Vienna Teng

Vienna Teng

BandFolkAcoustic

Adventurous "chamber folk" songwriting in the spirit of Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, influenced by jazz, country, world and classical music. Contemplative lyrics and a warm, ethereal voice, reminiscent of Alison Krauss and Sarah McLachlan. Band features piano, cello, violin and percussion.

Biography

This spring, renowned singer/songwriter/pianist Vienna Teng launches her national Green Caravan Tour (http://greencaravan.viennateng.com), which includes both environmental initiatives and an ambitious program with Habitat For Humanity. The 35-date headlining tour will see Teng and her four-piece band volunteering at Habitat For Humanity affiliates, fueling their van with biodiesel, and raising money to combat poverty and global warming.

The tour van will run B20 biodiesel whenever available, and all flights will be offset with donations to Native Energy, an alternative energy company. Band members will ride bicycles locally and use reusable containers for food and drink. Additionally, the tour will feature eco-friendly merchandise, including organic fiber t-shirts and recycled-paper note cards, with a portion of the proceeds to be donated to a environmental group selected by her fans.

Not content to tackle environmental issues, Teng and her band will be volunteering with Habitat For Humanity on their days off, donating part of CD sales to the local affiliate in each city, and offering a "proof of participation" form that grants backstage access and other V.I.P. treatment at shows to fans who volunteer as well.

"We’re trying all this in hopes that other artists will start doing the same," she says. "You can’t change the whole paradigm overnight, but every small step is worthwhile."

Not so long ago, being a musician was merely a hobby for Teng, a Stanford computer science grad who was on the fast track to a lucrative career, working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. But she gave all that up to pursue her musical passions—a risky career move, but one that paid off. The 28-year-old's first two albums, 2002's Waking Hour and 2004's Warm Strangers, landed on three Billboard album charts and reached #2 on Amazon's best-seller list. She's appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, been interviewed by NPR's Liane Hansen and XM's Bob Edwards, and opened for Grammy-winning artists such as Shawn Colvin, the Indigo Girls, Joan Baez and Marc Cohn.

Her most recent release, 2006's critically-acclaimed Dreaming Through The Noise, was produced by renowned Larry Klein (Madeleine Peyroux, Joni Mitchell) and features a stellar cast of musicians, including virtuoso violinist Carla Kihlstedt (Tin Hat Trio) and drummer Jay Bellerose (Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega). The eleven songs on the album range widely, both musically and in subject matter, from the deceptively bright pop melodies of "Whatever You Want" to the jazz/cabaret/tango explorations in "I Don't Feel So Well." Two standouts are "City Hall," a joyful Dolly Parton-inspired tune with a subtle political statement, and the chilling "Pontchartrain," whose eerie string arrangement and disembodied piano pay somber tribute to events in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"I'm just trying to make good music and do something useful for the world," Teng says simply. "That's the kind of success that really matters."

Lyrics

Blue Caravan

Written By: Vienna Teng

blue blue caravan, winding down to the valley of lights. my true love is a man who would hold me for ten thousand nights. in the wild wild wailing of wind, he's a house 'neath a soft yellow moon. so blue blue caravan, won't you carry me down to him soon.

blue blue caravan, won't you drive away all of these tears. for my true love is a man that I haven't seen in years. he said "go where you have to, for I belong to you until my dying day." so like a fool, blue caravan, I believed him and I walked away.

oh my blue blue caravan, the highway is my great wall. for my true love is a man who never existed at all. oh he was a beautiful fiction I invented to keep out the cold. but now, my blue blue caravan, I can feel my heart growing old.

City Hall

Written By: Vienna Teng

me and my baby on a February holiday, 'cause we got the news. 500 miles but we're gonna make it all the way. we got nothing to lose. been ten years waiting, but it's better late than the never we've been told before. we can't wait one minute more. oh me and my baby driving down, to a hilly seaside town in the rainfall. oh me and my baby stand in line, you never seen a sight so fine as the love that's gonna shine at city hall. me and my baby been through a lot of good and bad. learned to kiss the sky, made our mamas cry. seen a lot of friends, after giving it all they had, lay down and die. ten years into it, here's our window at the Vegas drive-thru chapel. ain't too much for 'em all to handle. oh me and my baby driving down. outside they're handing out donuts and pizza pies, for the folks in pairs in their folding chairs. my baby's looking so damn pretty with those anxious eyes, rain-speckled hair. and my ring to wear. ten years waiting for this moment of fate, when we say the words and sign our names. if they take it away again someday, this beautiful thing won't change. oh me and my baby driving down.

I Don't Feel So Well

Written By: Vienna Teng

I don't feel so well. I thought that you should know before you fall. I don't call them back. I thought that you should know before you fall. I saw it begin to dawn on us both, and somehow it wasn't surprising. And so you're preparing to swear every oath. But all the while, I'm realizing: I can't love you there. I thought that you should know before you fall.

Discography

LPs:
Dreaming Through The Noise [European release] (Universal), 2006-2007.
Dreaming Through The Noise (Zoë/Rounder), 2006.
Warm Strangers [European release] (Rounder Europe), 2005.
Warm Strangers (Virt), 2004.
Waking Hour (Virt), 2002.

Singles:
"City Hall" from Dreaming Through The Noise, 2006. In rotation on 20+ AAA radio stations, XM satellite radio, internet radio. Featured on primetime ABC-TV show Six Degrees.
"Whatever You Want" from Dreaming Through The Noise, 2006. In rotation on 20+ AAA radio stations, XM satellite radio, internet radio.
"Harbor" from Warm Strangers, 2004. National AAA airplay, XM satellite radio, internet radio.
"The Tower" from Waking Hour, 2002. National AAA airplay.

EPs:
World Cafe Presents Modern Troubadours: In the Round. Live recording includes a cover of Damien Rice's "Cannonball."

Set List

Set length varies by requirement. Maximum length approx. 2 hours with intermission. Repertoire includes all songs from studio albums (46 songs) plus 5-7 covers/rarities. A small subset of songs are best performed as a four-piece, with drums or percussion.

If the environment is conducive, Vienna introduces each song with stories about its meaning or with anecdotes from the road—a favorite feature of her shows among fans.

Typical set list, as of March 2007 (70-85 minutes):
Whatever You Want
Blue Caravan
Unwritten Letter #1
The Tower
Gravity
Recessional
That's Where I'll Be (cover, author: Brian Webb)
Feather Moon
I Don't Feel So Well
Now Three
1BR/1BA
Harbor
City Hall
encore:
Green Island Serenade (trad. Taiwanese song, sung a cappella)
Soon Love Soon (audience participation)

Covers:
That's Where I'll Be (Brian Webb)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
Cannonball (Damien Rice)
Annie's Song (John Denver)
1000 Oceans (Tori Amos)