Photo by Bernie DeChant
Having worked as a backing vocalist for the likes of the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and blues-rocker Benjamin Booker, Lauren Balthrop has stepped out on her own and made her debut record as a singer-songwriter and guitarist. Released via Tone Tree Music, “This Time Around” was recorded in Woodstock and produced by Josh Kaufman (Bob Weir, The National and Craig Finn).
There’s a fresh atmospheric sound to Lauren’s music that makes for a pleasant diversion from the typical country/Americana sound that dominates this town. As sonically different as it may be, nonetheless her skillful songwriting and poignant honest lyrics make her right at home here in Music City.
Those in New York City can see her at the City Winery on October 19 as a guest on host Wesley Stace’s “Cabinet of Wonders” show. Wes (a/k/a John Wesley Harding) has quite a respected ear and his hand-picking of Lauren for his vaudeville-like revue speaks to her talent.
Thanks Lauren for taking the time to visit with these 11 Questions from a fellow pizza snob!
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I’m from Mobile, Alabama. I lived there until college and then headed off to FSU to study theatre and music. After college, I moved to NYC and lived there for over ten years. I moved to Nashville a little over a year ago to focus on my music and have more space to do so.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
The first record I bought was Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Come On Come On on CD. I think I bought it at the local music store in Mobile called Peaches which sadly doesn’t exist anymore. I was eight years old and loved that song “I Feel Lucky.” I still love that song and was happy I got to see her perform recently at the CMA Theater in the Country Music Hall of Fame. The last record I bought was Kristina Murray’s new album Southern Ambrosia on vinyl. I purchased it via her PledgeMusic pre-order site. She’s a friend of mine, and I love her music.
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
My first concert I think I must have been Faith Hill and John Michael Montgomery. So funny. I had a real thing for pop country back then. I don’t really like that music so much anymore. My last concert was Honky Tonk Tuesday Nights at the American Legion in East Nashville. Great classic country and dancing!
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
Molly Tuttle will be there soon if she isn’t already! She’s incredible.
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
Coffee: I love Dose! I go to both locations depending on where in town I am. Pizza: I’m a bit of a pizza snob having lived in NYC for so long, but I’ll take some Five Points Pizza. They’re doing a damn fine job.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
That’s a tough one, but I’ll have to say Roy Orbison’s first record with producer Fred Foster Lonely and Blue that had “Only the Lonely” and “Cry.” It was recorded at RCA Studio B. It’s a classic and Fred Foster is a big part of that thing we call the “Nashville Sound”. In fact, my friend Dawn Landes pulled him out of retirement most likely to produce her latest album.
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
I have some incredibly gifted songwriter friends, but I’d have to say Kristin Andreassen, Joe Pisapia and Maya deVitry.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
Nashville is seriously lacking in pianos, but I guess I’d have to say that swanky new place called the Analog at the Hutton is so beautiful and the sound is stellar. It feels like the set of MTV Unplugged or something. But, they should get a piano (Like a white baby grand! Wink, wink.) and turn down the AC because I always freeze my tail off when I go in there.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here?
Paul McCartney, but that won’t be happening ever.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
I just released my new album This Time Around on September 21, so I’ll be playing some shows around that. I’m headed up to Boston to play at Club Passim with Lori McKenna on October 10, and then to NYC for a Brooklyn show. Then, it’s down to Louisiana for the best music festival, Black Pot Festival. I’m booking some shows out in California in November as well. See ya’ll out there!