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A little more than a year ago, on February 9, 2010, Madison Violet appeared as part of John Platta€™s On Your Radar series at the Living Room in New York Citya€™s East Village. Although it is sporadically written that fiddler Natalie MacMaster is a relative, they are not related. Brenley MacEachern was born in Montreal and grew up in a small Scottish community in the town of Kincardine on the shores of Lake Huron. Brenley started writing, but harshly appraises her efforts as a€?pretty rough.a€? She didna€™t really know how to write using the guitar, so a couple of times shea€™d get together with another guitar player and sing the melody while he played along, but never liked the end result. Both Brenley and Lisa thought they were going to work in the medical field, Brenley as a lab technician and Lisa as a pharmacist. Lisa states, a€?I was in grade 12 and was asked to do a musical comedy touring show called the Cape Breton Summertime Review. From online interviews we learned that Brenley had bought a looping machine and had looped her own voice. The longer they played together, the rootsier their sound got, the old record collection seeping in more and more. Of particular influence was an album they discovered around 2005 by Nick Lowe called The Convincer (released in 2001), which had a feel that reminded them of the old a€?Charlie Rich days.a€? The writing was a€?so strong,a€? said Brenley, it convinced them to go back to their roots. When they sold their albums at shows, the fans took note of the more-produced sound on the CDs as opposed to the stripped-down sound of their live performances. Les Cooper, a big Alison Krause fan and a local Toronto producer, was their choice to guide their most recent album, No Fool for Trying. I forgot to ask if the pedal steel on the first track, a€?Ransom,a€? was a result of the girlsa€™ insistence.
While I love their latest CD, Ia€™m going to have to attest that I love hearing them rock out on their earlier work.
Brenley was exposed to music from the time she was very young.A  There were two cousins who played guitar and everyone on her fathera€™s side of the family sang. Brenley started writing, but harshly appraises her efforts as a€?pretty rough.a€? She didna€™t really know how to write using the guitar, so a couple of times shea€™d getA  together with another guitar player and sing the melody while he played along, but never liked the end result. Lisa states, a€?I was in grade 12 and was asked to do a musical comedy touring show called the Cape BretonA  Summertime Review. When they started out, and Brenley asked Lisa to jam on fiddle and sing a bit with Zoebliss, an a€?ambient trip-hop band,a€? they were light years away from their current style. International Shipping - items may be subject to customs processing depending on the item's declared value. Your country's customs office can offer more details, or visit eBay's page on international trade. Estimated delivery dates - opens in a new window or tab include seller's handling time, origin ZIP Code, destination ZIP Code and time of acceptance and will depend on shipping service selected and receipt of cleared payment - opens in a new window or tab. This item will be shipped through the Global Shipping Program and includes international tracking.
We had rolled into New Bedford, Mass., for the annual Summerfest on Saturday morning, July 2nd, spit out of a twister.
By Saturday, I shoulda€™ve been caught up on sleep, but struggled to find the energy for the game of musical chairs at Summerfest. Over the weekend, each of seven stages off the cobbled streets of the Whaling Museum district grew packed to overflowing. There was no mad dash for us for the first performance at the small canopied area at the National Park Garden Stage. That first act was a€?Introducing Liz Longley.a€? This proved to be a priority-changing event. I also managed to squeeze in an on-the-spot interview at a surprisingly subdued side room at the nearby, bustling Celtic Coffeehouse. Her father was a a€?really gooda€? jazz musician who played saxophone and had his own band.
Exposure to chorus was minimal in grade school, but when she reached her early teens, she started singing with her dada€™s jazz group and continued until she was 18. Having begun writing on piano, Liz began performing with a friend, Sarah Zimmermann, who provided guitar backup.
Additionally, Liz and Sarah performed at fundraisers, in particular a€?Relay for Life,a€? held every year to raise money for cancer research. They also played professionally at local Pennsylvania folk landmarks Steel City (Phoenixville) and The Tin Angel (Philadelphia). After high school, Berklee College of Music in Boston was the only college Liz applied to because it offered songwriting as a major.
She still performs on piano when the opportunity presents itself, and thata€™s illustrated by two slow ballads on this CD where she uses her keyboard skills. Her upcoming shows dona€™t include anything in the New York metro area, but wea€™re hoping this article will change that. The photograph we found online for our a€?Radara€? July ad showed a drop-dead beautiful face, and we wondered if there was matching talent to back it up.
High school proved to be the seeding ground for this musical maelstrom, this force of nature.
Steve asked her what she wanted to do a€¦ go to Mexico on the weekends, spend their money a€¦ and she said, a€?Stay here, do the chemotherapy, home-school the kids, and write music.a€? As 2015 began, Steve was able to report online to their fans and friends that Deb had come through a€” she was, and is, cancer-free and theya€™re already on their new tour.
If youa€™ve ever heard a song in the background of a film or TV show and the joy or sorrow in it seemed to fit the soundtrack of your life, youa€™ve probably been moved by the music of The Weepies.
I first heard Steve Tannen sing at the now-defunct Fast Folk Cafe (Tribeca, Manhattan) during my tenure as volunteer manager in the late a€™90s.
The two didna€™t actually meet until Deb came to New York three weeks later to play at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village. Finally, they couldna€™t ignore what was right in front of them and asked each other, a€?What is this?
Deb and Steve wanted their songs to evoke strong emotions and chose their name from the term a€?weepies,a€? used to describe films that made people cry. Within three weeks, they had packed their 1990 Toyota Corolla with all the recording equipment they could and got themselves to California.
In 2005 they released their second album, Say I Am You, and with no booking agent, no manager and no record label, they went back out on tour. Upon their return to California, they collapsed and toasted the new year with Robitussin and NyQuil. At first, Nettwerk was underwhelmed with only 256 sales the first week, which didna€™t faze Deb and Steve.
At this point, for reasons still unknown to the pair, their songs were now being placed by media music supervisors in films like Sex in the City (the movie) and Morning Glory and TV dramas like Greya€™s Anatomy, Scrubs, One Tree Hill and Dawsona€™s Creek.
Deb and Steve found another back-yard bungalow in Topanga Canyon, a wonderfully quiet location. The official video of the song, directed by Brad Aldous and cleverly depicting the duo as puppets, has been viewed more than a million times.
One tour, planned for 2008, was shaping up to be a disaster but turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
The outpouring of love and support from fans and friends has been especially uplifting for Deb and Steve. Through the rest of 2001 and 2002, they wrote music and played shows together, one opening for the other and singing harmony during each othera€™s sets. Theya€™re quoted: a€?We approached it with as much a€?one foot in front of the othera€™ attitude as we could. The following fall they showed up at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference. Within about six to eight months, she had met her future musical partner, Brenley MacEachern. Brenleya€™s father is from Cape Breton, so she spent two weeks of every summer with family there, a€?down east,a€? about a mile away from where Lisa grew up.
I took the last couple of months of school off, faxed in my work, and finished high school that way.


During a rehearsal session with Lisa, she left to get something and, from another room heard her own voice again, but with Lisa having added her own.
When Lisa and Brenley compared the collections a few years back, it was a€?pretty uncannya€? to recall the number of Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton albums their parents had. They have one EP and three full CDs out to date a€” Mad Violet (2002, EP), Worry the Jury (2004), Caravan (2006) and No Fool for Trying (2009).
The fans would buy the earlier CDs and come back and ask if there wasna€™t a recording that captured their live sound. Brenley began writing in a folkier rootsy style for the two of them, and Zoebliss fell away, since the other members of the band had day jobs and couldna€™t keep pace.
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Wednesday night, finish the July issue, then get two hours of sleep; Thursday, pedal-to-the-metal from NYC to Fall River, Mass. Newly appointed chair police at the main Custom House stage prevented attendees from saving seats for hours at a time. Seats opened up after each act and the first attendees to dash to freshly vacated chairs near the front became winners.
As usual, we arrived at the festival at about 9:00 am and the first show didna€™t begin until 11. Liz was scheduled to perform 10 days later on July 12 at the Living Room in New York Citya€™s East Village.
From the very first notes, it was obvious that we were going to want to see and hear a lot more from this brilliant 23-year-old. I would not be jumping from tent to tent, looking for the best seats, hoping to find something near the front at the big Custom House tent.
For her first eight years her family lived in West Chester, Pa., then they moved a little further west, to Downingtown. Her mother was an aspiring singer, but lacked the time and opportunity to pursue it as a career. Through her dad, shea€™d gotten exposure to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and they were her favorites, the ones she focused on. Other events included the high schoola€™s talent show and the senior prom, with both girls performing in their prom dresses.
Liz said that she entrusted major decisions in the studio to producer Glen Barrett and enlisted feedback from her parents to help her decide what, in the end, would be the right sound for her on each track. These include a€?Little White House,a€? seemingly a farewell to her childhood, and a€?Unraveling,a€? another farewell of sorts to her grandmother, suffering from Alzheimera€™s.
Her dad told her, a€?If youa€™re going to learn to have a career as a musician, youa€™d better start now.a€? Actually, performing after college was a continuation of what shea€™d been doing since high school and during her four years at Berklee. Just before Christmas 2013, when her youngest of three sons was 17 months old, Deb Talan of The Weepies was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Media industry music supervisors have been placing their songs in soundtracks for more than a decade. Deb came to the show but, nursing a cold and too nervous about meeting him, she couldna€™t stay behind afterward for a get-together. Meanwhile, as Steve recalled, fearful of creating the same train wreck theya€™d seen with other musician couples, they did their best to a€?screw up a good thing.a€? Ignoring the obvious, each of them dated other people. They recorded and released their first CD, Happiness, and then went on tour, playing hundreds of shows at small venues, building up a network as they went along. It was there that they wrote, recorded and released the aptly titled Hideaway, which was released in 2008. Tour promoters reportedly had planned to siphon all the profits and Deb and Steve would have lost huge amounts of money. In our area, theya€™ll be at the Norwalk (Conn.) Concert Hall on June 25 and at The Town Hall in New York City on June 27. On city streets, it might take the form of a long-limbed beauty wearing high-heeled knee-high boots. As they described their evolving life paths to me, the phone line hummed and crackled with their energy. The street they grew up on is called a€?Fiddlera€™s Rowa€? because every house on the street has had someone in the household who plays fiddle. In the second semester, I started dating the guitar player, hanging out with the a€?wronga€™ crowd, having way too much fun and playing guitar all the time. Lisa hadna€™t yet sung on stage with Brenley due to her fear of being heard, and Brenley, having not been aware that Lisa sang, was thunderstruck at the sound of their voices together. My two closest friends and I would sit together on the school bus, squished together, and sing three-part harmonies on Rankin Family songs.
The same similarity applied to the number of fiddle albums, Gordon Lightfoot, Beach Boys and Elvis Presley records.
They changed their name to Madison Violet for the most recent CD, to reflect their evolved style. Playing in Australia for three to four months of the year also gave them a chance to evade the Canadian winters. Brenley commiserated with the ethos of their fans, saying she also gets disappointed when she buys an album and the layered production obscures the nature of the songs shea€™d heard live.
His decision to strip the sound down to a bare minimum met some resistance, both women wanting more instrumental backup, especially from feisty Lisa. She was 7 years old when she started taking step-dancing and piano lessons.A  At 9 years old, she and her three closest friends would go to the local community hall every Wednesday evening for group fiddle lessons. I used to sing in the church choir, which was fine, because it was a group and you could kind of hide behind things, as with being a fiddle player, you can hide behind your instrument. If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. Then, with breathtaking suddenness it darted upward, taking the hollow in my chest along with it.
The chairs were empty and there were no chair police to prevent us from saving a couple of seats for the first act. Wea€™d see her then, of course, since we never miss WFUV DJ John Platta€™s monthly a€?On Your Radara€? series.
Instead, I followed Liz from one stage to the next, seeking the best photos and videos of her that I could get (below). Her earliest memories involve driving around with her father in the family VW convertible with the top down and music blasting from the car stereo.
The lone cover, a€?People Get Ready,a€? demonstrates a command that allows her to take ownership of the song. While it did come up in our interview, her Facebook page states it more succinctly: a€?In high school, I was a marching band nerd.
Her voice, with its unique reedy catch, combined with her direct, intelligent songwriting, captivated Steve.
If wea€™re writing together and playing together, shouldna€™t we be living together?a€? In 2003, out of desperation and a mutual drive to see if they could make it work, both as a couple and as a musical act, they relocated to what they felt was a€?neutral grounda€? a€” Northampton, Mass.
Theya€™d each separately go for long walks in the lush, wooded area and come back with song ideas. The tour was cancelled at the last minute, and they stayed home and wrote and recorded Be My Thrill, which was released in 2010.
Their journey through the nightmare has been encapsulated on the Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) website.
Lisa and Brenley were trading snippets of mutually shared childhood background a few minutes after they met. I was going to go to college at Saint Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and study science the first year before studying pharmacy.


The fearful part was having my lips on that microphone and knowing that it was raw and everyone in the audience could hear what was coming out of me. When I characterized Gordon Lightfoot as a Canadian-bred country influence, Brenley countered that, as a touchstone, he was a lot folkier, less country-like than, for instance, Neil Young, one of her major influences. As she states on her Facebook page: a€?I grew up listening to Joni Mitchell and Karla Bonoff.
James Taylor, Karla Bonoff, Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLachlan were among the names she cited. I was surprised that she hadna€™t sought feedback from anyone at Berklee, but kept to the formula stated above.
One is a version of Joni Mitchella€™s a€?Rivera€? in which Liz hits some high notes that Joni herself might not be able to handle anymore. In June 1999, he was the first cover feature for this publication, just prior to the release of his debut CD, Big Senorita. Both were writing their own albums concurrently and songs written by both were dropping onto both their albums.
After around a year, Steve walked into their living room, intending to move out, figuring the act and the relationship were over.
1 in iTunesa€™ most-downloaded folk albums in eight countries and a€?World Spins Madly Ona€? from the album became the most-downloaded folk song in the United States. I learned what I know about songwriting as well as what I know about guitar playing from Brenley,a€? Lisa said.
I didna€™t think I had the stomach to be a doctor and I thought that the closest I could get to the medical profession was to be a pharmacist. While theya€™d initially steered away from their parentsa€™ tastes, they both admitted to a secret love of American country music. The teacher, Stan Chapman, was heavily involved in the careers of many a professional player in the younger generation in Cape Breton.
Behind his back, when she was around 12 or 13, Brenley would sneak into his room and play it whenever he went out to play with his friends. I would be about a foot away from the microphone until the lead singer would turn around and look back and then I would put my mouth up to it and pretend that I was singing into it. But we didna€™t know her, so we figured it would be a good idea to get acquainted before seeing her at the Living Room.
The first two use a full studio band, complete with drums, bass, lead guitar backup, pedal steel a€” the works. The second is Van Morrisona€™s a€?Moondance,a€? which gives Liz a chance to show off her jazz vocal skills. When I wasna€™t on the field, I was writing music (on piano & guitar) and playing shows. Throughout 2014, she battled while her husband, Steve Tannen, the other half of the duo, hovered anxiously and provided support.
Although in denial about a possible amorous relationship, Steve told his band-mate friends she already had a boyfriend, just to fend them off.
Many of the songs on Stevea€™s second album, Stopped at a Green Light, were in essence a€” although the group didna€™t actually exist yet a€” a€?Weepiesa€? songs. Before he could speak, Deb burst into tears, saying she could no longer live in that house or Northampton. They also were invited to play in the Hotel Cafe tour, which at the time was introducing newer artists such as Brett Dennen, Katy Perry and Imogene Heap, along with some not-so-new, like John Mayer. Although Be My Thrill was finished in 2009, Nettwork delayed the release so that Steve could plan a tour that would be comfortable for traveling with both kids and still be profitable. September came and I went to a€?Frosh [Freshman] Weeka€™ and got the university out of my system during that week and never enrolled for any classes.
This included a a€?concert night,a€? wherein the school invited students and parents to come to a performance solely by Liz and Sarah. In contrast, her third album, the latest, Hot Loose Wire, completed right after graduation, is stripped down a€” just her, solo, with either guitar or piano a€” pretty much what we see in concert. The two got together after her show and played their songs for each other all night, starting with their most polished work.
Tips from friends in the music business (a€?always do this; never do thata€?) allowed for a smooth trip with minimal discomfort. There were a couple of hard choices at the beginning a€” what kind of treatment and where a€” and then therea€™s not much to do but walk through it.a€? Deb chose a mixture of Western and Eastern treatments, then surgery. As the two began to tour more as a duo and less with a band, it was their desire that their albums become more a€?strippeda€? down and attempt to replicate their sound as a duo. Lisa stated, a€?I dona€™t know what he does or how he does it, but just about every fiddle player who does it for a living thata€™s come out of Cape Breton was taught by Stan Chapman.a€?A  Lisa played for traditional Scottish square dances on weekends and in various folk bands.
As the two began to tour more as a duo and less with a band,A  it was their desire that their albums become more a€?strippeda€? down and attempt to replicate their sound as a duo. Theya€™d bring in a song and other students would dissect it, asking questions like why a word was used in a particular place. In fact, the song is a perfect answer to a€?Love Come Knockina€™,a€? in its yearning, hopeful sound.
As the night faded into early morning, they shared half-written songs, each trusting the other to critique them and possibly add new elements. They knew three people in town and when they arrived, those people either moved away or went on tour.
When they arrived, a crowd had formed and their hearts sank, trying to figure out how they were going to appeal to a crowd waiting to hear a€?Get the Led Out.a€? Surprise a€¦ the crowd was there for them.
No, Steve, thata€™s the perk in the contract that gets you stuff like fresh fruit and champagne in your dressing room! I realized the first time I sang on stage, right from the get-go, that it was what I had to do.
Brenley has said that she never saw him cry and [paraphrasing here] thinks it woulda€™ve done him some good. That was her means of income, as opposed to working in a fast-food restaurant, a more typical fallback for a teenager. Some elements in her learning progression included using her brothera€™s Eagles songbooks, and picking up songs from Crosby Stills and Nash albums from a frienda€™s father.
There were classes where songs by famous writers were analyzed, and Liz loved it all, soaking up every learning opportunity that came her way. The tour was also going to Europe, but Deb and Steve couldna€™t do that part because theya€™d just been there. She also recalls learning how to play Don McLeana€™s a€?American Pie.a€? Later, while dating a guitar player in college, she got introduced to the songs of Cat Stevens. On Manhattana€™s Lower East Side, at the usually easy-to-attend club, The Living Room, close friends of Deb and Steve couldna€™t get in. They had been on the road for eight months, mostly with little sleep (thus the war-like a€?Band of Brothersa€? reference). Within the first sentence that came out of my mouth, singing in front of a live audience, it was like I was struck by lightning a€” I know this sounds cheesy a€” Wow! The fire code had been seriously stretched and the fire marshal was present, causing a delay. They found the perfect metaphor for their descent from the toura€™s heights when they watched airline baggage handlers carelessly drop two of their guitar cases onto the tarmac, snapping both guitar necks.
Deb and Steve had been apprehensively viewing invitations from several record labels, but Nettwerk made a really good offer and they accepted.



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