Cris Williamson at the me and thee in Marblehead! (Birdsong at Morning opens!)
Event on 2015-03-13 20:00:00
Decades before indie labels were the norm, and years before women had any real access to the industry, Cris Williamson was busy changing the face of popular music. In 1975, the twenty-something former schoolteacher recorded The Changer And The Changed, for her brainchild, Olivia Records. the first woman-owned woman-focused record company. Her music and voice quickly became the soundtrack of a movement, and was the cornerstone of what would become known as "women's music," music created, performed, and marketed specifically to women. Today, that recording, The Changer and the Changed, remains one of the best-selling independent releases of all time. For Cris, the music became the vehicle for something larger. Her lyrics appear on a regular basis in books and thesis papers. Her albums are part of the curriculum for women's studies courses, and thousands of people who may not even know her name join their voices in "Song of the Soul" around campfires and places of worship. She is embraced by women. She is sampled in hip-hop Her music is used by midwives welcoming life into the world, while hospice choirs sing her songs in tender sacred escort. "She is often considered a treasure, passed hand-to-hand, person-to-person," says the Boston Phoenix, "Williamson is an heroic character whose tireless activism continues." Says Bonnie Raitt, "The first time I heard Cris' music, it was like hearing honey dripped on a cello… Cris has been a whole lot of women's heroes — including mine." Today, with 30+ full albums to her credit, Cris continues to tour the acoustic circuit adding new material at each juncture. Her performance career includes three sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall and the headlining of many of the great folk festivals, including Newport, Kerrville, Moab and Vancouver. The songs and the celebration continue with the release of her 31st, her 2-CD set, Pray Tell: Songs of the Soul: 24 original songs released in June 2013. Opening: Birdsong at Morning The music of Birdsong At Morning, with its themes of self-discovery and reinvention, is initiated by Alan Williams, a man with a few reinventions of his own. Alan grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, after an early childhood spent in various locations from Ohio to the east coast. At three, prompted by a viewing of The Sound of Music, the precocious musician stunned his parents by reaching over his head to tap out the melody to "Do-Re-Mi" on the piano. A teacher was quickly recruited to instruct the budding Mozart, but Legos held much more interest and the lessons were soon abandoned. Alan's love of music can be traced to a game his father used to play with him as a toddler: records were pulled from their sleeves and shuffled, then reconnected, proper disc to jacket. Records remained (and remain) a source of endless fascination, whether a portable player loaded with a disc of Winnie the Pooh, a babysitter's misplaced 45 of "I Am The Walrus," or the several hundred LPs he had acquired before graduating high school. We won't even mention what happened when he discovered used record stores. A visit by a traveling salesman hocking World Book Encyclopedia-like sets of piano music reignited his musical impulse, and at six, Alan began a formal study of the instrument. Though classical piano was interesting, it wasn't as much fun as trying to pick out "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" or "Lady Madonna." A chance viewing of Keith Jarrett on Saturday Night Live led Alan to pursue other musical forms on the instrument. If someone could make things up on live television, couldn't someone attempt the same in the family room? Thus suitably distracted, Alan made lots of different music in lots of different contexts during his teenage years (much to the consternation of his piano teacher). He played electric piano versions of "The Orange Blossom Special" in a bluegrass band, and discovered the joys of the modulation wheel playing "Just What I Needed" in a professional bar band. His own musical creativity was encouraged by a summer school friend who suggested that perhaps they were the next Lennon and McCartney and ought to form a band. The fact that this friend lived on the other side of the state, and that they had never written any songs was conveniently overlooked. As fate would have it, this friend (now the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina, but that's a different bio) knew an excellent musician who played bass and violin, and this can't be stressed enough had all the right new wave and punk records that Alan had read about but never heard. In the fall of 2006, Alan joined the full time faculty at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he serves as Coordinator of Music Business and lectures on non-European music, American music, rock, and other technologically mediated music. Concurrently, he is the prime instigator of the machinations behind Birdsong At Morning, putting his research into practice and bringing his real world experience into the classroom. He has been known to ride a bicycle for hundreds of miles in a handful of days as part of Ride Far, an HIV/AIDS fundraising endeavor, loves swimming in the ocean, Reese's peanut butter cups, sudoku, and the Criterion film collection. He is the requisite Beatlemaniac of the group.
at Me & Thee Coffeehouse
28 Mugford Street
Marblehead, United States