Bullet Backstory with Joan Shelley


Joan Shelley with Maiden Radio are joining us on the Tennessee Shines Radio Show on September 14th at 7 p.m.

Joan Shelley quickly followed her acclaimed 2014 album “Electric Ursa” with “Over and Even,” a quieter, more contemplative set recorded in her home state of Kentucky. Shelley has been praised by Rolling Stone, NPR and Pitchfork, and The New York Times recently wrote that “her music is folky and pastoral, with a sense of scale that makes her humble about her place in mankind and the universe, and her songs are serene but never complacent.”

Maiden Radio is the old-time trio of Joan Shelley, Cheyenne Mize, & Julia Purcell. The band hales from Louisville, Kentucky. They favor traditional songs from their home state of Kentucky, re-arranged for three-part harmony (and three of the loveliest voices you may hear). While showing a clear reverence and love for the great singers of the past, their music is timeless & beautiful, and the original compositions played at their shows (and that are occasionally on their recordings) are indistinguishable from the tunes people have been listening to for ages & ages.

Tennessee Shines Radio Show is performed for a live audience every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Boyd’s Jig & Reel musical pub in Knoxville’s historic Old City. The show is broadcast live on WDVX FM and WDVX.com. Tickets are $10 in advance, available at http://jigandreel.ticketleap.com/ or at the door starting at 6 p.m.

In the meantime, enjoy this Bullet Backstory from Joan Shelley herself. She was gracious enough to answer our questions for this regular feature on the WDVX blog.

Take it away Joan!

  • Biggest musical influences?
    Lyrically, I got a lot from listening Leonard Cohen, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Townes Van Zandt, Doug Paisley. I’ve developed how I write and play guitar from listening to and playing with Nathan Salsburg. Great old-time and ballad singers like Addie Graham, Dillard Chandler have informed me as a singer with their unadorned but powerful delivery. And great voices like Billie Holiday, Sandy Denny, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, June Tabor, Jackson Browne, Paul Simon… They wrote and sang so many songs that I’ve loved since I was a kid.
  • What made you decide to pursue music as a career?
    Having a nagging suspicion that I’d be good at it. I always thought I didn’t deserve it, but someone told me once, in a way that I believed her, that I should dive in and try it all the way. Somehow that gave me the permission I was seeking.
  • What advice do you have for young musicians who are trying to hone their craft?
    Listen more and play less.
  • What’s your favorite thing to do in Knoxville?
    One hot day my band and I drove into Knoxville in a van that didn’t have A/C, and we saw this amazing fountain area near the big Sunsphere. We got out and ran around in that and it was heaven.
  • If you could work with any musician (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
    Edith Piaf; it would be amazing to get locked in a room with her the way she would do with her chosen composers and work all night drinking wine until we came out with a song. She was so charged and alive as a performer, but still stood behind the songs (rather than having an on-stage persona that stood out in front of the songs, was somehow more important or in some cases better than the songs themselves).
    Her and June Tabor.
  • Anything else you would like to share?
    Just that this is the first tour through Knoxville since the album Over and Even came out, and the new 7inch that just came out. It will be the first time that the trio that I am in, Maiden Radio, will be performing in Knoxville since we stopped through for a blue plate special appearance last year. Maiden Radio is opening the show, so I am doing double duty, and am really excited to have this bill for the first time.