KBCS Presents: Amy Helm w/ Levi Parham
Thursday, Sep 14, 2017 9:00 PM PDT
(8:00 PM Doors)
Tractor, Seattle, WA
21 years and over
"I'm just trying to tell some stories as honestly as I can," Amy Helm says of Didn't It Rain, her first solo album and her eOne Music debut.
Although the personally charged, organically soulful Didn't It Rain is her first release under her own name, Amy Helm has been making music for most of her life. She's already won widespread praise as a singer, songwriter and live performer, first as a member of the celebrated altcountry collective Ollabelle and subsequently for her extensive work with her father, musical icon Levon Helm, who passed away in 2012.
Didn't It Rain also marked the final recording sessions of Levon Helm, who acted as the project's executive producer as well as adding his unmistakable drumming on three tracks; Levon's distinctive countoff can be heard kicking off Amy's rousing take on Martha Scanlan's "Spend Our Last Dime."
Helm had originally planned to release her solo debut a bit sooner, but chose to substantially rework the album that she initially recorded, recutting more than half of the songs with the roadtested Handsome Strangers.
"That was kind of a reckless move financially, and it's resulted in the album coming out two years later than I originally thought it would, but it was the right thing to do," she acknowledges. "When I started the record, I'd never done a gig under my own name, and I was still getting comfortable with the idea of being a solo artist. I thought I'd finished the record, but then I started going out on the road, and the stuff that we were doing live was so much stronger thanwhat I had recorded, and I started feeling more confidence and focus. So we went back in the studio, with no money and no budget, and found a way to do it and get it right."
Many of Didn't It Rain's songs are the product of an extended period during which the artist endured a series of personal trials and life changes, including the April 2012 passing of her father and chief musical mentor.
"The past few years have been profoundly transformative for me, so I wanted to tell some of those stories as honestly as I could," she asserts. "I thought about the people I had lost, and things that had fallen apart and things that were coming together, and that influenced the way I sang these songs."
Amy Helm began connecting with audiences early in life, playing her first gig in her early teens in a Manhattan bar and drifting informally through a series of combos before her father recruited her to join his live band. She also absorbed musical and personal inspiration from her mother, noted singer/songwriter Libby Titus; and her stepfather, Steely Dan comastermind Donald Fagen, who offered Amy additional opportunities to find herself as a performer.
With Didn't It Rain reintroducing her to the world as a solo artist, Helm says that her immediate plan is "to just get out and play as many gigs as possible. I think that the job of a musician is to try and shake people out of their own heads for an hour or two, and bring some joy into the world. So I want to get out there and do the job the best I can."