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AOL’s Daily Finance debuts a commercial from Singer Songwriter Samantha Murphy about Limelight, a simple way for artists to clear any cover song in the world. Limelight‘s full press release is below.

We are very excited about the launch and debut of our new Limelight educational video with Internet pioneer and indie singer-songwriter Samantha Murphy (The Highway Girl). Samantha has written, produced and starred in this 2 minute and 19 second long video highlighting the recording of her new single, an amazing cover of the classic Johnny Cash song “Ring of Fire”. It also shows Samantha using Limelight to clear the necessary mechanical license for this song for her upcoming release.

Samantha is the rare combination of accomplished musician, technology advocate and champion for artists and songwriters. She has produced not only a compelling video that highlights Limelight’s ease-of-use, but has also delivered a memorable version of Johnny Cash’s classic Ring of Fire. We are extremely grateful for her talents, passion and vision for this incredible song. Ring of Fire is the first single from Samantha’s new album Some Assembly Required and will be available on September 15.

We hope that you enjoy it. For more about Samantha / The Highway Girl check out www.samanthamurphy.com and www.thehighwaygirl.com.

Having seen Crowded House a handful of times over the last couple of decades, I’ve grown to expect a lot from them.

Crowded House Photo by Samantha Murphy

Crowded House Photo by Samantha Murphy



Last week at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, they didn’t disappoint. The venue on the other hand was a big disappointment with very limited seating and a surly staff to say the least, but I digress.

Every time Neil Finn starts singing live, I’m very aware that I’m in the presence of something out of this world. With a voice like no other, Neil tells stories that are all at once mysterious and understandable.

Photo by Samantha Murphy

Neil Finn Photo by Samantha Murphy

Neil is working on a new project with his wife Sharon and he’s also sporting a new mustache, which we joked about backstage after the show.

The band opened with I Feel Possessed, a dark mid-tempo from their 1988 release Temple of Low Men. As with most of the band’s songs it was written by Neil, an incredibly gifted songwriter. They followed up with In My Command, which the audience clearly was by this point, clapping and singing along to every word. Speaking of the audience, most of the crowd were predictably middle aged, but I was surprised to also see a lot of twenty somethings in attendance. My favorite song as always was Fingers of Love. So wonderfully dark and moody.

I’m always taken aback by the sheer musical talent of my friend Mark Hart, the band’s lead guitar/keyboard/backing vocalist. He literally plays everything exceptionally well. I didn’t get a chance after the show to ask him if he has always had a slide guitar perched on top of his keyboard or if that was new. In any case it was the first time I’d noticed it.

Mark Hart Photo by Samantha Murphy

It was wonderful to see Nick in great spirits and get a chance to chat with him about his studio in Dublin and the baby girl he has since I last saw him. Such a nice guy.

Since 2007, Matt Sherrod has been the drummer in Crowded House and he really is a great fit both in terms of playing style and personality. Matt was previously in Beck’s band and is now a Nashville resident.

The band signed autographs and took photos with their fans for a long time before getting back on the bus to head to Nashville. Neil made a point to call out “Bye Samantha!” as he was heading for the bus and it made my night. I felt sad to say goodbye to Mark and was filled with memories of being neighbors on Beachwood Drive when I would wake up hearing his beautiful classical piano playing drifting through my bedroom window from downstairs. Safe travels guys and see you next time!

Guest Review and Photo by Gregory A. Roach

Imogen Heap filled the hearts and minds of her adoring faithful last night at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom even if she couldn’t actually fill the hall itself. The audience didn’t seem to care. Piling layer upon layer of ethereal sound until her lyrics were literally lost in the mix, she prowled the stage and preened her way through a fairly long setlist compiled and ranked earlier online by her fans. “I’m playing the top 12 or 14 in each city with an added four or so of my own.” she explained. This strategy guaranteed a touch of Frou Frou and a satisfying closer with the top ranked song held for her finale. “Hide and Seek” did not disappoint.

But she’s frankly not my cup of tea. A live show this tech assumptive may offer a geektopia of laptops, filters and mixing boards but for an old-head like me, too few actual musical instruments. The net result was a hot banquet poured from a can with one fresh element added. It didn’t work well for me. I like my meals from scratch.

The well-lit stage came to life under her dedicated band but each time they left her alone with her thin voice and her piles of blinking hardware, the fresh air of live performance seemed to leak back out.

Some of her looped recordings were created earlier in the studio while others were laid down live on the fly. But all were cycled again and again with harmonies and percussive textures added with each play until the mix was more akin to aural painting than actual songwriting. It crossed my mind that I was watching a leonine sculptress at work carving sound instead of marble, her fans as raptured by the falling sound chips as the actual work itself. Perhaps her colored vibrancy was on occasion overmixed to brown, but she certainly knows how to build her emotional peaks.

Alas, she was plagued all night and almost sabotaged by a series of technical gaffes so blatant they robbed her set of the pacing and momentum essential for a moving live performance. Whether she stopped to reboot an incalcitrant electric piano–and a looong reboot it was–or fumbled live for a missing audio jack or a switch that would bring a dead instrument mercifully back to life, her talent promised an emotional wallop that was doomed to dissipation under her uncomfortable stage patter while sorting problem after problem, distracted and at times visibly annoyed. Her fans loved every moment but I kept thinking of the satisfying rush she’d be capable of delivering if only her sound crew were as focused on her performance as she was. A show this computer complex could never truly be a one-woman affair. But it just goes to prove again if you want something done right, you really do have to do it yourself.

May 25, 2010, @ The Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC, General Admission/Standing $27.50 plus fees and taxes.

You can email the author at RoachGAR@aol.com

SXSWhew!

Not only was it my first year performing an official showcase (Yay!  Ben Deily of the Lemonheads came with John Strohm of the Blake Babies who has a wonderful blog post you need to check out here), but our panel was also selected entitled From the Stage: An Artist’s Perspective.  Many thanks to our wonderful panelists Kate Bradley (Outlandos/Blurt), Rob Giles (The Rescues), Michael Petricone (CEA) and Anais Mitchell (Righteous Babe).  It was a blast!  You can check out the podcast on SXSW.com

The Highway Girl SXSW Panel

Somehow we also managed to throw a little shindig of our own!  We invited some incredible singer songwriters to stop by and play.  Greg Holden, Rosi Golan, Rob Giles and Paul Chesne all blew us away with their live sets.

Many thanks to them as well as our sponsors Oxfam, Insiders Network, Bandvino and Roku.  We gave away a Roku player as well as a couple of wine spikes from Bandvino.  Congrats to our winners!!

The Highway Girl also needs to thank PGI for allowing us to film in the penthouse of the Frost Bank Building in beautiful Downtown Austin.  New episodes of The Highway Girl coming soon on our brand new site.  SO excited!!

Jeff's Shoes Photo by Brian DeWitt

“I’ve always felt like the best stuff within anything I’ve made has been the stuff that I didn’t intend to be there, that I look at and say, how did that happen?  That’s the stuff that makes it worthwhile to me.  Because if you could imagine it, why do it?  Why take the journey?” –Jeff Tweedy

Jeff Tweedy Photo by Brian DeWitt

As we approached the Fox Theatre in Downtown Atlanta, I overheard a girl say,”Wilco is so consistently great it doesn’t matter what album they’re promoting or even if they’re promoting one.”  Having never been to a Wilco concert before and owning none of their records, they had a lot to live up to.  I spend so much time listening to new artists to feature on The Highway Girl that it’s rare for me to listen to what’s popular.  I’d been hearing such raves about Wilco for so many years that I felt I was going to be disappointed by them live.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard the hits and I really like them, but I didn’t have a deep attachment.

Until now.  Wilco took the stage as a rock band.  The entire place jumped to its feet and stayed there.  I was completely taken aback because I’ve had this image of them as sort of an alt country, indie roots kind of band and they blew that notion right out of the water.  They owned the stage much like Radiohead, with balls to the wall energy and the kind of confidence that only comes with playing sold out shows (yes it was, btw).  I was blown away and I wasn’t alone.  It was apparent I was in the presence of musical greatness.  Art was most definitely being created here.

As a singer songwriter myself, I learned a lot last night about how to craft a set list.  As I mentioned, the band came out rocking and for at least 4-5 songs they kept the energy really high.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of lead singer Jeff Tweedy, except I occasionally was forced to address the sheer brilliance that was coming out of guitarist Nels Cline, who I had forgotten played on a few records for Eleni Mandell (who we’ve featured a few times both solo and with The Living Sisters).

Nels Cline Photo by Brian DeWitt

The band did something incredible about half way through their three hour set.  While the end of a song rang out for a minute, they brought out a second drum kit and set it  up right in front of the other one creating a “stage inside a stage” effect that felt more intimate.  It was genius!  As an artist, I’m completely aware of how challenging it is to keep the audience energized while playing introspective, slower tempo songs.  They nailed it and the audience still stayed on its feet despite the slower tempos.  Nels sat down to play lap steel and bassist John Stirratt switched to upright.  It was really magical.

Wilco flawlessly transitioned from rock to alt country and back again without losing intensity or focus.  Jeff Tweedy also had a sense of humor when a photographer was nearly thrown out for continuing to take photos after the first three song limit imposed by the band.  You can see why the band does it.  A swarm of photographers were all over each other down front (one of them was our own Brian DeWitt) trying to get the ultimate shot.  As Tweedy stated “We’ve got a show to do here.”  The band gives out prizes to audience members by name during the show.  At one point someone in the audience yelled out “Grindhouse burgers will buy everyone here a burger!”  to which Tweedy replied “You’ll regret that.”  After the next song Jeff said “I was just thinking… you better own that burger place!”  The person responded that they did, but that we would need to present our tickets in order to get our free burger.

As a beautiful close to a wonderful evening, Jeff dedicated their one song encore to the late Alex Chilton of Big Star.  On our way out we bought the Wilco book, a t-shirt and two baby onesies that read “Wilco Loves Your Baby.”  Thanks Deb.

Our good friend Christopher Dallman has released a brand new video for his song “Ghosts” from his “Never Was” EP. You can also watch the video on YouTube or on Christopher’s website.

Be sure to also have a listen to our podcast with Chris Dallman too!