Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How the House of Wills was Built

Picture WHO: Will Taylor & Strings Attached
WHATHouse of Wills: Songs of Willie Nelson in the Style of Bob Wills
WHERE: Austin, San Antonio, Houston, San Angelo, Marble Falls, all the way to Saint-Agrève, France
WHEN: Album Release February 8, public performances begin February 11
TIX: or
MEDIA: Photos, on-air performances, and interviews via david@wyattbrand and 512/450.4395

Will Taylor & Strings Attached presents House of WillsSongs of Willie Nelson in the Style of Bob Wills
Wistful Re-Imaginings of Lone Star Musical Heritage via Album, Tour, DVD

AUSTIN, Texas—This February, one modern and pioneering “Will” of Texas music is uniting two legendary other "Wills" with the innovative and wistful House of Wills album and tour. Strings Attached founder and director Will Taylor has taken beloved songs from the Willie Nelson songbook, and re-imagined them in the style of western swing pioneer: Bob Wills. The album, mastered by John Hanlon—Neil Young's producer of 25 years—features vocals by Karen Mal and Steve Carter with arrangements for guitar, mandolin, trumpet, cello, upright bass, and Will Taylor on fiddle. The resulting album, making-of DVD, and Texas tour all began in Will’s south-of-South-Austin place in the country, which he and girlfriend/collaborator Karen Mal call "Woody's Place" after their dog. Literally conceived and recorded in the house of Will, this is far from the first foray into tributes for violinist and tireless Strings Attached leader Taylor. For the past decade, Taylor’s group has made a name for itself by reworking iconic music like the Beatles ‘White album’, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Rubber Soul as well as the hits of Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and Jimi Hendrix—adding jazz and roots flavors along with string arrangements to lovingly assembled acoustic renditions. Their performances in churches and sanctuaries are akin to a religious experience for fans of music so the act of reworking the renowned songs and sounds of two of Texas' most legendary country artists was not entered into lightly. In fact, the classically-trained Taylor went the long way around to playing fiddle in a country band.

How the House of Wills was Built Taylor grew up in the heart of Willie Nelson country. Central Texas: home of the Broken Spoke, Soap Creek Saloon, Willie's picnics, the Stallion, the Armadillo World Headquarters, Gruene Hall, and the Kerrville Folk Festival. He muses, “You'd think these musical institutions would occupy more than the periphery of my childhood musical landscape. But I was more interested in performing classical chamber music and playing the solos of [French jazz violinist] Stephane Grappelli.” Twelve years later he started Strings Attached as a genre-blurring collaboration with folk artists. Will’s vision was to fuse jazz and classical flavors with the contemporary singer/songwriter genre; to ‘dress it up with different jewelry.’ Taylor was working with Austin musicians like Eliza Gilkyson, Jimmy LaFave, Slaid Cleaves, Shawn Colvin, Sara Hickman, Jimmy LaFave, Darden Smith, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Ian Moore, Patrice Pike, and Abra Moore. Slowly, his ears started turning toward the fiddle side of the violin spectrum. And inevitably, toward what became House of Wills and an extensive exploration into the musical heritage of Texas.

Willie and Wills Willie Nelson has called Bob Wills one of his idols, even paying tribute to him on the 2009 “Willie & the Wheel” album with Asleep at the Wheel. Nelson said in an NPR interview "I've been in a band—ever since I was 10-12 years old—of one kind or another, and we always sang Bob Wills because that was the hot music of the day." And of course there's Willie's famous 1973 cover of Wills’ "Stay All Night (Stay A Little Longer)" from Shotgun Willie. “King of Western Swing” Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys was a musical pioneer—immensely popular and influential, especially from the 1930s to the 1950sWhat's more, this year Nelson's "On The Road Again" and Bob Wills' recording of "Steel Guitar Rag" are among The Recording Academy's 2011 Grammy Hall of Fame inductees. The Nelson and Wills titles are part of a 2011 class that includes Hank Williams' "Lovesick Blues," the Beatles' "Penny Lane," the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" and Prince & The Revolution's "Purple Rain."

Confirmed Performances—check for the latest
Friday, Feb. 11 Austin, Texas  Album Release at Mercury Hall
Saturday, Feb. 12 Taylor, Texas   Armadillo Hall, 8 pm
Sunday, Feb. 13 Marble Falls, Texas  Uptown Marble theater, 2pm
Sunday, Feb. 13  Jonestown, Texas  House Concert, 7pm
Friday, Feb. 18 San Antonio, Texas  Casbeers, 9pm
Saturday, Feb. 19 Spicewood, Texas   Poodies Hilltop, 9pm
Wednesday, Feb. 23 San Angelo, Texas   Cultural Affairs Council 
Saturday, April 23  Houston, Texas    Anderson Fair
Sunday, August 14 Saint-Agrève, France EquiBlues “Festival Rodéo & Country Music”

Album Release Event: Friday, Feb. 11 at Mercury Hall After the album comes out on February 8, the tour starts on the 11th with a special release party at the Mercury Hall in South Austin. More than just a concert, this Valentine-tinted event—with flowers—will include a section set aside on the oak floor for swing dancing, scintillating light art projected on the walls during the performance, dance lessons between shows, beer and wine, a western swing workshop in the afternoon and a full band featuring trumpet, cello, violin, mandolin, guitar, acoustic bass, and two swinging vocalists.

About Strings Attached Beginning in 1999, Will Taylor implemented a new idea after brainstorming with other Austin musicians. Taylor began collaborating with both local and nationally renowned artists, rearranging their known material, bringing in his own crew of seasoned jazz and contemporary roots musicians to play, and moving from the traditional smoky club scene to pristine performance settings. Since then Will Taylor and Strings Attached has presented over 50 concert collaborations to more than 12,000 audience members. In 2006, over 1600 Beatles fans saw Strings Attached re-create the entire White album. They've also presented the music of Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel and Jimi Hendrix. Guest artists they’ve collaborated with include: Shawn Colvin, Joe Ely,Dar Williams, James McMurtry, Fastball's Tony Scalzo, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Ruthie Foster, Abra Moore, Darden Smith, Tish Hinojosa, Sara Hickman, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Eliza Gilkyson, Slaid Cleaves, Suzi Stern, Beth Ulman, Kellye Gray, Patrice Pike, Guy Forsyth, Michael Fracasso, Jimmy LaFave, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Albert and Gage, Jon Dee Graham, John Aielli, Barbara K, Kimmie Rhodes, Ian Moore, Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez.

About Will Taylor Young Will arrived in Austin in 1973 and spent summers swimming at Barton Springs, playing in the garden of the infamous Armadillo World Headquarters, while living two blocks from the Rome Inn where Stevie Ray Vaughan played the blues weekly. He studied viola from the age of 10, and pursued performance at UT’s School of Music while playing jazz-fusion in 6th Street clubs on the weekend. His jazz string quartet was invited to play at the keynote of the 1988 SXSW music festival. Will is an accomplished arranger, composer, and bandleader—actively performing the viola, violin, guitar, and piano. He has played for 21 years in the Austin Lyric Opera orchestra, and has played with orchestras all over Texas, plus toured the U.S. and Canada. ###

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