Quick Q and A with Joyce Andersen

Joyce Andersen is a musical wizard whose electrifying performances on violin leave audiences always wanting more.  Joyce is not only a mesmerizing fiddler but she’s a talented singer-songwriter whose songs evoke a multitude of emotions.  Joyce and Harvey Reid have been performing together for many years. Their life together revolves around family and their time on stage before appreciative audiences is pure inspiration.

To learn more about Joyce, check out her website.

You can also check out what Harvey Reid is up to on his website.

Here’s a video showing Joyce conjuring Jimi Hendrix.  Watch what she does.  It’s pretty darn incredible.

If you could describe your music in just one sentence, how would you do so?

Joyce Andersen takes you on tour of American roots, rock, and jazz inspired music through the vehicles of her eclectic songwriting, startling covers (Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Ralph Stanley, Steve Winwood, Eric Andersen, traditional ballads), folk guitar and a mind expanding array of violin sounds from pure acoustic to looped, layered and variously distorted electric fiddle.

You have coined the phrase “violin troubadour.”  Explain what you mean by this.

By “violin troubadour” I mean that I can perform a compelling and very diverse night with my viola and violin and voice. Like a troubadour of old, I can accompany myself on acoustic violin alone, but I have joyously pursued a host of alterations to that pure sound. Technologies that I may or may not reveal to you. I use my gorgeous Cambridge made Robert Childs acoustic violin to drive these powers, though, and I am grounded in the beauty and perfection that is manifest in a violin, a technology perfected several hundred years ago.

Tell us about the technology that you use during your shows.  How did you get into looping and special effects? (this is the same answer I gave to Joel here…)

Harvey took the boys so I could start working on my violin/vocal record one day. I envisioned it all acoustic. He said I should embrace technology. He brought home an octave pedal that day and it blew my mind. Different sounds inspire different music. One thing led to another! Harvey cheered me on when I thought I must be crazy. It is just so much fun to find ways to pull off songs like “Higher Love” and “Hey Joe” Who knew!? I try to make sure that the technology is always in service of the song. A lot of looping out there is pretty boring and unmusical to me. Looping was a tool to enable me to play some wild and improvisational violin in a solo show. Something I hadn’t been able to do very effectively solo before.

Does Harvey use any technology when he plays or does he prefer a more organic approach to his music?

Harvey is incredibly savvy about technology when it comes to amplifying the acoustic sound of the guitar. He enjoys filling a room with an amplified but pure and “acoustic” sound. His attention to getting one of the premier sounds in acoustic guitar on the planet and his work with Fishman Transducers helped in aiding me to get one of the best amplified “acoustic” violin sounds out there.

Do you have any favorite songs that you and Harvey play together?  And, if so, what makes them so special?

I always enjoy playing our autoharp and violin duet on “Last Dance of Summer” a jig that Harvey wrote and that I learned and got his attention with way back that first night we played. I feel grateful for that tune every time we play it and it always sweeps me away. I also love when we sing harmony together. “Billy Gray” is a favorite song. And he has been singing my peace song “Filled with Love” which is an honor and it has found some good audiences lately, where  it was the song to play for the moment.

The publication of The Song Train (a 4-CD and accompanying instruction book) was a big undertaking but it must have been rewarding to provide so much musical instruction for beginning guitarists.  Is teaching a big part of your lives?

We did guitar night at the church this past year, harnessing the power of the Liberty Guitar Capo that Harvey invented, and his breakthrough knowledge in using it to greatly simplify guitar (as well as aiding virtuosos in exploring new fingerboard environments). We don’t teach privately very often. The Song Train and Harvey’s Liberty Guitar Method books and the Liberty Capos are all great tools to inspire folks to teach themselves, or to bring to their guitar teachers to help aid in their musical journey. The Song Train was a very fun collection of songs to record and share with aspiring musicians and musicians who just want a collection of great and simple songs to share at jam sessions. Because playing music is important!!

How did you start doing gigs with Dave Mattacks?

I hired DM to play on my recording Love & Thirst. I learned a lot working with him on that. He subsequently hired me on a few sessions he was producing and recommended me for a project with Billy Walsh that led to some band work. He was the first drummer to come to mind to use in my duo idea – adding drums to my new sound. Logistics make it difficult to do on a regular basis, but whenever I get the chance to play with DM it’s an honor.

It’s been a while since your last recording, do you have plans for something new coming up?

I have several album ideas and tons of material that I would love to record. The changing times, the disinterest in CDs or albums or purchasing music, has definitely caused a slow down on the CD making front on our end. But the creative fires sure haven’t gone out! I keep writing and making new music and learning new covers. Hopefully I’ll get some of it down this winter.

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