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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of July 3 - 9, 2002

Features

On the greener side with Michelle Shocked


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

Sheís come a long way from Texas to Europe, New York to L.A.

And all the while Michelle Shocked travels her own path while weaving a career out of what others might have seen as hopeless shambles.

Michelle Shocked plays at the Roosevelt Tavern Saturday night. Courtesy photo

On her 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.

She plays 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 inspired.

Not 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 another.

"As 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."

The music 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."

And that 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.

The rough tapes that were recorded of her that night were made into a record, which surprisingly became an overnight hit in Englandóall without her knowledge.

Meanwhile, Shocked was still scrounging for food and a roof over her head.

Proof of 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.

"All 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.

"Thereís a lot of good music out there. My husbandís the talent scout, the ear. He was an editor for Spin and Details."

During 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

She and 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."

Her niece is traveling with them learning the business. She does everything from selling T-shirts to driving the bus and managing the tour.

Though 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."

And that folks is the secret to a long life.

 


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.