On the greener
side with Michelle Shocked
Express Staff Writer
come a long way from Texas to Europe, New York to L.A.
the while Michelle Shocked travels her own path while weaving a career
out of what others might have seen as hopeless shambles.
Shocked plays at the Roosevelt Tavern Saturday night. Courtesy
way to the Waterfront Blues Festival, next week, in Portland, singer
songwriter Shocked is weaving her way to a one night gig Saturday at The
Roosevelt Tavern in Ketchum.
it allórock, swing, folk, gospel and blue grass. Her best songs are
vivid and memorable and varied in styleó"On the Greener
Side," "Must be Luff," "If Love Was a Train,"
"When I Grow up," "Anchorage," "Donít Mess
Around (with My Little Sister)" and "Come a Long Way."
Thereís nothing she canít play, and her song writing is just plain
surprisingly her travels bring her to new inspirations. She made a
discovery on this tour, she said. The U.S. is really two countries in
one. Each coast is one part and the middle of the country constitutes
long as people either live on the coasts or in the mountains they seem
to respond" to her, she said. "What do I know, Iím just a
girl from the hills of East Texas."
sheíll play on Saturday will be some familiar stuff, some blues to
ready herself for the Waterfront Festival, and she plans on debuting
songs from her new album, "Deep Natural." She referred to her
current sound as "New dub blues and gospel birdsongónot a
category you find too often," she laughed. "I follow the beat
of my own drummer."
is an understatement. Shocked has been arrested, lived on the streets in
New York and in Europe, was institutionalized by her mother, rescued by
her guitar-playing father, and discovered while playing songs around a
campfire at the Kerville Folk Festival in Texas.
tapes that were recorded of her that night were made into a record,
which surprisingly became an overnight hit in Englandóall without her
Shocked was still scrounging for food and a roof over her head.
her perseverance lies not just in the career she was able to build from
that beginning, but the fact that she eventually sued her record
company, Polygram/Mercury, for violation of the 13th
Amendment, the anti-slavery act. She won and now owns her own catalogówhich
includes such rare gems as "Short Sharp Shocked,"
"Captain Swing" and "Arkansas Traveler"óand has
started her own label, Mighty Sound.
my eggs are in one basket. Because of my catalog I can build a solid
financial base. I needed maturing to handle this." She and her
husband, Bart Bull, are also looking to sign artists who have developed
a regional fan base.
a lot of good music out there. My husbandís the talent scout, the ear.
He was an editor for Spin and Details."
her shows, Shocked plays for two and half hours with no intermission.
Her six-piece band includes a rhythm section of drums, bass and
keyboards, and a front section of electric guitar, a trumpet and Shocked
on rhythm guitar
her band are traveling via a new touring bus. "Itís a
milestone," she laughed. "Some girls want diamonds and pearls.
I just wanted a tour bus."
is traveling with them learning the business. She does everything from
selling T-shirts to driving the bus and managing the tour.
playing Ketchum is not a big venue, Shocked is pleasantly philosophical,
"My profileís been higher, but at the moment itís at this
level. Iím confident Iíll look back on these as the best years. Iím
at my prime musically. Intimate venues allow me to get up close and
comfortable. Itís not where the money is but it is where the fun,
creativity and freedom are."
folks is the secret to a long life.