Archive For July 23, 2016

Golden voice, pure heart


Emily had another great show at the Marketplace, which was housed in the old and beautiful Pulaski Train Depot.  Thankfully, the weather held off and we had a hot but beautiful evening for an outdoor show.  This time, my wife and the immensely talented guitarist Ron Ireland had big and devoted enough audience to play the entire four hours, an amazing feat considering how hot it was.

The two of them did a great job as usual and I heard many wonderful compliments about what a sweet and beautiful voice my wife had and how well their two voices blended together.  Their was only one new song tried out for this gig, but it was another home run.  Emily’s version of “Love Me Tender,” originally done by the only and only King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, was a perfect solo ballad for my wife.  As usual, it melted my heart.  Ron has that knack for picking songs for her to sing that make me so sad.  He does that, though, in hopes that the rest of the audience will be touched in the same way.  With Emily’s pure heart and equally pure singing voice, this seems to be an obvious tactic.

“This was our first rehearsal of that song,” Ron quipped with the audience.

The song had never been rehearsed or even discussed once.  It was completely new to the both of them.  Had he never admitted it to the audience, no one would have been the wiser.  It came off without a hitch.

Her cover of “Me and Bobby McGee” was requested to be sang a second time by a member of the audience.  Another listener also requested James Taylor.  Ron obliged with a solo of “Sweet Baby James.”  He also did a few great covers of Bob Dylan songs on both the guitar and harmonica.  What an amazing talent!

It was Emily’s cover of the Bob Dylan work “To Make You Feel My Love” that did its usual job of sending copious amounts of tears running down my cheeks.  I was so proud of myself for getting through “Let It Be Me” without a whimper, but that song took me back to square one.

Ron’s voice reflects his personality.  He is gentle, warm and timeworn.  Emily’s perfectly pitched voice equally mirrors the type of person she is.  Her soul is full of purity, sweetness and vulnerability.  This makes for a great duo with a collaboratively golden musical sound.  I hope their joint effort lasts for a very long time.  Both are very unique souls with an exclusive artistic gift.  I am glad their paths have crossed.

I am also very happy to say that, thanks to advanced user-friendly technology as well as the generosity of both Ron and his sweetheart Mary Sue, Emily will have a CD and DVD coming out soon of her two showcases at the Bolling Wilson Hotel in Wytheville, complete with Ron’s impeccable accompaniment of course.  I will keep you posted on this very exciting project!

Emily shines with Ron Ireland in Pulaski

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My wife blew everyone away at the June 23rd concert headlined by local guitar virtuoso Ron Ireland.  Aside from Emily, Ron shared the stage at the Train Depot in Pulaski, Virginia with the Pratt Brothers, a guitar duo of siblings aged 16 and 18 from Draper.  Accompanied by the nostalgic ambiance of the Pulaski Train Depot, I felt as if I had a backstage pass to a ’50s concert in which all the great rock and country crossover acts appeared together on the same bill.  You can’t imagine how proud I was that my wife was the up and coming star of the whole thing.

Emily sang five new songs for this show, the first being an old Appalachian folk song that was already among Ron’s vast repertoire.  “Poor Wayfaring Stranger” was a song that I had fallen in love with after I had heard it sung by the late great Dusty Springfield in a clip from one of her television shows on BBC in the mid 1960s.  I knew if Dusty could stir me that well, Emily could do an even better job.  And boy did she ever!  I noticed that there weren’t a lot of people listening until she went into that songs.  People started coming in and sitting down or stopping in the doorways to hear her.  The applause was rigorous.

She also chose for herself “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” the signature song of early blues pioneer Bessie Smith.  Billie Holiday has always been a favorite of Emily’s.  After learning that Bessie Smith was Billie’s hero, Emily began to explore her music and became a huge fan.  I was amazed that Ron played it twice on his computer and then picked it up on guitar immediately.  He is such an awesome talent and the perfect mentor for my wife.

Ron and Emily had originally performed “Keep Me From Blowin’ Away,” an early Linda Ronstadt recording, as a duet, but given the power of Emily’s voice during her debut, Ron decided to give the song to her to sing as a solo.  She did so without disappointment and owned the tune as he knew she would.

When Ron asked Emily to sing the Beatles’ hymn tinged anthem, “Let It Be,” it was an easier request than he might have realized.  The Beatles have been Emily’s favorite musicians all her life and she knows most all of their songs backward and forward.  The harmony between her and Ron on that number was an especially nice touch.

The Bob Dylan composition made famous by a Garth Brooks cover, “To Make You Feel My Love,” was one of those tunes that leave me in sobs as I hear my wife sing it.  It so beautifully tells our own love story and goes hand in hand with The Everly Brothers song “Let It Be Me,” which also brings me to tears every time my wife sings it.

It is that song, along with “Angel From Montgomery”, the John Prine tune made famous by Bonnie Raitt, another of our favorites, for which Ron says he wants Emily to be identified along with her cover of Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee.”  I think that will be just the beginning when it comes to recalling the uniquely angelic voice of Emily Cooley.