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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 7, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 40
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Open singer-songwriter Melissa Ferrick is back and happy

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Melissa Ferrick hasn't had the career of k.d. lang or Melissa Etheridge - the notoriety, awards, and acclaim. But she ought to. Her songs and guitar chops are strong, and she's worked tirelessly in the studio and out on the road. All that's needed is for her day to come.

Still Right Here, the Massachusetts-bred artist's latest album, could heighten her star status on the playing field - it's already being touted as her best recording yet. Ferrick, openly Gay for pretty much her entire career, will introduce the new record to Seattle fans when she performs October 13 at the Tractor Tavern (www.tractortavern.com). I caught up with this singer-songwriter via email just before she headed out on tour, and here's what we discussed inside The Music Lounge.

Albert Rodriguez: Do you have any fond memories of performing in Seattle?

Melissa Ferrick: Yes, sure. Certainly playing The Crocodile with Tegan and Sara just before they really hit the indie scene was awesome. As well as my years starting out at the Tractor [Tavern] and my accomplishment of selling out The Triple Door.

Rodriguez: Tell us about your new album, Still Right Here. What was the inspiration behind it?

Ferrick: The inspiration is mostly that I was in a place where I didn't think I was going to be making records anymore and touring all over the U.S. I was in a good place in my heart and head with staying closer to home, and playing in the Northeast and teaching part-time at Berklee College of Music. Then all these songs started coming out and I thought & OK, well, I'd better call someone for help with these because I knew instinctually that this was a good batch of material and it deserved to be really given some attention and care.

Rodriguez: Do the lyrics or music come first when writing a song?

Ferrick: Lyrics come first, mostly. On 'Weightless and Slow,' however, I had the guitar melody first and I wrote it on electric guitar, which is really only the second time that has ever happened. I sat around with that guitar melody for like three months, then one day all the words came out and I could hear them fitting on the guitar part. That was a good day.

Rodriguez: There are many identifiable Gay musicians in music these days. Do you personally feel it's become a better environment for LGBT artists to work in?

Ferrick: Sure, some things have definitely gotten easier for us Queers, but [basically the industry in general] has become smaller and harder to break through, but then we also have great new ways of creeping in too, like YouTube, satellite radio, and certainly the one-on-one ability to connect with fans via Twitter and Facebook is pretty amazing.

Rodriguez: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to pursue a music career right now? Where should they start?

Ferrick: I believe in the heart of the artist. I think if you are a young, gifted writer/musician/singer, you know it inside yourself. I think it's important for all artists these days to at least try to become aware of the business end. I suggest to lots of singer-songwriters at Berklee to think about pursuing the business education degree that Berklee offers, and/or knowledge of law specifically in the areas of copyright and intellectual property. These are all becoming more and more important aspects of the industry to have a handle on. But all of this knowledge as an artist is meaningless unless you can write the song, carry the song, and/or handle the weight of the public persona you may become.

Rodriguez: Gay marriage is legal in your home state of Massachusetts, and now in New York. Did you celebrate any of these historic victories?

Ferrick: I was playing the Rubin Museum of Art in New York the night Gay marriage became legal - that was amazing. And I wasn't home in Massachusetts when we made it law, but I am certainly proud to be a resident of the first state that passed this law.

Rodriguez: What are your feelings about the ongoing bullying of Gay teens in schools?

Ferrick: I am sickened by it. It is a horrific representation of the state of parenting in this country, and the distorted view we as human beings have toward each other. It seems this increasingly intangible world we live in has almost completely broken down personal responsibility and accountability. What we do and say actually affects others, we are not sitting behind a screen, we are all alive. The need for simple teachings like live and let live, do unto others, stand up for your friends, speak up, speak up, speak up, seems needed more than ever.

Rodriguez: What are some of your favorite recordings of 2011 thus far?

Ferrick: Loving what I've heard of Ryan Adams' new CD [Ashes & Fire] and Wilco's new CD [The Whole Love], and Mumford and Sons [Sigh No More]. Loving the new Feist [Metals]. Certainly, Adele's 21 came out this year, I think in February - amazing album!

Rodriguez: Will you play a varied set list from city to city on this tour?

Ferrick: Somewhat. This tour is definitely geared toward the new CD, as it is a record release tour. I will play the entire new album, and at every show I play a four- to eight-song solo set (depending on the venue and my set-length limit). This solo set is compiled after every sound check from what I feel like playing, and the requests I receive from fans via my Facebook page.

Rodriguez: What does the rest of 2011 look like for Melissa Ferrick?

Ferrick: Ha! & Pretty busy, really good. I'm headed out West for a month-long tour including the Southwest, then back east for a two-week stint with Ani DiFranco. A show in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on December 8, and of course, my yearly holiday shows at Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 26 and 27. I am hoping this new record still has legs in 2012 to propel my touring into the spring, and we are discussing the possibilities of releasing this record overseas next year as well. So, 2012 is looking good, too. I am really thrilled to be back on the road and happy about it. I always said I wouldn't do this anymore if it didn't make me happy, and I am sure glad to say I am happier than ever these days.

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