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Joyce Andersen in concert at Arts Council this Saturday

October 20, 2011

Fiddler and vocalist Joyce Andersen will perform a concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Bishop. Photo courtesy ICA

Edgy, powerful and unique yet evocative music is on the menu this weekend in Bishop.
Inyo Council for the Arts is bringing back, for the first time since 2006, the fiddle and vocal talents of Joyce Anderson to the ICA Theatre. The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22.
Over her career, Andersen has developed what the ICA calls an uncanny ability to play violin and sing at the same time, often with the instrument and vocal in counter-rhythms, as well as complex harmony and diverging lines.
Music-lovers may be familiar with Andersen from her decade-long foray as a “side-gal” fiddler playing in country, swing, bluegrass and Celtic groups and playing a dizzying number of studio sessions. She has since moved swiftly to center stage as a solo artist. Her four solo CDs and her live solo shows have gotten her national attention in the folk world, as have her recordings and performances with husband Harvey Reid.
“Add to this an array of hi-tech gear that would make a rock star drool and Andersen now commands a staggering wall of sound that emanates from her violin, viola, Norwegian Hardinger fiddle, and foot percussion,” an ICA press release states. “Without using any computerized or pre-recorded sounds, she literally dances with all four limbs as she weaves intricate rhythms, melodies, and harmonies into extraordinarily musical sonic collages.”
Andersen’s new sound, according to the ICA, is built from a large palette of strummed, plucked and bowed sounds, combining and juxtaposing beautiful acoustic violin tones with swirling electro-acoustic explorations and crunching rock distortion.
Her fifth solo CD, “Swerve,” marks the emergence of a unique, urgent and powerful new sound for the solo violin player, that is at once diverse, complex, and distinctively her own.
“It showcases her impressive musical skills and vocals as well as her composing, arranging and brilliant improvising,” the ICA press release stated. “With her powerful voice and stage presence at the center, she runs seamlessly through traditional bluegrass songs, power ballads, Billie Holiday torch songs, and house-rocking reworkings of classics from the likes of Marvin Gaye, Big Mama Thornton, Steppenwolf, Steve Winwood and even Jimi Hendrix.”
“I’ve always envied guitarists, their ability to play gigs alone, and especially I have always been in awe of the expressive power of the electric guitar,” Andersen said. “I’m excited to have found a way to make a complete solo troubadour sound with just my violin that feels right to me musically, and since violinists really haven’t gone down that road the guitarists have, I am finding my own sounds.”
Guitarists have always been able to play solo, and it’s taken more than two years of effort for Andersen to develop the new tools and techniques she needs to fulfill her musical vision of expanding the violin’s capabilities. Following in the footsteps of electric guitar pioneers like Hendrix, Les Paul and Michael Hedges, Andersen is sculpting a new set of sounds to add to the sonic landscape of an instrument that was considered to have been perfected 400 years ago.
“A vital part of my sound is that in no way am I abandoning the acoustic tone of the violin and viola in favor of an electronic replacement,” she said. “Electric violinists have plugged in for decades, but they seem to have sacrificed the acoustic tone they started with. I am trying to use both sets of sounds in my music.”
Tickets for Saturday’s concert can be purchased by phone, (760) 873-8014, or in person at Inyo Council for the Arts, 137 S. Main St., Bishop.

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