Listen, my children, and you shall hear tales beginning with the lengend, “In the early days of South by Southwest....” From Georgia’s ripe scene, Michelle Malone could tell a few, having debuted at SXSW 1988. Saturday, she joins her Southern folk-rock with ATX’s Patrice Pike and Houston native Jen Foster at the Saxon Pub.
Even back in those ancient days of yore, when a mere few hundred registrants and dozens of bands boggled the mind, Malone’s plaintive voice registered. She came back periodically in the Nineties, playing solo at Liberty Lunch and touring with Band de Soleil and later Drag the River.
Malone came into the business with an edge, having grown up with a mother who sang rock music in Atlanta. The Georgia scene boomed when punk rock exploded, spinning out the B-52s and R.E.M. By the end of the Eighties, her musical peers included Cindy Lee Berryhill and the Indigo Girls, but keeping an audience on the road remains a challenge.
“At this point in my career, I’ve been concentrating on where I have a following,” she says on the line from Atlanta. “Then this opportunity arose to play shows with Patrice and Jen. It sounded fun, and a neat way to get to play Austin.”
On tap will be her latest CD, Day Two, featuring a roster of first-call Southern players, including Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell and singer-songwriter Randall Bramblett.
“Chuck Leavell gets off the plane, drives in from the airport, makes a few notes in the studio, and then he goes to the organ and lets it rip! Like he has an on-off switch! I swear, he nailed everything the first take. We just did a second in case we messed up. Never seen anyone go from zero to a 100 in seconds.
“I made my record in Atlanta because it’s my home and part of my sound. Whatever the hell that is. I’m very connected to the dirt here, the trees and the air. The people, the attitude. I think everyone on the record is from Atlanta, so it has a specifically Georgia sound. I love the end result, but I also love the journey, and that’s what you want, to continue to grow as an artist and a human.
“People want to connect. That’s why we’re here, to share that joy and power with each other. So if I have to tour solo and stay in cheaper hotels, you won’t hear me complain.
“I just wanna play music as long as I possibly can. It’s what I live for.”
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