The Refugees
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The Refugees

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Band Folk Americana

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“The Refugees: Wow, what a great strength-in-numbers bill this is, with three female singer/songwriters who've each put out very fine albums in their time. We're talking Wendy Waldman (a sensitive, piano-pop songcrafter in the league with Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Karla Bonoff), Deborah Holland (for several years the voice of the jazzy, post-Police supergroup Animal Logic with Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers and Stanley Clarke, and now a professor at Cal State ), and the fire-burning Cyndi Bullens.” – Philadephia Daily News - Philadelphia Daily news


How do you celebrate middle-age? If you’re three veteran female singer-songwriters, you pool your talents, co-write more songs and take your super group on the road.
The Refugees, a high-powered ensemble of Cindy Bullens, Deborah Holland and Wendy Waldman, came to life at a songwriter festival in Nashville. Friends for years, they admired each other’s work, but never before considered joining forces.
“We could not be more different in personality and musically, but we have similar heart, passion for life and entertaining people and are all committed to our work,” Bullens says. “After hooking up in Nashville, they invited me to travel from my home in Maine and meet with them in L.A. Our first thought was to perform in the round with each doing our own music, but when we started playing together it was a magical experience and we knew immediately we had a band.”
Bullens got her rock ‘n’ roll start in 1974 as backup singer for Elton John. She topped her Grammy Award nomination for her performance on the “Grease” film soundtrack with another for her song “Survivor.” Her non-stop composing output includes a collaboration with John Wulp on the Broadway musical “Islands” and Top Ten listings of “Neverland.” Elton John, still a good friend, plans piano on “Dream #29,” her sixth solo album.
Deborah Holland’s full life of singing, songwriting, producing and composing for film has taken her around the world and back to Los Angeles where she is on the music faculty of California State University.
Wendy Waldman, the first woman among the elite Taylor Guitar clinicians, is a critically acclaimed recording artist, teacher and writer of multi-platinum songs for other singers in many genres, including country, pop, jazz, R&B and even children’s music.
Now middle-aged, all three have lived through and overcome the highs and lows of the music world. All have children and both Waldman and Bullens, who lost a daughter several years ago, are grandmothers. Still, they bring passion, excitement and love for each other and their music to the stage.
“All our life experiences go into our work,” Bullens says. “‘Unbound,’ the title number of our latest recording, is a killer song. We get standing ovations wherever we perform and incredible feedback. This is the time to break free, an acknowledgement of our time of life.”

- D.C. Examiner



The Refugees At The Library

That would be the Thousand Oaks library. Where Renee Bodie has expanded her house concert series.
Can’t say that I’m in the loop, but Renee tracked me down. Did I want to see the Refugees?
When I land on that desert island, I’m taking along Wendy Waldman on my iPod. Just listening to "Spring Is Here" makes me feel how great it is to be alive.
Wendy never broke through, but she’s a star in my book. So, of course, I said I’d go.
But this isn’t a solo gig. The Refugees are a three piece band. Made up of Ms. Waldman, Cindy Bullens and Deborah Holland.
I’ve got Cindy’s solo album. The one released on UA just before the company was merged out of existence. As for Ms. Holland…she was in that bizarre concoction known as Animal Logic, the supergroup with Stewart Copeland, Stanley Clarke and…her. With that catchy track that got MTV airplay but didn’t launch the band into the stratosphere known as "There’s A Spy (In The House Of Love)".
Thousand Oaks is really far away. A different county, a different area code. I think it exists because of home values. As in you could buy one there during the first real estate boom, back in the seventies. And now it’s grown, to include the foreign car dealerships, a branch of Mastro’s Steakhouse… There’s just about everything you need, you never have to go into the city again. Which you may not, with the traffic being so damn bad. And, a state of the art library.
Despite book repositories cutting their hours and their inventory, somehow this giant edifice was built in the middle of nowhere. Could it be taxpayer money, or independent fund-raising? Who knows? But I was shocked that they purchased a high end sound rig for their community room, to hold concerts like this.
And those in attendance weren’t bitching about TicketMaster fees. That’s not their concern, getting in to see Radiohead at the Bowl. They’re older, more community-oriented, and they just don’t want the hassle. Point is, this concert took place OFF THE GRID!
But now, almost everything is off the grid. It’s hard to get critical mass. The power is in the niche. Assuming you’ve got something special and can grow your niche.
And the Refugees have something special.
They can perform those harmonies that Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young could not nail at Woodstock. They can pick their guitars. Hell, Deborah even played an accordion, Cindy a mandolin. And the material resonates, but what is even more impressive is the PRESENTATION!
Renee introduced them as post-menopausal. Cindy took offense. But that’s what we are, middle-aged. Music rocked our world, drove the culture. But we’ve seen the Stones and the Moody Blues, we no longer get excited about the classic rock tours. We still love music, but we just don’t know where to go for it. No one cares about us.
Looked like Starbucks did for a minute. But they blew their trusted filter status by overloading us with mediocre product. Where do we go to get turned on to new acts?
Not NPR, even though we’re addicted. You see, NPR still worries about hip. And we’re not hip. We wear relaxed fit jeans, some of us get plastic surgery to look young, but we’re not. We’re over the hill. But still alive. And despite having cash galore, no one cares about us.
And that’s what the Refugees talk about. Us. What it’s like to be our age and go on the road and try to rebuild a career when you never had stardom to begin with.
Wendy told her daughter’s kids that she can’t babysit anymore. GRANNY’S ON THE ROAD!
The old rock stars bitch about the travel. But it seemed these women were having a ball. An endless pajama party. Yes, they were reliving their youth. And they LOVED IT!
Wendy had written hits for Vanessa Williams and the Dirt Band, but now she focuses on producing.
Cindy has been criss-crossing the nation telling the story of the death of her daughter.
And Deborah… She realized the window on stardom had closed and she got her Master’s and started teaching at Cal State.
But then Wendy called. She implored Deborah to come down to Kulak’s and play live. Needing another element, Wendy tracked down Cindy in Maine, who told her she was only in if it was gonna be fun.
And it is.
They play Wendy’s "Save The Best For Last". Deborah does "There’s A Spy (In The House Of Love)". Cindy demonstrates the pipes that backed up Elton John for so long. And they talk. How they want to be on the cover of AARP magazine.
They’re not kidding. They figure if they mention it at enough gigs, someone in the audience will have a connection. And, if they do, they’ll break through.
There’s a circuit. It just hasn’t been developed yet. It’s got nothing to do with radio and everything to do with live performance. Akin to the condo circuit for comedians down in Florida. We want to see live music, we want to be up close, we want to be treated right, and we don’t want to be ripped off.
And at $20 a head, this show was - Bob Lefsetz


PRESS/RADIO QUOTES


"The Refugees offer up a terrific combination of engaging, passionate, and poetic songwriting, high-caliber musicianship, and gorgeous vocals. The combined musical pedigree of Cindy Bullens, Deborah Holland, and Wendy Waldman is unparalleled. Don't even think about missing an opportunity to catch them in concert." -- Anil Prasad from Innerviews, Guitar Player and Bass Player


"Heavenly harmonies – Celestial singing. Sounds of stars in the making, with your songs as safe haven. Terrific." -- Michael Nesmith. Owner of Videoranch, formerly of The Monkees


"Like the name implies, The Refugees have seen a lot and survived...
Listen to the disc and you'll know how- through raw talent!" -- Rob Reinhart, Producer of Acoustic Café

"The Refugees have a spirt and light that captures your attention right from the downbeat until they've left the building. These are not just 3 very talented women, they are great entertainers" --Sleepy John Sandidge, KPIG Radio

"The Refugees have something special. They can perform
those harmonies that Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young could not
nail at Woodstock. They can pick their guitars. Hell,
Deborah even played an accordion, Cindy a mandolin. And
the material resonates"-- Bob Lefsetz, the Lefsetz Letter

“The Refugees: Wow, what a great strength-in-numbers bill
this is, with three female singer/songwriters who've each put
out very fine albums in their time. We're talking Wendy
Waldman (a sensitive, piano-pop songcrafter in the league
with Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and Karla Bonoff), Deborah
Holland (for several years the voice of the jazzy, post-Police
supergroup Animal Logic with Stewart Copeland, Andy
Summers and Stanley Clarke, and now a professor at Cal
State), and the fire-burning Cindy Bullens.” -- Philadelphia
Daily News

- Multiple


THE REFUGEES It's three under-the-radar journeywomen songwriters -- major-label refugees, if you will -- for the price of one as rocker Cindy Bullens, witty folkie Deborah Holland and noted '70s troubadour Wendy Waldman combine their talents for a casual evening of crisp harmonies and sharp, funny and poignant songs. These multi-instrumentalists have released melodic, often heartfelt yet inexplicably ignored music through the years and each is a club headliner on her own, making this impressive meeting of the minds lots of bang for the buck. -- Hal Horowitz - Creative Loafing-Atlanta


AN EVENING WITH THE REFUGEES: CINDY BULLENS, WENDY WALDMAN & DEBORAH HOLLAND These three veterans—songwriters, rockers, groundbreakers—have carved out such individual paths that it’s hard to imagine them coming together. But that’s also what makes this bill so exciting. Waldman emerged from the early-’70s California folk-rock scene, a gypsy poet with a beautiful voice who ignored genre restrictions to excel at several musical styles. Bullens initially created a stir in the late ’70s as a concise, blue-collar rocker. And Holland first gained notice in 1989 as the young leader of Animal Logic, a band featuring established instrumentalists Stanley Clarke and Stewart Copeland. At this point, they all write songs about survival, living in the moment and finding a way despite all the obstacles. 9 p.m. at the Bluebird Café —MICHAEL MCCALL - Nashville Scene


It’s no wonder that the Refugees, a folk “supergroup” formed by Wendy Waldman, Deborah Holland and Cindy Bullens, has been likened to a fe-male version of Crosby, Stills & Nash. On Unbound, the group’s debut CD, stirring lead vocals and impeccable harmonies rule the roost. All three women have stellar track records — Waldman is a hit songwriter and an accomplished producer; Holland has released several solo albums and scored songs for films and television; Bullens got her start as a backing vocalist for Elton John and has won Grammys for her recording work.

Each Refugee is a strong song- writer with a distinct personality, and their collaboration yields a natural, eclectic-yet-accessible blend of music. The women play guitar, accordion, Dobro, mandolin, harmonica, dulcimer, bass and percussion, and, although they are an acoustic group, they can rock. They also bring a welcome sense of humor to the mix. Visit their website and check out the live performance video.

When it comes to vocals, the Refugees are a collective powerhouse. Together, they lay down sweet harmony beds that bring to mind the Eagles (listen to “Jellico Highway”), yet each one is also a commanding and expressive lead singer. Some- times they share the lead vocal spot, masterfully weaving a multi-textured vocal tapestry.

One of my favorite vocal moments lives in the title cut. Whoever nails that note to the sky at the end of the chorus absolutely slays me. That harmony line is a hook I will always eagerly anticipate.

“Stickin’ With my Baby’s Love” is a fun, upbeat tune. It’s sexy, ripe and ready for some mainstream country artist to cover and send shooting up the charts. With chops like theirs, you don’t need electric guitars and drums to rock a solid groove.

There are some familiar songs on Unbound, such as Waldman’s sultry and rollicking classic, “Fishin’ in the Dark,” which was originally covered by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The inclusion of what is probably Waldman’s best-known song, “Save the Best for Last,” was a surprise for me. The stunning three-part a cappella introduction drew me in, and I found myself appreciating the intimate quality of the lyrics more than I ever did on hearing Vanessa Williams’ hit version.

Deborah Holland’s “(There’s a) Spy in the House of Love,” has an intriguing lyric, and a soaring, compel- ling melody. And “The Violin Song,” sung from the viewpoint of a child being forced to take violin lessons, is hilarious. Cindy Bullens’ harmonica adds appropriate wails and hiccups of desperation, while Holland’s character pleads and tries to bargain with her mom.

“All My Angels” is simply beautiful. Bullens’ lead vocal is husky and emotive, and when you add the killer harmonies of her bandmates, it’s a knockout combination. What I’m about to say is a cliché, but it can’t be helped: I am already looking forward to the next CD from the Refugees. Their debut is that good.

Wood and Steel is Taylor Guitar's magazine
— Andy Robinson - Wood and Steel


AUGUSTA, GA - The backwoods behind the paved roads open in a fresh new light with The Refugees’ release of "Unbound" coming in January 2009. Built upon a smooth, mountain-like blend of modern country and classic folk sounds, the birth of this new female super group finds a sweet spot in the down home vision it offers. Composed of acclaimed solo artists Cindy Bullens, Deborah Holland and Wendy Waldman, The Refugees formed in 2007 in search of a new sound
created by blending their distinct talents, voices and styles. With more than three decades in the music business, 19 solo albums and many Grammy nominations, The Refugees return in a new
form combining experienced precision with passionate experimentation. The album itself is a masterpiece of Americana as a whole that should find room in any playlist, but particular songs stand out above the field of country grass they create in the melodies throughout. These songs include the smashing thrills of “Unbound” speaking to the desires in the deepest heart, the sweet soulful croon of “Stickin’ with my Baby’s Love,” and the smooth, sad, sweet tones of “Box of Broken Hearts.” Furthermore, within the haunting echo of “I Gotta Believe in Something,” listeners find a pathway into the emotional rollercoaster and passionate display characterized by the depths of connection in lifetimes spent in search of meaning, feeling, and being. Within this world of folk splendor, The Refugees offer an example of escape from the isolation of daily routines and a return to feeling and meaning within the simpler places we may all remember in our most sincere moments. -- J. EDWARD SUMERAU - Augusta Metro Spirit (Ga) - Augusta Metro Spirit


Sing Out! • Vol. 52 #3 • Autumn 2008
The Refugees
Unbound

The Refugees are Cindy Bullins, Wendy Waldman and Deborah Holland, three excellent songwriters with long, impressive resumes. They sing and harmonize together marvelously.And between them they play all the accompaniment on this, their first album together. It doesn’t hurt that Wendy Waldman has long been a favored song- writer’s record producer based in Nashville. Her studio savvy is certainly in play on Unbound.
The twelve songs are a strong lot. No surprise there given the three women at work here. The three person cowrite “Unbound” opens the set, a perfect choice for a first impression as the three each get a lead vocal part, and ensemble they sing heavenly harmony here. Wendy fires off some keen lead guitar, too. Cindy’s “Jellico Highway” takes place along the Tennessee- Kentucky border. It’s a “damn I really screwed up” song with an irresistibly irresistible melody and singalong chorus. Wendy wrote “Fishin’ in the Dark” with Jim
Photoglo as an upbeat digging the moment song. “(There’s a) Spy in the House of Love” dates from Deborah’s days with Stewart Copeland and Stanley Clarke in
Animal Logic back in the ’80s. It was my favorite AL song, and it is really a delight
to hear Deborah resurrect that one.
And the delights keep coming song after song, each a gem. Deborah’s hilarious “Violin Song” deserves special merit as she recalls fighting her Mom over how little she liked having to take violin lessons. The Refugees sing wondrous three part harmony, much of it a capella, during the finale “Save the Best for Last,” a strong argument for truth in presentation. It is a lovely, wondrous thing when a plan works, and The Refugees work together gorgeously. With three terrific strong voiced songwriters whose voices soar when they blend, how could you go wrong? Answer: you can’t. Very strongly recommended. — Michael Tearson

- Sing Out!


Discography

Each member has an extensive discography which can be viewed at:
www.cindybullens.com
www.deborahholland.net
www.wendywaldman.com
The Refugees will be releasing their first CD in 2008.

Photos

Bio

The trio of women that is The Refugees emerged on the music scene as a verifiably unmatched force of talent, diversity, and experience. Each successful in her own right as a solo artist, Cindy Bullens, Deborah Holland and Wendy Waldman formed their unique and innovative group in 2007 and have released their first CD, Unbound, to rave reviews.
Described as the female version of Crosby, Stills and Nash with humor, The Refugees have more than three decades of experience in the industry between them and a musical style that blends country, rock, fThe trio of women that is The Refugees emerged on the music scene as a verifiably unmatched force of talent, diversity, and experience. Each successful in her own right as a solo artist, Cindy Bullens, Deborah Holland and Wendy Waldman formed their unique and innovative group in 2007 and since that time have been wowing audiences, radio DJs, and music critics alike with their soaring harmonies, indelible musicianship, and unforgettably humorous stage presence.

Individually, The Refugees have logged more than three decades in the industry, with nineteen solo albums and multiple Grammy Award nominations to their credit, featuring musical styles that blend country, rock, folk, and Americana. To describe them as eclectic would be an understatement. These three women have utilized their intense drive and relentless passions to create an entirely new sound.

UNBOUND, their debut release on Wabuho Records will be officially released in January of 2009. The talented trio plays all of the instruments on the recording including guitars, dobro, bass, mandolin, harmonica, accordion, and percussion, and features a mix of innovative new co-writes and fresh arrangements of a selection of their previously recorded radio favorites, including “Save the Best for Last,” “Fishin’ in the Dark,” “(There’s a) Spy in the House of Love,” and “Jellico Highway.”

Cindy Bullens got her start as a back-up singer for Elton John after a chance meeting at a Hollywood party in the 1970s. Since then, Cindy has accompanied John on multiple tours, racked up Grammy Award nominations for her work on various albums, collaborated on a Broadway show, sang two songs on the Grease soundtrack, and most recently has spent her time writing and recording extensively in Nashville.

Deborah Holland began her career as a member of the critically acclaimed, Animal Logic. Comprised also of Stewart Copeland and Stanley Clarke, the band earned her recognition as both a singer and a songwriter during the 1980s and 90s. Since her Animal Logic days, Deborah has released multiple solo albums, scored and written dozens of songs for film an TV, and gone on to become a music professor at California State University of Los Angeles.

Wendy Waldman has been recognized as one of the leading recording artists and songwriters in music since the debut of her band Bryndle in the 1970s, followed by a successful solo career. Wendy is responsible for some of the best loved and most well known songs of the past several decades, including Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last,” and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s version of “Fishin’ in the Dark, as well as her work as a producer, overseeing countless projects in multiple genres.

"The Refugees offer up a terrific combination of engaging, passionate, and poetic songwriting, high-caliber musicianship, and gorgeous vocals. The combined musical pedigree of Cindy Bullens, Deborah Holland, and Wendy Waldman is unparalleled. Don't even think about missing an opportunity to catch them in concert."- Anil Prasad from Innerviews, Guitar Player and Bass Player

The group has tour dates set nationwide and in Canada through 2009.