I'm proud to have been selected again as an official Performance Alley Showcase artist at the 2012 International Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis! I was awarded that opportunity in 2009, as well, and in 2008 at FarWest Regional Folk Alliance in Phoenix. I was accompanied at various times by the late, great Kenny Edwards, and by Paul Lacques, Bruce Victor, and Radoslav Lorkovic. And I sat in with StoneHoney and Dan Navarro singing "Son of a Preacher Man" and countless other songs into the dawn.
November 2012 saw the release of my newest album, "Weeds Like Us", produced by Jeff Turmes of Mavis Staples' band, and including an amazing and gifted cast of the world's greatest musicians, including Jeff, Greg Leisz, Don Heffington, Rick Holmstrom, Rick Shea, Debra Dobkin, Steve Mugalian, Donny Gerrard, and Josh Grange.
In 2008, "Where the Fireworks Are,*" our previous release, was being played on at least 45 stations across the country and in Canada, and on EuroAmericana stations in several other countries.
Stylistically gymnastic songbird Julie Christensen has a resume that includes work with the post-punk SST band Divine Horsemen, with Leonard Cohen, and a ne'er released Polygram record produced by Todd Rundgren, for whom she opened up on two California tours.
The current album, "Weeds Like Us," is 13 songs for the unlucky, brave, and tough, including covers by unsung songwriters Jeff Turmes, Dan Montgomery, and Donna Lynn Caskey, plus a scorcher by Jim Lauderdale and Julie's own soul-baring originals. It boasts some of the best players in the business, including Don Heffington, Debra Dobkin, and Steve Mugalian on drums, Greg Leisz, Rick Shea, and Josh Grange on guitars, and of course producer Jeff Turmes on a myriad of instruments.
Christensen previously released two CDs in 2006 and 2008. One is called "Where the Fireworks Are"*-- the poetry of emotion and politics all stirred up on the rocks together. And the other, released fall of 2006, is called "Something Familiar", a collection of standards and Julie's ballads and blues.
Julie sang with Leonard Cohen on two world tours and records. Over the past several years she's been part of a great series of Cohen tribute concerts -- that was part of a DVD documentary on him called "Leonard Cohen-I'm Your Man" on Lion's Gate--with Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Jarvis Cocker, Linda Thompson, and others. Out on DVD, with a soundtrack on Verve Forecast.
In June 0f 2013, Julie will move from her home in rural Ventura County in California with her husband, actor John Diehl, to East Nashville to be closer to their midwestern roots and to continue pursuing more songwriting and singing.
Our fourth CD, recorded with Tom Lackner and Joe Woodard of Headless Household and a pack of damn fine musicians, including Karen Hammack, Steve Nelson, Greg Leisz, Kenny Edwards, Kenny Wollesen, Jim Christie, and Dave Palmer.
Where the Fireworks Are is available online:
at CD Baby: http://cdbaby.com/cd/jcstonecupid
Brett Leigh Dicks of VC Reporter writes:
"...the album radiates in poignancy, yet shimmers in sublime beauty. From the heart-wrenching title track, which serves up an aching does of harsh reality, to the cascading piano that drives the plaintive “Something Pretty,” Where the Fireworks Are is a collection of songs spanning the emotional spectrum. It provides an evocative musical chariot for Christensen to weave her vocal magic."
"Christensen’s first solo album should have been released in 1990, after she worked on it with producer Todd Rundgren at his Bearsville studio. Alas, the album got caught up in record company snafus and it has remained on the shelves all these years. Meanwhile, Christensen took the DIY route and made two fine albums, Love is Driving (1997) and Soul Driver (2001), on her own Stone Cupid label.
Among Christensen’s present musical activities, her connection to Leonard Cohen’s world continues, as a featured member of the Cohen tribute projects produced by Hal Willner. The tribute’s Sydney Opera House concerts became the core of the acclaimed documentary, Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man, featuring Christensen and her longtime ally (and fellow Ojai-an) Perla Batalla on the classic Cohen song “Anthem.” The Came So Far for Beauty concert series in fact just held two performances in Dublin, Ireland on October 4th and 5th, and Julie again participated, along with Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Jarvis Cocker and many others.
Christensen’s re-entry into her solo career is coming on strong. Where the Fireworks Are, a companion album worked on simultaneously with [the jazz and Blues oriented] Something Familiar, is recently released."
"Julie Christensen is one of the truer singers you’ll ever hear — straight up, no mannerisms, perfect taste; listen to her takes on “But Beautiful,” “Stolen Moments” and “Blame It on My Youth,” from her piercing new Something Familiar, and recognize how she could sing with both Leonard Cohen and Chris D."
(Greg Burk) L.A. WEEKLY
Julie Christensen - Vocal, Acoustic/Electric Guitar, and Keyboard.
Radoslav Lorkovic - Piano, Accordion and Vocals
Robert Mache - Acoustic/Electric Guitar, Mandolin / vocals
Note that many of the audio files in this EPK are produced with Jeff Turmes (of Mavis Staples' band), from our CD "Weeds Like Us", from "Where the Fireworks Are", and selections from each of my other 3 CDs.
2011-12 "Weeds Like Us" album, which made a few "10 Best" lists in late 2012.
2011 Malea McGuiness--background vocals with Neal Casal
2008 Where the Fireworks Are LP
Produced with Santa Barbara's Headless Household, it's anthemic powerhouse music!(now out at stonecupid.com, cdbaby.com, iTunes, and amazon.com.)
incl. Psycho Killer "single" prod. earlier by V. Mortensen)
2008 What Love Will Do--Janiva Magness
bg vox on a couple tunes.
2008 Lowen and Navarro
bg vox on "I Still Believe"
2006 Something Familiar LP (now out at stonecupid.com, cdbaby.com, iTunes, and amazon.com.)
Christmas in my Soul, River (online only Julie Christensen & Karen Hammack)
2000 Soul Driver LP
got airplay on at least 30 college stations and internet radio.
1997 Love is Driving LP
got airplay on over 50 AAA stations nationwide.
Whisper / Scream Polydor produced by Todd Rundgren. Unreleased.
Don't Shoot Zippo ZONG009
Sang "Almost Persuaded" (w/ Greg Leisz on steel) under my own name, and "Tears Fall Away" w/ Divine Horsemen (recorded in 1983-4)
Various including Steve Wynn, John Doe, the Romans, Top Jimmy, Tony Gilkyson...
The Austin Christmas CollectionFelicity Records 1st Edition
Sang "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" (later editions incl. all yr Austin faves)
Various incl Eric Johnson, Gary P. Nunn, Marcia Ball...
Julie with Leonard Cohen:
2006 Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man DVD on Lion's Gate
2005 Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man Original Soundtrack Album Verve Forecast 602517024083
1997 More Best of Leonard Cohen --
on 8 of the songs...Columbia CK 68636
1994 Cohen Live Columbia CK 66327
backup on all tunes (w/ Perla Batalla) and duet vocal on "Joan of Arc"
The Future Columbia CK 53226
sang backup on "The Future", (+ unreleased video) "Closing Time" (+ video), "Democracy" (w/ Jennifer Warnes
Sang backup, duet on Leonard Cohen European & North American Tour
Columbia Radio Hour Columbia Special Products
performed live broadcast
World Tour w/ Leonard Cohen including Austin Cityy Limits, Prince's Trust Concert and so much more. In support of I'm Your Man
The Songs of Leonard Cohen BBC Video Documentary available through Columbia Special Products
Julie with Divine Horsemen:
Snakehandler SST CD(#?)New Rose (France) rose134CD + vinyl and cassettes
sang co-lead, co-wrote "Curse of the Crying Woman", "Blind Leading the Blind", and "Stone by Stone"
Handful of Sand EP SST176(Vinyl only)
toured twice that year even though our van full of gear had gotten stolen in New Orleans
Middle of the Night EP SST 090 (vinyl and Cassette)
sang and wrote some
Devil's River SST091 (CD, vinyl, cassette), New Rose ROSE102 (CD, vinyl)
Sang, wrote some incl. title song
Border Radio Soundtrack Enigma SJ73221
Sang on "Mother's Worry", Lilly White Hands" w/ Divine Horsemen, acted one scene in the movie w/ John Doe
Various incl. Los Lobos, Dave Alvin, Green on Red, the Lazy Cowgirls... film was directed by Allison Anders
Time Stands StillEnigma E1130 (vinyl, cassette)
duet vocals w/ Chris D. on 6 songs
Chris D./ Divine Horseman
Sang w/ Chris D.
2008: Janiva Magness' "What Love Will Do" CD on Alligator Records out this June 10th
2005: Leonard Cohen "I'm Your Man" film soundtrack
Bird on the Wire-The Songs of Leonard Cohen
sang backup on two songs
Perla Batalla Mechuda Music special issue http://www.perla.com
Heaven and Earth sang backup on several tunes
Perla Batalla / Mestiza Voyage
Supernatural Blue Thumb BTD 7596
sang backup on 3 tunes
love is driving stone cupid 001
wrote / collaborated on all but "Oriole", sang, produced, bought Thai food...
It takes One to Know One Fathead 1001
sang backup on 3 tunes
Janiva Magness and Jeff Turmes
Waitin' for George American Recordings 9 43007-2
backup vocals (and arrangements) with Janiva on all but 2 songs
Perla Batalla Discovery 77001
sang backup on "I've Been Gone Too Long"
Well... Virgin 7243 8 39543-22
wrote lead-off tune "Thunderhead (I Just Wanted a Little Rain)"
Start the Car Reprise Video for VH-1 and MTV
performed backup singer part on camera
Emerald Blue Riverhorse 7752-4
sang backup w/ Perla
World Song GM Pavillion at Seville Expo '92/ AmericaFlora '92
sang on choral work
film score composed by Jim Lang
That What Is Not Virgin 2-91815
sang backup (uncredited?) on "Luck's Up", "Covered", "Emperor", "Good Things" (+ Bonnie Bramlett Sheridan)
PiL( Public Image Ltd.)
What Fresh Hell is This? Barclay 847773-2
duet vocals on "Lucy Bel Lee" and "Burn the Flag"
The Rapture Soundtrack A&M Records
wrote (with Scott Wilk) and sang "Well Enough"
Meet John Doe DGC(Geffen) 24291
sang "duet" vocal on "Let's Be Mad"(the single), backup on "Matter of Degrees" and "Real One"
Let's Be Mad promo single DGC procd-4115 and Video
3 Live Shows
Running Sacred RNA R2-70757(Rhino)
sang backup on "It Fell", "Slave Labor", "Just Another Perfect Day", and "Same Denomination"
Straight to the Swapmeet (vinyl) Legendary Authorized Bootleg RNA pro1-90052
sang backup and duet
Black Rain Soundtrack A&M
sang backup with Perla
Old Wives' Tales Rhino R170913
sang backup on "White Trash Wife" and"Cocktail Trees"
Woke Up This Morning RCA Barclay 99494H
sang on 2 songs
Tokyo Rose Warner Bros.
sang choral, backup (w/Syd Straw)
Van Dyke Parks
Kerosene Man Rhino
Music from Echo Park Soundtrack A&M SP 5119 (vinyl, cassette)
sang duet on the movie's end title theme "Give And Take"
Various incl. Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, David Baerwald of David & David, Jimmie Wood...
Brutus Rides Again (cassette only)
sang duet w/ Phil Perry on "One of a Kind"
Kiss My Blues Away
Sang 1920's cover tunes
Ritzo Rhythm Kings
The Great Leap Forward
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The great leap forward Julie Christensen takes us to Where the Fireworks Are ~ By BRETT LEIGH ...The great leap forward
Julie Christensen takes us to Where the Fireworks Are
~ By BRETT LEIGH DICKS ~
For Julie Christensen, music is all about being heard. No matter if her voice is soaring passionately in complement to Leonard Cohen’s laconic rasp or brazenly recounting her disillusionment with the current state of the world on her latest album, Christensen’s musical desires all stem from a steadfast desire to communicate. It has been that way for as long as she can remember.
It is that simple objective that continues to fuel and propel the various undertakings the Ojai-based singer-songwriter so fervently embraces. Over the last few years, she has been touring the world with the likes of Nick Cave, Lou Reed and Beth Orton as part of Hal Willner’s Leonard Cohen tribute concerts; she also features prominently in Lian Lunsen’s Cohen documentary I’m Your Man. Last year, Christensen released a recording where she sauntered her way through a collection of old standards, and she is about to follow that up with Where the Fireworks Are, an album of her own evocative compositions.
“As an artist, I don’t think you ever lose the desire to get heard,” Christensen says. “That’s really what gave rise to this new album, and it’s what music has always been about for me. It doesn’t matter whether I was dueting with Leonard Cohen on ‘Joan of Arc’ while touring the world or singing ‘Wishing on a Star’ in an a cappella group for people who were waiting in line to visit the Queen Mary; for me, it all comes from the same place. It’s all music. It’s all about communicating. And it’s all part of the same incredible journey.”
The starting point for the most recent leg of that journey could not have been any more exacting. Christensen has long maintained a fertile and active social conscience, so much so that she decided to delve headlong into voter registration for the 2004 federal election. The reality of the outcome seemingly became too much of a burden for her to bear. Across the recent past, her songwriting had not been as prolific as she had wanted. But the prospect of more of the political same, and its accompanying social ramifications, soon provided the spark that would ultimately ignite a compositional firestorm.
“In the buildup to the last elections, I felt really strongly that the current administration shouldn’t be allowed to stay and do another four years worth of damage,” Christensen says. “Then the elections went the way they did, and all these songs just came out. I really hadn’t written all that much for a while. Normally I have to be depressed or have bad luck in love before the urge to express myself will override everything else. The last time I had been this creative was when I was dumped. And that’s how the election made me feel: I felt like a jilted lover.”
Her political rejection quickly led to musical salvation. Christensen turned to the Santa Barbara-based Headless Household collective to help guide her vision. Recorded in Tom Lackner’s mountainside studio, the album radiates in poignancy, yet shimmers in sublime beauty. From the heart-wrenching title track, which serves up an aching does of harsh reality, to the cascading piano that drives the plaintive “Something Pretty,” Where the Fireworks Are is a collection of songs spanning the emotional spectrum. It provides an evocative musical chariot for Christensen to weave her vocal magic.
In being swept along by Christensen’s current musical voyage, one could be forgiven for overlooking some of her former musical credits. She has fronted infectious swamp rockers Divine Horsemen; sung with musicians as diverse as Iggy Pop, Steve Wynn, Melissa Manchester, k.d. lang and Van Dyke Parks; and, of course, performed as a vocalist with Leonard Cohen on his last two world tours. So when she was engulfed by the urge to express herself in song again, she turned to the latter for some initial support and guidance.
“One of the first songs that came was the one that eventually became the title track,” Christensen recalls. “I started writing it a few years back around the time of Independence Day. I asked Leonard Cohen to help me write because he was the only person I knew who could give it the weight that it deserved. But when I told him the opening line, which goes ‘Between my thighs/Is all my country,’ he responded, ‘I can’t help you there, darling. You got yourself into this one, so you’re on your own.’ But, in the end, that one just propelled itself forward.”
Songbirds On the Wire
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LEONARD COHEN SONGBIRDS ON THE WIRE by Mark Lewis, Ojai Quarterly OJAI’S PERLA BATALLA AND JULIE ...LEONARD COHEN SONGBIRDS ON THE WIRE
by Mark Lewis, Ojai Quarterly
OJAI’S PERLA BATALLA AND JULIE CHRISTENSEN TOURED THE WORLD WITH LEONARD COHEN, SINGING HIS SONGS. NOW THEY SING THEIR OWN.
There's a moment near the end of the Leonard Cohen documentary I'm Your Man when Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen are singing Cohen's "Anthem," and the film cuts to a reaction shot of the maestro himself. He is smiling broadly, seemingly delighted to see his former backup singers claim the spotlight. But there’s a twist, because Cohen was not present in the Sydney separately and inserted later.
Batalla and Christensen were in Australia to participate in a Cohen tribute concert, which two Ojai singer-songwriters spent most of the concert providing backing vocals for the headliners, including such luminaries as Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright, and Kate and Anna McGarrigle. But separately and together, Batalla and Christensen held their own in that exalted company. Julie’s solo performance of highlight. Perla’s version of “Bird on The Wire” was a second-act triumph. Then, as the evening approached its end, they came together to do “Anthem” as a duet.
They had sung it with Cohen many times. Now they sang it by themselves, to pay tribute to Cohen — and his smiling reaction comes across as a tribute of sorts to Batalla and Christensen as they made his song their own, at least for this night:
Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in
Julie Christensen had sung about bells before. Back in high school in Newton, Iowa, she played Marian the Librarian in The Music Man, which — appropriately enough — is set in small-town Iowa. Late in the second act she launched into “Till There Was You,” Marian’s big solo turn: “There were bells, on the hill, but I never heard them ringing ...
No, I never heard them at all, till there was you.” The applause was gratifying, especially for a girl who already knew she wanted to be a singer.
Lots of kids harbor that ambition, but Julie had a voice that separated her from the tuneless masses. People noticed. Even so, starring in the high-school musical is one thing, and committing yourself to music as your career is quite another. After graduation in 1974, Julie enrolled at the University of Iowa with the idea that she would learn Chinese, major in Asian studies and perhaps become a diplomat. Then she met a real- life music man, who invited her to join his country-rock band. One thing led to another, and within a year she had ditched school and was out on the road, singing for her supper.
By 1977 she had landed in Austin, where she gradually evolved into a jazz chanteuse. “Julie would sit in with us sometimes,” recalls Roscoe Beck, who played bass in a jazz- fusion band called Passenger. “She would sing jazz standards, but other things too.”
Then as now, Austin hosted a richly diverse music scene. But Los Angeles was the industry capital. Christensen headed west in 1981, got a job waiting tables at the Bullock’s Wilshire Tea Room, and began making the Street Bar and Grill, where a swing band called Swingstreet was in residence.
“I remember the night Julie came by — she had just moved from Austin to L.A.,” Miriam Cutler says. “The minute I heard her, I said, ‘Wow!’”
Back then she was fronting Swingstreet, which had a regular four-nights-a-week gig at backup singers who joined with Cutler to create three-part harmony vocals, a la the Andrews Sisters. When one of her backups the slot. Which is how this Iowa transplant found herself sharing a microphone with a native Angeleno named Perla Batalla.
Batalla grew up in Venice and Santa Monica, where her family owned a record store on Lincoln Boulevard that catered to the Mexican community. Like her father, a vocalist with mariachi bands, Perla loved to sing. But she had a different genre in mind for herself. “I wanted to sing opera,” she says.
Batalla grew up in Santa Monica. She joined the school choir and explored the classical choral repertoire, along with challenging pieces by modernist composers like Charles Ives. She also studied opera privately. Eventually she realized that her voice was not quite right for opera. But other options beckoned.
The actor (and current longtime Ojai resident) Robert Brown told her about a scholarship opportunity at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in West Hollywood. So Batalla left home at 16 to study acting and dance at Strasberg. Acting was not really her passion, but it was a path and she took it. And in due course, she did land a job in Hollywood — not as an actor, but as a staffer in Norman Lear’s production company. “I started out answering phones for Suzanne Somers,” she recalls.
Lear was producing a number of hit shows, including All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons. Batalla thrived in this star- studded environment, and worked her way up the ladder. Her duties eventually included the job of staff photographer and photo editor. “It was a crazy ride,” she recalls. “And at night I sang — four nights a week.” where she was backing up Miriam Cutler.
Batalla had given up on opera but she still loved to sing, and the Swingstreet gig was a lot of fun. “That’s when I met Julie,” she says. “We connected like sisters the minute we started working together.”
They're very different, stylistically", Cutler notes. "Julie, for me, has sort of the soul of a jazz person. ... Perla has this rich, rich voice, and can really touch people. I’m always amazed how low she can sing.”
Christensen, who is more of a soprano, soared with great intensity. Batalla brought a glorious, well-grounded contralto to the mix. The blend was something special. So was their personal chemistry. The two women clicked as a team, and not just on swing numbers. If, say, the rock band Cheap Trick needed two they continued singing with Swingstreet.
And soon they became involved in another Cutler project, a novelty act called Angel and the Reruns.
The idea came from Cutler’s friend Hillary Carlip, who fronted the band as Angel. Batalla, Christensen and a third woman, Nancy Scher, comprised the by Carlip and Cutler, was “Buffy Come Back,” a satirical tribute to the late child star Anissa Jones, who had played Buffy on the 1960s sitcom Family Affair and later died of a drug overdose. (Sample lyric: “Buffy, Buffy come back to me/Why’d you have to go and OD?”) Carlip as Angel affected a punk attitude, while the three Reruns dressed up like the Supremes. When “Buffy” came out, they donned their bouffant-style wigs, slathered themselves with mascara and invaded the KROQ-FM studios to ask Rodney Bingenheimer to play the song on his show, “Rodney on the ROQ.”
“Julie and Perla were great, they really got into it,” Cutler says. “It was really fun.”
“Buffy” became a cult hit of the “Dr. Demento” variety, and the band went on to Bachelor Party, posing the musical question, “Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Boys?” But Angel and the Reruns never took off, and Julie soon moved on to a band with much better prospects: The Divine Horsemen.
She also married the band’s leader, Chris Desjardins, well regarded in L.A.’s punk rock scene as the founder of the Flesh Eaters. Better known as Chris D., he had dissolved his punk band to go in a new direction. The Divine Horsemen had a rootsier sound that anticipated the advent of alt country. The group put out several albums during the mid 1980s, with Christensen co-writing some songs and sharing the spotlight with Desjardins. She also embraced the rock- star lifestyle, to a point where it became a problem for her. So she did something about it. “I got sober and left the band,” she says.
Now it was early 1988, and Christensen was at loose ends, both professionally and personally. (She had split with Desjardins as well as the band.)
She was planning to record a solo album, which seemed like the logical next step for her career. Then one day the phone rang. It was an old friend from Austin, Roscoe Beck, calling to ask whether she would go on tour with Leonard Cohen.
Beck’s band, Passenger, had backedCohen on two previous tours, and Beck had produced some tracks on Cohen’s 1988 album I’m Your Man. Now Beck was putting together the band for Cohen’s upcoming world tour, and he needed to hire two backup singers. In
particular he was looking for someone to replace Jennifer Warnes, who had sung on I’m Your Man but would not be doing the tour.
“Julie just kind of came to mind instantly,” Beck says, "I knew what a fine singer she was.”
Christensen was not at this point a Cohen devotee, but she knew and liked a number of his songs — especially the ones in The Judy Collins Songbook, which she remembered from her teenage years back in Newton. And she of course knew him by reputation: the distinguished poet and novelist from Montreal who had reinvented himself in the 1960s as a masterful singer-songwriter, famous for crafting eloquently mordant lyrics and singing them in a raspy, sepulchral baritone. Internationally, his following was considerable. In America he was less a pop small. And it had grown noticeably since the 1986 release of Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat, a well-received album of Cohen covers produced by Roscoe Beck.
Christensen hesitated. After co-fronting the Divine Horsemen, taking a job as a backup vocalist would be, well, a step backward. On the other hand, singing with Cohen certainly had done no harm to Warnes’ career. Julie decided to accept Beck’s offer. But she still had to be approved by Cohen himself. She met him at his house in Hancock Park and sang him a snippet of “Suzanne.” He stopped her before she got very far.
“That’s wrong, darling,” he told her. “But let’s go have lunch.”
"I thought I was sunk," Julie says. In fact, she already had passed the audition. “Leonard liked her immediately,” Beck says. “She was pretty much in from the moment she met him.”
Beck still had one more backup-singer slot none seemed right. Meanwhile, rehearsals had begun, and the first concerts were not far off. “I was beginning to get a little frustrated,” Beck says. “I remember almost in desperation asking Julie, ‘Can you think of anyone else?’ And she mentioned Perla.”
Actually, Christensen had mentioned Batalla earlier in the process, but Beck had not picked up on the suggestion. Now she reminded him, and he made the call.
Perla in 1988 still was singing in clubs — mostly jazz and swing — but she also had gone back to school and was thinking about becoming a lawyer. She and Julie had lost touch during the Divine Horsemen years. Nor did she know all that much about Cohen’s music. But when Beck called, she went down to the Tower Records store on the Sunset Strip and bought some Cohen albums, including the newly released I’m Your Man. It begins with “First We Take Manhattan:”
They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom/ For trying to change the system from within/ I’m coming now, I'm coming to reward them/ First, we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.
“This is a serious musician,” Batalla thought. Intrigued, she pursued the opportunity, not really thinking that it would lead to an offer. She showed up for the audition all in white, to find Cohen dressed all in black. “I was comfortable right away with him,” Perla says. And she and Julie found that their voices blended as well as ever. “We didn’t have to talk about what we were going to do,” she recalls. “We just did it.”
“And there was the magic we were looking for,”Beck says.
Batalla was offered the gig, a three-month tour of Europe, to begin almost immediately. “I knew this was really a life-changing moment for me,” she says. She accepted, quit her day job, and applied for a passport. “And we were off.”
As it turned out, they took Berlin first and Manhattan after. The European tour was followed by an equally long North American tour. “We were on the road for seven months in 1988,” Julie says. Both tours were triumphs, thanks in no small part to Christensen and Batalla.
“Julie of course has a wonderful voice and soars,” Beck says. “Perla brought in the more sultry aspect of it, and was the tenor to Julie’s soprano. They blended well and complemented each other well.”
And together they complemented Cohen both vocally and visually, adding what Beck calls “a great sensual aspect” to the performances. The statuesque blonde, the sultry brunette and the world-weary roué comprised a classic cabaret trio, and they put Cohen’s songs over with panache.
“It’s very emotional music,” Beck says. “To really perform it well, you do have to let yourself get caught up in it.” Batalla and Christensen put their heart and soul into every performance, embracing Cohen’s music with the fervor of converts to a cause.
“When you’re part of something important, which I feel Leonard and his says.
She, Cohen and Christensen reprised their act in 1993, touring in support of Cohen’s album The Future (to which Perla and Julie had contributed backing vocals on several tracks, including “Anthem.”)
“We both have pretty big vocal ranges, and though Perla tends towards the alto and I to soprano, we both switched parts a lot throughout Leonard’s repertoire, depending on the optimum timbre needed to make the best artistic move,” Christensen says. “As a but also a sweet, uncanny, almost ethereal upper range that is positively angelic. Our blend was often greater than the sum of its parts, creating a sound that we were often told sounded like more than just two people. And we were pretty telepathic about coming up with new parts in all the different situations in which we worked.”
“It was truly inspiring to sing with Julie,” Perla says. “Always has been.”
Then, in 1994, Cohen broke up the act. He retreated to a Buddhist monastery on Mount Baldy near Los Angeles, where he would remain for the next five years. It was time for the backup singers to fly solo.
By this point, Julie had married the actor John Diehl (Miami Vice, The Shield) and given birth to a son. Perla had married the chef Claud Mann (soon to become the co-host of Dinner and a Movie on TBS) and given birth to a daughter. Both women already were developing their own separate careers, and both were writing their own songs, with Cohen’s encouragement. While the master sequestered himself in his monastery, Batalla and Christensen emerged as independent artists.
Perla released her debut album, Perla Batalla, in 1994, followed by Mestiza (1998), Heaven and Earth (2000), Discoteca Batalla (2003), Bird on the Wire (2005), We Three Kings (2008) and Gracias de la Vida album was Love is Driving (1996), followed by Soul Driver (2000), Something Familiar(2006) and Where the Fireworks Are (2007). Perla has embraced her Latina heritage in her music, and also recorded a Christmas album and a collection of Cohen songs. Julie has taken a characteristically eclectic approach; her albums run the gamut stylistically from pop to folk rock to jazz.
Both women expect to release new albums early in 2012. Julie describes her upcoming record, Weeds Like Us, as a rootsy, new album, tentatively called Crazy Love, Leonard Cohen will also be putting out a new record early in the year: Old Ideas, his separate career paths, Perla and Julie still seem to operate in sync with their old boss.
Batalla and Christensen, like Cohen, retreated from Los Angeles during the 1990s — not to a monastery, but to Ojai.
“I was complaining about L.A. and where we lived — there was, like, a meth dealer next to us in Van Nuys." Christensen recalls. A drummer she knew suggested Ojai as an alternative. Julie and John visited the valley, fell in love with it, and bought a house in the East End. “Perla and Claud helped us move on Thanksgiving Day of 1994,” Julie says.
Three years later, Batalla and Mann followed suit, with Julie’s encouragement. “I moved to Ojai because of Julie, basically,” Perla says. “I had a baby and I didn’t want to live in Hollywood.” Over the years, both women have been active members of the community, and of course they continue to make music, both on stage and in the recording studio. (Perla and Claud are also co-publishers, along with Jane Handel, of Edible Ojai & Ventura County Magazine.) Julie’s son graduated from the Besant Hill School at Happy Valley, and is now a freshman in the Film Conservatory at the State University of New York at Purchase. Perla’s daughter is a senior at the Thacher School. “I can’t imagine raising my kid anywhere else,” Perla says.
As for Cohen, he finally emerged form his monastery in 1999, but did not return to touring for another decade. Duing the Maestro's long absence from the stage, a producer named Hal Willner filled the gap by staging a series of all-star Cohen tribute shows from 2003 to 2006, and he invited Batalla and Christensen to participate. Periodically they would leave Ojai and fly off to New York or Ireland or England to perform Cohen songs with the likes of Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. In January 2005 Lunsen for her I’mYour Man documentary. Many who saw that show or watched the Batalla’s and Christensen’s performance – readily available on YouTube -- is both a tribute to the man who wrote the song, and a declaration of independence by the women who helped bring it to life.
“You have to have a certain depth to perform that kind of song well, and they do,” says Ojai singer Julija Zonic, who often performs Cohen songs with her musical partner Smitty West. Christensen and Batalla clearly have the chops to do justice to Cohen’s challenging oeuvre, Zonic says, and not just because they have beautiful voices: “If they were not intellectually strong and emotionally mature, as they are, then it would not work.”
When Cohen finally returned to the stage in 2008, he did so with a vengeance: The tour continued intermittently for three years. With their children still at home and their solo careers in gear, Batalla and Christensen could not make that kind of commitment, so they did not do the tour. “That was a very tough decision to make,” Perla says, “because my favorite music to sing is Leonard’s.”
Nevertheless, their Cohen connection endures.
"They've been a significant contribution to Leonard’s music,” Roscoe Beck says. “They’ll always be associated with that.”
Fireworks in April - Local vocalist Julie Christensen drops another genre-bending album
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By Stanley Naftaly, NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT Julie Christensen has performed with a healthy l...
By Stanley Naftaly, NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
Julie Christensen has performed with a healthy list of notable musician. On Monday at SOhO, she releases her latest album, "Where the Fireworks Are."
April 20, 2007 10:20 AM
At age 10, Julie Christensen decided music was going to be her life. Since then, she has plumbed the depths of virtually every genre of American song.
"(My music) is sort of an amalgam of rock, blues, funk, country, folk and jazz, with an overall seasoning of Americana-rock influence á la Aaron Copeland," she said.
On Monday, Christensen will be defying genre classification at SOhO.
She has collaborated with notable artists, including Leonard Cohen (with whom she has toured and recorded for years), Lou Reed, Van Dyke Parks, k.d. lang, Todd Rundgren and Robben Ford.
Her past three albums, "Love is Driving" (1997), "Soul Driver" (2000) and "Something Familiar" (2006), have received critical praise. Now, with the upcoming release of "Where the Fireworks Are," she is making her most personal statement thus far.
"This stuff is what I was listening to in college." she said. "This recording impelled itself to be made. I grew up with Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Buffalo Springfield and Laura Nyro. Their songs were poetry and had emotional weight and the wild energy of rock."
Christensen's appearance at SOhO will be part of a release party for the album.
"I started writing 'Where the Fireworks Are' in 2004," she said. "It's a clear statement of how I see myself and my relationship to the world in which we live at this point in my life. It's a reaction to what we're going through as a country. I wanted to say how I really feel about this news, not what we should do about it, because, at the point I'm writing these songs, as a poet, it's not my business."
Christensen was born in Iowa City, Iowa, started vocal lessons at 11, and sang in a western-swing/country-rock group. She said, "I didn't take music in college because I was afraid they'd ruin it for me by institutionalizing it." She encountered jazz in her early 20s and moved to Austin, Texas, in 1977, where she played mostly in blues and jazz clubs.
"People used to tell me that I sang jazz with a country accent," she said.
Stone Cupid, Christensen's back-up band, consists of pianist Karen Hammack, guitarist and News-Press correspondent Joe Woodard, drummer Tom Lackner and bassist Steve Nelson.
As for the songs on "Where the Fireworks Are," Christensen said that "Well Enuf," while seemingly about a domestic argument, is meant to be scaled up to the dimension of the world today. "Have a Pretty Dream," is a pro-peace lullaby, while "The Meteor" is what it's like to live in her brain. "Woodstock" is a tribute to an event that neither Christensen nor Joni Mitchell, who wrote the song, were able to attend, and "One More Song" expresses her hope that music is in service to love.
Sister of Mercy
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Julie Christensen’s Impassioned Musical Crusade by Brett Leigh Dicks In the studio recording J...Julie Christensen’s Impassioned Musical Crusade
by Brett Leigh Dicks
In the studio recording Julie Christensen’s new album, producer Tom Lackner raised his arms in exhilaration and guitarist Joe Woodard smiled coyly from a resting place against the studio wall. For the past few hours, the pair had been trading instrumental scrutiny on Christensen’s latest recording, the gestation of which the Headless Household colleagues are currently overseeing. The song in question was a rousing country-tinged composition called “Finger on the Trigger,” and its ringing guitar lines are as inflicting as its lyrical barbs. While Lackner dialed back the recording’s vocal track, Christensen swiveled around and refocused her attention on the music. In an instant, she was bellowing out her impassioned vocals across the latest edit.
For these three musicians, this recording has been a labor of love. At the core of the project resides an unwavering belief in its purpose, though because of other commitments, the trio has been getting together between other undertakings. Lackner squeezes sessions in his studio between other recording commitments. Woodard, when not working on his own music, is committed to presenting noteworthy artist endeavors here in town. And Christensen, a long-serving vocal colleague of Leonard Cohen, is currently touring with Hal Willner’s Cohen tribute concerts. She also has a role in I’m Your Man, filmmaker Lian Lunsen’s recent cinematic exploration of Cohen and his music.
As fate would have it, Cohen-related endeavors loom large in the coming week’s artistic calendar. UCSB Arts & Lectures presents an encore screening of I’m Your Man at Campbell Hall on the evening of Wednesday, October 18, and Julie Christensen will be taking the stage at SOhO on Monday, October 16 to celebrate the release of her new album, Something Familiar. And though Something Familiar and the unreleased album in the works will both unleash Christensen’s vocal prowess, the performances are very distinct. Something Familiar contains tunes from the songbooks of Jimmy Webb, Charlie Parker, and Frank Loesser, while the untitled record-in-progress is all originals.
Just like these magical covers, their conveyor also yearns for an audience. “As an artist, I don’t think you ever lose the desire to get heard,” offered Christensen in a whisper from her perch in the studio. “That’s really what gave rise to Something Familiar and it’s what music has always been about for me. It doesn’t matter whether I was touring the world and dueting with Leonard Cohen on ‘Joan of Arc’ or singing ‘Swinging on a Star’ in an a capella group. For me it all comes from the same place. It’s all about the music. It’s all about communicating. And it’s all been part of the same incredible journey.”
But Christensen’s current musical voyage isn’t her first notable undertaking. She has fronted the infectious swamp rockers Divine Horsemen, a band that blazed its way out of the L.A. music scene forged by the likes of X. She has sung with musicians as diverse as Iggy Pop, Steve Wynn, Melissa Manchester, k.d. lang, and Van Dyke Parks. And, having performed as a vocalist on Leonard Cohen’s last two world tours, she was the perfect choice for Hal Willner’s series of Cohen tributes, performing alongside the likes of Nick Cave, Teddy Thompson, and Beth Orton.
While these outside projects afford Christensen the chance to display her prowess as a vocalist, her talent shines brightest on her own recorded endeavors, about which she has quite a sense of humor. “I started writing this recording around the time of the last election,” explained Christensen, “and there was one song that I asked Leonard Cohen to help me write because he was the only person I knew who could give it the weight that it deserved. I told him the opening line, which is ‘Between my thighs, is all my country,’ to which he responded, ‘I can’t help you there, darling. You got yourself into this one. You’re on your own.’”
But not all was fun and games. “Then the election happened and all these songs just came out,” Christensen said. “The last time I had been that creative was when I was dumped, and that’s how the election made me feel. I really felt like a jilted lover.” It may have been a heartbreak for Christensen, but I think she would agree that it was well worth the effort, as the album is truly a beauty.
John Doe and Julie give a show
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ohn Doe, lead and founder of LA’s born-and-bred punk giant “X” and longtime friend Ojai’s Julie Chri...ohn Doe, lead and founder of LA’s born-and-bred punk giant “X” and longtime friend Ojai’s Julie Christensen (with her Stone Cupid band) recently assembled for a couple shows at Ventura’s Buffalo Records, and later that Sunday night at Zoey’s on Main. The Ventura surf-skate-punk-music crowd turned out nicely, and were not disappointed. I was happy to see Raging Arb pals Southside Richie, Toby, Russ, and Emery, plus pal Geno Camarillo (who later happened along). It’s not too often you get n in-store show from one of the foundational elements of the punk rock movement. Hey, they actually still sell LP’s there. John was more than happy to hang back with folks after the show!
And there is one other thing we’d really like to know.
Is the Ventura City Council turning punk? Check out the photo of honorable Councilman Brian Brennan “punkin’” out (photo F, left)! We’d like to see a few more “cowpunks” on the City Council! What’s the pre-election view on bringing punk concerts to the “Ivory Tower”? If you feel inclined to hear some more check out “Wrecking Ball” on www.rhapsody.com/johndoehiphop. But, pleez, Brian, just try not to use “your” taxpayer-funded wrecking ball too much more on our just-fine-like-it-is Ventura.
Later, joining a packed crowd at Zoey’s, I caught more of Julie’s great voice, Doe showcased some new stuff, played a few songs from his “Year in the Wilderness” CD, and added some much appreciated and irreverently timely “X” gems. Woodstock was represented with original concert-goer Rene Wilkinson there for the show. Toward the end of the night, coming back for an encore, John reminded the crowd that if they were down on “productivity” at work a little bit the next day, to remind that pencil pushing boss, “Hey what did you do last night? Watch TV? (Just say) I went to a rock show.”
As the night wound down, it was obvious the sound at Zoey’s was first-rate, as was the song-writing and talent, “I’ve been practicing ... for 30-years”. Keep watching because there’s a special John Doe-type show coming up locally.
One Sentence Review of "Something Familiar"
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Julie Christensen is one of the truer singers you’ll ever hear — straight up, no mannerisms, perfect...Julie Christensen is one of the truer singers you’ll ever hear — straight up, no mannerisms, perfect taste; listen to her takes on “But Beautiful,” “Stolen Moments” and “Blame It on My Youth,” from her piercing new Something Familiar, and recognize how she could sing with both Leonard Cohen and Chris D. --Greg Burk
Came So Far For Beauty
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By Bernard Zuel January 31, 2005 Page Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, January 28 ...
By Bernard Zuel
January 31, 2005
Page Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, January 28
In Leonard Cohen's 1973 song A Singer Must Die, presenting himself before a panel of stern judges he declares: "I'm sorry for smudging the air with my song." Some smudge. Some song.
That smudge's lasting imprint on several generations of singers and fellow songwriters is the subtext of what simplistically would be called a tribute show but in effect was a celebration of song. Spread across nearly four hours it was as strong on interpretation as it was light on unnecessary reverence; as steeped in Jacques Brel and country music as German cabaret and folk; as joyous as it was moving.
You could see that with a cocked-hip Jarvis Cocker wholly inhabiting Death of a Ladies Man (in duet with Beth Orton) and bringing a self-mocking playboy touch to I Can't Forget. And certainly it was there in Nick Cave, who made us re-evaluate one of Cohen's more contentious songs, Diamonds In The Mine - "a nasty Leonard Cohen song" he cheerfully declared - by playing up some Vegas sleaze while the always impressive and flexible backing group briefly turned into Elvis
Presley's TCB band.
Not that the evening's stars were only the best-known faces. The Handsome Family took and gave great delight by relocating A Heart With No Companion to the Kentucky hills, while Teddy Thompson (whose mother Linda Thompson earlier had hushed the room with The Story of Isaac) found a bruised centre to lines such as "I choose the rooms that I live in with care/the windows are small and the walls almost bare".
And in the category of "where the hell has he been hiding?" was the hulking, shambling figure of New York singer Antony, who left open mouths on and off the stage with his heart-piercing explorations of The Guests and the prayer-like If It Be Your Will. (He's playing tonight at the Vanguard and must be seen.)
What was staggering was how each time you thought the night had just had its peak someone else would stroll on stage and give you another one. And then another. For example, Rufus Wainwright's version of Hallelujah, which escaped from the shadow of Jeff Buckley's seemingly definitive interpretation with an elegant but effortlessly transporting take, is the kind of song that would climax any regular show, but here was presented early in the first set. Three songs later a former Cohen backing vocalist, Julie Christiansen[sp], beautifully balanced The Singer Must Die between pathos and humour and upped the ante again.
Martha Wainwright's bared-to-the-bone Tower of Song was matched by her appearance with her mother and aunt, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, on a spare but riveting You Know Who I Am. But soon after that came Perla
Batalla, the other of Cohen's long-term backing vocalists, delivering a
rich, passionate exploration of Bird On a Wire.
It was a wondrous night. A long, winding, rich and constantly rewarding
evening brought to us by the musical equivalent of a fantasy football team whose dedication was to the work and not the ego.
Somewhere in California you imagine the droll Mr Cohen hearing this and saying to them, "I thank you, I thank you for doing your duty/you keepers of truth, you guardians of beauty".
Bernard Zuel - The Sydney Morning Herald
Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man...
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A documentary on the life and times of Montreal poet-singer-songerwriter Leonard Cohen, with perform...A documentary on the life and times of Montreal poet-singer-songerwriter Leonard Cohen, with performances of his work by musicians who worship at his altar....I like this mix: A little bit of "live" Cohen, a lot of fresh takes on his songs from Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Antony, Beth Orton, Jarvis Cocker, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Nick Cave (whose anecdotes are illuminating), Perla Batalla, Teddy Thompson, The Handsome Family
and the remarkable vocal gymnast Julie Christensen (whose eerie voice can sound like a human Theremin).
Except for that New York club shoot with U2 and Cohen, all the performances are from a concert at the Sydney Opera House in February, 2005....
by Bruce Kirkland
Julie Christensen, Soul Driver (Stone Cupid)
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by Joe Woodard Julie Christensen, the stylistically gymnastic songbird calling Ojai home, has a r...by Joe Woodard
Julie Christensen, the stylistically gymnastic songbird calling Ojai
home, has a resume that includes work with the post-punk band Divine
Horseman, Leonard Cohen, and Todd Rundgren, for whom she opened up at the
Ventura Theater last year. On her second solo album, Christensen justifies
her wandering idiomatic interests-veering from piano-oriented pop of the
Carly Simon ilk to L.A. C&W to soul and back--with a lucid artistry and a
love of the beautifully-sung note or nicely-sculpted lyric. The title track's
horn-fueled feisty R&B/pop energy yields to the emotional, metaphor-fortified
sincerity of songs like "Traveling Companion" (in a sinuous 7/8) and "Stone
Cupid" (also the name of her label and web-site). Guests include ambient
pedal steel hero Greg (Bill Frisell, Joni Mitchell) Liesz and drummer Jim
(Dwight Yoakum) Christie. All in all, a happy, luminous occasion. (WR)
Stone Cupid's Christensen In Gear With "Driving"
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(reprinted by permission) LOS ANGELES--When vocalist Julie Christensen approached Dave Crouch, GM ...(reprinted by permission)
LOS ANGELES--When vocalist Julie Christensen approached Dave Crouch, GM of the Rhino Records store in West Los Angeles, to see if he would take copies of her self-released album "Love is Driving," Crouch asked her where the album should be stocked.
Crouch recalls, "She said, 'It's jazz/country/ swing/folk/rock/cabaret.' It's hard to figure out where to put it, because she does all that stuff well"
Indeed, in her 15-plus years on the L.A. music scene, Christensen has been recognized as a singer's singer who is comfortable with material in every imaginable genre.
"Yeah, that's my blessing and my curse," Christensen says with a laugh about her reputation for versatility. The singer's diverse resume includes stints in a Western swing outfit and torchy jazz/blues/R&B combos; several albums co-fronting the seminal early-'80s L.A. post-punk band Divine Horsemen; leadership of her own intimate jazz/pop groups; two years as a featured backup singer for Leonard Cohen; and session and concert work with Van Dyke Parks, Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Steve Wynn, and k.d.lang, among others.
But only now has Christensen, who recorded an album for PolyGram with producer Todd Rundgren in 1990 that went unreleased, issued an album of her own that captures the full scope of her talents. Self-written, self-produced, and self-financed, "Love is Driving" has been released on Christensen's Stone Cupid Records.
She believes that audiences for other similarly eclectic and challenging femalie vocalists may gravitate to her album: "Maybe the people who listen to Sam Phillips will listen to this, or the people who listen to Marianne Faithfull."
The wide range of musical styles heard in Christensen's music has been accumulated over two decades of performing.
Born in Iowa, she sang with a western swing/country rock group before moving in 1977 to Austin, Texas, where she mixed blues and jazz during performances at the local clubs. On relocating to L.A. in 1981, she got into what she terms "post-punk."
Christensen shifted stylistic gears again when, recording a number for the L.A. cow-punk compilation "Don't Shoot," she met musician/producer Chris Desjardins, former leader of the hard-edged punk group the Flesh Eaters, who was then forming a new band, Divine Horsemen. She ended up joining the group as co-lead vocalist and later married Desjardins.
Melding her blues-drenched singing and writing to the band's ferocious punk guitar attack, Christensen cut three albums and an EP with Divine Horsemen for indie SST Records. But Christensen and Desjardins' marriage unraveled, and she exited the group in 1987.
In 1988, at the invitation of Cohen's musical director, Roscoe Beck, Christensen toured the U.S., Canada, and Europe as a backup vocalist for the singer/songwriter. She continued to perform her own material in L.A. usually in a trio format, often accompanied by the remarkable blind New Orleans pianist Henry Butler. It was during this period that A&R exec Michael Goldstone--then moving from MCA to PolyGram, and today a key executive at DreamWorks--approached Christensen at one of her solo shows at McCabe's Guitar Shop.
"He said,'Get me a tape right away.' He didn't really know what we were gonna do...He spent $50,000 doing two or three songs with a producer with whom I'd written a couple of these songs. Then Michael left PolyGram and went to Epic, and I [made an album] with Todd Rundgren producing it"
Further changes ensued within PolyGram's A&R staff, and the label decided not to release the Rundgren-produced album. After that disappointing experience, Christensen says,"I went out and got a life." In the early '90s, Christensen married again (to actor John Diehl), worked regularly with her own small groups, and made frequent appearances for the Bohemian Women's Political Alliance, a group of L.A. artist/activists. In 1993, soon after giving birth to son Jackson, Christensen went out on a second tour with Cohen.
Everything began to click for Christensen when she and her family moved to ... a picturesque town north of L.A. near Santa Barbara. Most of her current band members have ties to the town. "Getting out [there], a lot of things became clear," Christensen says. "I started working with a different piano player, Karen Hammack, who is just a gold mine and a secret weapon, and a really good friend...[Drummer]Jim Christie has been playing with me for years...I went through different bass players, but Cliff [Hugo] is somebody I played with at my first showcase at the Bla Bla Cafe in 1981. He's played with Ray Charles, and he's been with Melissa Manchester for 15 years. That trio really locked on."
Christensen says she had no intention of making an album when she cut the sessions that became "Love is Driving." "We were going in to just demo some tunes," she says. "If I had just set out to make a record, I don't know [if it would have worked], because the [PolyGram] experience was so monumentally disappointing."
The album came in--"manufacturing and all"--at less than $13,000, she says, financed with credit cards and promises of additional payment [if] a distribution deal was found.
The album features Christensen's working band,plus such guests as vocalist Perla Batalla, who worked alonside Christensen in Cohen's group; guitarist Robben Ford, an old friend and Ojai neighbor; and guitarist Greg Leisz, a former member of lang's band and current guitarist for Dave Alvin's group the Guilty Men.
So far, Christensen has been distributing "Love is Driving" herself, via mail order and through such L.A. outlets as Rhino, Aron's Records, and McCabe's...Some specialty shows on L.A. area public radio stations, like Andrea Leonard's "Twister" on KCRW Santa Monica and Howard and Roz Larman's "Folkscene" on KPFK North Hollywood, have aired the record. "Her music is very, very personal," says Larman. "I don't know if anybody else could do those songs...you can feel every emotion when she sings. You don't get that from a lot of performers. She's very intense."
Christensen, whose career is handled by Garry George Management in L.A., is currently in New York, playing previews for a bill of Sam Shepard one-act plays that opens Feb. 9 at the Public Theatre. She has one of the two leading roles in "The Sad Lament of Pecos Bill on the Eve of Killing His Wife"
While she is mainly proud of shat she has achieved by releasing her own album, Christensen says, "I don't want to be my own cottage industry. I do want somebody else to take it over...I would really love to have somebody produce [my next album] and make it a more cinematic thing, and not have to be producing it and doing all of it. I want to write songs and sing and work with the band. But if I have to produce another one, I'll do it, because now I know I can."
Pop Music; Lhasa Club Spirit Brought to Life
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By: CHRIS WILLMAN Doing a reading Friday night, local poet Doug Knott pointed out tha...By: CHRIS WILLMAN
Doing a reading Friday night, local poet Doug Knott pointed out
that in the days when screenwriter Michael Blake used to live out of the
back of his car, Blake would read at the modest shows Knott put on at the late and lamented Lhasa Club.
Now that Blake is a Golden Globe winner, Oscar nominee and all-around toast of the town for his "Dances With Wolves" script, he can return the favor and present similar evenings of acoustic music and verse himself, albeit with a much higher industry profile.
Friday and Saturday nights, in otherwise separate bills, Blake was the centerpiece of two programs dubbed "The Race Is On," in which the Lhasa spirit was successfully transplanted to the cafe at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. The Southwestern-styled cafeteria at the film studio where Blake and comrade Kevin Costner have long held fort turned out to be an appropriately charming and intimate venue for this sort of live performance.
Actually, more than the Lhasa, even, it was possible to imagine
oneself transported to a secret literary nightspot in Montana, given the denim spirit and environmental concerns of the proceedings.
At the late show Friday, chanteuse Julie Christensen sang a soaringly lovely song about driving through the majesty of Idaho to visit Exene Cervenka (not present this time), and John Doe invoked the ghost of Woody Guthrie in dedicating a duet with Tony Gilkyson to drought-stricken farmers.
Exactly which race the participants consider to be on was not entirely clear, beyond the general onus of anti-war, pro-environment progressive
politics; this was one benefit where more time could have been
spent on the soapbox. (A card given out to departing attendees pitched
the Mountain Lion Preservation Foundation.)
Blake's climactic reading of an excerpt from "Helmut," a
Hollywood-themed novel in progress, was much anticipated.
But the clear highlight and crowd favorite Friday was the four-song set from Christensen, a knockout pop-jazz crooner and inspired songwriter who has everything it might take to revive the torch-song tradition among the rock crowd.
varies with the venue...
Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, then Silk Blues
(Mingus, lyrics me--vox and piano)
Have a Pretty Dream "vox and piano
Meteor (orig--full band or duo if touring duo)
Where the Fireworks Are (")
Boy in Pain (")
Blues on My Street (")
Traveling Companion (")
Woodstock (Mitchell--full band or duo)
Rapture Index = 0 (original-full band or duo)
Stone Cupid or Oriole(original--vox and piano)
You Haven't Done Nothin' (cover if full band)
OR Today I Sing the Blues ( cover if duo)
OR Billie's Bounce ( cover if duo)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.