Gretchen Peters House Concert, April 27

Eliza Gilkyson, Tara Nevins (of Donna the Buffalo), and Kim Richey each put on one of the best shows over the years peters_hcw_02at my house concert series, North Shore Point House Concerts.

This weekend’s show features Gretchen Peters, another songwriter who promises to make an equally memorable impression stops by the backyard for an evening of community and song (and a little food and drink).

Her songs have been turned into country hits by artsts like Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Nanci Griffith, Trisha Yearwood and Rodney Crowell, but Peters is more of a folkie in the Joni Mitchell mode, albeit one for a newer generation of strong women.

She started performing in the Boulder, Colorado folk circuit as a teenager. Inspired by Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and a new generation of songwriters rising out of Nashville that included Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith and Rodney Crowell, Peters relocated to Music City in the late 1980s.

Martina McBride’s 1995 recording of Peters’ “Independence Day,” the gritty story of an abused woman’s revenge, made her a songwriting sensation. The performance received a “Best Country Song” Grammy nomination and won the Country Music Association’s “Song of the Year” title. After that a string of great vocalists – Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, Neil Diamond, George Strait, Etta James – began to record Peters’ songs. Peters also signed her own record deal, yielding her 1996 debut album The Secret of Life. The title track was cut by Faith Hill in 1999 and hit number five on the country charts.

Her most recent album, “Hello Cruel World” made any number of Top 10 lists. Miley Cyrus created a sensation when she tweeted that “The Matador,” a song off the album, was something she was listening to again and again.

If you want seats to the show, which is be outside under a big tent, email jim@northshorepoint.com.

Check out some videos from Gretchen at

“Independence Day”

“The Matador”

“On a Bus to St. Cloud”

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Bill Morrissey’s Passing

Bill Morrissey, the New Hampshire-based songwriter, died in his sleep over the weekend. He was in a hotel in Georgia on his way from visiting friends and performing a house concert to see his mother in Philadelphia. He was 59.

Bill was a character who wrote great characters in his songs and his fiction (he published two novels). His voice, both on the page and coming out of speakers, was an instantly recognizable corduroy croak. He battled the demons over the years, something he documented in a 2009 post on his web site, but the word was he was feeling better lately.

On his site, the announcement of his death included a description of the last week that says he’d found some peace:  “It is fitting, though, that this last week he was staying with his dear friend, Fred Koller and his wife and he had chosen to stay in their airstream. He loved it.  And, he spent a day or two admiring Fred’s bookstores and the incredible used books and first and second editions of books that Bill has admired for years.  He also performed at a lovely house concert and had a great time playing.  He was at the motel as a stop before driving up to the Philadelphia area to visit his Mom. And he was happy and upbeat about all of these things.  “

He played North Shore Point House Concerts in 2002 . He put on a great show and was a gracious, funny, guest.  I’d fallen hard for him a year earlier, when I purchased “Something I Saw or Thought I Saw.” The album made my best of 2001 list.  “Rightly compared to Richard and Linda Thompson’s classic, “Shoot Out the Lights,” Morrissey has captured a romance fracturing, ” I wrote then. “He remains one of the best storytellers in song, portraying a lonely night at the Chelsea Hotel perfectly in “23rd Street,” the sadness of old age in “Traveling by Cab” and offering just a bit of hope with “Will You Be My Rose.”

I quickly caught up with his career and learned what I’d been missing. He could — and did — bring me to tears with his songs.  His “Birches,” about a longtime marriage, is about as perfectly written a song as you will find. Listening to his music over the past couple of days has been the saddest of pleasures.

The Boston Globe has a fine obituary.

Madision Violet at North Shore Point House Concerts

I’m taking reservations for the next show at North Shore Point House Concerts in Norfolk on May 7 featuring the stunning harmonies of Canadian folk rock group, Madison Violet.

No doubt, you’ve never heard of Madison Violet. But that’s one of the reasons the series exists — to bring in great artists you’d never otherwise see. They are stars north of the border (just check the videos on the North Shore site or Youtube).

They’ve won the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition, been nominated for numerous awards, including a Juno, the Canadian Grammy. Listen and you will be convinced.



The donation is $20.  As always, you may arrive as early as 7 p.m. and share snacks.

Go to the web site or email jim@northshorepoint.com for reservations. You’re free to bring friends. We will reply with directions.

For more on them, go to the web site, www.madisonviolet.com or just go to the North Shore Point web site and check out the videos.

The rest of the schedule (this far):

Sept. 10, Kevin Welch with special guest Dustin Welch.
Sept. 23 Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers.
Oct. 23, Steve Forbert.
April 14, 2012 Kim Richey.
May 19, 2012, Eric Brace and Peter Cooper.

Past shows include Marshall Crenshaw, Dave Alvin, Jimmy LaFave, Peter Case, Don Dixon and Marti Jones and dozens of others.

Please forward this to friends and share the special experience of a house concert.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/celticconnections/2011/artists/madison_violet/