It's smart, strong, well-crafted soul/country/city/blues without artifice. Broadway has a muscular yet open sound (the gal can straight howl!) that is influenced by the blues-infected ladies and soul men that came before but she manages to stomp firmly between good hard blues and country with none of the cloying, soulless, overwrought, painfully melismatic American Idol-esque faux-passion one might expect from a modern Nashvillian, nor does she sound like any of the new crop of well-dressed soul retroteers. While the music has a contemporary feel, this is to Broadway's advantage as she would fit nicely on a number of charts, without losing a bit of her strong, often sultry blues vibe. Her bio states that she is not a purist and it shows. In a good way. I personally love a good musical cross-hatching and Amanda Broadway delivers.
Her band on this recording, it should be noted, is sick. Jimmy Hall on harp, spot-on drumming by Derrek Philips, terrific horns, bass, B3 and Wurlitzer. Electric guitarist Rob McNelley in particular really sets a tone for a lot of the songs. He's got a tough raw wail on Me Without You and a serious Hooker grip on Something Funny Goin' On, and a taut and funky chickinpickin' thang on Left And Let Down (which could easily be covered by Reba and Miranda Lambert as well as Bobbie Gentry or Bonnie Raitt).
|Photo stolen from Q Avenue Photo|
It sounds like Amanda Broadway is either a very focused artist or she's diabolically plotting world domination. Which is it?
Haha, maybe a little of both? I am asked a lot if my last name is 'my real last name' or just a stage name. It is indeed my real last name - 'twas given to me at birth. Actually, I've gotten into the habit of telling my audience that fact when I play a show. If I don't, someone is bound to ask me... I've even been carded before. It's so funny to me though. If I were to choose a stage name, given what I do, 'Broadway' doesn't come to mind.
What is your pre-college musical background? How'd this all get started? Did you play in bands?
Well, I grew up loving to sing pretty much since I was able to talk. Do you remember the 8 track Singing Machine? My parents had one of those and I used to sing on it all the time. As I got older, I entered the typical talent contests and what not. In high school I was in Choir all four years, and sang the national anthem at a lot of school events. It really all got started simply from a true love for singing. It's all I wanted to do all the time. I also became interested in guitar and in high school I started to teach myself.
When did you start writing songs? Who/What inspired you to start?
I didn't start writing songs until college. Actually, songwriting was a required class for my major. I wasn't sure about it at first, but then one night I actually woke up from a dead sleep with a melody in my head. I had dreamed it. I've gotten used to song ideas keeping me up at night, but that first time was a really cool experience for me. It made me realize how much I wanted to express myself in that form. It's become something that I love, and always strive to become better at.
Is anybody else in your family musically inclined?
My parents were always playing guitar and singing when I was growing up. My mother has a lovely voice. Fortunately, I take after her in so many ways -- with the exception of her stage fright. We all still have fun getting out the karaoke machine now and then and singing together for hours.
You seem to have such a good hard blues and country appreciation yet balanced with smart pop music sense.
Where does that come from? Can you recall what originally connected with you with blues and/or country? Was there an A-Ha! moment ...or were you just raised around it?
I was raised primarily around country music. My parents love it and got me hooked on greats like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. In high school, that was the direction I was heading... moving to Nashville to be a country singer. But when I got into college, my musical world was opened up a lot and I really connected with artists like Aretha, Joss Stone, Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, and so on. After I moved to Nashville, I was turned off by the modern country scene, and at the same time realized that a lot of my writing was very blues-based. Better Than You Can was one of the first songs I ever wrote (back in college), which is for the most part a 12 bar blues. My favorite songs to sing have always been those that I can really dig into and have a lot of emotion. All of that definitely led to an 'A-Ha!' moment, and I started embracing those blues tendencies more.. and it felt really good and right when I did. It didn't make sense to go pure blues - that woudn't be true to me. I love and am influenced by so many different artists and genres, and those definitely shine through on the record. You hear that pop hook in This & That and the gospel flavor in Ride, for example.
If I asked you to set your iPod to random and play the next five songs, what would they be?
1. Vintage Trouble - Run Outta You
2. Miranda Lambert - Makin' Plans
3. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Give Me A Chance
4. The Beatles - Something
5. Muddy Waters - Hoochie Coochie Man (Live at The Fillmore)
(Just cause it's so good) 6. Ray Charles - I'm Just A Lonely Boy
I see on your blog you have a new guitar. What can you tell us about it?
What did you use previously? What kind of amp do you use?
Ahh my new guitar. It's a Gretsch G5120 Electromatic. And it's orange. It's pretty awesome. I'm an amateur guitar player... as I mentioned before I picked it up in high school and it's something I really want to build up my chops at. I put in the hours when I can, but I've got a long way to 10,000 haha. When I bought this guitar, I also picked up a Fender Blues Jr. amp. It's a nice set-up. Before, I had an acoustic/electric Taylor for years. Beautiful guitar - but I decided I could get something that fit me better. My dad bought the Taylor for me, so I felt a pang of nostalgia when I sold it...but I know he understands. :) Someday I'll be shredding some bad-ass blues solos... someday...
Do you have a set band that you play with or are you putting one together? What's that been like in a town where you can't throw a brick without killing a musician?
When I play full-band shows in Nashville, I try to use the same guys if I can. At the same time, it's great (and almost necessary) to have a few back-ups. It's a funny thing living in Nashville. As you pointed out, you trip over musicians. But, they are trying to make a living too, and play with a lot of different acts. It can be a bit frustrating trying to get everyone's schedule to line up for rehearsals and gigs.
Have you been in bands before or have you always been strictly a solo artist?
I've always been a solo artist. The only bands I have ever been in were/are cover bands to make some cash. I do think it would be a lot of fun to be in one, though, and am always brainstorming side-project ideas. For example, this past Christmas my boyfriend, Mikie Martel, and I recorded our own version of "Man With The Bag." He's an incredible musician -- he recorded the whole thing, arranged it, and played horns and bass on it. We're planning on recording more tunes for a Christmas EP to release this year, since the one song came out pretty well. That project will be released under The MarWays. The name is an inside joke, and a play on our friends' band called The DanBerrys... Which brings me to my answer for the next question.
(Here's a link to "Man With The Bag")
Any local bands you dig? I highly recommend Scissormen.
The DanBerrys are really great, and are gaining some momentum right now. Check them out and I will check out the Scissormen. Also, Space Capone. They're just plain fun (and awesome).
So why Nashville? Had you been there before?
I just always wanted to move to music city to pursue my dreams. I knew since at least high-school, if not as early as middle school what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. My family and I visited once before I actually moved here.
You've self-released this album. Are you still/have you been hoping/working for label assistance or are you cool with the new DiY paradigm?
It's a loooot of work doing it yourself. Especially as a solo artist. Balancing the business side with the creative artistic side can be really difficult. I'm always open to the right opportunities. Right now, I would love a booking agent more than anything.
After listening to Me Without You a couple gazillion times now I can't imagine that will be a problem much longer. You got a spare $7? Wanna get in on the ground floor of a fine new artist's career so you can tell your lame friends Oh, I knew Her Back When? Go HERE (for the virtual) or HERE for the hard copy. You'll thank me.