roots music is needed more than ever to remind us of the troubled pathways of our own history. Born of African-Caribbean descent in Québec, Kaia Kater grew up between two worlds: one her family’s deep ties to Canadian folk music in her Toronto home; the other the years she spent learning and studying Appalachian music in West Virginia. Her acclaimed debut album Sorrow Bound (May 2015) touched on this divide, but her sophomore album, Nine Pin (May 2016), delved even further, and casting an unflinching eye at the realities faced by people of colour in North America every day. Her songs on Nine Pin are fueled by her rich low tenor vocals, jazz-influenced instrumentation, and beautifully understated banjo. They earned her a Canadian Folk Music Award in 2016, and they’ve got as much in common with Kendrick Lamar right now as they do with Pete Seeger.
Zane Campbell boasts one of the most distinguished lineages in country music, rivaling other Appalachian mountain royalty such as the Carter family and the Stoneman clan. His great-uncle, Guy Brooks, was a fiddler and songwriter with the seminal 1920s string band The Red Fox Chasers, one of the first groups to put authentic hillbilly music on commercial recordings. Campbell takes fierce pride in this stubborn family trait that respects tradition but sees it in a creative, often subversive, light. Tradition is not something to worship blindly, but to wrestle with, and out of that tussle of old and new, to try to forge something original.
A prolific songwriter for nearly twenty years, Laura Veirs proves the depth of her musical skill on her tenth solo album, The Lookout. Here is a batch of inimitable, churning, exquisite folk-pop songs; a concept album about the fragility of precious things. Produced by Grammy-nominated Tucker Martine, Veirs’ longtime collaborator, The Lookout is a soundtrack for turbulent times, full of allusions to protectors: the camper stoking a watch fire, a mother tending her children, a sailor in a crows nest and a lightning rod channeling energy.
SUNDAY, JULY 29 – HOSTED BY JOE PURDY
From his home state of Arkansas to his home in Los Angeles, Joe Purdy has recorded a baker’s dozen worth of albums. His songs have turned up on numerous TV shows and film soundtracks. Most notably, however, in recent years the singer, songwriter and self-described “hillbilly” has come to see the world and his role in it somewhat differently, charting this direction on his latest album, "Who Will Be Next?” Here he firmly plants his feet deep in the tradition of folk artists such as Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs, applying his unique skills as writer and vocalist as a passionate observer and participant of our times.
Kiki Cavazos' album Two Bit Gambler was recorded live to tape on temperamental old machines in an enchanted house by the Mississippi River at the end of Deslonde St. in New Orleans, LA. on May 30, 2014. Featuring KiKi Cavazos Vocals and Guitar. Corey McGillvary Bass and Vocals. John James Tourville on Pedal Steel. Button on Harmonicas. Camille Weatherford Vocals. Engineered by Max Bien-Kahn.
Born in Staten Island, New York, to an Italian-Irish preacher and a Puerto Rican mother, Mancari has lived a life of transition - from working as a janitor in South Florida, to writing songs with train hoppers in the Blue Ridge Mountains and seeking spirituality in India. But it was her time in Virginia and Nashville where she found the roots music that would continue to inspire her musical evolution to today Her anticipated debut album, "Good Woman," is hauntingly lonesome, with dust-cloud swells of electric guitar and don't-look- back lyrics revealing scenes from Mancari’s well-travelled story. She recalls, “I remember being 19, and I would go to this old warehouse where a bunch of old timers would be siting around picking and drinking moonshine…and we are talking straight up moonshine. "During this time, Mancari's curiosity to see the world with eager, fresh eyes grew, drawing her to travel and experience all types of people and places. Her travels would inevitably impact her music; since her music is the landscape of all she's seen, “Good Woman” evokes the sound of city grit and the mountain music of her youth, swirling into a fresh, nostalgic sound.
Rooted in triple-stacked harmonies, southern storytelling, and cosmic country twang, Cordovas create their own version of American roots-rock with That Santa Fe Channel. The album marks the band's ATO Records debut, arriving after more than a half-decade's worth of international touring, communal living, and shared songwriting sessions. It's a timely - and timeless - version of a sound that's existed for 50 years, ever since pioneers like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Bothers Band blurred the lines between rock, country, and amplified folk music. If That Santa Fe Channel nods to the band's influences, though, it's still a fiercely unique album, recorded in a series of live takes that shine a light not only on Cordovas' songwriting chops, but their strength as a raw, rugged live band, as well.
“Sweet Creep” Jonny Fritz is back— with a new album, a new hip, and a new homebase in Los Angeles, California. When last we met our hero, Jonny had just wrapped up the purgative classic, Dad Country, his call to the rising generation for a renewed lyricism in country music, recorded in Jackson Browne’s personal recording studio and released by ATO records. Now in his newest, Sweet Creep, the lyricism returns, but with a wide hopeful grin. Recorded in Jim James’ makeshift hilltop studio in Montecito Heights, where golden twilight fills up thirsty grass valleys, Sweet Creep reverberates with the same feeling of sunny new vistas. From the empathetic Are You Thirsty? to the summer-crushy Humidifier, Sweet Creep is a freshly-signed lease on life, with the movers downstairs waiting by the truck.