”Amplified is the swinging, bluesy, twangy proof that stories by songwriters in which all the elements of a great song – the lyrical imagery, the voice, the rhythm, the poetic precision – are rendered into prose, blur the lines between the mediums but crack your heart just the same.” —Jonathan Miles, author of Dear American Airlines
With original contributions from Mary Gauthier, Chris Smither, Maria McKee, Patty Larkin, Jim White, and Rennie Sparks of The Handsome Family, Amplified showcases artists working in the short story format, many for the first time.
Whether it’s Mary Gauthier’s haunting story of a girl caught between her warring parents, Rennie Spark’s reinvention of the fairy tale, a creepy yet beautifully drawn graphic story by Zak Sally or Cam King’s wildly funny apocalyptic Texas tall tale that will make it difficult for the reader to ever think about armadillos the same way again, these stories will break your heart or make you guffaw inappropriately.
The same craftsmanship and narrative drive that these writers evince in their songs are on display in these stories. And who can resist a collection that starts with Maria McKee’s opening line, “I had a mystical experience with Johnny Cash’s pants….”?
”Imagine what dimensions [stories] might take in something longer than a radio-friendly three-minute song.”—Carolyn Kellogg, LA Times‘ book blog, Jacket Copy
”[The stories] contain the same echoing sadness that we expect from their songs.” —TimeOut Chicago
Listen to songwriter Laura Viers and editor Julie Schaper talk about Amplified. —Word of Mouth, NHPR
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
ROBBIE FULKS is a long time Chicago resident whose musical career spans twenty years and an eclectic range of songwriting that reflects his own unique take on country music. His most recent release is Revenge! (Yep Roc Records), and he is a contributor to the 2008 book A Guitar and a Pen (Center Street).
MARY GAUTHIER was born in New Orleans and began her career as a singer and songwriter at the age of 35. She has received much recognition for her music, including the honor of ”Best New Artist” from the Americana Music Association. Also, her album Filth and Fire was named indie CD of the year by Jon Pareles of the New York Times. Between Daylight and Dark was released in 2007 (Universal/Lost Highway).
CYNTHIA HOPKINS is the recipient of the 2007 Alpert Award in Theatre, honoring her work as a writer, composer, musician and performer of unique music/theater projects featuring her band, Gloria Deluxe. In addition to a forthcoming album of love songs, Hopkins is working with her ensemble company, Accinosco, on a new performance piece titled The Success of Failure.
Originally from Albuquerque, guitarist/songwriter CAM KING now makes his musical home Fredericksburg, TX. He co-founded the band The Explosives, the Austin band associated with Roky Erikson. His music has been used by filmmaker Tobe Hooper, as well as covered by Garth Brooks, Lonestar, and others. King writes songs, poetry and prose, but prefers prose for economic reasons—”Writing poetry generally takes a couple more beers than prose.”
DAMON KRUKOWSKI has recorded over a dozen albums with several bands, and is the author of the poetry collection The Memory Theater Burned (Turtle Point, 2004). He and his partner Naomi run the publishing house Exact Change, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
JON LANGFORD, a founding member of the punk band The Mekons, began incorporating folk and country music into his punk rock projects in the 1980s. He is a respected visual artist, and he illustrated the comic strip Great Pop Things under the pseudonym Chuck Death, and is a regular contributor to This American Life. Nashville Radio, a collection of his artwork and writings, was published in 2006.
PATTY LARKIN is a multi-talented singer, songwriter, and guitarist. She has won seven Boston Music Awards including outstanding folk act, outstanding folk album, and outstanding song/songwriter. Her most recent album is Watch the Sky, which she wrote, produced, engineered, and edited.
Singer-songwriter MARIA MCKEE came to fame as the lead singer for the pioneering Americana band Lone Justice followed by a solo career that includes six critically acclaimed albums. The Washington Post called her ”a fiery amalgam of Dusty Springfield, Emmy Lou Harris and Connie Francis.” Her most recent recording is Maria McKee: Live at the BBC.
RHETT MILLER has been the lead singer in the Old 97’s for 15 years and is also a successful solo musician. One of his short stories was included in an anthology of writers writing about songs called Lit Riffs (MTV Books). Miller’s most recent release is The Believer.
DAVID OLNEY’s musical career spans four decades. Known for his intense live performances, Olney’s intelligent compositions have been recorded by everyone from Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt to Del McCoury and Lonnie Brooks. His current album release is Live At Norm’s River Road House, Vol. 1.
ZAK SALLY is the former bassist for the band Low. He has been creating comics since the early 1990s and formally started the publishing house La Mano Press in Minneapolis, MN in 2005. His most recent comic is Sammy the Mouse (Fantagraphics).
CHRIS SMITHER is an acclaimed singer-songwriter, whose career spans 40 years, 12 albums, and three DVDs. Smither’s songs have been covered by Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, among others. His most recent CD is Leave the Light On with a new recording scheduled for release in late 2009.
RENNIE SPARKS is the lyricist, banjo and bass player for The Handsome Family. She and her husband have released eight CDs together. Their latest,Honey Moon, is a collection of love song, written in celebration of the Sparks’ twentieth year of marriage.
LAURA VEIRS was born in 1973 in Colorado Springs, CO. She didn’t get involved with music until college, when she joined an all-girl punk band before eventually developing an admiration for folk and country music. Her most recent album, Saltbreakers, includes songs inspired by A.S. Byatt’s novel Possession, and Jose Saramago’s Blindness.
BEN WEAVER is a writer, artist, and musician. He has published two books of poetry Hand me Downs Can Be Haunted and The Talking Comes Later. His most recent CD release is the Ax in the Oak.
JIM WHITE has worked as a taxi driver, professional surfer, fashion model, photographer, filmmaker, and musician. His first CD Wrong-Eyed Jesus, followed by other albums that have been described as ”outer space alternative country” and ”hypnotic storytelling.” His most recent CD is Transnormal Skipperoo.