SYD STRAW (Golden Palominos) + STEVE BARTON (Translator)
Time & Location
About The Event
Vocalist, singer/songwriter, and guitarist Syd Straw first made a name for herself as part of the Golden Palominos, a band led by Anton Fier that enjoyed a cult following in the 1980s. Her Capricorn Records debut, War and Peace, was released in 1996, and since then, her unique blend of folk-rock and blues-rock has found a home with Triple A (adult album alternative) radio stations and their audiences around the country. Straw released Surprise in 1990 to good reviews. That recording chronicled Straw's emergence as a songwriter; she had thought of herself primarily as a song interpreter before that. OnSurprise, Straw was joined by Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), John Doe (X), Ry Cooder, Daniel Lanois, Don Was, Richard Thompson, and Marshall Crenshaw.
Straw was raised in Los Angeles, the daughter of Hollywood film and TV actor Jack Straw, best-known for his starring role in The Pajama Game. She was drawn to the life of a performer, and after high school, she headed straight for Manhattan, arriving in New York in 1978. Shortly after that, she landed her first job singing harmonies for Pat Benatar, and later joined the Golden Palominos' ever-changing lineup, which also included Michael Stipe and Matthew Sweet. Straw can be heard on the Palominos' Visions Of Excess and Blast of Silence albums. She also toured the U.S. and Europe with the band, performing at the Montreaux Jazz Festival one year.
In the midst of promoting and touring for War and Peace, Straw has kept up her profile as a scenemaker, sitting in at clubs and lending her gifted musical sensibilities to records by Vic Chesnutt,Wilco, Rickie Lee Jones, David Sanborn, and Evan Dando. A version of her song "Howl'' served as the title cut for a film by Eric Stoltz, Sleep with Me. Straw was the first female singer signed by Capricorn, a roots rock and blues label based in Nashville. On War and Peace, she's accompanied by a gifted bar band from Missouri, Lou Whitney & the Skeletons, and she recorded the album without a lot of extras at their studio off Route 66 in Springfield, MO. On the album, Straw addresses themes ranging from love and the lack of it on a track by the same name, "Love and the Lack of It,'' as well as loneliness, as on "All Things Change.''
Straw is an enormously gifted vocalist and songwriter who has her own distinct musical vision, as evidenced on her self-produced War and Peace. That vision is a rootsy one, with lots of country and blues influences. The 14 originals on the record prove it. Although she didn't set out to, she also plays rhythm guitar on many of the tracks on the album. Straw says with the biography accompanying War and Peace that she doesn't see the album as a "comeback'' at all, "because things have been constantly busy and changing for me since Surprise came out. But I really threw myself into the new record in a way that I haven't been inspired to do for a long time.'' Great records and a wider following are in the offing for this unique, multi-genre vocalist and songwriter. She released her third album, Pink Velour, in 2008.
STEVE BARTON ( of Translator )
"Tall Tales and Alibis" is the seventh solo album from Steve Barton, founding member of the band called Translator. A sprawling tour de force, this release is a triple album filled with Steve’s brand new songs. As he puts it: “I moved to Portland, Oregon about two years ago. It is an incredibly good place for me to live - as soon as I got settled in, songs just started to pour out of me. Originally, I wanted to release three separate records on the same day. That idea morphed into one triple set. If it were a movie, it would be my technicolor daydream shot in black and white”.
The three albums which make up “Tall Tales And Alibis” each have their own unique feel. Album One is filled with the more upbeat songs, and the first of three piano songs. Album Two captures a moody vibe - sung in Barton’s lower register. There is a cover of the Sinatra standard “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning”, and a slow quiet dark version of Steve’s Translator hit “Unalone”. He plays and sings everything on these two records, which he also produced at his studio in Portland. The third album is a band album, recorded in Los Angeles - with a core group specially hand-picked for these sessions. It includes Dave Scheff from Translator on drums, Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello & The Attractions on drums for three of the songs, Nelson Bragg (Brian Wilson band) on percussion, Derrick Anderson (Bangles) holding down the bass, and co-producers of the third album Marvin Etzioni and Willie Aron on guitars, keyboards and vocals. There is a cool cover of the Rolling Stones “Dandelion”, as well as the sonic treat of having had the band play live in the studio for the entire album.
“Tall Tales And Alibis” opens with the rolling acoustic stomp of “How Can I Believe”, and from there it weaves its way through songs of rain, clowns, silent films, roses, love, lust, shadows and other clues - all balanced on a tightrope in a hurricane. As Steve puts it in the rocker “Levitate The Pentagon”: “oh no, it's not too late / it's our destiny to tempt our fate”. Indeed.
Steve Barton’s previous solo albums include “The Boy Who Rode His Bike Around The World”, “Charm Offensive”, “Flicker Of Time”, “Gallery”, “Projector” and the recent one-off duo album with Translator’s drummer Dave Scheff, “New Blue World”. Translator - a band which continues to this day with all four original members, began in Los Angeles in 1979. They relocated to San Francisco in 1980 and released 4 albums on the 415/Columbia label between 1982 and 1986. The group is best-known for Barton’s song “Everywhere That I’m Not”. Their latest album, “Carriage Of Days” was released in 2017.