Greencards














Greencards
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When speed doesn't kill, it can thrill, and the lightning-strike success of The Greencards has been decidedly of the latter variety. To be them is to be on a rocket ship disguised as a touring van, on a highway where there are no speed limits. Four short years ago, a green card was an immigration document. Now The Greencards are an acoustic music phenomenon that's played around the world, headlined major festivals, won awards, and toured with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. They've released a couple of fine albums, and they've got a new opus called Viridian that's going to delight and surprise a lot of folks. But with The Greencards, the albums and shows are like chickens and eggs; one begets the other. Their label debut Weather and Water was strong enough to secure their slot on the Dylan/Nelson tour, but then they had to stand and deliver. Fortunately, The Greencards have this great trick they do. They go out on stage in front of 20,000 strangers, and whaZAM, they turn them into friends and fans. It's happened at Merlefest and Telluride, on both coasts, Down South and Down Under, and of course many times in Austin "The Live Music Capital of the World" Texas, city of the band's chance origins and initial successes. They're a trio, in case you haven't met. The lady fair with the electric bass, the serene voice and the raven tresses, that's Carol Young. Mr. Intense Guy over there shooting roman candle flames out of the mandolin and other smallish stringed instruments is Kym Warner. The dynamic red-headed fiddler who just ever-so-slightly resembles Tim O'Brien is Eamon McLoughlin. The most conspicuous thing they have in common, these new stars of Americana, is that they ain't American. McLoughlin is English. Warner and Young are Australians. But all three grew up in households full of honest American roots music, from Merle, Lefty, Ricky, Dolly, Loretta and their blessed ilk. Their training ground were jam sessions. Their passion and talent was evident, but their idols and holy shrines were in the U.S., so that's where they went. When Kym and Carol met Eamon at a recording session in Austin, the chemistry was there from the outset. Before long, their friendly bluegrass jams blossomed into one of the city's most popular bar bands. They made fans and friends of scene leaders like Robert Earl Keen and the Bruce Robison/Kelly Willis family, who took them on the road and introduced them to large audiences. Their self-released debut album Movin' On pushed them to create original music, writing and scouting for songs that broke the rules of bluegrass and that began to carve out a fresh hybrid of styles somewhere between classic folk balladry and jam band rock and roll. Accolades followed. They took Best New Band at the Austin Music Awards in 2004. The Houston Chronicle ranked their live show among the city's top five nights of music of the year. The Greencards landed a deal with Dualtone in 2005 and released Weather and Water to great acclaim. Dylan and Nelson tapped them to open their now-famous U.S. tour of minor league baseball parks in the summer of 2005, 30 dates in all. Their video for the song "Time" became one of the most played on GAC and CMT's Americana shows. They were nominated for New/Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Awards in 2004 and then won that prize in the fall of 2006. That's what faced The Greencards when they entered a Nashville studio to record again. Kym says their experience made it easier, not harder, to confront the challenge. "We've done a lot of miles since that first album," he reflected. "We've played a lot and traveled a lot and learned a lot more about ourselves. We're probably a lot more comfortable musically. I think it would just be natural for any artist to be more comfortable with what they're producing as time goes on. So this record feels very comfortable. It feels right in synch with where we are." That's not to say they didn't reach beyond what their fans or critics might expect from them. It's far too early in The Greencards' career for anyone to assume they know all that the band is capable of. With guitarist and Patty Griffin collaborator Doug Lancio in a co-producer's role, Young, Warner and McLoughlin trusted their guts, stepped out of the safety of recording studio isolation booths and threw down in a big open room in real time. They picked songs with their hearts, eschewing the luxury of road-tested material, opting instead for new music that would challenge them to create on the fly. "Obviously you have to be prepared," says Eamon. "But you can be over-prepared, where you have blinkers on completely and you can't hear anymore because you're playing to a very strict idea of what you think it should be. In order to get that honesty you have to go in and say, ‘Right, I don't know what I'm going to play here. I don't know what I'm going to sing. Let's figure it out.'" That spontaneity is evident from the first notes of the opening track "Waiting On The Night," a slinky boogie backed by romantic rooftop-in-the-city guitar and a deftly arranged string section. When Carol, who wrote the song with old friend and collaborator Jedd Hughes, sings "To be young and living life, free as a bird in the sky," there's a first-hand truthfulness about it that might well have come from the band's detailed and absorbing road blog. The Greencards' move to Nashville put them in proximity to a huge array of fellow songwriters, and Kym took particular advantage of the opportunity to stretch. Sessions with pop master David Mead produced "River of Sand," a melancholy and melodically spellbinding song that wound up fitting Carol's voice perfectly. It's one of several examples of Carol's mature and involving touch with ballads (be sure to check out the Kim Richey/Mike Henderson song "I Don't Want To Lose You" as well), and it may become the "Time" of this release. Kym and Carol collaborated with bluegrass great Ronnie Bowman on "Who Knows," a true blue slice of Kentucky sod, with a "Walls of Time" groove laid down by master drummer Larry Attamanuik. Two songs come from Kym's co-writes with veteran Jerry Salley, including the uplifting "Shinin' In The Dark" and "Lonesome Side of Town," which Carol accurately tags as the hardest core bluegrass tune the band's ever committed to tape. Kym's writer's journey also found him tapping his own family history for the first time in "All The Way From Italy," a portrait of his grandparents' emigration from Italy to Australia many decades ago. Again Carol interprets Warner's words with an emotional connection as sure as if she'd written them herself. Eamon contributed another tune sure to re-calibrate expectations of The Greencards. He says when he demoed "When I Was In Love With You" for Lancio, the co-producer said immediately he wanted to hear a "Ramones meets The Pogues" production, which suited Eamon exactly. "I felt like he really captured it there. Because the song was written like an English folk song, and I wanted to sing it like that. The lyrics actually come from an English poet. So when Doug heard it he immediately decided to go punk. It was a good synthesis of ideas there." Finally, a band as known for its instrumental chops as The Greencards wasn't going to complete an album without some solid tunes. Kym's CD-closing "Mucky The Duck" embraces the Celtic-influenced newgrass sound that will probably always be in the band's DNA. And Eamon contributes "Su Prabhat" a lovely modal piece that marries East and West with sweet musical diplomacy. The Greencards pull all this off with musical super-conductivity, a whirling dervish attack, a respect for tradition, and a zest for innovation. They fit into history on a line that connects Fairport Convention to New Grass Revival to Patty Griffin, but they remain vibrantly independent, mingling discipline and daring in exquisite balance. They're nice folks who still admire their heroes as much as they did before their heroes admired them. So if you think it's too rare that good things happen to good musicians, indulge in some Greencards, for these days, in their camp and in their ever-rolling rocket van, it's all good.
Date Venue City State Note
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01/12/2011 - The Greencards Sign With New Frontier Touring - Read More
05/11/2010 - The Greencards host a free Crown Room show - Read More
05/11/2009 - The Greencards Hope to Charm Listeners With Fascination - Read More
06/03/2008 - Evolving Greencards Keep the Music Going - Read More
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Average Rating : 5              Total Reviews: 10


Greencards  06/29/2007            
gc
i love the song time, its they're best song.
Greencards  10/26/2005            
les (UK)
never heard of them till we saw them front the show at Salem VA, when they started the show with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan.They played with humour and were BRILLIANT,we bought both cd's and cant wait for the next!Well done Green cards.
Greencards  08/09/2005            
Kristi
This is one of the best CD's I have bought this year! Beautiful vocals and incredible musicians. See them live if you can, it's well worth the trip!
Greencards  04/24/2005            
Rusty E.
Greencards are great. Very smooth and easy to listen to.
Greencards  04/22/2005            
Lauren
They went from being completely unknown by me to being one of my favorite bands the time I heard them open for Robert Earl Keen in Charlotte. Their lyrics and instrumentation are incredible- they are an exceptional band to bluegrass fans and non fans alike! Their CD should be in any good music collection.
Greencards  04/21/2005            
dagwood
With out a doubt one of the best blue grass bands I have ever heard, weather listening to their CD or at a live show they wont disappoint -Dagwood
Greencards  05/30/2004            
julie
if you enjoy the music of Gillian Welch, Nickel Creek and Alison Krauss you will love this CD by The Greencards. can't wait for their next CD.
Greencards  05/30/2004            
Sam
i heard The Greencards for the first time at Merlefest this year and had to buy their CD. this is a recording of good music and outstanding musicianship. highly recommended for anyone that appreciates music at it's finest. see you at Merlefest 2005!
Greencards  04/24/2004            
Roxie
I heard about them on 92.1, saw them @ Fred Fest and caught them @Waldo's in Waco. Energy, harmonies and musically talented. They are the real deal. The best thing about them though, they are just fine folks.
Greencards  04/09/2004            
PFMeredith
Wow. I grew up with Bluegrass in southwest Virginia, and have to say these Greencards have taken it to a new level of spirit, energy and finesse. The CD even got rave reviews from my Dad! The original songs are excellent. Great voices, great soul, great music...and, if you have the chance to see The Greencards live, don't pass it up!
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