With her self-released cd, Mr. Heart, in 2002, Amy Fairchild came into her own and quickly garnered critical acclaim. "Fairchild is on the verge of big things," said Steve Morse of The Boston Globe. In the words of rock critic, Dave Marsh, "If there was still a recording industry, this would come out on a major label and would be such a big hit that you'd be sick of her by now. Not many people make records this good." Album Network said, "Reminiscent of Sheryl Crow, Fairchild effortlessly delivers natural lyrics and organic vocals, while her band keeps it rocking. This stuff is really cool." Sensitive introspection, a sharp melodic radar, rock and roll's rebellious energy, and an intuitive feel for the understated power of an acoustic guitar and a good lyric all inform her music and distinguish Amy as a dynamic performer. Seth Rogovoy of The Berkshire Eagle says, “Fairchild combines the literate intimacy of a new-folk singer-songwriter, the unerring pop-rock instincts of a Sheryl Crow, and the moves of a rock goddess.”
In 2003, the song ‘Renee’ from Mr. Heart won Grand Prize in the coveted Pop Category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. In 2002, ‘Falling Down,’ won in the Pop Category of the same contest, in addition to the Maxell Song of the Year. And, ‘Tuesday,’ a song about Sept 11th, won Grand Prize in the Country/Folk Category of the Billboard Songwriting Competition. Song placements include ‘Humble Pie,' which was used in an episode of Dawson’s Creek and ‘Beautiful Secret,’ placed in the national touring company production of Spiderman Live, as well as on an episode on Joan of Arcadia (CBS). Fairchild was also nominated for two Boston Music Awards in 2003: Best Female Vocalist and Best Female Singer/Songwriter, and earned another nomination at the BMA's in 2009 for Best Folk Act.
Fairchild’s musical career began in Northampton, MA in 1994 with the release of her first CD “She’s Not Herself,” which was voted Album of the Year by several local papers. She moved to New York City in 1997 and her performances immediately filled clubs throughout the city. In May of 2001, she won the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Songwriting Competition, joining a list of winners that includes Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith and Shawn Colvin. She was also the NYC 1999 Lilith Fair Talent Search Winner, and performed at the Jones Beach stop of the tour. In addition to the Lilith Fair headliners, she has shared the stage with such diverse artists as Hall and Oates, The Bacon Brothers, Ben Folds, Robbie Fulks, Pat Benetar and Joan Osborne.
Mr. Heart was produced by Boston’s multi-instrumentalist/producer Adam Steinberg and features Graham Maby (Joe Jackson, Natalie Merchant) and Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing, Neil Finn) on bass, Gary Burke (Joe Jackson, Bob Dylan) on drums and Steinberg on electric guitar, keyboards and more. She currently resides in Boston, MA and is working on material for a new record to be, again, produced by Adam Steinberg. Basic tracks are completed for a new record, recorded at Woolly Mammoth Sound in Waltham, MA. An October, 2011 release is expected. Stay tuned for cd release party announcements!
Amy - acoustic guitar/vocals
Dave Mattacks/John Sands - drums
Kimon Kirk - bass
Kevin Barry/Duke Levine/Adam Steinberg - electric guitars
She's Not Herself - 1996
Mr. Heart - 2002
Amy Fairchild Live - 2004
all tracks from Mr. Heart available for streaming at www.amyfairchild.com
Mr. Heart (from Mr. Heart record)
Long Way Down
Hold Me Down
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Amy Fairchild provides classic-rock pleasures (Club Helsinki, Feb. 28, 2002) by Seth Rogovoy ...Amy Fairchild provides classic-rock pleasures (Club Helsinki, Feb. 28, 2002)
by Seth Rogovoy
(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., March 1, 2002) – Celebrating the release of her terrific new album, “Mr. Heart,” Amy Fairchild led her band through two sets of her well-crafted pop-rock songs at Club Helsinki on Thursday night.
Fairchild’s show was a tonic for those wondering what ever happened to intelligent rock music with instantly catchy melodies, rhythms made for dancing, and lyrics that say something and scan to boot. That Fairchild had the crowd dancing for most of her show, and that the audience was eager to hear her play some of her best songs twice, was a tribute to the classic-rock pleasures she and her band afforded.
Fairchild found common ground among Lilith Fair-style folk-pop, roots-based rock of Sheryl Crow and Tom Petty, and modern rock of R.E.M. and Beck, on songs like “Beautiful Secret,” which the band performed in radio-ready fashion, and “Falling Down,” colored by producer/guitarist Adam Steinberg’s Rickenbacker electric. Steinberg, a great guitar stylist, painted “Mr. Heart” with Mark Knopfler-like licks on his Fender, and trippy, George Harrison-like sitaresque slide guitar on “Everyone’s In Love With You.”
While her band, including Phil Antoniades on drums, Jeff St. Pierre on bass and Matt Cullen on second electric guitar, powered her through much of the evening, Fairchild, who played acoustic guitar throughout, was the focus of attention. Her clear voice combined qualities of midwestern, heartland innocence and east coast, urban experience – a native of suburban Chicago, she grew up in Connecticut, attended college in Northampton, and now calls New York home.
It all showed in her music, ranging from the cinematic, Greenwich Village street scenes of “Movie” to the retro-rockabilly of “Shade of Blue,” which made this listener wish Roy Orbison was still alive if only to hear him sing this song.
In addition to her well-crafted melodies, full of hooks and bridges, Fairchild is a gifted lyricist, and she knows how to drop key catch-phrases into her songs for listeners to hang onto. “Never bite off more than you can chew,” “There’s no telling truth from treason,” “I can’t remember what I wanted to forget” – all functioned as verbal equivalents of the hooks that made one song after the other instantly catchy and recognizable.
Fairchild also has a gift for fronting intimacy without self-indulgence, even on several tunes she did in solo acoustic arrangements, including “Tuesday,” a touching slice of life from 9/11. Her open, clear voice can go from conversational song-speak to quiet yearning to full-fledged soul shouting without affectation. She’s neither victim nor arrogant seducer. She is, rather, the sort of performer that pop music needs, now more than ever
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SPRINGFIELD GAZETTE Feb 14, 2002 By LARRRY PARNASS, Staff Writer Music promotion breeds a strange i...SPRINGFIELD GAZETTE Feb 14, 2002 By LARRRY PARNASS, Staff Writer
Music promotion breeds a strange impulse.
In material accompanying Amy Fairchild's terrific new CD, "Mr. Heart," the former Northampton songwriter's work is described many ways, including this one: "If Tom Petty and Sarah McLachlan had a baby, she'd be it."
Last summer, No Depression magazine wrote of Cynthia Hopkins, whose latest CD, "Hooker," is reviewed below: "If Lucinda Williams and Tom Waits had a baby girl, and she came out singing, she might sound a little like Gloria Deluxe."
Love is in the air. All that genetic determinism aside, comparisons are perhaps unavoidable in print journalism. If you like a recording and want others to listen to it, the obvious thing to do is assure them that it will please them the way other music already does.
Fairchild's latest work is immediately familiar, for it comes shrouded with a sense of family. The singer and songwriter, now based in New York City, sounds, in turns, like Joni Mitchell (the wandering piano melody on "Humble Pie"), Sheryl Crow (the rhythmic hand claps and buzzing electric guitar of "Beautiful Secret"), Shawn Colvin (the jangly acoustic guitar and reaching vocals of "Mr. Heart') and Laura Nyro (the pop, almost Burt Bachrach knit to "Home").
Get that many echoes of great music vibrating at once, of course, and you create something else entirely. Fairchild waited five years before bringing this new CD out. Slowly, she built a memorable and durable collection of songs that should elevate her prospects significantly.
Through all the fresh and different stances Fairchild adopts here, what lingers is the thing that matters most in songs so loaded with story: genuineness.
In the song "Movie," she starts with a listless tone, sketching a day spent wandering New York streets. Its refrain jumps into overdrive, though. "I'm where I want to be / starring in my own damn movie. / And you get in for free. / Stick with me baby." Her gladness is as convincing as a long boulevard of green lights.
Since leaving Northampton, many good things have been happening for Fairchild. She won the New York City Lilith Fair talent competition in 1999. Last year, she took the Kerrville Folk Festival prize, putting her in the company of past winners Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett and Nancy Griffith.
Amy Fairchild is as good as all of them. Her song "Ok, alright" is sung with the ease of a master. Those two words, when they come in this beautiful composition, confer a tenderness that makes one's heart rise.
Fairchild at Harry's ... this is a major talent in a small club - and that's a recipe for a memorable night.
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What You Should Know: Reminiscent of Sheryl Crow, Amy Fairchild effortlessly delivers natural lyr...What You Should Know:
Reminiscent of Sheryl Crow, Amy Fairchild effortlessly delivers natural lyrics and organic vocals while her band keeps it rocking. Fairchild sashays through the hook-laden riffs of "Beautiful Secret" and belts out crafty lines such as "It's like a dog that just won't give up the chase/He puts the ball at your feet looks at your face/And I know that I should let it go 'cause it's killing me"
This stuff is really cool. Kim Fowley, the man behind the Runaways says of Fairchild "If Tom Petty and Sarah MacLachlan had a baby, she'd be it."
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Amy Fairchild 'Mr Heart' 'Amy Fairchild Live' Both albums: So Fair Music Whilst it’s become in...Amy Fairchild
'Amy Fairchild Live'
Both albums: So Fair Music
Whilst it’s become increasingly frequent that a newly arrived CD through the letter box elicits positive comments from the household (well, Mrs Musicworkz, at least), it is a rare occurrence when an album brings musical unity to the whole household.
Although ‘Mr Heart’ is almost certainly aimed at an AOR audience, any album that can prompt both a 7 year old boy (usual tastes: Nickelback and, er….Busted – aaargh!) into bopping around the kitchen at 8am on a school morning, playing air guitar and picking up on the lyrical hooks at first play (‘Beautiful Secret’), and the afore-mentioned lady of the house, on return from a night out, to utter “Wow, that’s GOOD! Very listenable; Sheryl Crow, but much better….”, has got to be a winner (my own opinion went unheard, and now forgotten, but I guess it went something like: Sheryl Crow with a bit of Janice Joplin raunch).
At the risk of sounding lazy, looking for comparisons, it is difficult to get away from the Sheryl Crow tag. There are a lot of the vocal tics and wavering Crow is known for, and the material itself is the same radio friendly guitar rock and pop that brought her such international acclaim. Then again, Fairchild herself is no slouch at gathering the odd award or two, with both ‘Renee’ (reminiscent of Suzanna Vega, circa ‘Luka’) and ‘Falling Down’, winning awards in the 2003 John Lennon Songwriting Contest (Pop Category), with ‘Falling Down’ going on to scoop the Maxell Song Of The Year award (and we haven’t even got to the Dawson’s Creek placement, or the handful of Boston Music Awards nominations).
Making references to her outstanding song writing skill and earthy vocals distracts from her other talents – she wields her guitar with equal competence and digs deep into guitar band history for her influences, pulling Troggs riffs from the hat (‘Beautiful Secret’=’Wild Thing’), delves briefly into the commercial end of Bangles-esque, and comes up with a blend of rock and pop that sounds as good on the home stereo as it would at full volume with the soft top down on the open road. For the chilled moments, she delivers smooth piano-led Carole King style gems like ‘Humble Pie’ (the Dawson’s Creek connection), and then moves smoothly back to Joplin raunch. And, I confess – even an old misery guts like me felt inspired to join in on the handclaps. (‘Nuff said about that!)
Whilst songs like ‘Renee’ have won prestigious awards, hook laden upbeat radio friendly tunes such as ‘Beautiful Secret’, ‘Falling Down’ and ‘Mr Heart’ need only a pro-Fairchild DJ to transform this MA/NYC treasure into an international icon.
I suspect that it is not only critics like myself who find Fairchild’s work of consequence – she manages to pull an illustrious team of backing musicians into the studio to lend their talents. Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing, Neil Finn), and Graham Maby and Gary Burke (both Joe Jackson band). Let’s face it, you need to be pretty damn good to get people like into the studio with you. Another Steinberg on the roll call, by way of Adam (Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffith)(brother to Sebastian?), who features strongly on an enviable list of instruments, as well as production credits.
When the huge talent that lies behind ‘Mr Heart’ goes largely unrecognised at international level, someone in the record industry needs a kick up the butt to wake them up – and before you argue the point that major labels want a little extra on top of the music talent, i.e. video appeal, let me point out that Fairchild can switch from wholesome all-American girl-next-door to raunchy rock chick at the drop of a hat (well, OK, a quick change into black T ‘n’ leather kecks).
Ah, the live album - anyone who has the confidence in their own talent to self-release a live album has my vote; to be fair, many of the songs on the live album wouldn’t mean that much to someone who hadn’t already heard ‘Mr Heart’, or wasn’t already a fan. Although the live renditions of material from ‘Mr Heart’ hold water on their own, to hear the studio recordings first adds to this live album immensely. The Live album also features 4 new songs, which will undoubtably appear on the album she will be recording (once again with Adam Steinberg) during Spring this year.
All music available through the Amy Fairchild web site
Soul Coughing web site
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Digital free-agent The revolution seen as a threat to artists has a second side For some, comput...Digital free-agent
The revolution seen as a threat to artists has a second side
For some, computers and the Web are what's setting them fre
M. COREY GOLDMAN
SPECIAL TO THE STAR
For Amy Fairchild, watching the chaos has been something of an entertaining sideshow. The 36-year-old singer and songwriter has been strumming her guitar, playing her folksy, melodic tunes and generally ignoring the hysterics about music piracy and the end of the industry through several years of her own unmitigated success.
Like many others, Fairchild for years kept one eye on the back of the dark, smokey room, looking for that elusive big-name record producer in the hat and trench coat who would discover her talent, grab her off stage and whisk her to New York or L.A. for a multi-million dollar record deal and superstardom.
"When I first started I figured the only way I was really going to make any money was to get a huge record deal," she says in her deep and raspy New York-Boston hybrid accent — part mountain twang, part city slick. "That was the thinking of a lot of people, and it is not the thinking anymore — it has reversed."
Reversed, indeed; reliance on the record companies isn't the one and only option any more. For Fairchild the computer, the Internet, the connectivity of millions of people being online and sharing their interests, tastes and tunes, has allowed her to reach more people in more places than she otherwise would ever have been able to.
It has allowed her to turn her art and passion into her own business, distributing e-mails to thousands of fans about upcoming gigs, awards and other successes that have come her way. She has set up her own merchant account and sells her CD on her Web site. She has been able to strike deals with distribution channels such as CDBaby.com to get her music out there and listened to. And through digital means Fairchild has achieved what every artist wants: Exposure.
She is far from alone. Thousands of artists like Indie-inspired Fairchild have embraced technology as simple as e-mail and as sophisticated as specialized software connected to recording equipment to get their music produced, heard and sold.
"From an artist's perspective they want their music heard and they want to be able to eat and have a roof over their head," says Heather Ostertag, president of the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records, a not-for-profit group that helps funnel public and private money toward young artists. "Some artists are saying `please download my music for free,' others are saying you're stealing my music. But the message seems to be that emerging technologies are allowing for some exciting opportunities."
Fairchild's career borrows a page from many an aspiring artist looking to make music for a living. A classical music major in college, Fairchild decided to drop the books and pursue her lyrical and creative talents, writing songs, learning guitar, fine-tuning her Indigo Girls-meets-Sheryl Crow crooning and pulling together a band.
In the early 1990s she put together a few demo cassettes to give to anyone who would listen. But by 1995, with still no sign of that record agent in the smoky back corner, she decided to go high-tech, creating her own label called So Fair Music and setting up a Web site, http://www.amy fairchild.com.
From there things progressed. She began getting people at her shows to sign a guestbook with their names and e-mail addresses, pulling together a master list of followers to whom she could e-mail newsletters about upcoming events and other goings-on, and lure them onto her Web site. She posted reviews of her shows from local papers (the good ones, of course) and put in links to Web sites of like-minded musicians.
By the time her debut CD, She's Not Herself, was released in 1996, the Northampton, Mass. native had 1,600 people on her e-mail distribution list. She experimented with digital files on her Web site, giving fans a chance to sample her works. She added pictures, lyrics and by 1999 had a full-fledged self-promotional tool up and running.
"That's really just what people were doing at the time, particularly in the independent music movement," she says. "Like a lot of other artists out there I figured, `hey, there is a lot of stuff I can do on my own.'"
It worked. With no agent and only her own label behind her, Fairchild found herself sharing the stage with Sheryl Crow, Chrissie Hynde and Sarah McLachlan, among others at a 1999 Lilith Fair summer stop at the Jones Beach Amphitheater on Long Island. The track Humble Pie from her Mr. Heart CD released a year ago made it onto an episode of the popular TV show Dawson's Creek. Her song Renee, also from Mr. Heart, won grand prize in the coveted pop category of the 2003 John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
Another one of her songs from Mr. Heart, Falling Down, won the pop category in the same contest and went on to win the over-all Maxell Song of the Year, a $20,000 (U.S.) prize.
Fairchild has sold more than 800 copies of her Mr. Heart CD through her Web site to the tune of $12,000 — money that goes directly into her own coffers.
Of course, there are thousands of Amy Fairchilds in North America and beyond doing their own thing to make a go of it — some as good or better than her, many others worse.
They are using technology not only to get exposure but also to make their music, via hardware and software that allows them to cut tracks and produce CDs on their home computers.
They aren't necessarily making it onto the radar screens of the big record labels, nor are their works making it onto store shelves, radio stations' play lists or the databases of the emerging legal downloading sites such as Apple's iTunes, Rhapsody or Canadian-operated Puretracks.
But it has created, according to Coleman and others, a "Catch 22" for the music industry, where technology can help artists who might otherwise not have a fighting chance and also infringe on the money-making system that has become such an integral part of the industry in terms of packaging, promoting, selling and profiting from talent.
There are other issues with music's digital revolution as well: the public rejection of paying for "the package" — the plastic, the art and the 12-to-15-song collection; public acceptance of listening to and obtaining music in different formats that aren't in any kind of physical format. These have opened up a new world to people who can experiment with new kinds of music in unlimited scope and selection.
What that leaves is all players big and small scrambling to figure out where things are going next. With nothing but bits and bytes to replace the CD, "no one has a really full grasp of where it's all going," says Peter Diemer, vice president of marketing at Musicrypt.com, a company that provides software that allows new music releases to be delivered to radio stations in a secure digital format.
The real lesson learned, according to those that have closely followed the literal trials and virtual tribulations of the recording industry, is that the technology the record industry has been crying wolf about has quietly opened up a whole new world of access for a new generation of lesser-known artists whose ultimate goal is far less about appearing on the Super Bowl halftime show and far more about just being heard.
"There are things artists can do thanks to technology and the Internet that they could never do before without a label," says Coleman. "The independents have more means than ever to work on their own or with each other, which means a whole new evolution of the industry that didn't exist before."
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"Falling Down" Gives Fairchild A Lift copyright Boston Herald Library Aug 8, 2003 The song caus..."Falling Down" Gives Fairchild A Lift
copyright Boston Herald Library Aug 8, 2003
The song causing a commotion in Amy Fairchild's life is called "Falling Down." Her career, however, is surely rising.
Last month, the Bay State singer-songwriter won the coveted Maxell Song of the Year prize of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for "Falling Down," a win that included a check for $20,000, as well as studio equipment and a publishing contract. Elton John, Carlos Santana, Amy Grant, Brooks & Dunn, Joan Osborne and the Black Eyed Peas were among the judges.
"Falling Down" had previously won the Lennon contest's grand prize in the pop category; the song then competed against 11 other genre winners for the Song of the Year accolade.
"I had a feeling about the song when we first entered it. It's a strong, catchy pop song, good arrangement, a feel-good song with sad lyrics," said Fairchild earlier this week from her apartment in Wakefield.
Winning song competitions has become nearly old hat for Fairchild. "Tuesday," a subtle, personal 9/11 ballad, won a grand prize at the 2002 Billboard Songwriting Contest in the folk/country category. That song also won her a finalist spot in the USA Songwriting Contest. And the previous year, Fairchild was one of six finalists in the ruggedly competitive Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk contest in Texas.
By this point, Fairchild might well echo the immortal words of Sally Field: "You like me. You really like me!"
For all the industry praise, there was one night last month that felt even more remarkable - opening a show for Pat Benatar at New Hampshire's 4,500-seat Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center.
"They treated me as if I were a rock star," she said. "It was the largest crowd I ever played. An amazing reception. They lined up for my autograph! I sold tons of CDs. I had 11-year-old girls ask for my autograph."
It's been a long time coming for Fairchild, who quit an undergraduate program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and began to write and sing songs 14 years ago.
"I didn't choose to do music, it came into my life in an organic way. And now, it practically IS my life," said Fairchild, who plays Cambridge's Lizard Lounge in a solo set tomorrow night, a split bill with Tom Hambridge. She also plays one of the state's most beautiful small venues, The Crescent Dragon in Haverhill, on Aug. 22.
The album, "Mr. Heart," is Fairchild's second, and, even more than the contests, it has kicked her indie career into a higher gear. "I'd been struggling to find the right embodiment of my songs for some time, and I really hit the nail on the head with producer Adam Steinberg. The songs came to life in the way I dreamed of. We made it at The Club House, in Rhinebeck, N.Y. I know this sounds dramatic, but it was probably the best three months of my life," Fairchild said.
"Mr. Heart" is a well-wrought merging of catchy pop-rock and contemplative, folk-tinged balladry. One song, "Renee," takes up the issue of battered women. Though the songs are simply constructed, they often intimate the sense of a young woman's complex life with a few, cutting phrases.
The award-winning "Falling Down" captures the confusion and powerlessness of a woman at the end of a bad relationship. Its punchy energy and resilient vocals suggest strengths that the lyrics do not. "It's about keeping it together, keeping quiet, presenting an OK face to the world when you're falling apart inside," she said. "I've never been able to do that myself."
Much of the album was recorded right after Sept. 11, 2001. The events of that day are the subject of "Tuesday," a seemingly casual story that leaves catastrophic details to the listener's imagination. "I didn't want to say anything about towers or anything. It's a song that fell out of me," she said. "I wrote from a personal standpoint. It doesn't get political. You can't argue with this song, it's just a feeling."
Amy Fairchild, Lizard Lounge, 1667 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, tomorrow, 9 p.m. 21-plus. Tickets: $7-$10. Call 617-547-0759.
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A voice on the verge Music just may put Amy Fairchild on the map BY TAMARA WIEDER AMY FAIRCHIL...A voice on the verge
Music just may put Amy Fairchild on the map
BY TAMARA WIEDER
AMY FAIRCHILD IS well aware that hers is a name you probably haven’t heard. Or that if you’ve heard it, you likely didn’t take notice. She doesn’t get much airplay, save for an occasional spin on college radio. She hasn’t shot a video for MTV or landed a major-label record deal. There are months that she admittedly can’t pay her Hoboken, New Jersey, rent.
And yet, back in the spring of 1999, Amy Fairchild won the New York City Lilith Fair Talent Competition, which earned her the opportunity to perform, for one day, alongside such female musical luminaries as Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, and Chrissie Hynde. In 2001, she won the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition, a coveted honor in the singer-songwriter world. And she’s appeared on albums by the likes of folk royalty Cliff Eberhardt and Dar Williams.
So what will it take to get Amy Fairchild’s name noticed? It just might be that a new record, Mr. Heart, with noted producer Adam Steinberg at the helm, will finally do the trick.
Q: Why music? How did you find it, or how did it find you?
A: I studied piano from the age of five years old. I was really young when I started studying classical piano, and I had a very strict Hungarian teacher who was really excellent, and she at one point said to my dad, "Music was made for Amy and Amy was made for music." My dad quotes her still on that. So I started very young, and I kind of always have done it.
Q: Was there ever any doubt in your mind that this is what you’d do for a living?
A: Um, yeah.
Q: Is there still?
A: Sometimes there is. Because I’m not always making a living at it. Every month is completely different right now — from having good months to not being able to pay the rent. So I do have some doubts at times, yeah. There’s a lot of different ways you can have a career in music; you know, it’s not only being a performer, only trying to be a pop icon. There’s song-writing, there’s co-writing, there’s publishing, and a million ways to have a career in music. I’ve chosen music as the way that I want to make money; it’s just a matter of focusing on which direction.
Q: So you’re open to possibilities beyond performing?
A: Absolutely. It’s not like you have to pick one, either; you can kind of keep them all going at the same time, and a lot of people do that. It’s really the smartest way, so you have a lot of different viable avenues from which to bring money in. Because at the end of the day, it is about supporting yourself, and I don’t have a trust fund, and I don’t have a patron. I always have to be thinking about how I’m going to pay the rent.
Q: What other jobs have you held to pay the rent?
A: I worked for CNN for a year and a half as an administrative assistant. I had a full-time job with benefits and paid vacations.
Q: You must miss that.
A: I do. I definitely miss that a little, but then again, I prefer to spend my time the way I want to spend it, even if it means struggling a little harder. That’s a decision that I’ve made, and there are always compromises, whatever choices you make in life.
Q: What are some of the sacrifices you’ve had to make, to pursue music?
A: It’s hard to know, because I don’t feel like I’ve really ever known anything else. This is the way I’ve lived my life since I’ve been on my own, really. I think I’ve sacrificed maybe a more comfortable financial situation, but I’m not sure how that would’ve come about, unless I had just made making money the object, which I never have. At this point in the game, I feel like I do need to focus on that a little bit more. I’m starting to more and more be a little bit restless with the choice that seems to have put me in a position where I’m struggling. So it’s a matter of being more aggressive with song-writing. Because it’s a really hard business to actually make a great living as a performer. It really just is.
Q: If you could make a living doing the singer-songwriter/small-club thing, would you want to, or do you have rock-arena aspirations?
A: I look at the big folkies like Cliff Eberhardt and Greg Brown, and they really have a set circuit that they do, and it’s pretty regular, and they do it every year, and it almost appears to be like a job that they can count on. And I guess I’ve tended to shy away from going that route, even if I could. I think I’m at a stage where I could probably build that sort of life within the next year or two pretty comfortably. I think I have higher aspirations in terms of playing in front of larger audiences, with a band, but that also is a choice. It’s also a lifestyle choice; I’m not sure that I really want to be driving around alone in my car across the country, gig to gig, and living most of my life on the road. It’s a lifestyle choice, and I realize that you really have to decide how you want your life to look. And do I want to be away from home, wherever home is? And I think the answer is no. At this point in my life, I’m really starting to actually want to build a life and be there.
Q: How’s the tour going so far?
A: It’s good. I feel like I’m actually just at the beginning of it. [The shows have] been mixed: kind of a songwriters’ circle that BMI sponsored, that was really great, actually; a lot of attentive people and people buying CDs, and that was great. And then I played to a room with 10 people. It’s a little bit of everything.
Q: How do you get psyched up for a performance when there are only 10 people in the room?
A: You find one person that’s into it and focus on them. You try to just focus on playing the songs for the reason you wrote them, if at all possible.
Q: Have you had shows where you just can’t get the energy up?
A: Yeah, that’s been hard a little bit, because sometimes you — not depend on, but you incorporate the audience’s energy, and if there’s not a lot coming out from them, because there’s so few of them ... it’s kind of like a dynamic that happens, it’s not just all coming from you on stage, so if you’re feeling like there’s not much coming back, it’s kind of hard to get the energy flow going. So you just try to close your eyes and sing.
Q: You’re living near New York now, but you’ve lived in Boston and your family is here. How do you think those two cities differ in terms of what they can offer up-and-coming musicians?
A: I think [in] New York [it’s] a lot harder to get any attention for real. I did pretty well in terms of being able to fill pretty cool clubs, but there’s just so much going on. I know this is an obvious thing to say, but there’s so much going on that it’s really hard to flourish there. And people’s attention spans just seem to be so small. And it’s hard to have real moments on stage and with the audience. Everything’s just moving too fast; no one’s really slowing down enough to really appreciate. And it’s kind of unfortunate. I feel like Boston is just more spacious. It feels like there’s more patience. The papers certainly have been very supportive of me. There’s just too much competition in New York, no matter how good you are or whatever. It’s just too hard. And it’s also very expensive to play in New York because you don’t get compensated very well.
Q: So what are you doing there?
A: Well, that’s a good question. I have seriously been thinking about moving to Boston in the fall. I think that I may end up doing that. I moved [to New York] because I was living in Western Massachusetts, in Northampton, and I felt it was time to leave; I was there for nine years after college, and it was a little too incestuous, and I was doing really well in that area. I thought that I was going to go and meet some more producer-types, and I did, actually, and I don’t regret doing that, but I think after five years ... it’s just time. It might just be time.
Q: Talk to me about Lilith Fair. I assume it was one of those defining moments?
A: Yeah, it was a real affirmation and real, sort of, official recognition, somebody else telling me, "You’re good enough to do this." It was a competition that I won. It was an amazing day. There was a lot of support from Sarah [McLachlan] individually; she wrote notes to all the newcomers and left them in the trailers and invited us to come up on stage. Full access to pretty much anybody I wanted to talk to. Because I was the first act of the day, I didn’t play in front of many people. It was almost surreal, because for one day, I lived the life that I felt like I wanted. I was still working a day job, so the day before I was at the computer all day, and then I had this amazing experience. And then the tour buses took off, and I was literally left standing in the dust.
Q: In your press materials, there’s a quote that says that if Tom Petty and Sarah McLachlan had a baby, you’d be it. But which musical parents would you choose for yourself?
A: Sheryl Crow. I think she’s amazing. I respect what she does, I think she’s an incredible writer, an incredible everything. So Sheryl Crow would probably be my mother. Tom Petty and Sheryl Crow are almost too similar, but I think as far as a male songwriter, figure, rocker, whatever, he’s definitely right up there for me.
Q: Do you have a most embarrassing on-stage moment?
A: Probably falling backwards into a drum set. This was back in my early 20s, when I was drinking more than I am now. That was a little while ago, when I was a little bit more careless.
Q: Do you feel like you’re on the cusp of something really big?
A: No. That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like I’m going to be successful. But I think I’ve come to realize that there is no anything big. It’s a daily process. Something big would be like suddenly getting a huge smash hit on the radio, and I don’t know if that’s going to happen for me. I feel like I’m on the cusp of ... I’m closer than ever to being in a position to really push. Mostly because of this record. It’s changed everything, career-wise, in terms of being taken seriously, feeling like I’ve finally got stuff down on tape that sounds like me. So yes, I feel like that’s made me more ready, but I don’t feel like, wow, things might explode at any moment. It’s a daily grind. But I do feel like I’m more ready to push.
Amy Fairchild plays a residency on July 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 at Toad, 1912 Mass Ave, in Cambridge. Call (617) 497-4950. Visit her Web site at www.amyfairchild.com. Tamara Wieder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Issue Date: June 27 - July 4, 2002
Original material and some covers including:
Shade of Blue
Everyone's In Love With You (Steve Earle cover)
American Girl (Tom Petty)
It "Aint Me Babe (Dylan)
Ready For Love (Bad Company)
Drift Away (Dobie Gray)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.