For the Record: Honest Life by Courtney Marie Andrews

courtney marie andrews 01by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews has desert roots but a wanderlust spirit so she left her Sonoran home to explore other locales. Every once in a while, however, she’ll breeze through town to share some of the songs she’s composed on her journey. This month, Andrews will be popping into Valley Bar in downtown Phoenix to play some road-tested tunes and unveils her new album, Honest Life, for her hometown fans.

Now, I’ve been following Andrews ever since I found myself enamored with “It’s Okay, I Understand” and listened to it a million and a half times. Such an early introduction has allowed me to witness the development of this songwriter over the subsequent years and Honest Life demonstrates the culmination of the years she has devoted to honing her craft.

From the start of “Rookie Dreaming”, the opening track, I knew I was in for something special. Courtney Marie Andrews pairs a pensive songwriting with an adventurous soul and that spirit can be felt on every track. From the country bar ballad “How Quickly Your Heart Mends” to the travel weary “15 Highway Lines”, Honest Life presents the sincere observations of a wide-eyed watcher.

I had the opportunity to ask Courtney Marie Andrews a few questions about life on the road, songwriting, and what it means to live an “honest life.”

Read our Q&A here and make plans to head to Valley Bar on August 21st for Andrews’ live show with Dylan Pratt and Jesse Teer. More about the show here.

YabYum: What new horizons have you seen since you were last in town?

CMA: It’s been an interesting few years. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road singing backup and playing guitar for some great artists. In between that time on the road I bartended at a small town tavern, wrote songs, and recorded Honest Life with my band. I feel as if I’ve lived 10 different lives since my last time in town.

You grew up in Phoenix, but you’ve lived in some “weird spots” since leaving our dusty desert. I’m very interested to know where some of your favorite spots are..?

A majority of my time has been spent on the road; spent a few months in Belgium while singing for a songwriter over there; lived for a few months in Los Angeles in between tours; but I’ve been spending a lot of my time in a few different small towns outside of Seattle. Right now I’m staying in a house 7 miles from any town or gas station. I like it in contrast to the crazy touring lifestyle.

courtney marie andrews 02The new album is simply breathtaking. It is aptly named for the emotional honesty that resonates in every track, although I’m fairly certain that wasn’t why the name was chosen. What does “Honest Life” mean to you?

“Honest Life” means coming of age, and realizing how hard it is to remain true to yourself, but truly believing it is within you, and the ones you love, to do so. “Honest Life” is every stranger you meet no matter what background they come from. It’s the idea that everyone in the end, at least tried, to live their most honest life.

I’d like to know a little more about the album’s creation. Where did you record it? Did you write it during a respite from your travels or during you pen the tracks in different locales?

My band and I focused on the songs, and rehearsed them for a month before heading into the studio. The players on the record are great friends of mine, so it felt more personal, which was perfect for the songs and theme of the album. We recorded it at Litho in Seattle, with a true gem of a human, Floyd Reitsma.

Most of the songs were written in a hotel room in Belgium. I was singing backup for Milow, a songwriter from there. While essentially living in this hotel room, I was going through a major heartbreak, and Honest Life flooded out of me in nearly one piece. I was far from my loved ones, and America. I pined for anything familiar, anything that attached me to myself again. Once I finally did get back to the states, I did the opposite of tour for a while, bartended in a small town, and wrote the rest of the songs about finally arriving to the place that I deeply wished for all those months overseas.

I see that you’ve performed with some other musicians of note. Would you mind sharing some of your favorite artists that you’ve performed with?

I recently got off tour singing backup and playing lead guitar for Damien Jurado. He’s become one of my dear friends, and he’s such an incredible songwriter.

A lot of musicians are eager to leave behind their hometowns to explore new regions. Do you ever get homesick for Phoenix? What, if anything, do you miss about living here?

Most of all I miss my family and friends who still live there. I get homesick for them, more than I do for the place itself. I miss good Mexican food, the purple and pink sunsets that fade into the beautiful wide open desert, and the great music community. All of my childhood and adolescent memories are attached to Phoenix so I will always miss the familiarity of that as well. I wear an Arizonan quarter ring to remind me of where I came from. It’s important to remember.

What’s next for you? Will you be taking a break from songwriting to focus on promoting the new album or do you usually throw yourself writing back into the creation process once you’ve locked down tracks on a recording?

I am always writing. It’s a weekly ritual for the most part.

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Listen to “How Quickly Your Heart Mends”, the first single from Honest Life below.

Rise! Podcast with Frederick Huang of Of the Painted Choir

Frederick Huang 00Recorded live at Phoenix Center for the Arts in Sunny downtown Phoenix and aired on Radio Phoenix on June 4th, 2014. Fred from Of the Painted Choir came down and picked out some tracks to spin. We also had writer Mike McQuillian stop in and say hello to our readers/listeners. Below you’ll find the complete playlist. Enjoy!

Rise 2014-06-04 by Radio Phoenix on Mixcloud

Sun Bones – “Las Aguas”

Dylan Pratt – “Beg for Fire”

Of the Painted Choir – “Margaret the Murderer”

Sister Lip – “Bedhead”

Chicha Dust – “El Aguajal”

Of the Painted Choir – “Willows”

The Bittersweet Way – “Leave the Day Behind”

Andrew Collberg – “Rich”

Wooden Indian – “Teenage Sun”

decker. – “O.D.B.”

Helping Art Happen – Fundraisers!!

You know our spiel at this point… We all have to work together to keep seeing awesome art being made in our own state. You don’t need another pair of shoes. Use that money elsewhere to do some good and support some art. It’s good for your soul.
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Touring can be a costly but necessary step for musicians. The planned joint tour of Phoenicians Dylan Pratt & Where Are All the Buffalo? requires some community support so don’t be stingy. These folks are some of our best and brightest youngsters on the scene. Let’s show some of these other states just what AZ has to offer these days!
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Tierra Firme is gearing up to release their album Eons this summer. If you haven’t check out their single “Empires” please do so now here, then pop over to their Indiegogo campaign to pre-order the album and pat yourself on the back for supporting a worthy and artistic venture.
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Arizona hasn’t quite made the name for itself in the film industry we feel is well within its grasp. We have some awesomely talented visionaries here just aching to give Hollywood a run for its money… it’s seemingly endless supply of money for terrible films. Tuscon filmmaker Oscar Jimenez is ready to push the envelope with his new undertaking Arizona Nevada. Check out the movie’s website for more information and don’t forget to offer some support here, you might even score yourself a walk-on role in this soon-to-be classic! 
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!AZ MUSIC VIDEOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tigerface – “Run Right Now”
Jazz and The GIANT feat. E Batt – “Fly Out”
Dylan Pratt feat. Kristina Moore – “Creature on the Sill” (live)
FROGEE – “Fragments Of Yesterday”
Virulent – “The Great Destroyer”

5 Albums to Get Excited About

Lovely

The Zoo Incident’s much anticipated sophomore follow-up to their 2011 self-titled release is set to drop this Thursday, Feb. 14. With a name like Lovely, the album is perfectly suited to a Valentine’s Day release as it tells the story of bandmates in love Alex and Andrea. The first single from the album is available here for your early listening pleasure. The track “Experiment” is a warm, gently-saturating indiepop song that bodes well for the upcoming record. 

Dylan Pratt

Beg For Fire

I don’t know what I’m more excited about: the new Dylan Pratt album or the Dylan Pratt album release show. It’s a tough call. On the one hand, Beg For Fire, Pratt’s second release, promises to be an exquisite album of masterfully crafted songs. On the other hand, Pratt’s release show brings together the staggering talents of Jon Rauhouse and our 2012 Songbird of the Year Kristina Moore of Where are all the Buffalo? on the same bill February 18th at the Crescent Ballroom. Thankfully, I don’t have to choose between one and the other. Come Feb. 18th, I’ll be able to enjoy the show and leave with the album certain to bring hours of further enjoyment. In the meantime, Dylan Pratt released a video for the first single from the upcoming album that fans can enjoy here.

Get tickets ahead of time here.

decker.

Slider

The scene is abuzz with anticipation for the latest decker. release. Fans will not be disappointed. Slider might be decker.’s best album to date. Considering Decker himself won our 2011 award for Songwriter of the Year, that’s really saying something. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Brandon Decker traded his soul at the crossroads for the ability to craft compelling album after compelling album. Nor would I be surprised to learn he knew how to call in such a trade at the crossroads given the mystical aura his music carries across. I feel bad for everyone not in the press who has to wait for the official release on Feb. 26th to hear the entire album. Suckers. At least, you can enjoy some sneak peeks from the album compliments of the decker. gang here.

Dirty Lingo

Take A Pill / Vibrator

Lots of bands try to tackle looming social issues which can get a bit boring for the rampantly disaffected generation. Then there are bands like Dirty Lingo that take on the more day to day issues of psych meds and sexually-overcharged girlfriends all set to a beat certain to get any bar hopping. The boys of Dirty Lingo mix gritty pop and infectious, radio-friendly rock with surprisingly harmonious undertones. Check out the first two singles available from their upcoming third album here.

Foxchildren

I Want to Find Happiness and Never Come Back 

Foxchildren first earned our attention with their 2012 album Only One Soul Knew All My Secrets but it’s the promise of their upcoming sophomore album that has us really excited. “Freedom,” an early single from the impending release I Want to Find Happiness and Never Come Back, bears the mark of a band that just crossed the line between good and really fucking good. The music maintains the tones of sincerity and alienation that defined Foxchildren’s first album while the overall sound has been fleshed out and developed. Check out the single “Freedom” and don’t forget to listen to Foxchildren’s 2012 album as well here. Then, you can join in the wait for I Want to Find Happiness and Never Come Back with us.

Esther Martinez Answers the YabYum 7!

1. Who are you and what do you do?
Esther Martinez
My name is Esther Martinez and I’m a writer, photographer and videographer. I run ANY_STAGE PRODUCTIONS, a music video blog that features videos, write-ups and photos of local musicians shot in various Phoenix businesses and locations. In an effort to be a part of, contribute to and support Phoenix’s continually growing art and music community, I promote both the musician and local businesses. When I’m not doing the job I love most (running ANY_STAGE PRODUCTIONS) I happen to get paid at my other full-time job. I’m  a multimedia writer and photographer at Food for the Hungry, a international relief and development non-profit based in Phoenix. 

Dylan Pratt

2. How did you get your start?

I majored in photography in college back in the days before digital cameras were accessible to everyone. I’d say 98% of my work was done in the darkroom. With a strong love for film and a nostalgia for the darkroom, I was hesitant to make the switch to digital photography. But I finally made the plunge and bought my first DSLR. About a year ago, I turned my sights toward music/band photography. It wasn’t enough. I was obsessed with music video blogs at the time, like La Blogotheque and Look Sessions. I loved the artistic, raw quality of the videos blended with incredible musical talent. I wanted to create something just as intimate, but with the amazing musicians we have here in Phoenix. With no videography background, I flipped the switch on my camera over to video and jumped into the creation of ANY_STAGE PRODUCTIONS. In the beginning, I didn’t know all the technical aspects of sound or editing, but I didn’t care. I loved the process so much and I learned as I went.

3. What inspires you?

Avery

I’m inspired by anyone who has a creative mind and isn’t afraid to try something new or put their work out there. I’m inspired by people who continue creating regardless of failure or success, criticisms or praise. I’m inspired by people who make something out of nothing and who spend most of their waking hours thinking about or dreaming about their next creation or endeavor. I’m very inspired by people who do things simply because they love it, even when money is not involved. I’m inspired by talent, but even more so by tenacity.

4. What do you like about AZ?

I love that it’s my home. Being an Arizona native, regardless of where I live, it will always be my home.

5. Where can we see your work?

You can see my work at anystageproductions.wordpress.com or my Vimeo channel . My band photography can be seen at estherruthphotography.com.

Kristina Moore

6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I’d like to learn and speak at least three different languages (in addition to English). I’d love to live somewhere else in the world. Be a traveling photojournalist. Learn an instrument. Write a book. Actually, the list goes on and on…

7. What is your mantra?

I’m big on quotes so if I had to pick a mantra, I’d say that I read this quote anytime I’m about to do something new in my life. It’s actually a magnet on my fridge. A little cheesy, I know. I’m okay with it.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…Do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Bogan Via

Michael Brian Patterson

The Bear and the Bird

The Cold Desert

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Where Are All the Buffalo?

 by Mike McQuillian

At its foundation, life is a collection of tenuously-connected mysteries. What do I do with my life? What happens when we die? What happens next?

On her first EP, Kristina Moore (formerly of Finding Grampa’s Monsters) addresses these questions. Recording as Where Are All the Buffalo?, Moore doesn’t try to answer the questions. Instead, she brings them to light with gorgeous music, making the mysteries of life less scary.

Moore dives into these questions on opener “In the Summer, I Woke Up.” Accompanied by guitar work from AZ musician Dylan Pratt, she leads off the EP by asking “But do we ever really know/where we are going?” The instrumentation and Moore’s delicate vocals make Joanna Newsom comparisons unavoidable, but the songs on the Where Are All the Buffalo? EP make such comparisons an afterthought. Listening, I find myself far more interested in how good they are than their influences.

Photos by Esther Ruth Photography

Moore pulls out the accordion for “Skylar Was Right,” a blistering tune about claiming independence from those who would hold her down. “I refuse to be a marionette,” she sings. She taunts an ex-lover (?) by seething “I have learned to stand on my own two feet/ without you holding me up/and I never needed it.” This is the EP’s strongest track, by far.

Nature’s importance is a theme throughout the Buffalo EP. Piano ballad “Brow Blossom, Head Garden,” exemplifies this. It veers from dancing in the summer rain to lamenting the logging of cottonwoods.

Moore ends the EP on “Video 16,” a tribute to setting aside life’s challenges and having some fun. We end the release with visions of Moore “running wild,” enjoying herself despite life’s unsolvable mysteries.

The Where Are All the Buffalo? EP is a promising start for Kristina Moore. Using fantastic musicianship and the familiarity of the questions we all face, she creates the beginnings of a mythology for herself. It’s a testament to her songs that this mythology is not only interesting, but leaves listeners wanting more.

Listen to Where Are All the Buffalo? through Bandcamp. You can get more info from the Where Are All the Buffalo? Facebook page.

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