When Savannah Welch asked three of her friends to sing with her at a 2009 tribute to her father, songwriter Kevin Welch, none of them expected that in just two short years, they would be performing with some of their musical heroes and releasing their first record.
They were soon performing at the Americana Music Association’s Conference &?Festival in Nashville. They were then invited to sing on a record with Ray Wylie Hubbard and tour with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Todd Snider.
In November of last year, The Trishas, as they would call themselves, were on the roster with Lyle Lovett, Jerry Jeff Walker, Joe Ely, Rodney Crowell, Terry Allen, Rosie Flores and others at the Long Center in Austin to perform at a tribute for Guy Clark, the dean of Texas songwriting.
“Just imagine whoever your major influences are,” said Jamie Wilson, 30, during a telephone interview from her home in Yancey, west of San Antonio. “Imagine walking into a room full of them just to hang out. It was great.”
Wilson and fellow band mates, Welch, 28, who lives in Dallas, Liz Foster, 30, Kelly Mickwee, 33, who both hail from Austin, were invited to the tribute in part because they had recorded “She Ain’t Going Nowhere,” a Clark tune, on a 2-CD tribute called “This One’s For Him.” Clark has since said that their cover of the song is his favorite.
“We were all starry-eyed and a little bit surprised,” Wilson remembered. “We were standing there between Terry Allen and Joe Ely. They were talking to us like we were old friends. We were like little kids.”
The Trishas performed next to last that night. When they took the stage, not many in the audience knew who they were or why they were there, but by the time they had finished their number, the crowd was certainly paying attention.
Tight, balanced harmonies like the ones shared by these young women don’t come along every day.
“The Trishas vocal harmonies are beautiful and I am happy we had the chance to showcase them on the Guy Clark tribute,” said Tamara Saviano, who produced the show and the tribute CD. “It is a pleasure to work with these dynamic young women. I think they have a bright future ahead of them.”
If Saviano and others in the music industry are correct the Trishas are going to need shades. Their first full length record, “High, Wide and Handsome,”?is set to drop next week. If country radio will give them a foot in the door, the girls should hit it big time. (See review below.) One listen to the harmonies that float above the lyrics in “Mother of Invention,” and the public will clamor for more.
Wilson spoke about that sweet moment when their voices blend. Sometimes, it gives her goose bumps.
“We’ve been starting our shows with ‘Mother of Invention,’” Wilson noted. “In the right room, with the right sound guy and everything going right, you can feel it happen. You can feel it in the audience. It’s really, really nice to be part of something like that.”
In addition to the tight harmonies, the girls decided to write – or cowrite – the songs for the new record. Well, all but one.
“We were pitched some songs,” she noted. “We considered them because we didn’t want to pass up any good songs, but we went in with a really large pool of our own songs. We whittled our way through to 14 songs – the ones that best represented us.”
They wrote with Savannah’s dad, Owen Temple, Evan Felker of the Turnpike Troubadors and Jim Lauderdale, who helped with the bonus track, “A Far Cry From You.”
They tried out new sounds and styles for this record, not wanting to get stuck in one genre.
“You can’t just sit and write the same songs over and over and over,” Wilson said. “They’re not all waltzes and not all songs with back beats.”
The girls differ when it comes to their musical influences. Wilson leans toward Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. Foster relies on the blues for inspiration. Mickwee likes the Memphis sound. She and Welch also share a fondness for Bonnie Raitt.
“We have four writers in the band,” Wilson explained. “So we all have different styles, but as soon as we start playing a song, it becomes a Trishas song. It sounds like we belong together.”
In addition to their careers in music, the girls also have busy personal lives. Foster and Welch are single. Mickwee and Wilson are married. Welch and Wilson each have one child, and Wilson is pregnant with a second baby.
When asked if the group is prepared for the possible surge of popularity that could come after the new record is released on Aug. 7, Wilson waxed philosophic.
“We just want to be able to keep doing what we’re doing, making a living doing what we love and finding a balance between it and the other thing we love – our families,” she offered. “As long as we can do that, we’re prepared for anything.”
“Hide, Wide and Handsome” will be released on Aug. 7.
For tour information and to learn more about The Trishas, visit www.thetrishas.com
Click here to watch a video of The Trishas performing “The Mother of Invention."
Breaking down ‘High, Wide and Handsome’ – One tune at a time
The title of The Trisha’s (Liz Foster, Kelley Mickwee, Savannah Welch and Jamie Wilson) new record comes from an old expression meaning a “carefree, stylish manner,” according to www.phrases.org/uk. It was first used in print in 1881 in the Bucks County Gazette, Bristol, Penn., to describe changes in town. “Among many improvements on Market Street, few are so conspicuous as the high, wide and handsome building on the north-west corner of Eighth.”
Mother of Invention – Great lead off song, as it showcases the girls’ tight harmonies and solid writing skills.
Make something out of nothing. Temporary restoration
An original creation – a dead ringer for the real thing.
High, wide and handsome. Taking pennies from the jar
In interesting situations, you discover who you really are.
Strangers – This lament takes the listener through a marriage, from wedding day to an uncomfortable place where the couple has drifted apart. They still live together, but the connection is gone.
I barely recognize myself.
When I look at you, I see someone else.
You say nothing’s changed, but I’ve got my doubts.
We’re just strangers to me now.
Little Sweet Cigars – With its driving beat and Marty Robbins feel, the chorus explains everything.
I could have told you, darling, it would end up like this.
When you’re kissed by a fool, you’re fooled by a kiss.
I believed you, baby, but you’re still the lying tongue.
You were handsome and older. I was foolish and young.
Liars and Fools – This slow waltz should become a dance hall favorite. The girls’ harmonies are the heart this classic country song. The fiddle and harmonica break between verses are about as true as you’ll ever find.
If I had to choose between liars and fools,
I’d choose the fools every time.
Cuz’ liars, they live in their own little world
While the fools lay it all on the line.
Cheater’s Game – If country radio is smart, they will give this cheating song some air time. Every girl who’s had her heart broken will identify with the story.
I can fake it for a while ‘til I fall apart in style
I guess rock bottom’s not too far down
A little heartache, a little pain
Just a prick that opens the vain
A dash of salt for the wound
And I barely made a sound.
Looking at Me – Another waltz with unrequited love at its core. She loves him, but he doesn’t see her. The girls tap into Emmylou Harris’ clear, mountain sound.
A fire burns slow if you know how to build
The heat travels from the ground toward the trees
When the winds change, I know smoke follows beauty
I follow it up ‘til it’s you that I see
Why – There’s a video clip of this one floating around on the Internet. It has a hard-edge bluesy sound that kinda digs its way into your consciousness.
Oh. Take me home. Tuck me in tonight.
Oh. If you love me, be a man, treat me right.
Leave you I just might.
Oh, why do you always gotta be so down on me?
Stomp me hard, throw me down, spin me around and break my heart.
Over Forgiving You – She says she’s through with missing him. No matter how many times she tells herself she’s done, it’s not true. While the other tunes stay away from a “produced” sound, this one feels like it spent a lot of time in the studio. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but I prefer the girls when they stay closer to their acoustic roots.
I’m through with missing you
I’m over forgiving you
I found someone who will stay
And I don’t have to wonder
How I’ll get out from under you
I know I can’t say
I’m through with missing you
I’m over forgiving you today.
One Down – A slow simmering number that grabs your attention … and there’s certainly a Marty Robbins groove with the opening electric guitar licks. It has that 1960s vibe.
One down. Two to go.
Moving fast. You’re moving slow.
If this is how it’s going to be.
I feel the heat inside of me. Burning down below.
If there’s nothing to lose. If there’s nothing to use.
If there’s nothing left to burn,
Set yourself on fire
Cold Blooded Love – A comparison to jazz artist Melody Gardot is inevitable. If you put a bluesy ballad in the blender with a country tune, this is what might pour out. It is hot – and incredibly irresistible.
With every gleam of night, there comes a burning flame
Either way, we’re in drowning in whiskey or champagne
In haste I bid you calling and always fall from grace
I may be satiated but I still hunger for the taste. …
I know it’s wrong, but it feels so right.
Rainin’ Inside – A pure country broken-hearted love song. He’s gone. She wants him back, no matter the cost.
Billie Holiday’s killing me
Like she’s been reading my mind
I dropped a needle on her yesterday
And I’ve been listening all this time.
It’s raining inside tonight.
The Fool – Slow country waltz with a light, lovely vocal riding on top. When the harmonies chime in, they shine.
Let her down easy tonight
She wants to feel her love
But don’t hold her too tight
She thinks that she wants you
She really needs anything but
John Wayne Cowboy – If the girls catch on and continue to tour, this one will certainly become one of their signature songs. Although it was written about Jamie Wilson’s late father-in-law, cowgirls everywhere will have their own fantasy about what a “John Wayne” cowboy looks/feels like. Hell, yeah.
John Wayne Cowboy.
Come to save the day.
Gold and Silver – Love the use of a mandolin in this one. Not sure how they achieved it, but this one sounds like the girls are alone in the room, just singing and playing a simple tune that somehow takes your breath away.
Gold and silver
Are very hard to come by.
Love is purer.
It don’t shine.
If you think that you look better in gold and silver
Gold and silver won’t make you mine.
A Far Cry From You – Definitely opens with an electric guitar vibe, but this bonus duet with Raul Malo should bring back memories of the 1960s British duo Peter & Gordon.
I’ve tried to forget you with another
And I cry with regret when I do
There’s a good man with a patient plan
So willing to love me,
But he’s a far cry from you.
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