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Twin Bill – Irish Mythen & Amythyst Kiah
Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 7:30 pm
Come hear two of the hottest and up-and-coming performers in today’s acoustic music world.
“Kiah is an important and innovative presence in contemporary traditional music. Describing herself as a “Southern Gothic, alt-country blues singer/songwriter,” Amythyst has a repertoire that honors tradition while crossing genres to illuminate many common threads.” ~ Sam Gleaves, The Bluegrass Situation
“I had no idea what to expect when this five foot nothing lady took the stage, all smiles and twinkling eyes and guitar. Then, she opened her mouth and out flew a voice that came straight from the Heavens with all the power and the glory and the truth of someone destined to be a singer. I’ve been blessed with seeing and hearing a lot of talented musicians in my life, but I have never experienced anyone quite like Irish Mythen. She is a force of nature and a gift from Almighty Herself.” ~ Lisa Schwartz, Philadelphia Folk Festival
Amythyst Kiah (7:30 pm)
“In delivering her own mature, carefully-structured songs, Amythyst displayed the confidence to exploit her impressive vocal range without inhibition, assuming an almost spiritual presence. The tenor of her delivery held the room, with a welcome absence of audience chatter which blights so many gigs, her well-judged rhythmic percussive guitar picking the ideal accompaniment for her set.”
~ David Innes, Bluesandmoreagain
A professed Southern Gothic songster based in Johnson City, TN, Amythyst Kiah’s commanding stage presence is only matched by her raw and powerful vocals—a deeply moving, hypnotic sound that stirs echoes of a distant and restless past. A graduate of East Tennessee State University, she studied old time music and music performance, and it proved to be a pivotal moment in her life as she transformed from a long-time closet musician into a well-rounded, captivating performer.
Accoutered interchangeably with banjo, acoustic guitar, or a full band (Her Chest of Glass), Amythyst’s toolbox is augmented by her scholarship of African-American roots music. Her eclectic influences span decades, drawing heavily on old time music (Mississippi Sheiks, Son House, Jimmie Rodgers, Olla Belle Reed, Carter Family), inspired by strong R&B and country music vocalists from the ’50s-’70s (Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn) and influenced by contemporary artists with powerful vocal integrity (Adele, Florence and the Machine, Megan Jean and the KFB, Janelle Monae).
Recent tours in Scotland and the U.K. have seen Amythyst performing for audiences at the Americana Music Association UK Showcase, the Southern Fried Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, and SummerTyne Americana Festival. She is a crowd favorite at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in the U.S., has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival.
Provocative and coolly fierce, Amythyst Kiah’s ability to cross the boundaries of blues and old-time through reinterpretation is groundbreaking and simply unforgettable.
Irish Mythen (8:45 pm)
True power inspires awe, and Irish Mythen packs a lot of it – lyrical, musical, and personal – into a relatively small frame.
Mythen is a globetrotting troubadour – an Irish-born, contemporary Canadian folk artist who’s been amassing accolades and achievements across several continents over the years. Her presence and charisma simply command attention, and regardless of where she takes the stage, she delivers a sonic and emotional experience that transcends language and location; that reaches the very core of what connects us. It’s an experience that, in recent years, has earned her spots performing alongside Rod Stewart, Gordon Lightfoot, and Lucinda Williams and billings on major festival stages the world over.
Following a pair of earlier EPs, Irish cemented her spot as a performing powerhouse with her first two full-length offerings – 2008’s Sweet Necessity and 2011’s Open Here; however, it’s since moving to Prince Edward Island and releasing her latest collection – a self-titled, statement-making third LP in 2014 – that she’s propelled herself to an impressive new plateau.
The ECMA 2015 Roots Album of the Year perfectly couples the two poles of her sonic sphere: a universally engaging and accessible brand on contemporary folk with a tinge of more traditional Celtic influence that stems from her proud heritage. The result is a sound that’s truly timeless and transcending, anchored by her dominant and dynamic vocal prowess.
Irish draws her inspiration from all over. “It’s the people I’ve met, the colour and shape of the land, the fact that you spend much of this life alone on the road…” she shares. “All these things have crept into my songs.”
The whirlwind of opportunities she’s enjoyed since her last release – from new places visited to some high-profile creative collaborations – has certainly informed her recent output. “I think it’s translated into a more mature form of writing,” the artist muses – “much more about the sound and mood of the album. I’ll always be a wordsmith,” the accomplished lyricist adds, “but the other facets of my art have grown.”
Perhaps most significant of those other facets is her live show – an impactful and impressive tour-de-force that finds Irish combining her contemporary and catchy anthems with traditional tunes borrowed from her homeland. All are woven together with a signature blend of edgy humour and heartfelt storytelling while her presence and performance magnetically draw eyes and ears towards the small-statured powerhouse on stage.
“I want them to feel like it was not just about the music, but an overall experience,” Irish says about what she hopes to deliver to her audience. “I love feeding off of crowd and interacting with them. That’s why I rarely have set lists; I like to see and feel the audience and give them what they want.”
She must be doing just that, as Irish has established herself as a staple at events like the Mariposa Folk Festival and Folk Alliance International Conference, and others continue to call. In just the last 12 months, Irish has closed out the Philadelphia Folk Festival, performing after the iconic Lyle Lovett, and had tens of thousands in her hands at Australia’s Woodford Folk Festival. On the back of the latter performance, she was even handpicked to open for Melissa Etheridge’s 2016 Australian run.
A reinvigorated drive and longstanding passion for performance will only push Irish Mythen further into the international eye, enticing listeners of all kinds to take heed. Once they do, they’re sure to be captivated and converted, joining the cavalcade and following this wandering talent wherever she may go next.