LIZ PAINTER BAND
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LIZ PAINTER BAND

Taos, New Mexico, United States | SELF

Taos, New Mexico, United States | SELF
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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Music

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"Painter’s muse: Local band releases new album titled ' What if ? '"

By Ariana Kramer

The classic cherry red Chevrolet on the cover of Liz Painter's latest CD belonged to her grandfather.

But the red dress she wears amid green fields and blue skies is her own, as are the songs that travel from Tucson to Taos, two desert towns Painter has called home.

Painter and her bandmates — drummer Marcos Bennett; Chapman stick and fretless bassist Colin Jenkinson, and guitarist and background vocalist Mike Hogan — will celebrate the release of their new album title "What If?" Tuesday (July 5), 8 p.m., at the KTAOS Solar Center, 9 State Road 150.

Special guests for the show include Susan Gibson, Don Conoscenti and Don Richmond. After touring with their last CD, "Home Before Dark" (2007), the Liz Painter Band wanted to document some of their material live. Painter contacted Don Richmond, who runs a recording studio in Alamosa, Colo.

Richmond suggested that Painter's band tape their video at the Adam State College theater. Rodger Cloud of Cloud Microphones pitched in with a number of high-quality microphones.

Richmond hauled his recording equipment over, and some of the college students jumped in enthusiastically to help with lights and recording.

"The kids were on fire," Painter said. "They were so thrilled to participate and give their skills and talents." The project expanded into a full length CD. "What If?" was recorded, almost entirely, that one day.

A few songs were touched up, or re-cut in Richmond's studio. Richmond mastered and engineered the CD, as well as contributing to the instrumental richness of the songs with trumpet, violin, harmonica, guitars, mandolin, pedal steel guitar, accordian, electric guitar, electric violin, American Indian flute, and castanets.

"What If?" features 14 original songs written by Painter. The title track is a catchy tune that poses the question: "What if all the thoughts in your mind were just … a little more kind?"

Painter said she liked the dreaminess, and hopefulness, of the question, "what if?" and used it as a mantra for pushing along the project. "What if … Liz Painter made a new CD?" she laughed. "Seabird" has a contagious melody that trips along like the happy flow of a mountain stream.

Painter said it reflects her love for living in the mountains of New Mexico, and for the bluegrass musicians of the area.

"In these mountains I been singin' like a free bird. I been singin' like a free bird and I think I smell the sea," the lyrics swell like the cheerful notes of a warbler's song.

There is a fresh quality to this song combined with Painter's strong and sensitive vocal presentation that is reminiscent of the tender voice of Joan Baez when she wore her hair long and covered traditional folk songs.

Painter moves around on this album. She teases with the sultry "Cigarette Burn," then grows serious in "Canyon," a provocative song about searching for, and finding guidance.

"Sidewalk by" finishes the album with a funkified sound, and a warm chorus of background vocals. Painter, who grew up in New York, was influenced by Broadway tunes as a child, and that is especially clear in "This Song," which is the most recently written song to appear on the CD.

"This Song" has a pop-top pizzaz backed by a sing-songy chorus that could easily stand on a stage and dance. "What If?' comes in a six-panel digipak with a booklet of luscious imagery designed with Heather Sparrow of Sparrow Photography.

In a bit of an unusual twist, Painter has lined up a number of musicians to share the stage for her band's CD release party. Painter is pleased to be able to bring Susan Gibson to the stage.

Gibson is the award-winning songwriter who penned the Dixie Chicks, "Wide Open Spaces" that topped charts for four weeks.

She is touring with her latest album, "Tightrope," a poignant collection of songs that includes "Evergreen," a collaboration between Gibson, Taos' Michael Hearne and Monica Smart.

The show is also a Double-Don affair. Taos favorites, Don Conoscenti and Don Richmond will open up the show with their original music. Conoscenti hosts the "Open Mic(rocosm)" at the Taos Inn every Monday night.

Richmond recently released "Like Lazarus," featuring his original songwriting. Painter could not say enough how grateful she was for the close friendships she has developed with her bandmates over the years, and for the support of Richmond whom she credits with working magic to bring out the best of her music and creativity.

"What If?" started as a video project, and has come full circle. Taos Local Television, Channel 22, will be at KTAOS to videotape the CD release concert.

The Liz Painter Band plans to tour with the album in the fall.
- TAOS NEWS


Discography

Newest Album: 2011 What If ?
Debut Album: 2007 Home Before Dark

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Bio

Both of Liz’s CD’s, the newly released What if? and her debut album Home Before Dark (2007), are richly orchestrated creations delivering a powerful poetic fusion of pop, folk and rock. Painter's work induces vast cinematic landscapes infused with romance, irony and elemental insights. Liz’s crystal clear voice and mysterious poetry define the essential magic of each unique song.

Painter could very well belong to a line of troubadours from long ago, traveling the lands spreading poetic messages and moody melodies, raising heartfelt questions. Her songs span a rich variety of styles but on first listen you might think of Colbie Calliat or Sara Bareilles, who both have similarly good vibrations elevating their work. “The primal core of what I am really focused on is revealed in my lyrics”, Liz relates.

Liz grew up in New York, and her first influence was Simon and Garfunkel and the melodic themes of Broadway show tunes. She has a BA in Music from the University of Arizona in Tucson, but in the early nineties, fresh out of high school, Painter adopted a hippie lifestyle and hitch-hiked with her guitar, traveling to folk and craft festivals. Liz would pull out her guitar and play songs for comrades she met on her journey, inspired by the vast starlit skies of the American Southwest, unfettered by city lights, infused with the sound and energy of the ancient elements. “Elemental earth images and sacred journeys are all very much inside of me, and expressed as poetry and melody in my words and music”, Liz explains.

Liz’s life in the southwest and New Mexico has led her to participate in numerous Native American Indian Ceremonies and sweat lodges. These tribal experiences inspire images throughout her music as in Cactus Tree, about a peyote ceremony, where Liz incorporates a traditional peyote song into the composition.

Liz lives in the remote wilderness of Northern New Mexico, three miles up a dirt road in an adobe house surrounded by a pristine forest of Ponderosa, Cedar and Pinon. Liz heats her home with wood fire and enjoys hot tubs under the Milky Way. Her home studio is a rustic room opening to garden and forest where she composes songs and conducts rehearsals. The Liz Painter Band is comprised of veteran Taos musicians including drummer Marcos Bennett; Chapman stick and fretless bassist Colin Jenkinson and lead guitarist and background vocalist Mike Hogan. Frequent guests also include Don Richmond who plays a variety of instruments, and guitarist Chris Burton. And everybody sings! Chris Burton also performed lead guitar and co-produced Liz’s debut album, Home Before Dark (2007).

For the new CD, What if? Liz teamed with co-produced Don Richmond of Alamosa, CO. “It's a fine album – wonderfully creative, varied, catchy and moving - all the stuff a good record ought to be”, says Don. What if? features 14 original songs that have contagious melodies. “Seabird trips along like the happy flow of a mountain stream, the lyrics swell like the cheerful notes of a warbler’s song” wrote Ariana Kramer of the Taos News.

The principal tracks on What if? were recorded in a marathon one-day "live" band session then expanded into a full length studio CD. Rodger Cloud of Cloud Microphones pitched in contributing a number of his award-winning high quality ribbon microphones. Some songs were touched up and/or re-cut in the studio by Co-Producer/Engineer Don Richmond who also contributed to the instrumental richness of the songs by performing trumpet, violin, harmonica, guitars, mandolin, pedal steel guitar, accordion, electric guitar, electric violin, American Indian flute and castanets.

The physical CD, What if?, is really a treasure worth owning as it comes in an eco-pak with a 12-page lyric booklet of luscious imagery designed by Heather Sparrow of Sparrow Photography.

Liz has a bottomless back-pack bulging with original songs still to be released.