Indie Profiles

RALPH STANLEY

RALPH STANLEY
RALPH STANLEY The bluegrass legend’s latest album is a family affair  Ralph Stanley comes right to the point when asked about his legacy. “I’m proud of it,” he says of his iconic near seven-decade career. “I’m really thankful the good Lord has kept me around and shown me what to do and all. I’m real proud of that.” Renowned for his distinctive vocals and banjo technique, Stanley, 87, formed his first band, the Clinch Mountain Boys,... 

JAKE SHIMABUKURO

JAKE SHIMABUKURO
JAKE SHIMABUKURO  In his talented hands, the ukulele demands new respect They say there’s no such thing as an overnight sensation—then there’s ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. Though well-known in Japan and in his native Hawaii, he was virtually unknown in the rest of the world until a 2006 YouTube clip of him playing George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” generated nearly 13 million views and turned him into an international... 

REBECCA PIDGEON

REBECCA PIDGEON
REBECCA PIDGEON This singer-songwriter thrives straddling the worlds of theater and music  Few artists have the talent to sustain two successful careers at once. So credit Rebecca Pidgeon for doing just that,  gaining fame as a well-respected singer-songwriter and as an acclaimed actress. “It really was quite accidental,” says Pidgeon, who was born in Cambridge, Mass., but raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. Soon after graduating London’s Royal... 

KIM RICHEY

KIM RICHEY
KIM RICHEY On her latest effort, the acclaimed singer-songwriter highlights harmonies    Kim Richey has been on the move—Colorado, Boston, Washington, South America, Europe and London, where she spent three years. She returned to Nashville for the third time last summer to make her new album, Thorn in My Heart. Richey’s first venture to Music City after college included a stint as a cook at the famed Bluebird Café where she glimpsed singer-songwriters... 

LYDIA SALNIKOVA

LYDIA SALNIKOVA
LYDIA SALNIKOVA The former Bering Strait vocalist does it all to keep the music playing   Born and raised in Obninsk, Russia, Lydia Salnikova grew up idolizing American music. The classically trained pianist wasn’t alone, and joined five other like-minded local musicians to form Bering Strait. It was an unusual grouping—a band of Russian teens obsessed with American bluegrass and country, in a city 60 miles outside Moscow. But over the next... 

HOLLY WILLIAMS

HOLLY WILLIAMS
HOLLY WILLIAMS Back on the highway and serving notice that she’s here to stay    It can be tough to live up to family legacies—and Holly Williams carries one monster pedigree. Her grandfather was legendary Hank Williams. Her father, Hank Williams Jr., is also a country giant, and her half-brother, cow punkster Hank III, has broken his own barriers. Is the long shadow of such success intimidating? “If anything, it’s been kind of a challenge,”... 

VICTOR WOOTEN

VICTOR WOOTEN
VICTOR WOOTEN The bass virtuoso follows his own path to musical innovation    Over the course of eight solo records, and many others he’s recorded as a member of progressive bluegrass band Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Victor Wooten has shown he’s rarely content to play by the rules. As one of today’s most innovative musicians, he’s furthered the evolution of bass from traditional role of backing rhythm to front and center as a lead instrument.... 

DON FELDER

DON FELDER
DON FELDER With his first solo project in decades, a former Eagle soars again   It’s 9 a.m. on the west coast and Don Felder is a bit drowsy. “Too early,” he says. “I’ll let you know how I’m doing after my second cup of tea.” Tea? A far cry from the indulgent excesses of his near three-decade rock star tenure with the Eagles—the band that brought him fame, fortune and no shortage of conflict prior to his abrupt termination in... 

COLIN HAY

COLIN HAY
COLIN HAY The former Men at Work frontman learns to enjoy life after platinum   In the early ’80s, Men at Work exploded on the scene with such smash hits as “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Down Under.” Quirky new-wave panache and goofy MTV videos propelled the group to global fame and millions in album sales. Yet just three years and as many albums later, the wild ride was over. And the man in the middle of it all, Colin Hay—whose spunky... 

CHRIS SMITHER

CHRIS SMITHER
CHRIS SMITHER A veteran bluesman learns to make it happen all by himself    “People say to me, ‘What I really like is the fact that there’s a rueful cynicism in what you sing,’” says Chris Smither. “I can see that. But I have to say, in my own defense, that most of my stuff has an element of hopefulness. Usually I’m trying to point out there’s a way out of this stuff.” A veteran bluesman who looks on the bright side? Maybe—at... 

RACHAEL SAGE

RACHAEL SAGE
RACHAEL SAGE Romance, record deals and the reality of making it  on your own terms   Singer, songwriter and pianist Rachael Sage’s 10th and latest album, Haunted by You, is a song cycle about love, loss and immediate entanglement. Its tale parallels Sage’s own recent personal trajectory, which began with the dissolution of a longtime relationship, followed by a torrid overseas affair—one she soon realized was doomed to fail. But don’t... 

REBELUTION

REBELUTION
REBELUTION The sky’s the limit for this sunny California quartet’s brand of uplifting reggae rock  It’s no wonder that Santa Barbara, Calif., is often referred to as the American Riviera. The sun seems to shine incessantly and the beach always beckons. No wonder, then, that reggae-rock band Rebelution found its sound in the small seaside town of Isla Vista, one of Santa Barbara’s more carefree enclaves, making music teeming with spectacularly... 

MICHAEL WILLIAMS

MICHAEL WILLIAMS
MICHAEL WILLIAMS Neither Hendrix nor his heritage keeps this guitar hero from reaching beyond the blues     Michael Williams is well aware that he seems unusually cheery for a man who claims the blues as a birthright. “At first, I just wanted to be a guitar player,” he explains. “I never wanted to be a singer or a songwriter. But I found myself being pigeonholed and strictly defined as a blues player. That wasn’t intriguing to me. I wanted... 

ANDY TIMMONS

ANDY TIMMONS
ANDY TIMMONS Interpreting one of rock’s sacred texts, armed with  experience, reverence and blazing guitar    Guitarist Andy Timmons is well aware that it takes a lot of nerve to approach the crown jewel of the Beatles catalog. Nonetheless he and his longtime backing group—bass player Mike Daane and drummer Mitch Marine—summoned up the courage to offer their new rocked-up instrumental rendition of the Beatles’ landmark Sgt. Pepper’s... 

DC VILLAINS

DC VILLAINS
DC VILLAINS Rock trio, comic-book characters, video-game entrepreneurs or TV stars? These guys want it all     If their name conjures up images of scheming politicians or comic-book ne’er-do-wells, the members of the Nashville-based rock band DC Villains don’t mind at all. “Bad guys are often cooler than the good guys,” says frontman Damon Carroll (the first part of the moniker is derived from his initials). “And sometimes the bad guys... 

THOMAS DOLBY

THOMAS DOLBY
THOMAS DOLBY From ’80s hitmaker to modern-day tech innovator,  science has been good to him Contrary to the title of his biggest radio hit, London native Thomas Dolby has never been blinded by science. In fact, the preoccupation with technology hinted at in synthesizer-happy 1980s classics like “She Blinded Me With Science,” “Hyperactive!” and “One of Our Submarines” has allowed him to flourish well into the new millennium. After his... 

BLUE OCTOBER

BLUE OCTOBER
BLUE OCTOBER Fueled by domestic despair, a platinum-selling band goes its own way Blue October leader Justin Furstenfeld doesn’t just wear his heart on his sleeve—on his band’s latest album, Any Man in America, it’s visible on practically every thread of his wardrobe. The anthemic melodies and stream-of-consciousness lyrics document in unflinching detail the unraveling of Furstenfeld’s marriage and his struggle to keep his relationship with... 

GARLAND JEFFREYS

GARLAND JEFFREYS
GARLAND JEFFREYS After an inspirational break to raise his daughter, it’s time to get wild again Garland Jeffreys is a New York City man through and through. Born in Brooklyn, he first made his name on the city’s thriving folk scene in the mid-1960s. He fell in with fellow Syracuse University student Lou Reed, and before long found himself in the studio playing guitar on Vintage Violence, the 1969 debut solo album by Reed’s Velvet Underground... 

JONATHAN EDWARDS

JONATHAN EDWARDS
JONATHAN EDWARDS How Mr. “Sunshine” found an audience without the help of the music business “Sunshine,” the Top 5 hit from Jonathan Edwards’ self-titled 1971 debut album, announced his arrival with a bang. But the Minnesota-born singer and songwriter proved unable to follow that now-classic tune with another big pop hit—a quandary that he ascribes in part to troubles with his management. “Suddenly I had some street cred and respect... 

RON SEXSMITH

RON SEXSMITH
RON SEXSMITH Getting his career back with the help of an unlikely collaborator Ron Sexsmith doesn’t come across as your typical rock star. Cherubic and looking perhaps half of his 47 years, he’s notoriously shy and insecure. So what is this sensitive soul doing hanging around with Bob Rock, a guy best known for producing the hard-and-heavy likes of Metallica and Mötley Crüe? “When Bob came on board, I started to get excited again,” Sexsmith... 

TIERRA NEGRA & MURIEL ANDERSON

TIERRA NEGRA & MURIEL ANDERSON
TIERRA NEGRA & MURIEL ANDERSON Worlds collide—and a vibrant new brand of flamenco is born Guitar maven Muriel Anderson’s initial encounter with Tierra Negra came when she visited the booth at a European music festival where the German flamenco duo was selling its signature line of handmade guitars. “When we got there one morning, we found Muriel with one of our guitars playing her song ‘Angelina Baker,’” recalls Tierra Negra’s... 

CASEY DESMOND

CASEY DESMOND
CASEY DESMOND Talent, tenacity and tech savvy are moving this indie artist forward Casey Desmond is the kind of kid who makes parents proud. At 24 she’s already received more awards and acclaim than many artists accumulate over a career. In addition to recently winning the Vision 4 Music songwriting competition and the Los Angeles Music awards, she’s been a repeat nominee for the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, a finalist in the Boston Music... 

PETER HIMMELMAN

PETER HIMMELMAN
PETER HIMMELMAN An accomplished indie artist insists the mainstream matters “I don’t work that often with inspiration,” Peter Himmelman declares. “I just work with necessities.” For instance, he decided several years ago to try his hand at scoring television shows because, as he says, “Music doesn’t pay anymore.” He found considerable success, winning an Emmy nomination for his contributions to the drama Judging Amy. Then came a TV... 

SARA HICKMAN

SARA HICKMAN
SARA HICKMAN In music and in business, Texas’ Official State Musician has it covered Sara Hickman doesn’t waste a moment. An adept multitasker, she is devoted to both her family (she lists her role as wife and mother prominently in her résumé) and a far-flung 22-year career that’s brought her success as a singer, songwriter, producer and entrepreneur. These days the tireless Texan is busier than ever with a long list of projects. They include... 

Kurth & Taylor

Kurth & Taylor
KURTH & TAYLOR TV made them famous, but real life separated them—until now Wally Kurth and Christian Taylor are the first to acknowledge that the decision to reunite their band, Kurth & Taylor, was spurred by a touch of midlife crisis. The group formed in 1992 and was known best for its performances on the ABC soap opera General Hospital, on which Kurth was a cast member. But the two found themselves settling in different areas (Kurth in... 

Perla Batalla

Perla Batalla
PERLA BATALLA A cross-cultural journey from her parents’ record store to the world stage Singer, songwriter and indie label owner (not to mention wife and mother) Perla Batalla has pursued her passion for music for the better part of the past 25 years. She’s made her mark in the realms of Latin and world music, played some of the most prestigious venues and attracted a global following that transcends musical boundaries. Born in Los Angeles... 

Shelby Lynne

Shelby Lynne
SHELBY LYNNE “Hell, no” to record labels, hello to independence Shelby Lynne doesn’t mince words when discussing the showdown that ensued when she presented her new album, Tears, Lies, and Alibis, to her record company—only to see it rejected. “When Lost Highway said they didn’t want the record, I said, ‘That’s fine, I’ll just do my own thing. I’m tired of this shit,’” she says. Twenty-four hours later, once and for all fed... 

Sonia & Disappear Fear

Sonia & Disappear Fear
Sonia & Disappear Fear A vision of equality and peace fuels a restless musical spirit Sonia Rutstein has never had trouble adapting to her surroundings. She leads the band disappear fear, and also records solo as simply SONiA. She’s gone from operating as a DIY artist to a successful stint with Rounder Records,  then back to managing her own independent record label. And even as she has advocated feminism, gay activism and other expressions... 

The Dimes

The Dimes
The Dimes Most young acts would have little interest in writing songs about failed abolitionists, the great Boston fire of 1872, a 17th-century religious martyr or American Red Cross founder Clara Barton’s efforts to save soldiers on the battlefields of the Civil War. Yet that’s precisely the tack taken by Portland, Ore., band The Dimes, whose two albums to date—2007’s The Silent Generation and their current opus, The King Can Drink  the... 
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