Friday, May 23rd @ 8:00PM
The Story Studio at the Vermont Arts Exchange
“Sometimes two voices wend together so powerfully and perfectly that you stop frozen in your tracks the first time you really listen to them. I felt that way about Vandaveer when I heard their album Dig Down Deep in the hot summer of 2011 (and it went on to be one of my favorite records of that year). With roots in both Kentucky & DC, Vandaveer is the project of Mark Charles Heidinger with Rose Guerin perfectly complementing his voice with hers. J. Tom Hnatow (of These United States) plays dobro/slide guitar.”
“Mark has the most unusual voice, in that it reminds me of a wonderful female blues/jazz singer — maybe the rueful and bittersweet beauty of Nina Simone. It nestles underneath your skin. As complement, and sometimes taking the lead, Rose Guerin’s deeply-saturated, strong alto is generous and powerful. Together they are really stunning. If you haven’t listened to their music, I urge you to.
Mark was once called “The Greatest Songwriter of His Generation.” In the article, Paul Gleason remarks that: “‘Dig Down Deep’ was the moment of epiphany, the moment of spiritual awakening, when Mark reminded me of what art can do when it reaches its highest potential – that is, how it can close the gap that divides us into separate beings.”
VANDAVEER is the song-singing, record-making, globetrotting project penned and put forth by folk-pop tunesmith Mark Charles Heidinger. Born in cloudy Ohio, raised in Kentucky, and currently camped out in the nation’s capital, Vandaveer offers up melodic Americana that is both haunting and easy, forlorn and welcoming, with stories as universal as the songs they inhabit. Vandaveer shapeshifts from stage to studio and back with a host of revolving characters, most prominent among them Rose Guerin, offering up the loveliest harmonies heard this side of Eden.
The macabre has long held uneasy sway over the human condition. From ghost stories to creation myths, from CSI to Shakespeare, from cable news voyeurism to Edgar Allan Poe, subjects of death, murder and all things ghastly have fascinated and frightened for centuries. Songs are no exception. From Old World roots to more recent incarnations in America, the murder ballad has traversed, shapeshifted and persevered. Despite our collective desire to be good and virtuous, people do very bad things. And then we sing about them.
Death, murder and ghosts have long been underlying threads coursing through Vandaveer’s original music, but instead of weaving their own shadowy tales into their latest studio effort, Oh, Willie, Please…, the DC-by-way-of-Kentucky alt-folk collective have tapped into the wellspring of traditional folk’s darker side.
Oh, Willie, Please… finds the group operating in a more collaborative spirit. In addition to the core duo of Mark Charles Heidinger and Rose Guerin, the talents of J. Tom Hnatow (These United States, The Mynabirds) and Phillips Saylor (Stripmall Ballads, The Shiftless Rounders) helped expand the project into a formidable ensemble, armed with steel string, resonator and pedal steel guitars, banjos and pianos, voices galore, and a common belief in the quality and relevance of the word ‘folk.’
Inspired by their recent participation in The 78 Project, the group gathered in a majestic old home on a picturesque horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky in the spring of 2012 and set to work re-imagining a collection of age-old murder ballads and songs of self ruin plucked almost entirely from the public domain. With longtime producer Duane Lundy once again at the helm, Vandaveer moved swiftly through the selected catalog, recording most of the tracks live in the manor’s great room. The result is a spacious, honest album that balances reverence and respect for the source material with a healthy coat of contemporary color.