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blues • Relate Magazine

Ted Hovis: Let It Shine

Ted Hovis: Let It Shine

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Ted Hovis

Ted Hovis

(picture courtesy of www.myspace.com/tedhovis)

Ted’s voice is a beautiful instrument; an engaging one. And fortunately for him, it also
sets him apart. It was difficult for me to place a comparison; he’s that unique without
being weird. The focal point for me is often the lyrics on an album, but there were times
I had to force myself to pay attention to what he was singing about rather than how he
was singing it.

Also fortunately for him, Ted guitar skills are as good as his vocals; only making my
predicament with focusing even more difficult. He alternates so well between soul and
blues and rock, there isn’t a genre for him to fit in, and that’s a good thing because talent
like this shouldn’t be contained to one space. For him, it just spills over.

So now, the lyrics. Who is this guy and what is he about? There’s a lot of loss here.
In “The Well Has Run Dry,” Ted makes my heart hurt as he sings, “Have I lost my
place in this world/If I haven’t the strength to try anymore.” He also seems to hold onto
something he often feels he’s about to lose. In “Until It Fades,” he sings, “But it all feels
so right/To be here by your side/Until it fades away.” This sentiment seems to be an
underlying current to many of the tracks on the album.

But there’s also hope. In “The Place You Called Home,” the chorus declares, “You’ll
find me waiting for you/In the place you called home” as a loved one struggles to return
to happier times. In “Twisting in Denial,” one of the stand outs on the album, Ted
promises that he’d rather feel the pain than living with false hope. In “Thinking Out
Loud,” he realizes that “Time is a healer, time is a means to an end/Time lets me see
again.” And even in “Until it Fades,” while the written lyric has such a heaviness to it,
Ted delivers it in a way that reveals he’s just appreciating the moment and not focusing
on the heartache at the end of the road.

Ultimately, hope floats. Even if it seems lost in the quagmire of heartbreak. And I
appreciate the sentiment that Let it Shine gave to me; without the valleys, we can’t
appreciate the pinnacles for the beauty that resides there. Ted’s got a beautiful way of
taking you on that journey, from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Please visit him at www.tedhovis.com and be sure to purchase on iTunes.

Treasa Levasseur: Low Fidelity

Treasa Levasseur: Low Fidelity

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Treasa Levasseur

Treasa Levasseur

(picture courtesy of www.treasalevasseur.com photocredit:Mark Peter Drolet)

Treasa Levasseur’s Low Fidelity is really good. I know that sounds so simple, but that’s the thing; that simple realization that an album is well done usually comes with time for me. Not so with this cd. Her vocals are so good. The musicians are amazing.

Call it blues, soul, jazz, rhythm and blues; call it what you want but there is no denying that this is good. I wish I could convey what that simple word means or how shocked I was that I came to the realization so quickly, but there it is. This is good stuff.

Although she’s from Toronto, Canada, Treasa sounds like she has spent her entire life studying the blues from the greats from the deep south of the States. She acknowledges some of that in “Stuck in Soulsville,” a song about Memphis. The horns in this song deserve major props; I can only hope you’re not too busy dancing to notice.

The other great songs on this album are definitely the open song, “Help Me Over,” but it’s not until Treasa sings the album title, halfway through the cd, that you realize this isn’t a disc that gets all sloppy and lazy on the second half. In fact, I think I prefer the latter tracks. Not that the opening ones aren’t good, like I said, they are, but it’s like she’s truly reaching her stride. Or maybe it’s just it takes me a couple of songs to start to get over my admiration enough so that I can fully appreciate what good music this is.

That said, “Low Fidelity,” a sassy song about not putting up with a no good man is fantastic, and the funny but true, “Big Fat Mouth,” is just so darn fun and true that it’s sure to have high rotation on your ipod. I couldn’t decide if I liked the lyrics, the horns, or the “uh, huh, uh huh, yeah, yeah” of the background vocals the most.

And just when you think you may have an idea what Treasa Levasseur is about and understand exactly what type of music she writes and sings, she closes the album with “Amen,” worthy of a southern choir, full of spirituality and searching that knocks on heaven’s door and leaves you breathless.

Be sure to check Treasa out at www.treasalevasseur.com or on Itunes. Low Fidelity is a 2010 JUNO nominee for best Blues Album. Don’t be the last to figure out why she deserves that nomination and many more to follow.

Chit Chatting with Megan Burtt

Megan 1jpg[1]

Written by Jill Sheets

 

Image Credit: Lindsay McWilliams

Megan Burtt is a singer/songwriter who has just release her first full-length album “It Ain’t Love,” in 2009. She is currently touring and booking shows when ever she gets the chance. We were honored to interview Megan recently.

R: How would you describe your music?

M: I like asking others to answer this question, because the answers are always different. I find this to be the hardest question to answer, and yet most frequently asked. It’s hard to wrap everything that influences you up in a package and tie a bow around it. But, I will….I’d say folk-rock/roots with some hints of pop and blues.

R: When did you start to sing?

M: That depends who you ask! My musical memories start around kindergarten or first grade, however I started formal training in high school.

R: We read that you taught yourself how to play the guitar, (which is not easy) do you play any other musical instruments? If so, which ones and how long have you been playing?

M: I fuss around with the piano a bit. That was my first instrument. I have aspirations to play many instruments! Electric bass and mandolin are on the top of that list. I’m dying to take some lessons again.

R: Tell us about the first song you wrote?

M: The first song I remember writing was about my late uncle. It was a song I wrote on the piano, and I would have been about nine or ten. I don’t remember it, but I do remember not wanting to share it with anyone.

R: What is your writing process for your songs?

M: Well, it might go something like this, although there really is no one formula. I realize that I really need to pick up my guitar and play something, like an intense craving for food. I play around until I find a groove or chord progression that really moves me. I start singing gibberish over it. Then spill out words and melody and that’s the part that can get foggy. Something will just spill out, and then I’ll realize what it is, and go back and fill in the blanks; almost as if the songs are already written, and I’m just transcribing them.

R: Tell us about your album “It Ain’t Love.”

M: I’m really proud of this project. It’s my first full-length album, and the biggest endeavor of my career, thus far. Its twelve original songs dressed up by my amazing band (James Williams, Louis Cato, and Adam Tressler), and a few other incredible musicians, among them Ayo Awosika and Dave Madden. It’s honest and at times heart wrenching or danceable. It’s a snapshot in time. Eddie Jackson produced and engineered it with us at the wonderful studio The Belfry in Lafayette, NY. It’s been so fun to watch it all unfold and really a dream come true!

R: How did you come up with the title?

M: It sort of named itself. I think once you listen to the songs, you’ll see where it comes from.

R: Who are your musical influences?

M: Bonnie. Big time. All the girls – Shawn Colvin, Joni Mitchell, Sarah Mclachlan, Gillian Welch. I love roots music, and the true no bull music that comes out of the south.

R: What singers and bands can be found on you ipod or mp3 player?

M: That’s a long list! Jonny Lang, Bebel Gilberto, Ryan Adams, Darrel Scott, The Roots, Paul Simon, Chris Thile, Coldplay, Clapton, Keb Mo, Ray Charles, Kathleen Edwards, James Taylor, Mia Dyson….

Megan 2-1[1]

Picture Credit: Lindsay McWilliams

R: What has been your most star struck moment? Who was it and tell us about it.

M: I saw the tour last summer with Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, Emmy Lou, and Buddy Miller at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I sat in the front row with my jaw on the ground, of course. After they were done, I went backstage where they were as well. I was about ten feet from Shawn Colvin. She looked at me, I looked at her…she looked at me staring at her…I was staring…and I couldn’t get up the courage to tell her that I own all her albums, and worship everything she’s ever done. Oh well. Next time.

R: What is your favorite song to perform on stage and why?

M: It depends. Depends on the venue, on the crowd, if I have my band with me. I love to play ‘Habit’ with the band, or anything that gets heads bobbing…’Pay it Now’, maybe. If people are quiet and listening intently, I love to play a song I wrote called ‘Peggy’. If I can evoke emotion out of people, then those songs are the most fun to play.

R: Are you currently touring? If not, are there plans on touring in the United States and other countries?

M: I am touring and playing out as much as possible. Constantly booking for the future. I’m working on opportunities to play with the band as much as possible.

R: What is the best thing about touring?

M: Being on stage is my favorite place to be in the entire world, so touring just allows me to be in my favorite place a lot.

R: How do you deal with negativity in your life?

M: I try to remember where it’s coming from and who is creating it. Having a handle on that will put out the fire 99% of the time. If I can stay balanced and healthy, the negative has a harder time taking hold. There is really not much to be negative out. My life is pretty great. I’m living my dream every day. Keeping perspective on that is so important.

R: What is your motto?

M: “It’s really not that serious.” I try to remember that. This should be fun, if it’s not fun, what’s the point…because it’s certainly not easy.

R: What is the best advice you have ever gotten and by who?

M: I was recently told this, and I love it: “If you have four hours to cut down a tree, spend three sharpening your knife”. A friend also told me “Don’t stop, because eventually everyone else will”.

R: In general, what advice would you give teenage girls today?

M: To be true to yourself. To find the things you love to do the most, and do them with your whole heart, and be proud of whatever they are. To speak your truth, and not let anyone stand in the way of what you know is right. To do things that make you proud of you!

R: Where can people get your music?

M: On my website: www.meganburtt.com. Itunes, CD Baby and Amazon as well.

R: What are your future goals??

M: I’d like to start a non-profit, climb Denali, travel around Africa, win a Grammy, play Red Rocks when I’m 65, write a book, learn to play bluegrass music, become fluent in Spanish, make another 20 albums.

Megan 3[1]

Image Credit: Lindsay McWilliams

R: Do you have any charities that are close to your heart? If so tell us about them.

M: I’m all about nutrition and education. Non-profits that support women’s independence also really pull on my heartstrings. In addition to releasing of the new album, I also launched merchandise that supports three non-profits I believe in. Same café in Denver, which is a pay-what-you-can restaurant. It serves many homeless in Denver wholesome food in a very dignified manor. Womenforwomen.org, and Boys and Girls Club are the others that I give part of the sales proceeds to. They both support growth, education, and creativity. That is so rad!

R: What are five things people do not know about you?

M: I have a cool scar on my head from being hit with a hockey stick. I think Bruce Hornsby rocks. I’m a big advocate of alternative healing modalities. I’m not scared of spiders. I’m a certified Yoga Teacher.

R: Do you have any hidden talents?

M: I can suck my cheeks in to make fish lips…does that count?

R: Other than this one, what is the weirdest question you have ever been asked?

M: Hmmm…I really don’t know. When I was in Vietnam, people asked me if I was married a lot.

R: Are you on any social networking sites. If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have a website?

M: Aren’t we all?

www.meganburtt.com

Facebook.com/meganburtt

Myspace.com/meganburttmusic

Twitter.com/meganburtt

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

M: I’m so thankful for them. People getting up, getting in their car, driving to come hear me sing, and then paying for it never ceases to amazing me. I don’t that lightly. I know that I will only have a career as long as there are people to listen, so thank you for listening!

R: Megan, thank you for the interview. Have a great day.

M: My pleasure!