Barbara Ireland
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Barbara Ireland

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Band Pop Jazz

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"Turning Back Time with a Labor of Love for Multi-Talented Barbara Ireland"

Barbara Ireland is an artist in every sense of the word. She develops and directs short films, she plays bass, drums, piano, concert harp and she can sing. Oh, boy, can she ever sing.

Thanks largely in part to her artistic family, the Seattle native was gigging in clubs at the age of 16 in Gordon Raphael’s Mannequin and went on to discover punk music. Ireland then performed in legendary Upchuck Gerra’s band The Fags.

At the time, the Great Northwest was a bustling creative landscape for muscians and artist types. If you weren’t in a band, you wanted to be in a band and everyone supported the local club scene in Seattle, especially The Showbox, the Crocodile and the Off Ramp, to name a few.

“I have always loved music, so to be so deeply involved with it was an amazing experience,” Ireland said of her early days as a musician. “I remember going to the doctor when I was 17 or 18 years old because my jaw ached. He checked me over and since everything was fine, he suspected I was grinding my teeth. So he asked me what was going on in my life. I said, ‘Well... I’m going to high school, I’m composing music, I’m in five... no, six bands....’ He stopped me right there and we discussed the concept of having too much to do - but I couldn’t get enough of music.”

Barbara Ireland Songs to Kiss ByEven though she was a teenager in high school, Ireland’s first time playing in a bar was with Mental Mannequin, the brainchild of Gordon Raphael (who, among other accomplishments, produced the first Strokes CD). Ireland confesses even though she was just 16, the experience was in fact “seedy and scary and fun.”

“The next band I was in was The Fags, with Upchuck Gerra and other amazing Seattle musicians. That first show was an eye-opener as well. It took place in a big, open arts center, and there was no stage. I had a stack of three keyboards and synthesizers in front of me. The M.C. announced our band’s name with this crazy guttural scream, and the minute we started playing, the audience went totally berserk, slam-dancing and screaming. It was like that pretty much for every Fags show from then on. There was this highly energetic, kind of delicious chaos took over. Of course I ended up on the floor buried underneath all my keyboards! It was my first real ‘punk rock moment,’ and it freaked me out, but I was hooked from then on just because everyone was so alive.”

When she was 20, Ireland moved cross country to the Big Apple to attend New York University and earned her BFA in film. Her thesis movie “Secrets” went on to earn several top honors. After college, Ireland went on to make several short films, directed videos and worked at a television studio. For eight years she was also co-owner of the production company Filmus Maximus.

Now back in her hometown of Seattle, the multi-talented artist had her first art show “Allegorical” and had stepped back into music reforming a revised version of The Fags. As of late, Ireland has been playing along side Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard in HankKhoir and in a Stooges cover band called The Splooges.

More recently, Ireland has ventured out into uncharted territory releasing her debut CD Turning Back Time – Classic Songs to Kiss By – a 13-track offering of jazz and blues classics from the 1930s, '40s and early '50s. But the album actually came together by accident.

“I was planning to record some of my original songs, which I guess could fall into the ‘indie rock/pop’ category. But Barbar Ireland Interviewsomething kept telling me to wait... It was driving me crazy. In the meantime, I made a fun little demo of jazz tunes for my stepfather for Christmas that year, and for some bizarre reason, that little demo went ‘viral’ in its own primitive way - it was copied so many times, it was ridiculous. While recording that demo, I did notice just how much my voice loved singing jazz. There’s so much freedom and spontaneity to that genre, vocally as well as instrumentally. Plus a lot of these old tunes have a playful eroticism to them that I really like... a quality that we don’t get to experience in that same way very often these days…

“So I just started playing around with the idea of a jazz CD. Strangely enough, my heart or instinct or whatever you want to call it started telling me to go for it - even though my head was set on recording my originals. But once I committed myself to recording, lo and behold, doors opened like you wouldn’t believe, and the whole project just flowed from then on.”

Covering such legends as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday;and Peggy Lee – who Ireland is often compared to with her sultry vocals – the album truly lives up to its billing. As soon as the first notes of “Baby Baby All the Time” play you are transported back in time to when men wore stylish suits with classic hats and women were elogantly dolled up in flowing dresses. The smoky supper club was filled with patrons, swilling their whiskey and dancing to the live jazz band until the wee hours of the morning.

“It took many hours of listening, which were all very enjoyable hours of course,” Ireland said of selecting the songs for the album. “I was looking for a certain ‘vibe’ of old, classic jazz - that slinky type that’s so fun and conjures up images of hot dames in form-fitting gowns with sly grins. Also I chose songs I could relate to, either through their lyrics, or because of the way the music felt in my body or heart when I heard it.”

Backed flawlessly by Jeff Fielder on guitar, Keith Lowe on bass, drummer Mike Stone, Steve Moore on trombone and Hans Tuber on saxaphone and piano, the mood of the album is smooth, sexy and flirtacious in a fashion rarely seen in music today. Along with the band, the music allowed Ireland to easily set the mood to record these gems.

“The chemistry and camaraderie between all of us musicians was and is awesome. So while we worked fast and hard, we also had laughing attacks and lots of fun. Plus I kept feeding the musicians chocolate, nuts and grapes while they were laying down their tracks, which probably didn’t hurt the mood either!”

The beautiful singer also set the mood with an original song she penned entitled “Angel in Blue Jeans,” which seamlessly fits with the tracks which are 50 years its junior.

“'Angel In Blue Jeans' is the only original on the CD, and it’s funny because I have probably 60 songs already written, and yet this song, which just spilled out spontaneously one night while I was driving in my car a week before we recorded, is the one that ended up on the CD. We had a little extra time in the studio one day so I asked the guys to play it, and it just seemed to fit well with the other material. I love that one because it makes me laugh every time, no matter how many times I hear it. There is honesty in the lyrics, but it’s also written with a sense of humor, very ‘tongue-in-cheek.”

Not only did Ireland sing the songs, but she produced Turning Back Time – Classic Songs to Kiss By – something she has never done before.

“That was an amazing experience for me - no one ever taught me what to do. Musically, I just followed my instincts - on the sound, the arrangements of the songs, the musicians I chose - everything really. That instinctual side of me never fails me, so I felt I was in ‘good hands.’ As for all the tech and legal and business details, those aren’t things that come naturally to me, so that was a bit strenuous, and the learning curve was nearly vertical.”

In a day and age where it’s hard to sell a rock CD, let alone a classic jazz CD, Barbara Ireland isn’t too worried about sales. Sure, it would be nice to sell millions so she can recorded her already written five albums of varying genre’s, but in the end Turning Back Time – Classic Songs to Kiss By, was a labor of love that paid off in more ways than monetary.

“I have a personal mantra to live my life to its absolute fullest and deepest and most colorful, and to experience everything I feel passionate about before I die. And since music and singing is my lifeblood, and I love so many different types of music, I decided it was high time I quit messing around and got myself into a studio to record - whether it was jazz or rock or any other genre of music, I just had to go record it.

Also, I believe music is a healing force - or at least an intense, and emotional force that has the power to heal. And I keep getting unusual reports like someone’s friend who started weeping openly when he heard my CD even though he hardly ever cries; or how the music helped reopen communication between this woman and her mother. And just recently, someone told me about his 11-year-old, rock-n-roll-loving son who now asks to hear my CD whenever they get into the car, and then he just sits there quietly listening, ‘enthralled,’ as his dad puts it. If this CD has that kind of effect even on a handful of people, I am thrilled beyond words.” - Innocent Words Magazine


"CD REVIEW: Seattle’s Barbara Ireland turns back time on delicious new disc"

Seattle singer-songwriter Barbara Ireland’s new album is a world apart from the glam-punk she once performed as a member of The Fags and other bands.

Ireland’s new album, “Turning Back Time: Classic Songs to Kiss By,” is a sultry, sumptuous collection of jazz and blues from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. Among the gems: “Black Coffee,” “Cry Me a River,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” and “Good Morning Heartache,” my personal favorite on this disc.

There’s also a sassy original, the bluesy, struttin’ “Angel in Blue Jeans,” which makes you wonder, “Who wrote that?” Well, Ireland did. But it sounds like another classic from the memory bin.

Ireland has a sweet, supple voice that is completely at ease with the material she has chosen for “Classic Songs to Kiss By,” which by the way is a perfect subtitle for her affectionate interpretations of songs from the Irving Berlin/ Bobby Troup era.

The CD’s breadth of appeal should span generations. Whether you’re a 20something with retro tastes or an oldster who’s just plain retro, there’s a lot to love in this collection of timeless tunes.

“What has stunned me the most have been the emotional responses to the music on this CD: weeping, bursting out in laughter, jumping up to dance, and more than just a few sexy glimmers appearing in people’s eyes,” Ireland says.

If an album of old-school classics from Ireland comes as a surprise, you haven’t seen her resume. Ireland is a jack (make that jill) of all trades when it comes to music and the arts: musician, filmmaker, visual artist, photographer, etc.

At 9, she took up the harp and wrote a book of songs for beginning harpists that is still in use today. Years later, she earned a degree in filmmaking from New York University and went on to become a floor director of live newscasts at KING-TV. For eight years, she was co-owner and president of Filmus Maximus. She has also performed with the Hank Khoir, a Hank Williams tribute band formed by Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard. Read more about Ireland here.

In the spring, Seattle’s Film Forum will celebrate her film works with a retrospective to coincide with the release of a DVD of her avant-garde short films and music videos titled “From Dreams to Delirium.”

Ireland was recently featured in “A Jazzy Lil’ Christmas” show at the Paramount Theatre in December and at the recent Elvis Invitationals at Club Motor.

Backing Ireland on “Turning Back Time” is a distinguished group of local musicians: bassist Keith Lowe (who sings backup vocals and interjects a “meow” on “St. James Infirmary”), pianist and sax player Hans Teuber (also featured on backup vocals on “St. James”), drummer Mike Stone, guitarist Jeff Fielder (who sings backup on “Whatever Lola Wants”) and trombonist Steve Moore.

Though the album was released in late December, Ireland finally will celebrate with a party Feb. 11 at FRED Wildlife Refuge, a stylish (and retro) new venue at 127 Boylston Ave. E. Check Ireland’s Web site for details.

The album is available through CDBaby and at Sonic Boom Records.

– Gene Stout - Seattle Times / Post Intelligencer


"Singer's new album is 'sultry jazz medication'"

Barbara Ireland has been involved in Seattle’s music scene since the pre-grunge era. But the Madison Park singer has only recently transformed into a budding jazz vocalist.

The transformation began when Ireland — who has shared the stage with members of famed Seattle band Pearl Jam — made a jazz demo album as a gift for her stepfather last Christmas.

Making the connection
Ireland had found a demonstration album with the instrumentals of songs like “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Good Morning Heartache” and “Our Love is Here to Stay” and recorded her vocals over them.

Her parents were so enamored with the music that they gave it to friends and acquaintances, many of whom had emotional responses to it.

Ireland began receiving phone calls from people telling her how her music has affected them.

“A lot of people cry when they hear it,” Ireland said. “It seems like the music really helps people get into the present tense — like a sultry jazz version of medication.”

A story Ireland likes to tell is that of a woman whose 92-year-old mother was in the hospital. The two were having trouble communicating but were able to connect through listening to Ireland’s demo.

So Ireland has recorded a new album, her first solo endeavor in her more than 20 years as a musician.

A different vibe
What makes this music so different from the music she’s done in the past? She suggests it is the emotion that went into it.

“It was really my intention to feel the emotions in the lyrics, and there was a really beautiful connection between the musicians,” Ireland said.

She also said it has to do with the glamour of the era the songs were written in. “Even the sexiness of the songs is a quality that isn’t in a lot of music anymore,” she explained.
The music has had an effect on one of her own relationships, as well.

“My stepfather and I have always loved each other, but it’s gone to a whole other level now,” Ireland said. “He’s just my biggest fan.”

John Daly, Ireland’s stepfather, said he had never been familiar with his stepdaughter’s music before, but the jazz demo she made for him blew him away.

“We had no idea she could sing like that,” Daly said. “She has a style all of her own, and she sings the kinds of songs I like — all jazz or blues — and she has a very distinctive voice.”

“The first time we really heard her sing was at her little apartment, and she played some songs she had written — they were amazing,” Daly said. “We got a sneak peak of the album, and it’s great. She only has one of her own songs on the album, though.”

Creative outlets
While Ireland said this music is much different from the grunge style she started out playing in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it is not a big stretch from where she started as a child. She started playing the piano at age 7 and moved on to the harp. At 16, she started playing in Seattle-area clubs.

Ireland speaks fondly of playing music in Seattle.

“The pre-grunge era was so creative; everyone was in bands,” Ireland said. “It just really fed everyone’s creativity…. Now, it’s similar, but everyone’s on such different levels.

“It’s different now, because it’s not just ‘Let’s just get together and jam.’ That was a really special time because there was so little going on in Seattle, and it was such a small city that everybody knew each other,” she said.

Aside from her budding jazz career, Ireland is also working with Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard, whom she met and became friends with as a teenager. Ireland is singing with Gossard in his Hank Williams cover band, The Hank Khoir. She’s recorded vocals for the band’s album, and toured the country with the band. They also do Rolling Stones, Grace Jones and T. Rex songs, as well as several of Gossard’s new original songs.

Ireland said she is excited about her new album, which is set for a Dec. 17 release. “I produced it. I’ve never got to do my own thing before,” she said. “I’ve always worked on other people’s work.”

The album will be available on-line and at local record stores. It will also be available at Ireland’s Dec. 18 show at the Paramount Theatre. - Madison Park Times


Discography

"RED" (cd, 2012)
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/BarbaraIreland3

"Turning Back Time - Classic Songs To Kiss By" (cd, 2010)
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/BarbaraIreland

"Christmas Is For Grownups Too" (single, 2011)
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/BarbaraIreland2

"Keep Breathing, Japan" (single, 2011)
http://www.JapanReliefSong.org

itunes.com/BarbaraIreland

Photos

Bio

I am a singer/songwriter specializing in slinky pop music and 'pheromone jazz.' Rooted in a playful 1960s girl group sound, I also mix in some flirtatious Peggy Lee and edgy Amy Winehouse, with a splash of Tom Waits. I have been composing and performing ever since I can remember in everything from raucous glam and punk rock bands to elegant classic jazz to singing in Stone Gossard's side band, 'The Hank Khoir' - so I have a unique ability to be a genre-bender and create some really fun and stimulating music.

My new album of 'slinky pop' originals titled, 'RED,' was released on June 2nd, 2012! I am also completing an EP of crazy dance music, and another of Latin tunes.

My first cd, 'Turning Back Time - Classic Songs To Kiss By,' was all 'pheromone jazz' classics, and was released Dec 2010. I absolutely LOVE music - creating it, sharing it - and meeting fascinating new people in the process. Thanks for visiting.

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“If you like your Jazz sultry, moody, sensually charged, and exquisitely sung by an equally described beautiful singer, then this collection of music - this CD belongs in your music collection! Barbara Ireland Delivers!”
- Justin Case

“Ireland's cover [of ‘St. James Infirmary’] is as slow as molasses and just as dark, and was one of the night's easy highlights.”
- Kim Ruehl, www.nodepression.com : The ‘Roots Music Authority’ blog

“The mood of [Barbara Ireland’s] album is smooth, sexy and flirtatious in a fashion rarely seen in music today... The beautiful singer also set the mood with an original song she penned entitled ‘Angel in Blue Jeans,’ which seamlessly fits with the tracks which are 50 years its junior.”
- Troy Michael, InnocentWords Magazines and Records

“[Barbara Ireland is] beautiful and sings like the gods.”
- Ruben Mendiolaza

“Barbara Ireland has recorded sexy songs! The kind of music that make you want to rip his clothes off. It is difficult to do justice to these standards and almost impossible to please me singing them. I admit I was skeptical when I started listening. But Ireland’s voice and styling brings out the best in the songs she has selected. ‘Turning Back Time – Classic Songs To Kiss By’ has won me over.
- Losille @ CFM Music Scene: Music News & Entertainment/Records

I picked up [Barbara Ireland’s] new CD. There are not enough proper adjectives in the English language to describe how wonderful it is. Bravo!”
- Robert Erickson

“If listening to Barbara Ireland live does not make your foot tap and your heart beat faster, nothing will.”
- Michael Watkins

“I love Barbara Ireland 's new album ‘Classic Songs To Kiss By.’ Super sexy! Go get it people.... It's beautiful.”
- Kate Lee

“I got this album the first night it was available at Barbara's Jazzy Lil Christmas Show in Seattle's Paramount Theater. Have been listening ever since and it just keeps getting better all the time! Way to go Barbara!”
- Barrett M

“Ireland’s new album, ‘Turning Back Time: Classic Songs to Kiss By,’ is a sultry, sumptuous collection of jazz and blues from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s... [She] has a sweet, supple voice that is completely at ease with the material she has chosen... The CD’s breadth of appeal should span generations. Whether you’re a 20something with retro tastes or an oldster who’s just plain retro, there’s a lot to love in this collection of timeless tunes.”
- Gene Stout, Seattle Times/Post-Intelligencer