Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Abigail Washburn makes friends

Abigail Washburn is a highly gifted clawhammer banjo player and singer who has lived a full life already. LEO spoke with her after she returned from a 30-hour drive back from the Telluride Festival home to Nashville. She performs tonight at Waterfront Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Here are some highlights from a detailed and delightful conversation:

AW: We’re going to be up in Louisville next week, I’m really excited!

LEO: You’ve got some Louisville connections: Tucker Martine, who produced your latest record, also produced My Morning Jacket’s latest, and their guitarist Carol Broemel plays on your record, and Ben Sollee, of course, was a bandmate of yours.
AW: Absolutely! Of course. Ben’s like a brother – he’s not on the record, but we grew up a lot together musically over the last seven years.
When I took the time to write the record, I wasn’t going anywhere very much. So there was a period of about a year where I was kind of insular. I feel like it has been a while since I’ve really been to Louisville and spent good time there. Ben and I used to spend a ton of time there; we’d play little shows at 21C and we had that cool show at the theater on the campus… And I always love doing in-stores. We did an in-store release at ear X-tacy in January, which was awesome. I wish I was there more often. We’ve considered, from time to time, doing a residency, where I would be in Nashville and Louisville. I was just not quite sure where the right place to play would be in Louisville. I’ve missed it, and I can’t wait to get back.
I also want to say that every time we’re driving through Louisville, we always want to stop at – I’m not even sure how you say it, I always forget – Sunergos Coffee? Always! I’m on their email list and everything. Anyway, obviously, I feel a really very strong connection to Louisville, it’s just been a while since I’ve gotten a sleepover.
Also, Kyle Meredith from WFPK, I’m looking forward to seeing him. He and I tweeted recently, which is nice.

LEO: Do you use Twitter often to keep in touch with music friends around the country?
AW: Yeah, it actually has become kind of fun. At first, I was like, “Oh, this is so weird,” y’know? But then I started doing it, and it’s kind of a neat little system for getting tidbits of information about friends – notes about their shows, where they are, if something special’s happened – I’m just glad to keep abreast of the happenings of the people I care about. And then some that I’m just intrigued by – Bill Cosby, I watch his tweet feed (laughs).

LEO: This time of year, so many talented artists are criss-crossing our region, playing festivals and making friends.
AW: Bonnaroo and Telluride were just incredibly awesome. I know it’s an awesome place to be as an audience member, ‘cause I’ve done that a bunch, it’s an amazing place to be as an artist, and they’re both so different. When I was at Bonnaroo, I learned about new music, like most people do when they go there, I got to see stuff that I’d always wanted to see. Telluride is this incredible family experience in the mountains, with jamming every night after the shows; there’s one big scene of music that’s derived from roots music idioms that are, essentially, pop music – Mumford and Sons, The Head and the Heart, people like that, and it’s been so fun to get to know all these people. We did shows recently with both, and with Mumford and Sons, I sat in on their main stage set, and got to know everybody so well, and it’s such a joy to watch this community that’s connected to roots music, Americana music, grow. It’s growing so much. It’s really exciting, and everybody’s putting their own take on it.
Unfortunately, I had to miss My Morning Jacket’s set, ‘cause it was the only time I had to spend with my husband before we wouldn’t see each other for a week. So, I had to choose… even though I had a little part of me regretting it (laughs). I’ve become good friends with Carl, and Ben sat in with them, so I wanted to be there, but oh well. I’ll see them next time. I heard it was absolutely amazing. I heard there were, like, firecrackers in the sky, it was so amazing.

"Waterfront Wednesday" with Nicole Atkins, Abigail Washburn and Scars on 45
Waterfront Park
6 p.m., free

c. 2011 LEO Weekly

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