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Rod Picott and Ariana Gillis In The Lounge - 1/22
Seventeen years ago Rod Picott dropped his tool belt, picked up an acoustic guitar and released his first album Tiger Tom Dixon’s Blues. The acclaimed debut put a nail in the coffin of his construction career and ignited his second career as a singer-songwriter. With his new album, Out Past The Wires, that second career reveals itself in full flame.
The sprawling twenty-two song Out Past The Wires ranges from whispery ballads to guitar driven rockers and hits every musical spot between. Like much of Picott’s catalog, many of the songs on Out Past The Wires center around the lives of working people and the losses, defeats and small victories that can come hard won in a calloused world. It is here in the ordinary where Picott finds the gold he mines so beautifully on songs such as “Take Home Pay” – one of four songs written with longtime friend and co-writer Slaid Cleaves.
“I'm on my way down to the pawnshop
A couple hundred is all I need
If I have to I’ll hit the blood bank
I’m bone dry but I can always bleed”
But there is also an air of defiance that runs through many of the songs this time around. On “Fire Inside” Picott growls.
“ I got fire down inside
A heart darlin’ beating hard and wild
In the pouring rain
I will stand and testify
Cause I got a fire down inside.”
Picott’s eye for the revealing detail and sense of empathy has brought praise from music critics since his debut and those qualities, as well as a potent defiance is on full display across Out Past The Wires. Now 52 years old and nine albums into his music career Picott is more prolific than ever. The twenty-two songs were culled from a staggering number of seventy-eight. In the two years between Fortune and Out Past The Wires, Picott has also become a published poet (God In His Slippers – Mezcalita Press) written a screenplay and is releasing collection of short stories, also titled Out Past The Wires, that accompanies the release of the album. Many of the characters from the songs on the album find their stories expanded and even more finely detailed in the book.
For production duties Picott turned again to Neilson Hubbard (Kim Richey, Matthew Perryman Jones) who produced Picott’s most recent album Fortune. The recording band consisted of Will Kimbrough/Electric Guitars (Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell) Lex Price/Bass (K.D. Lang), Evan Hutchings/Drums (Brandi Carlisle) and Kris Donegan/Electric Guitars (Sara Evans). The band worked quickly in studio, relying on the instincts of world-class players and Hubbard’s steady hand to guide the ambitious project.
Out Past The Wires is the latest and one of the most potent pieces of work from Rod Picott since he left his hammer to rust and sharpened a new set of tools all those years ago. Picott will be touring throughout 2018 and 2019 in support of the album and book release. Tour dates can be found atwww.rodpicott.com
“Songs like Raymond Carver short stories” – Houston Chronicle
Hailing from just outside Toronto, Ariana Gillis began taking singing lessons at the age of six, but she was hardly thrilled. So, her father encouraged her to write her own material and learn to play the guitar. An award-winning songwriter himself, he gave her invaluable insight into the process. However, music’s importance didn't really become apparent until her final year of high school, when she came down with double pneumonia. She missed three months of school, and couldn't sing properly for about
a year. "Within that span of time, I realized I needed music. I craved it."
With renewed focus, Gillis made an immediate impact on the Niagara music scene, winning Songwriter of the Year at the 2009 Niagara Music Awards, followed by Female Vocalist and Album of the Year in 2010. She networked at music conferences, which led to a quick, two-song performance for Dave Marsh in a stairwell in Memphis, following the release of her second album, Forget Me Not. Marsh then played Gillis on his Sirius XM radio show, which caught the attention of Elton John's songwriting partner.
“I'm staggered by how good she is. There's not much that impresses me these days but after hearing her available tracks, I can honestly say she's the single most exciting artist I've heard in a long time.”
Grammy Award-winning Lyricist, Bernie Taupin —
“I’ve never seen an unknown performer with more power as when I saw Ariana…. I couldn’t stop talking about her. She may be the best new emerging artist anywhere.”
Writer - Rock Critic - Historian, Dave Marsh —
“I have been a fan of Ariana Gillis since discovering her music on satellite radio in 2009…something rare and unseen - genuine, un-calculated, un-co-opted, art from a soulful gem.”
— Grammy Award-winner, Buddy Miller
The above quotes are typical of the excitement Canada’s Ariana Gillis was creating from the earliest stages of her career. But after sustaining a serious concussion in 2015, Ariana believed that she would never be able to write and perform music again.
Well, she’s proving herself wrong, as after an extended period of recovery she's back with new music currently being recorded with multi- GRAMMY® Award-winning producer, Joel Moss and CFMA Producer of the Year, David Gillis.
Freedom, the first song released from these sessions, presents a timely statement surrounding the repression of human rights and false promises in the U.S. and around the globe. Ariana explains:
"What occurred to me was the irony of the word freedom and how it is used politically as a positive and hopeful feeling—but in the wrong hands it always ends up becoming the opposite. At its core, Freedom touches on equity and the important value of
human kindness ".
"All around me they’re making up stories,
Saying we got good things coming.
But freedom took off before that talk,
And ever since then I’ve been running.
Freedom, freedom where’ve you been?
I’ve been missing you so long.
Guns and soldiers, bullets, patrollers,
Freedom never felt so wrong."