Bryan Ferry at Mountain Winery

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Bryan Ferry at Mountain Winery

Judith Owen

Mon, August 21, 2017

Doors: 5:30 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

The Mountain Winery

$49.50 - $99.50

This event is 21 and over

Bryan Ferry
Bryan Ferry
From his earliest recordings with Roxy Music at the beginning of the 1970s, Bryan Ferry has taken his place as one of the most iconic and innovative artists to emerge in popular music. In his work you hear a vocal and lyrical brilliance that merges the intensity of Lou Reed, the poise of Sinatra and the charisma of Serge Gainsbourg. But then there is something extra - a verve and performance so ultra-modern that it continually breaks new ground.

When Ferry’s group Roxy Music first appeared on ‘Top of The Pops’ in 1972, performing their debut single, ‘Virginia Plain’, their impact was instantaneous. For here was a group which appeared to have taken the history of modern popular music, from French chanson to Elvis to progressive rock, by way of soul and the avant-garde, and fused their different inspirations into a seamless and glittering pure pop moment. More or less overnight, the band’s audience was secured - from screaming teenage fans to highbrow rock critics.

The revolutionary electronic treatments developed by Brian Eno for the first two Roxy Music albums would join with Andy Mackay’s mesmeric sax and woodwind playing, Manzanera’s dazzling guitar work and Paul Thompson’s thunderous drumming to provide the haunting, futuristic and filmic ambience of the founding Roxy sound. And subsequent to Eno’s departure in 1973, and across the further six epoch-defining and chart-topping studio albums recorded by the band over the following ten years (including ‘Stranded’, ‘Siren’, ‘Manifesto’ and ‘Avalon’) these co-founding members of Roxy Music would combine their talents with Ferry’s songwriting, vocals and artistic directorship to more or less chart the potential futures of popular music.

Since 1973, Bryan Ferry’s career as a solo recording artist has run in parallel to his work with Roxy Music. His first solo album, ‘These Foolish Things’ (released that same year) would introduce what Ferry has described as his ‘ready-mades’ - cover versions of recordings by artists whom he admires, which he then interprets in his own style. Like all great singers, Ferry turns the cover version into a form of self-portraiture.

In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, the musical style of Ferry’s recordings acquired a lustrous and pristine flawless sheen that enhanced their darkling mood - well suited to such tracks as ‘Can’t Let Go’ from the album ‘The Bride Stripped Bare’, released in 1978. As a lyricist, Ferry combines the language and proportions of classic pop songs with a modern, angular imagery that exactly mirrors his style as a vocalist. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, he would further hone and perfect this pared down, glistening refinement of his recordings to produce some of his greatest work in the three solo albums, ‘Boys and Girls’ (1985), ‘Bete Noire’ (1987) and ‘Mamouna’ (1994). With their high gloss surfaces and dark folds of sound, these albums might be seen to comprise a great triptych of recordings – a musical statement about Bryan Ferry’s founding themes as a lyricist and singer, invoking – like the writings of one of his literary heroes, F. Scott Fitzgerald - the timeless capacity of romance and glamour to shape destiny. In many ways, ‘Boys and Girls’ and ‘Bete Noir’ are Ferry’s most consummate achievements as a singer and songwriter, enfolding the listener like a carefully lit film set, and providing the defining soundtrack of an era.

Throughout the 1990s to the present, Ferry has continued his work on both the ‘ready-made’ and his own compositions, exploring specifically the music of the 1930s and 1920s (‘As Time Goes By’ (1999) and ‘The Jazz Age’ (2012)) and the songs of one of his great musical idols, Bob Dylan (‘Dylanesque’ (2006). In 2002 Bryan had released ‘Frantic’, his first album to feature original material since ‘Mamouna’ and including tracks with Dave Stewart and Brian Eno, who co-wrote ‘I Thought’ - one of the finest tracks on the album.

Comprising mostly original Ferry compositions, ‘Olympia’ – like ‘Boys and Girls’ and ‘Bete Noir’ before it - was a dark masterpiece, spectrally lit, on the eternal subject of obsessive love. Inspired in part by Edouard Manet’s painting of the same title – and featuring postmodern muse Kate Moss on the album artwork – the album involved many different collaborators and recording sessions while possessing an uncanny artistic unity and defining filmic atmosphere. From the self-penned ‘You Can Dance’ and ‘Reason or Rhyme’, to the Tim Buckley classic, ‘Song For The Siren’, this was an album of rich emotional intensity – its mood at once nocturnal, urban and elegiac.

In 2012 Ferry was awarded Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to music, and in the same year the French government decorated him with the honour of Officier des Arts et des Lettres.

Ferry celebrated the 40th year anniversary of his career as a singer and songwriter by rearranging his own compositions and recording them in a 1920's style with his very own Jazz Orchestra, The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, for the instrumental album 'The Jazz Age'. It was after hearing ‘The Jazz Age’ that Baz Luhrmann asked Ferry to record the 20's music for the film 'The Great Gatsby'. This included rearranging elements of the score and also recording in a period style the contemporary songs that Luhrmann and Jay-Z had selected for the movie, all of which have been recently released on the companion Gatsby soundtrack album 'Yellow Cocktail Music’.

Released in November 2014, Ferry’s fourteenth solo album, ‘Avonmore’ was hailed by fans and critics alike as a modern classic in the tradition of ‘Another Time Another Place’ and ‘Boys and Girls’. Quintessential Ferry, the musical mood of ‘Avonmore’ was racing, edgy, brooding, cinematic. The album’s mix of emotional urgency and darkling intensity was brilliantly sustained, in both original compositions such as ‘Soldier of Fortune’ (co-written with Johnny Marr), ‘Lost’ and ‘Loop de Li’ as well as bravura interpretations of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Send in the Clowns’ and ‘Johnny and Mary’ by Robert Palmer. Thrillingly modern, utterly assured, ‘Avonmore’ demonstrated all of the qualities that have made Bryan Ferry’s writing, arranging and vocal genius so iconic – tirelessly innovative, uniquely enthralling.
Judith Owen
Judith Owen
That Judith Owen's new album Ebb & Flow evokes the spirit of the halcyon days of the great 1970s troubadours is neither surprising nor is it accidental.
In a set of potent songs about love and loss, pain and joy, dreams and despair, the Welsh singer-songwriter fearlessly explores the duality of the human condition – and to do justice to the songs she turned to the legendary musicians who created the seventies troubadour sound.
Between them her core band of drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Lee Sklar and guitarist Waddy Wachtel played on many of the landmark albums from the era, including Carole King's Tapestry, James Taylor's Sweet Baby James, Joni Mitchell's Blue, Jackson Browne's Running On Empty and countless others, and were recently featured in an article in Rolling Stone magazine celebrating their unsung contribution to musical history.

"The kind of music I write is so influenced by that sound and period that I wanted to go direct to the source," Owen explains. "When I plucked up the courage to ask them to play on the record, I was amazed they said 'yes'. But working with them was hand in glove because when I write songs, I'm hearing a sound in my head – and they knew the sound because they originated and defined it. In some ways, the record is almost a love letter to those guys and the classic sound they invented."
The songs on Ebb & Flow touch on the deepest emotions of Owen's own storied life with an unswerving honesty. But although her songs are highly personal, the emotions are universal. They can be dark; and yet they are also full of wonder, a celebration of the resourcefulness of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
"Singing about the human condition, living under the shadow of loss and frustration and sadness and loneliness and not being gratuitously sentimental about it, instead making something beautiful out of it – that's the songwriter's job," Owen says." People say I write sad songs and they're definitely emotional revealing. But they're also uplifting songs because out of human struggle comes catharsis. Sad music can be elevating, because it's a direct route into your heart."
What she describes as the "bookends" of the album are two particularly heart-rending songs, "You're Not Here Any More", about her mother (whose suicide when she was 15, was the catalyst for her foray into serious song-writing and "I Would Give Anything", about the recent loss of the greatest musical influence, her Opera singer father. Both songs are poignant expressions of the bittersweet duality that is perhaps the album's strongest theme and which is reflected in the title Ebb & Flow. "Yes, they're incredibly sad," admits Owen. "But they're also cathartic because they're the most loving songs I could write and are totally honest about the reality of loss."
The theme of how to make it through the darkest night inform several other compositions on the album, including "Under Your Door", "You Are Not My Friend" and "Train Out Of Hollywood", intimate songs inspired by a compassionate recognition of other lost souls struggling with emotional insecurities and vulnerabilities, but always shot through with glimpses of hope and salvation.
There is a seductive wit and playfulness alongside the introspection, too. A trademark of Owen's career has been her irreverent ability to subvert well-known songs with unexpected and improbable covers. Over the years she has turned-inside-out songs by the likes of Deep Purple and The Police to render them almost unrecognisable from the originals. Here it's Mungo Jerry's 1970 smash hit "In The Summertime" that gets the unique Owen makeover treatment, rendered as it might have sounded if the song had appeared on Joni Mitchell's Ladies of The Canyon. "Great songs are like great bones. You can hang whatever you want on them," she says. " "In The Summertime" is a ridiculously silly song, and so I asked 'What Would Joni Do?' It's warm, with a glint in the eye and a sense of fun."
Given the history of the musicians who play on the album backing Carole King and James Taylor, it would have been remiss not to acknowledge the roots of Ebb & Flow. A lovely cover of King's "It Might As Well Rain Until September" is complemented by a stunning version of Taylor's "Hey Mister, That's Me Up On The Jukebox". The suggestion that Owen should record the latter came from Russ Kunkel, who played on the original on Taylor's Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon album more than 40 years ago.
"It's a song that showed James's inner darkness at the time and how lonely he was," says Owen. "I changed the lyrics slightly to suit a female voice and made it a lonely piano player rather than a guitar picker. But I recognised the feeling of being isolated within yourself which he's singing about and I love the emotional juxtaposition of an easy listening sound with a deeper and darker emotional truth behind it."
But although Ebb & Flow is a highly personal, solo singer-songwriter album, in a real sense it's a 'band' record, too. "One of the great things is that Judith makes space for what we add," Kunkel notes. "She turned it into a real ensemble thing," Wachtel adds.
The combination of intimate songs and intuitive ensemble playing has resulted felicitously in the most self-assured and confident album of Owen's career to date. After emigrating to America in 1993, Ebb & Flow is Judith Owen's eighth album since her 1996 debut Emotions On A Postcard. Married to the American actor and humorist Harry Shearer, in addition to her acclaimed solo work she has for many years been Richard Thompson's female foil of choice. Both have appeared on each other's albums and Owen played a leading collaborative part in Thompson's projects 1000 Years Of Popular Music and Cabaret of Souls. She also co-created "Losing It" with Ruby Wax, a funny yet devastatingly honest two-woman show chronicling descent into mental illness that was a box-office hit in the West End in 2011.
But it is her role as an unflinching singer-songwriter baring her soul that remains at the core of Owen's creativity and Ebb & Flow, she says, feels like a homecoming. "It's the sound I heard as a kid and which made me light up. I've been on a journey to getting well with music as my best friend. There will still be struggles because that never stops. But I've ended up with the sound that first inspired me. I've brought it home and it feels nice to be here."
Venue Information:
The Mountain Winery
14831 Pierce Rd
Saratoga, CA, 95070