The Stacks - Tania Elizabeth & Andy Stack
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The Stacks - Tania Elizabeth & Andy Stack

Hudson, New York, United States | SELF

Hudson, New York, United States | SELF
Duo Americana Folk

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"Mary Gauthier, storyteller in song"

Mary Gauthier, storyteller in song

One of the most electrifying moments at this year’s Stagecoach country music festival had nothing to do with the high-wattage, big-budget stage productions that accompanied performances by the event’s main attractions, Toby Keith, Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn and Sugarland.
In fact, it came as the result of a technological breakdown. Inside a tent with the noontime sun blazing above, Louisiana singer and songwriter Mary Gauthier was in the middle of a song from her new album, “The Foundling,” when a loud pop was heard over the PA, and then the sound system died.
Gauthier and her two accompanists looked momentarily perplexed. The she led them to the front of the stage and, literally unplugged, continued playing “The Orphan King,” a redemptive song centering on one person’s adamant faith in the power of love in the face of overwhelming disappointment and betrayal.

Several hundred fans on hand for the first set of the festival’s second day cheered Gauthier, some with tears streaming down their cheeks, as she sang the song’s refrain, “I still believe in love.”

“I didn’t know which way it would go at this event — it was Brooks & Dunn and Toby Keith day, for God’s sakes,” Gauthier, 48, said several days later from London, while on a trip to Europe to stump for the new album. “But I found a connection with a good number of people there.”

It was all but impossible not to connect, given the generous sampling she offered from "The Foundling," a song cycle about her real-life search for the woman who placed her in an orphanage at birth nearly a half century ago, then disappeared from her life. She'll also be drawing from it at her stops on Saturday and Sunday at McCabe's in Santa Monica.

With her 2005 breakthrough album, "Mercy Now," Gauthier (pronounced go-shay) earned a berth at the top tier of American singer-songwriters, joining the ranks of Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Lucinda Williams for her extraordinarily clear-eyed view into matters of the heart.

Consequently, "The Foundling" is neither a simple tale of abandonment and loss, nor a quick and easy fable ending happily with tearful hugs between a mother and her long-ago orphaned daughter.

"On the surface, it looks like a very autobiographical story about me," said the woman who previously chronicled her bouts with alcoholism and rocky relationships in the masterful "I Drink" and has shown equal skill getting inside intriguing characters such as the "Last of the Hobo Kings" on her 2007 album "Between Daylight and Dark."

"If it was just that, it would be incredibly boring and self-indulgent," she said. "I think what I'm singing about is the human connection. All superheroes are orphans; there's something big in this story."

In one of the wittiest lines in "The Orphan King," she acknowledges a triumvirate of her famous predecessors as she sings "Hail the orphan king/Superhero of suffering/Like Moses and Batman and James Dean/I still believe in love."

"It's an archetype that's ancient," she said. "Dickens built his career around this archetype — there's something in this story for everybody."

Gauthier's story goes back to March 11, 1962, the day she was born to a single mother, something that ran decidedly against the social grain at that time, especially in a Southern city such as New Orleans.

She spent the first year of her life in an orphanage, then was adopted by a couple who raised her in Baton Rouge, La., telling her and her brother — also adopted, but from different biological parents — before they knew what it meant that they were adopted.

Beyond that, Gauthier had virtually no information about her biological parents, because records were sealed and her adoptive parents were given no information to share.

For most of her life, however, those details held little interest for Gauthier. Although her adoptive father was alcoholic and her mother "had her own bag of tricks," she didn't want to do anything that might hurt them.

"I wasn't the kind of adopted person that wandered around wondering who my [biological] family was," she said. "I didn't. My sense of loyalty to my adoptive family — as tragic as they are … were — was immense. I didn't want to betray them or appear ungrateful. I just didn't dare ask those questions … .Somewhere in there I was scared I would lose those people. Even though they were difficult at best, I was terrified of losing them and then having nothing."

When she actively undertook the search about three years ago, it wasn't something she did voluntarily.

"I got mud wrestled to the ground by an extremely aggressive therapist," she said with a laugh. "It wasn't something I came with on my own, I'll tell you that. She was adamant that it was the missing link to some of the mysteries to my psychology. I didn't really believe her, but I did trust her. So I kinda got pushed into it. I was hoping to solve some mysteries and I guess I did." - LA Times


"Mary Gauthier, storyteller in song"

Mary Gauthier, storyteller in song

One of the most electrifying moments at this year’s Stagecoach country music festival had nothing to do with the high-wattage, big-budget stage productions that accompanied performances by the event’s main attractions, Toby Keith, Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn and Sugarland.
In fact, it came as the result of a technological breakdown. Inside a tent with the noontime sun blazing above, Louisiana singer and songwriter Mary Gauthier was in the middle of a song from her new album, “The Foundling,” when a loud pop was heard over the PA, and then the sound system died.
Gauthier and her two accompanists looked momentarily perplexed. The she led them to the front of the stage and, literally unplugged, continued playing “The Orphan King,” a redemptive song centering on one person’s adamant faith in the power of love in the face of overwhelming disappointment and betrayal.

Several hundred fans on hand for the first set of the festival’s second day cheered Gauthier, some with tears streaming down their cheeks, as she sang the song’s refrain, “I still believe in love.”

“I didn’t know which way it would go at this event — it was Brooks & Dunn and Toby Keith day, for God’s sakes,” Gauthier, 48, said several days later from London, while on a trip to Europe to stump for the new album. “But I found a connection with a good number of people there.”

It was all but impossible not to connect, given the generous sampling she offered from "The Foundling," a song cycle about her real-life search for the woman who placed her in an orphanage at birth nearly a half century ago, then disappeared from her life. She'll also be drawing from it at her stops on Saturday and Sunday at McCabe's in Santa Monica.

With her 2005 breakthrough album, "Mercy Now," Gauthier (pronounced go-shay) earned a berth at the top tier of American singer-songwriters, joining the ranks of Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Lucinda Williams for her extraordinarily clear-eyed view into matters of the heart.

Consequently, "The Foundling" is neither a simple tale of abandonment and loss, nor a quick and easy fable ending happily with tearful hugs between a mother and her long-ago orphaned daughter.

"On the surface, it looks like a very autobiographical story about me," said the woman who previously chronicled her bouts with alcoholism and rocky relationships in the masterful "I Drink" and has shown equal skill getting inside intriguing characters such as the "Last of the Hobo Kings" on her 2007 album "Between Daylight and Dark."

"If it was just that, it would be incredibly boring and self-indulgent," she said. "I think what I'm singing about is the human connection. All superheroes are orphans; there's something big in this story."

In one of the wittiest lines in "The Orphan King," she acknowledges a triumvirate of her famous predecessors as she sings "Hail the orphan king/Superhero of suffering/Like Moses and Batman and James Dean/I still believe in love."

"It's an archetype that's ancient," she said. "Dickens built his career around this archetype — there's something in this story for everybody."

Gauthier's story goes back to March 11, 1962, the day she was born to a single mother, something that ran decidedly against the social grain at that time, especially in a Southern city such as New Orleans.

She spent the first year of her life in an orphanage, then was adopted by a couple who raised her in Baton Rouge, La., telling her and her brother — also adopted, but from different biological parents — before they knew what it meant that they were adopted.

Beyond that, Gauthier had virtually no information about her biological parents, because records were sealed and her adoptive parents were given no information to share.

For most of her life, however, those details held little interest for Gauthier. Although her adoptive father was alcoholic and her mother "had her own bag of tricks," she didn't want to do anything that might hurt them.

"I wasn't the kind of adopted person that wandered around wondering who my [biological] family was," she said. "I didn't. My sense of loyalty to my adoptive family — as tragic as they are … were — was immense. I didn't want to betray them or appear ungrateful. I just didn't dare ask those questions … .Somewhere in there I was scared I would lose those people. Even though they were difficult at best, I was terrified of losing them and then having nothing."

When she actively undertook the search about three years ago, it wasn't something she did voluntarily.

"I got mud wrestled to the ground by an extremely aggressive therapist," she said with a laugh. "It wasn't something I came with on my own, I'll tell you that. She was adamant that it was the missing link to some of the mysteries to my psychology. I didn't really believe her, but I did trust her. So I kinda got pushed into it. I was hoping to solve some mysteries and I guess I did." - LA Times


"4 Stars (Album review)"

Mary Gauthier
The Foundling
(Razor & Tie ****)

As a singer-songwriter who has always tended toward the downbeat, Mary Gauthier (pronouncedGo-Shay) could not have picked a more suitable topic for her latest album. The Foundling is her overtly autobiographical account of being an orphan and failing to connect with her birth mother.

Working with the Cowboy Junkies’ Michael Timmins as producer – he surrounds her Louisiana drawl with understated but richly evocative arrangements – Gauthier presents a gripping narrative that amounts to the best work of a fine career. “March 11, 1962,” in which she finally reaches her mother by phone, only to be rejected, is a killer. But the story doesn’t end there. A clue to how Gauthier manages to keep this tale from being irredeemably dark and depressing can be found in “Sideshow”; she unapologetically confesses to a penchant for sad songs, but also pokes a little fun at herself: “Another truly troubled troubadour/ Writing songs to even up the score.” With The Foundling, Gauthier does much more than that. - Philidelphia Enquirer


"4 Stars (Album review)"

Mary Gauthier
The Foundling
(Razor & Tie ****)

As a singer-songwriter who has always tended toward the downbeat, Mary Gauthier (pronouncedGo-Shay) could not have picked a more suitable topic for her latest album. The Foundling is her overtly autobiographical account of being an orphan and failing to connect with her birth mother.

Working with the Cowboy Junkies’ Michael Timmins as producer – he surrounds her Louisiana drawl with understated but richly evocative arrangements – Gauthier presents a gripping narrative that amounts to the best work of a fine career. “March 11, 1962,” in which she finally reaches her mother by phone, only to be rejected, is a killer. But the story doesn’t end there. A clue to how Gauthier manages to keep this tale from being irredeemably dark and depressing can be found in “Sideshow”; she unapologetically confesses to a penchant for sad songs, but also pokes a little fun at herself: “Another truly troubled troubadour/ Writing songs to even up the score.” With The Foundling, Gauthier does much more than that. - Philidelphia Enquirer


"Live Review: Mary Gauthier at Eddie’s Attic, June 25"

Mary Gauthier (pronounced go-SHAY) has said that the best nights on stage involve losing herself in her songs, reaching that transcendent moment when she and the audience become one. This certainly happened at her show on Friday at Eddie’s Attic, when — with the crowd’s affirmation — she changed the final line in her song “The Orphan King” from “I still believe in love” to “We still believe in love.”

It’s wonderfully ironic that Gauthier, an orphan who spent the first year of her life in the St. Vincent’s Infants Home in New Orleans, has finally found herself by losing herself.

A slight technical glitch which forced her violinist from the stage for a few moments, gave way to an impromptu Q&A session while Mary strummed.

A notable “truth teller” compared to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Patty Smith and John Prine, Gauthier chatted easily with fans who seemed very familiar with her music as she related the simple origins of her classic “Drag Queens In Limousines” as well as her connection to Taylor Swift — the song “Sideshow” from her latest record, The Foundling, was co-written with Nashville songwriter Liz Rose, who has also written with Miss Swift. Gauthier’s songs feature the brutal and gritty reality of dysfunction while entertaining the eternal light of hope and grace.

Backed by superb violinist and singer Tanya Elizabeth, Gauthier ran through highlights of her 13-year recording history including “Christmas in Paradise,” “Thanksgiving at the Prison” (“Sometimes love ain’t easy/I guess love ain’t free.”), “Last of the Hobo Kings” and “I Drink.” She then played several songs from The Foundling, an autobiographical “song cycle” that mirrors her own life as an orphan given up for adoption at birth (“A baby unwanted, unloved, and unblessed/Left on a doorstep, an unbidden guest.”). After spending the first year of her life in the New Orleans orphanage, she was adopted by a Baton Rouge couple with emotional and substance abuse problems of their own. At 15, Gauthier famously ran away, stealing the family sedan never to see her adoptive parents again. After a few aborted attempts at college and restaurant work, she started a successful New Orleans-style diner in Boston, which she later sold to finance her music career.

The Foundling, a concept album of sorts, follows this child from birth to adulthood, searching for and eventually tracking down her birth mother. The spoken-word “March 11, 1962” (Gauthier’s birth date) was a heartbreaking, lump-in-the-throat-inducing conversation between a daughter and the mother who wants nothing to do with her.

Gauthier told the Eddie’s Attic crowd “everyone has a story” and that her life was obviously affected by “the blues coming in through the window [of the orphanage] off Bourbon Street.” A Nashville resident now, she also gave a nod to the late Music City songwriting legend Harlan Howard who told her, “Every day above ground is a good day.” Gauthier is certainly making the most of her time. She came back onstage for a fitting encore of 2005’s “Mercy Now,” including a sliver of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”.

Pure and simple, this night showed a true artist at the height of her powers and in full command of her craft. - Atlanta Music Guide


"Live Review: Mary Gauthier at Eddie’s Attic, June 25"

Mary Gauthier (pronounced go-SHAY) has said that the best nights on stage involve losing herself in her songs, reaching that transcendent moment when she and the audience become one. This certainly happened at her show on Friday at Eddie’s Attic, when — with the crowd’s affirmation — she changed the final line in her song “The Orphan King” from “I still believe in love” to “We still believe in love.”

It’s wonderfully ironic that Gauthier, an orphan who spent the first year of her life in the St. Vincent’s Infants Home in New Orleans, has finally found herself by losing herself.

A slight technical glitch which forced her violinist from the stage for a few moments, gave way to an impromptu Q&A session while Mary strummed.

A notable “truth teller” compared to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Patty Smith and John Prine, Gauthier chatted easily with fans who seemed very familiar with her music as she related the simple origins of her classic “Drag Queens In Limousines” as well as her connection to Taylor Swift — the song “Sideshow” from her latest record, The Foundling, was co-written with Nashville songwriter Liz Rose, who has also written with Miss Swift. Gauthier’s songs feature the brutal and gritty reality of dysfunction while entertaining the eternal light of hope and grace.

Backed by superb violinist and singer Tanya Elizabeth, Gauthier ran through highlights of her 13-year recording history including “Christmas in Paradise,” “Thanksgiving at the Prison” (“Sometimes love ain’t easy/I guess love ain’t free.”), “Last of the Hobo Kings” and “I Drink.” She then played several songs from The Foundling, an autobiographical “song cycle” that mirrors her own life as an orphan given up for adoption at birth (“A baby unwanted, unloved, and unblessed/Left on a doorstep, an unbidden guest.”). After spending the first year of her life in the New Orleans orphanage, she was adopted by a Baton Rouge couple with emotional and substance abuse problems of their own. At 15, Gauthier famously ran away, stealing the family sedan never to see her adoptive parents again. After a few aborted attempts at college and restaurant work, she started a successful New Orleans-style diner in Boston, which she later sold to finance her music career.

The Foundling, a concept album of sorts, follows this child from birth to adulthood, searching for and eventually tracking down her birth mother. The spoken-word “March 11, 1962” (Gauthier’s birth date) was a heartbreaking, lump-in-the-throat-inducing conversation between a daughter and the mother who wants nothing to do with her.

Gauthier told the Eddie’s Attic crowd “everyone has a story” and that her life was obviously affected by “the blues coming in through the window [of the orphanage] off Bourbon Street.” A Nashville resident now, she also gave a nod to the late Music City songwriting legend Harlan Howard who told her, “Every day above ground is a good day.” Gauthier is certainly making the most of her time. She came back onstage for a fitting encore of 2005’s “Mercy Now,” including a sliver of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”.

Pure and simple, this night showed a true artist at the height of her powers and in full command of her craft. - Atlanta Music Guide


Discography

Tania's Discography:

• Gods & Omens, Tania Elizabeth, Independent, 2012

• Live at Blue Rock, Mary Gauthier, 2013

• The Foundling, Mary Gauthier, Sony BMG/Razor & Tie, 2010

• Fast Paced World, The Duhks, Sugarhill/EMI (2009 Juno Nomination, Best Roots & Traditional Album by a group)

•Migrations, The Duhks, Sugarhill Records (2006) (Juno Nomination, Best Roots & Traditional Album by a group, Grammy Nomination, Best Country Song with Vocals by a Group or Duo, 2007)

•The Duhks, The Duhks, Sugarhill Records (2005) (Won Juno, Best Roots & Traditional Album by a Group)

•Various Artists, Beautiful Dreamer, The Songs of Stephen Foster, American Roots Publishing (2004) (Won Grammy, Best Traditional Folk Album)

•Your Daughters & Your Sons, The Duhks, Independent (2002) (Juno Nomination, Best Roots & Traditional Album by a Group)

• This Side Up, Tania Elizabeth, Independent (1999) (Just Plain Folks Music Award, Best Celtic Album (2001)

•Something, Tania Elizabeth, Independent (1998)

Photos

Bio

There are many musicians that are great with words, and more still that can play with passion and versatility, but the two together are inarguably more rare.

Andy Stack (Jonah Smith, Les Nubians) and Tania Elizabeth (Juno and Grammy Award-winning band The Duhks, Mary Gauthier) are two such artists. Intensely musical and intuitive players, they are both known for their abilities to accompany others with amazing sensitivity and accuracy. In sharing the spotlight, they uplift each other, creating a synchronistic magic carpet ride that audiences can't help but come along for.

They met in a prohibition-era blues club in the middle of NYC, both having come to support a mutual friend who was playing there. A conversation about music turned into a four-hour jam session, and a duo was born. Their sound is an intoxicating blend of old and new; blues and gospel collide with kitchen-party fiddle riffs and crystal clear vocals that shake the foundation of North American music. Somehow they manage to walk the dirt road back to its very beginnings while simultaneously paving the way to the future of Americana.

** For More Information, go to: http://www.thestacksmusic.com **

Band Members