Today’s featured event:
NORMAN – Popular Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter Slaid Cleaves will open the Performing Arts Studio 2012-13 Winter Wind season tonight with a concert at the Norman Depot, 200 S Jones Ave. Tickets are $20 for the 7 p.m. concert. Refreshments will be served, according to a news release.
There were a few rough years in Austin for Cleaves after 1991, having left the small pond of Portland, Maine, where he’d busked and played bars and started the alt-country Moxie Men. The allure of milder winters, a fledgling South by Southwest Festival and a desire to hone his skills amongst the likes of Joe Ely and Lucinda Williams drew him to Texas late that year.
But Cleaves made good use of the 2000’s. With the Americana radio success of “Broke Down” and subsequent tireless touring of the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and the Netherlands, he connected to audiences and developed a reputation for sincere and entertaining shows featuring his intimate songs presented with a variety of topnotch instrumental accompanists.
A turning point in his career, “Broke Down” transformed Cleaves from feckless Austin singer-songwriter playing open mics and running sound at the legendary Cactus Cafe to Americana chart-topping national touring artist, lauded by the New York Times as “One of the finest songwriters from Texas.” The 2001 Austin Music Awards named the title track Best Song of the Year.
And now, 20 years after his Southwest migration, he’s releasing his first live album — a double disc titled “Sorrow & Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge,” on Music Road Records.
When he first contemplated a live album, Cleaves turned to the massive collection of performance recordings he’s acquired during his decades as a wandering troubadour, traveling from stage to stage and entrancing audiences with tales of lost souls. But he couldn’t bring himself to sort through it all, and decided to do fresh versions.
“Sorrow & Smoke” fully conveys the spirit of the intimate yet jovial crowd in the Horseshoe Lounge: Clinking beer bottles. Laughter. Sing-alongs. Good-natured heckling. “The give and take, this sort of conversation I have with the audience,” Cleaves says in the release. And of course, the self-deprecating humor that leavens the singer’s stories of people struggling to make sense of their lives. “That’s a big part of the show and I wanted to capture that as much as possible,” he says, adding, “I also wanted to give an honest depiction of what my show is like these days.”
Cleaves is a channeler of hurt and heartache, with an uncanny ability to chronicle despair — and beauty — in verses of startlingly simple eloquence. Tickets for his Winter Wind concert are available in advance at TicketStorm.com, the Norman Depot and (if still available) at the door.
See the full 2012-13 Winter Wind concert lineup after the break. For more information, go to www.pasnorman.org.
For more events, go to www.wimgo.com.
The full 2012-13 Winter Wind season includes:
Oct. 7, Slaid Cleaves, 7 p.m., $20
Oct. 21, MilkDrive, 7 p.m., $20
Nov. 4, Radoslav Lorkovic, 7 p.m., $15
Nov. 18, Peter Mulvey, 7 p.m., $20
Dec. 2, Sam Baker, 7 p.m., $20
Jan. 6, Ellis Paul, 7 p.m., $20
Jan. 27, Gretchen Peters, 7 p.m., $20
Feb. 17, Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines, 7 p.m., $20
March 3, Tish Hinojosa, 7 p.m., $20
Winter Wind Concerts are made possible, in part, by grants from the Norman Arts Council and the Oklahoma Arts Council, by sponsors Tom McAuliffe of Don Cies Real Estate; Cindy Merrick of Therapy in Motion and Nancy McClellan. Additional support comes from contributors Glen Brown; Skye Diers, Gingerbread Nursery School; Hugh and Keri Young; Dale Wares, Wares Properties; and Danna Primm. Friends include Marie Soliel, Tom & Mary Cay Woodfin; and The Grider Family. In-kind support comes from Cafe Plaid and The Montford Inn.