Kim Richey with The Accidentals

Event Date/Doors Open: 
Sunday, February 20, 2022 - 6:00pm
Event Time: 
February 20, 2022 - 7:00pm
Cost: 
$20 Advance, $22 Day of Show

On Sunday, February 20, the Community Center for the Performing Arts proudly welcomes Kim Richey to the WOW Hall for a 20th Anniversary Tour of Glimmer along with special guests The Accidentals.  Tickets go on sale Friday, January 7.

“I started off that record scared to death,” Kim Richey recalls of making ​Glimmer​ with producer Hugh Padgham back in 1999 in New York and London. A disastrous haircut, unfamiliar musicians, and oversized budgets didn’t help matters. “It wasn’t the way I was used to making records.”

The way Richey was used to making records was with friends in a vibed-out, low-key setting. That’s how she made her debut album with Richard Bennett, and it’s how she made her new album, ​Long Way Back… The Songs of Glimmer, ​with Doug Lancio. So Glimmer​was different, and not just on the production side.

Then, as now, the compositions that comprise ​Glimmer​ were the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter’s first collection of true confessionals. Prior to that she’d been a staff writer at Blue Water Music writing from a more arm’s-length vantage point for her first two releases, 1995’s ​Kim Richey ​and 1997’s B​itter Sweet​. But ​Glimmer ​was all her.

Revisiting that history for ​A Long Way Back​ was both emotional and edifying for her. “I was pretty broken-hearted when I wrote and recorded most of those songs and I remember feeling that way,” she says. “At the time, I needed to really get out of my head and out of Nashville. I think that was what appealed to me so much about making a record somewhere that wasn’t home and with new people. Recording these songs again was a good way to look back and remember I made it through those times.”

The 20 years of distance between then and now provided another benefit, as well: Richey is more comfortable with her voice, both literally and metaphorically. As a result, Long Way Back​ sounds like it has nothing to prove and nothing to hide. It’s more spacious, but not less spirited, with Richey’s voice, in particular, feeling more relaxed and rounded than on the original. Starting with “Come Around,” the 14 new renderings take their time to make their points, meandering casually around, much like their maker.

An Ohio native, Richey’s passion for music was sparked early on in her great aunt’s record shop where she’d scour the bins and soak it all in. She took up the guitar in high school and, while studying environmental education and sociology at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, she played in a band with Bill Lloyd. But it didn’t stick… not right away.

After Kentucky, Richey worked in nature centers in Colorado and Ohio and traveled to Sweden and South America. She eventually landed in Bellingham, Washington, where she worked as a cook while her boyfriend went to grad school. Their deal was, she got to decide where they went after he graduated. One night in 1988, some old friends — Bill Lloyd and Radney Foster — rolled through town. She sold t-shirts at their gig, and they talked up Nashville. To drive the point home, Lloyd sent her a tape with Steve Earle and others on it. So taken by the songwriting, Richey and her partner loaded up their Ford F150 and headed to Music City.

In Nashville, Richey cooked at the famed Bluebird Café and gigged around town at writers’ nights. At a show one night at 12t​h​ & Porter, Mercury Records’ Luke Lewis approached her. In classic Richey fashion, she didn’t know who he was. Still, she went to a meeting with him and Keith Stegall, played one song, talked a lot, and got a record deal at the musical home of Billy Ray Cyrus and Shania Twain. Remembering the glory days of major labels in the ’90s, Richey says, “They gave me way more than enough rope to hang myself with. I could do whatever I wanted.”

What she wanted was to work with her friend, producer Richard Bennett. So she did. For Bitter Sweet​, she put Angelo Petraglia at the helm, before turning to Padgham for Glimmer.​ “​Bitter Sweet​ was recorded in Nashville with my road band and friends,” Richey says. “That record was as if the kids had taken over the recording studio while the adults were away. ​Glimmer​ was more pro and less messing around having fun. The musicians were all super-talented and gave the songs a voice I never would have thought to give them. Hugh was up for trying anything and really encouraged me to add all those vocal arrangements that ended up on the record”.

For 2002’s ​Rise,​ Richey took another left turn, signed to Lost Highway Records, and hired Bill Bottrell as producer. Though it was her first time writing in a studio with a band, the players’ talent and Bottrell’s whimsy proved to be great complements to Richey’s own rule-breaking style. The resulting record was quirky, confessional, mesmerizing, and masterful. And it officially set her outside contemporary country’s bounds -- which was fine by Richey, whose music had always broken barriers.

A greatest hits collection dropped in 2004, buying her some time to tour, write, and make 2007’s ​Chinese Boxes​ with Giles Martin in the UK, followed by 2010’s ​Wreck Your Wheels a​nd​ 2​013’s ​Thorn in My Heart, ​both produced by Neilson Hubbard in Nashville. The latter landed her at Yep Roc Records, where she also released 2018’s ​Edgeland, made with producer Brad Jones in what she has described as the easiest recording process she’s ever had, despite working with three different tracking bands in the studio.

Through it all, Richey has worn her heart on her lyrical sleeve, revealing herself time and again. “I started writing songs because of Joni Mitchell, probably like most women songwriters of a certain age,” Richey confesses. “I loved being able to write songs because I was really super-shy. I couldn’t say things to people that I wanted to say. If I put it in a song, there was the deniability. If I ever got called on it, I could say, ‘Oh, heavens no, that’s just a song! I made that up.’”

Though she ​could​ fall back on plausible deniability, with Richey, what you hear is actually what you get. “I don’t have a lot of character songs because I’m not that good at making things up out of thin air.” Even when it comes to the main narrator of a song like Edgeland’​ s “Your Dear John,” Richey demurs with a laugh, “I do think that song is probably just another song about me and I’m pretending to be a barge worker.”

On ​Long Way Back… The Songs of Glimmer​, though, she’s not pretending to be anything or anyone she’s not, and neither are the songs. Richey and Lancio set out to make a guitar/vocal record, but the songs had something else in mind, and that something included drums by Lancio’s legendary neighbor, Aaron “the A-Train” Smith, among other things. “Once we stopped making rules about what could and could not be on the record, the songs spoke for themselves,” Richey says. “I knew all along I wanted Dan Mitchell to play flugelhorn, and the two tracks he played on are two of my favorites. In the end, the songs decided.”

From her move to Nashville to her making this record, for Kim Richey, the songs have always decided.

 

THE ACCIDENTALS

 

Long before glowing acclaim from NPR and Billboard, packed shows, unforgettable festival appearances, millions of streams, and collaborations with everyone from BTS to Contemporary Youth Orchestra, the journey of The Accidentals commenced in a public high school classroom in Traverse City, MI. As the story goes, concertmaster violinist Savannah Buist and cellist Katie Larson raised their hands at the request for volunteers to play a music boosters concert and wound up being musical soulmates.

After Sav and Katie attended a school presentation by The Moxie Strings, their collective fate would be sealed forever. “If the Moxie Strings hadn’t come to our school, we might not have pursued music professionally,” admits Sav. “We didn’t see many other girls playing popular music on violin and cello in sustainable careers. We didn’t even know that career path existed until those two women walked through the door. That’s when we realized it was possible.”

“We live and breathe music,” adds Katie. “Music helped me survive those awkward middle school years when I wasn’t sure where to identify myself. It’s helped us figure out who we are, given us confidence, allowed us to travel the world, and completely opened up our minds.”

The Accidentals now host and lead workshops across the country, hoping to inspire other young musicians. They opened a nonprofit in 2020 called Play It Forward, Again and Again, to help provide access to instruments, lessons, and mentors for all aspiring musicians. As advocates for youth music and youth empowerment, they focused extensively on “getting out the young vote” in the 2020 election. They donated over twenty live streams to raise money for causes including the #iVoted festival, Headcount, Rock the Vote, Arts Quest youth programming, Michigan Music Alliance, Musicians Treatment Foundation, Sweet Relief, MusiCares, Lighthouse Shelter Detroit, Headstart, TREES, Concert for Hunger Chicago, NIVA, and more, while delivering their new single, “How Many Hands” to the 2020 compilation U.S.P.S. – United Songwriters for the People’s Sovereignty. “We’re just paying it forward,” says Sav. “We have an incredible support system and core base of music family that help afford us the opportunity to give back.”

The band’s “core supporters” are what they refer to as “The FAMgrove.” Derived from the song “Mangrove” off their Bittersweet album, The Accidentals’ FAMgrove community began in 2012 as a Facebook group and is now an interactive, personalized, Fanclub on Patreon, where the band houses their podcast “Bucketseat Chronicles,” an extensive Tour Blog, New Music Friday, Trivia Nights, Book Club, Throwback Album Deep Dives, Traditions club, a yearly “reunion party” for the Fam, and more. Core Famgrove members Dan and Jan Kautman remember when The Accidentals’ Tangled Red and Blue album first released in 2012, “the songs were catchy and incredibly deep for such young writers.” Having built a devout fan base right out of the gate, Sav and Katie transferred to Interlochen Arts Academy for the remainder of high school and completed a successful crowdfunding campaign to release Bittersweet only a year later. Shortly after, they met Michael Dause at Blissfest and welcomed him behind the kit as their full-time percussionist, cementing the lineup.

As high school ended, the band began nonstop touring, playing 200+ shows a year at such festivals as Electric Forest, Rocky Mountain Folk Fest, Summerfest, and SXSW, and on stages with the likes of Brandi Carlile, The Wailers, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Andrew Bird, Martin Sexton, Rusted Root, The Decemberists, and more.

Following the 2016 release of Parking Lot EP, Huffington Post touted The Accidentals among its “Sweet 16 of 2016.” Billboard called them “the band to watch.”

On its heels, they signed a deal with Sony Masterworks label, and 2017’s Odyssey rapidly accelerated the momentum. The 13-track trip boasted collaborations with Kaki King, Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists, Lily & Madeleine, and jam-band guitar virtuoso Keller Williams, whom the band later paired up with to form the Keller Williams Accident at Millennial Music Conference in 2019. Garnering praise from Yahoo! Music, Pop Matters, Billboard, and more, NPR claimed, “[The Accidentals] are some of the most compelling songwriters of our time...they display equal interest in the focused musical forms of indie rock and pop and the expansive potential of orchestral arrangements, jam band open-endedness, and impressionistic singer-songwriter expression.”

Jumping to the big screen, the band scored the indie documentary One Simple Question and wrote “Marrow” for the award-winning movie, Almost Home. “Michigan and Again” showed up on an episode of The Boys on Amazon Prime Video, and “Chekhov’s Gun” is the soundtrack for a Turner Classic Movies reel. RAM released a documentary with the band to promote their #Bandvan series, bringing viewers behind the SXSW and Folk Alliance scenes to show what it’s like to be “in the van” with the band.

In 2018, The Accidentals began work on their fourth full-length album. The three-piece reached out to “two of our dream producers of all-time,” namely John Congleton [St. Vincent, Lana Del Rey] and Tucker Martine [The Decemberists, Neko Case]—and both obliged. Sessions with Congleton happened in L.A.

Before heading to Portland to work with Martine, the bandmates experienced the rougher side of the road.

“Our gear trailer and everything in it was stolen in the middle of the night, in Tucson, Arizona,” sighs Katie. “... “it was devastating.” Two days later, as their audience raised $40,000 to make up for the loss and the band soldiered on to open for Gabriel Kahane at the MIM, back up Gina Chavez and represent Fender, Shure, LR Baggs, Takamine, SKB Cases, NS Design, D’Addario and Roland Boss at NAMM in CA.

The same perseverance propelled The Accidentals to pivot when the Global Pandemic hit. With help from those same sponsors, the trio transformed the attic of their shared house in Traverse City, MI,

into a state-of-the-art recording studio known as “Atticus Blue” - named by their FAMgrove members on Patreon. There, the band hunkered down to bring their fourth album recording to completion: Vessel.

Grabbing the reins as co-producers, the music on Vessel takes shape as a natural evolution for The Accidentals. Underpinned and upheld by the orchestral score, the band tightly embraces their folk-pop and Americana influences more than ever before with a common thread of their signature strings and “ethereal harmonies. ” Not to mention, Katie and Sav both switch off not only strings and vocals, but also acoustic and electric guitar, bass and mandolin on Vessel.

“We’ve been super influenced by the artists we’ve toured with, and we’re really streamlining what our sound is now,” explains Sav. “During the Lockdown, we focused on the songs, the songwriting, and really had time to consider the production. It feels like there’s a cohesiveness and a clear narrative to the album as a result.”

During the Covid-19 quarantine, Sav wrote a manual on using OBS and Streamyard software for live streaming that garnered industry attention, including Recording Academy and Folk Alliance panels, Patreon, Bandsintown, and Hypebot articles. While she was helping other artists/venues with their live streaming, Sav met Kim Richey. That happenstance meeting would lead to Richey co-writing the first single off of the Accidentals brand new TIME OUT EP. TIME OUT was written during quarantine over Zoom with legendary writers like Tom Paxton, Kim Richey, Dar Williams, Maia Sharp, Mary Gauthier and Jaimee Harris. It usurped the Vessel album to release in May 2021. That savvy tech knowledge, access to a studio in a pandemic, and their reputation for scoring strings quickly established Sav and Katie as the go-to string team for other artists’ albums. They have written and performed string parts on eleven albums, including Keller Williams’ “Hate, Greed, Love” and a remix of “Euphoria” by K-Pop juggernaut and global superstars BTS.

“We’ve had so many amazing memories,” says Michael. “We’ve made so many incredible friendships too. They’ve all been a part of the journey with us.”

“The goal of our music has always been shared experiences. Music helps us process things that are hard to process,” Sav leaves off. “A lot of the writing comes from touring, and touring is just a myriad of extremes, triumphs, and failures. It’s how we connect with people in those moments that shape our experiences. Hopefully, people can relate to something we’re creating in a way that feels like understanding. Maybe, it offers a different perspective, and that leads to less loneliness and more community.”

           


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