Cultural_Arts_19

Saturday December 7th 2013 ¢Ë†â„¢ Doors: 7pm ¢Ë†â„¢ Show: 8pm ¢Ë†â„¢ Reserved Seat Tickets: $15 ¢Ë†â„¢ Opener: Kelley McRae

Renaissance Arts Center Theatre ¢Ë†â„¢ 1200 E. Center Street ¢Ë†â„¢ Kingsport TN 37660

Reserved Seat Tickets Available NOW at EngageKingsport.com

KINGSPORT – Skyflight Productions in partnership with the City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts presents an evening with Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion at The Renaissance Theatre in Kingsport, TN on Saturday December 7, 2013. Nearly a decade after folk-rock duo Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion put out their first album together, the husband-and-wife pair feel like theyve finally hit their stride on Wassaic Way, a collection of 11 new songs to be released August 6th on Rte 8 Records.

Produced by Wilcos Jeff Tweedy and Patrick Sansone at the Loft in Chicago, Wassaic Way …finds Guthrie and Irion pushing further beyond the folky sound they established on 2005s Exploration, their first studio LP. After Irions solo album Ex Tempore in 2007, the live album Folksong in 2009 and the childrens collection Go Waggaloo in 2009, the pair began expanding their sonic horizons on 2011s Bright Examples, an album that drew praise from American Songwriter magazine for its lush, dreamy sound.

This record is a departure from a folk duo, Irion says. I think this is the best example weve been able to present that shows the many facets of what we can do. Theres loud guitars, theres soundscapes, theres a lushness to it, theres a popness, an edge. But that can be difficult sometimes to bring it all together and present it.

Wassaic Way is also the latest entry in an ongoing creative relationship between the Guthrie family and Wilco. Sarah Lee is the daughter of Arlo Guthrie, and the granddaughter of the iconic folk singer Woody Guthrie, whose unfinished songs Wilco recorded with Billy Bragg on a pair of Mermaid Avenue albums in 1998 and 2000. Wilco also invited Sarah Lee and Johnny to perform at the bands Solid Sound Festival in 2011, and the duo had toured with the Autumn Defense, Sansones project with Wilco bassist John Stirratt.

After recording most of Bright Examples live with a band, the duo credits Tweedy and Sansone in helping them put the new songs together in the studio. They had plenty of material to choose from: Before convening in Chicago last year, Guthrie and Irion sent along nearly 50 demos for Tweedy and Sansone to sort through. Once they got to the Loft, Tweedy pushed them to revise and tighten up the tunes they had decided on.

We actually ended up rewriting a lot of these songs with Jeff in the studio, Guthrie says. We would powwow on a song before we got going on it, sometimes for two hours at the beginning of the day, just me and Johnny and Jeff, making sure it was lyrically sound and there were no musical loopholes.

You can hear it throughout Wassaic Way, in the buoyant pop of album opener Chairman Meow, the wistful melody threading through an enveloping beat on Not Feeling It and the moody atmospherics underpinning Nine Out of Ten Times. Guthrie and Irion also havent abandoned their folky roots, as demonstrated by the harmonica and Dobro on the lilting acoustic number Hurricane Window. Tweedy and Sansone played on the album, along with multi-instrumentalist Charlie Rose and drummer Otto Hauser, which they recorded in bursts over a period of a few months.

It was the first time wed ever taken our time with a record and really gotten it right, Irion says. When I listen to the album, theres not much I would change, and thats hard to say with other records weve made.

Although Guthrie and Irion perform as a duo, they rarely write that way. With all the time they spend together on tour, and at home raising their two daughters, writing songs is more of a solitary pursuit for each of them. As studio dates approach, they share what theyve come up with and offer suggestions and ideas.

Writing is kind of an escape from the work that we do together as a family and on the road, Irion says.

It definitely echoes exactly who we are, Guthrie chimes in. Johnnys full of melodies and really creative chord structures. Hes constantly working on a song thats better than the last one. I tend to be a lot simpler, and sometimes songs tend to flow through me, rather than me crafting it as much. Im a lot lazier than him.

Irion adds, I end up writing a bunch of songs, and Sarah Lee will write two, and one of them will be the single.

Any of the songs on Wassaic Way could be a single, which speaks to the strength of the songwriting, and also to Guthrie and Irions underlying goal: they wanted an album that moves them one step closer to getting at the heart of who they are as writers and performers.

Every record has been a huge learning curve, and you get pushed beyond your limits, and then your limits are way bigger, Guthrie says. I think were still at the beginning of what we can do as recording artists. I think were just starting to carve a path that we can walk on.

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About Skyflight Productions and Toby Weisend

Kingsport will be host to national talent via Skyflight Productions. Former Ohio resident and president of Skyflight Productions, Toby Weisend, has focused his attention in adding a new cultural element to Kingsport, Tennessee. Over the last three years Weisend has welcomed artists of all genres, including several Grammy-nominated artists, to rural eastern Ohio from literally all over the globe including France, Canada and Australia. The concerts have been very successful, enhancing and enriching the small community of Barnesville, Ohio. Channeling his ideas, visions and goals into a small town setting certainly goes against the grain of most entrepreneurial promoters. Rather than competing for a reputable presence in an overcrowded metropolitan “scene”, Weisend firmly believes that a small community can support and prosper from cultural expression. “Many artistic/creative individuals in a small town have not had the opportunity or resources to experience the nourishment from some of the nation’s underappreciated musicians willing to share their creations.” Weisend believes that his project will survive from word of mouth, lack of competition and stellar performances. Every show I produce, I put my reputation on the line. He supports community efforts and energy and believes that this is the forum to make a community thrive. If the concert series is supported and well-attended, Weisend will expand his quest with a summer mini-festival, potentially acquiring larger-scale talent. There will be no boundaries in genre selection; national talent will be of utmost importance

About the Office of Cultural Arts & Engage Kingsport

City of Kingsport Mission: To provide economic, educational and quality of life opportunities that create a safe, vibrant and diverse Community.

The Office of Cultural Arts, part of the City of Kingsport, connects, coordinates and engages the public with a creative community.  It operates a public art program, concert and theatrical events, the Kingsport Carousel Project, the Carousel Fine Craft Show and a broad range of support to the areas arts organizations.  They work in tandem with Engage Kingsport, Inc., the Friends of the Cultural Arts group, a private, volunteer-led 501(c)3 non-profit community organization.

The City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts and Engage Kingsports goals are to collaborate with a variety of arts organizations as well as non-arts organizations, with the aim of increasing opportunities and outlets for artists of all types. As Kingsport becomes a destination for artists and art enthusiasts, new markets and opportunities emerge. The Office of Cultural Arts and Engage Kingsport are dedicated to cultivating cultural assets and promoting them as vehicles for economic and community development.

For more information or to purchase tickets to any event contact the City of Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts at (423) 392-8414 or log on to www.EngageKingsport.com