Roots music column May 6, 2011- Amy Black

In today’s Roots Music column I advance the local roots happenings, including Ben Sures at the Matchbox tonight and the line-up for this August’s Central Music Festival. I also feature a review of Amy Black’s lovely new album One Time.

For whatever reason the column hasn’t been posted to the Red Deer Advocate’s website, so here it is- should the column be posted, I’ll revise things to feature a link. As always, thanks for spending time at Fervor Coulee. Donald

This evening, The Matchbox’s final concert presentation has Canadian singer Ben Sures hosting a CD release show; if you’re able, come out and support this talented and entertaining folksinger. The show starts at 7:30 with doors at 7:00.

The Hideout has Jess Hill and Jeff Andrew tonight and is hosting Jimmy Rankin and St. James Gate on Thursday, May 12. Advance tickets for Rankin are available at The Hideout and by calling 403-348-5319.

Tuesday May 10, Jeans Off House Concerts presents Vancouver’s The Sumner Brothers; call 403-357-4728 for information on this evening of roots and alt-country sounds.

The Hub on Ross presents a ‘house concert’ with Edmonton’s popular Woodbend Bluegrass Band the evening of May 13; Red Deer’s Don Swift opens. On June 3, Darren Johnson and Jamie Woodfin bring roots, blues, and country to The Hub as part of an ongoing concert series featuring Alberta performers. Information available at 403-340-4869.

Red Deer’s Central Music Festival (August 12-14) has released its lineup. Headlined by David Essig, Souljah Fyah, David Vest, the Jack Semple Trio, Dan Sinasac, and Canadian rock n roll favourites Odds and Jonas and the Massive Attraction, the festival features a bevy of local and Alberta talents including The Railway Bandits, Jesse Dee & Jacqui B & Scott Cook, Steve Arsenault Band, The Boom Chucka Boys, Charlie Jacobson, Paeton Cameron Band, Don Swift, Michelle Joly and Carrie Sadler, Joe Nolan, Amy Bishop Trio, Micah Turchet, and Back Porch Swing.

Central Music Festival, expanded to three days this summer, concludes with an acoustic songwriters circle and jam featuring festival participants as well as Dick Damron, Donna Durand, Lisa Brokop, and others. Ticket information is available at with adult early bird passes $63 and family passes $150 for the weekend.

This week’s disc review:

Amy Black One Time Reuben Records

 Amy Black is a singer and songwriter living on the long tail of the music business. As it appears more artists than ever are releasing music and with top albums selling fewer copies than similarly charting albums of the past, those on the fringes of the music industry are busting their behinds in an attempt to make a living following their art.

Southern-raised and Boston-based, Amy Black previously released an album that explored the music of her Americana heroes- among them Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, and John Prine. While the songs were presented in a familiar manner, the freshness of Black’s voice elevated the self-titled release above other similarly themed projects.

All but three of the songs on One Time are Black originals, and their connections to the past- through instrumentation, mood, and especially straightforward emotional honesty- are evident. But this is no relic of a glorified, sepia-toned time when everything was better than it is today.

Supported by exceptional musicians and vocalists including Stuart Duncan and Mark Erelli and others less familiar- Roger Williams provides mournful Dobro throughout- Black has created a balanced and lively collection of contemporary Americana that blends her influences- folk, country, blues, and the storytelling tradition.

The threat of Run Johnny, the frustration of One Time, and the observances of Molly coalesce- as do several songs- the experiences of characters, products of their environment, who may or may not be open to change.

Black has a bright, bold voice with a languid drawl that conveys the impact of her soulful, affecting creations and reminds one of Kate Campbell. Like Campbell, Black’s singing voice is as natural and welcome as lemonade on a sweltering summer’s day, with an amiable tartness lingering within its sweetness.

Her lyrics explore the personal but never cloying or cringe-inducing. When Black sings, “I’m coming your way, I’m making a path, I’m taking a leap of faith, and I’m never looking back” she is declaring her commitment to music as much as to her lover in song.

You’re not likely to find One Time in local music shops. Exploring the long tail of the modern music industry isn’t always easy but it is where one finds the most interesting material. Add Amy Black to that list.

Donald Teplyske is a local freelance writer who contributes a twice-monthly column on roots music; visit for additional reviews. If you know a roots music event of which he should be aware, contact him at

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