This Month's Show
with Special Guest
October 3, 2015
Pierce Pettis, adored by both critics and public alike, is one of this generation's most masterful songwriters. His music is distinguished by his uncanny ability to capture universals in human experience by drawing on the humor and trials in daily life. Pettis' music can simultaneously pull on our hearts and keep us laughing. The beautiful harmonies, inventive yet subtle percussion, strong guitar, and Pierce's rich vocals are a constant throughout his body of work.
During his long career Pierce Pettis has been a writer at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, recorded for Fast Folk Musical Magazine in New York, won the prestigious New Folk songwriting competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas, and was a staff songwriter at Polygram/Universal Music Publishing in Nashville. He has received numerous songwriting awards including a 1999 ASCAP Country Music Award for You Move Me --recorded by Garth Brooks.
After a lifetime of crafting finely-wrought, heart-touching songs, singer-songwriter Pierce Pettis feels that he’s finally found his comfort zone. “The biggest change,” he says of this point in his career “has been getting over myself and realizing this is a job and a craft. And the purpose is not fame and fortune (whatever that is) but simply doing good work.”
“From the time I was very little, I always had the music going in my head,” Pettis explains. “Like my own personal soundtrack or something. I also come from a fairly musical family: my mother went to music school and was an excellent organist and pianist. And my sisters all played piano and other instruments. In school, I met other kids who wanted to be rock stars, just like me. From the time we were around 10 or so up through high school, we put together various bands -- all of them horrible.”
His “horrible” bands didn’t deter him though and even though he had a nagging feeling (“I thought I was supposed to be a doctor or something.”) he persevered, not only playing music but writing songs in a mix of rock, folk, country and R&B genres that landed him an unpaid position as a staff writer for Muscle Shoals Sounds Studios. While there, his track “Song at the End of the Movie” found its way to Joan Baez’s 1979 album Honest Lullaby.
Pettis hit the road and became a member of the “Fast Folk” movement in New York in the mid-1980’s. He released one independent solo album, Moments (1984) before signing with High Street Records, a division of Windham Hill. There, he released three albums: While the Serpent Lies Sleeping (1989), Tinseltown (1991), and Chase the Buffalo (1993). His relationship with Tinseltown producer Mark Heard transcended the album. After Heard’s untimely death in 1992, Pettis committed to including a song of Heard’s on every one of his own albums, a practice that continues to this day.
Pettis was a staff songwriter for PolyGram from 1993-2000 and when his High Street contract ended, Pettis signed to Compass Records. Pierce Pettis’ songs have been recorded by artists including Susan Ashton, Dar Williams, Garth Brooks and Art Garfunkel.
Opening for Pierce will be Lara Herskovitch.
“Pure musical poetry” (The Courier), Lara Herscovitch’s music is an original blend of modern folk with blues, jazz, and pop influences. With her voice “clear and smooth like expensive liquor,” she stands “above and beyond the pack” (Northeast Performer). Former Connecticut State Troubadour, Lara brings a charm, authenticity, and love of performing that immediately resonates with diverse audiences.
She has appeared as a guest on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and tours from Maine to Miami. She also has extensive experience as a policy social worker, and has worked in the US, Latin America and Asia on behalf of disadvantaged individuals – focusing on education, community development, and juvenile justice. Echoes of these themes resonate throughout her music: