FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2012
JUDITH OWEN & HARRY SHEARER’S HOLIDAY SING-ALONG
TOURS FOUR U.S. CITIES IN DECEMBER
Concert proceeds benefit the New Orleans
Musicians Assistance Foundation
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Judith Owen and Harry Shearer’s Holiday Sing-Along is back. The Simpsons and This Is Spinal Tap star has again teamed up with his acclaimed singer-songwriter spouse, Judith Owen, for an evening of special guests, seasonal cheer and playful irreverence. Acting as the perfect hosts, Owen and Shearer both sing and play (piano and bass, respectively) and welcome an array of superbly talented guests to join in the festive fun.
The International tour touches down in four U.S. cities: New York (December 2, City Winery), Chicago (December 4, SPACE), Los Angeles (December 14, Largo) and New Orleans (December 19, Contemporary Arts Center).
This heartwarming and gut-busting evening of carols and comedy began as a cozy holiday gathering with family and friends in the couple’s Los Angeles home. In what has become an annual event, Owen and Shearer have successfully taken the wry and laidback charms of their holiday house party to the stage.
The sing along, with its impressive array of special guests, has become a perennial touring phenomenon in major U.S. cities. Past favorite drop-ins for the evening of music mirth include a who’s-who of talented guests including Jane Lynch, Richard Thompson, Julia Fordham, Jill Sobule, Christopher Guest, Jon Cleary, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.
Multi-talented Harry Shearer is a comic personality who takes “hyphenate” to new levels —actor, author, director, satirist, musician, radio host, playwright and multi-media artist. He currently stars as former President, Richard M. Nixon, in Sky Arts TV comedy-drama, Nixon’s the One.
The multi-Grammy nominated Shearer’s latest CD release, Can’t Take a Hint, features Owen along with world-class collaborators Dr. John, Jamie Cullum, Glee’s Jane Lynch, and Fountains of Wayne. The album has been favorably received by Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times and Billboard, among many other outlets. American Songwriter magazine noted, “this is an album where you actually have to pay attention to the lyrics.”
Shearer reaches the homes of millions weekly via Le Show, his popular public-radio hour of satire and music now in its third decade. He’s played prominent roles in a broad range of films from The Right Stuff to This Is Spinal Tap, which he co-wrote, to the most recent For Your Consideration. Shearer directed The Big Uneasy, a film about the real cause of the 2005 New Orleans flood, and his first novel, Not Enough Indians, was on the Los Angeles Times’ Best Seller list.
Like Shearer, Judith Owen is known for her sharp wit as well as her singular artistry as a singer and songwriter. Her recordings on Courgette Records have captivated fans, fellow artists and the most discerning critics. Judith’s music combines pop, rock, jazz, classical, R&B and theatrical influences.
Owen is best known to U.K./U.S. audiences as the exquisite voice of Richard Thompson’s CD and live show 1000 Years of Popular Music and Cabaret of Souls. Jamie Cullum calls her “a female Randy Newman” and The New York Times states that she has “the kind of wailing folk-jazz voice that slices away surfaces to touch the vulnerable emotional nerve endings and leave you quivering.”
Her live performances are distinguished by brimming humor and theatrics. Owen’s most recent release, her eighth to date, is the beautifully vulnerable Some Kind of Comfort, an introspective collection of soulfully sophisticated pop. And her Christmas in July CD is filled with unabashed holiday gems, with a fresh twist.
Judith Owen & Harry Shearer’s Holiday Sing-Along is an evening of music and mirth for Christmas lovers and Scrooges of all ages. In fact, at last year’s performance one audience member was overheard gushing, “When my girlfriend told me we were going to a Xmas sing-a-long, I told her I'd rather stab my own eyes out. But now I'm going every year. It’s that much fun.”
JUDITH OWEN AND HARRY SHEARER’S HOLIDAY SING-ALONG ON TOUR:
Sun., Dec. 2 NEW YORK, NY City Winery
Tues., Dec. 4 CHICAGO/EVANSTON, IL SPACE
Fri., Dec. 14 LOS ANGELES, CA Largo at the Coronet Theatre
Wed., Dec. 19 NEW ORLEANS, LA Contemporary Arts Center
Proceeds from this show will benefit the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation www.nomaf.org.
NOMAF MISSION The mission of the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation is to keep music alive by sustaining New Orleans musicians and tradition bearers in body, mind and spirit. We do this through providing access to health and social services through the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, regardless of musicians’ ability to pay, and by fostering cultural opportunities that advocate for and support this effort.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2012
HARRY SHEARER’S NEW ALBUM, CAN’T TAKE A HINT,
TO BE RELEASED AUGUST 27, FEATURES MUSICAL GUESTS
DR. JOHN, FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE, JANE LYNCH
AND JAMIE CULLUM, AMONG OTHERS
Shearer will tour U.S. to support project, which was recorded in musical meccas of New Orleans, Los Angeles and London.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Harry Shearer’s new release, Can’t Take a Hint, isn’t the first long-player by the star of TV (The Simpsons), film (This Is Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind) and radio (Le Show), but it is the first to feature a world-class cast of musical collaborators.
Due out on Courgette Records through The Orchard on August 27, 2012, the set features giants of pop, R&B and jazz whom Shearer has gotten to know in his travels: Dr. John (“Autumn in New Orleans”), Glee’s Jane Lynch (“Like a Charity”), the Fountains of Wayne (“Celebrity Booze Endorser”), Jamie Cullum (“A Few Bad Apples”), Alice Russell (“Trillion Dollar Bargain”) and Judith Owen (“Your Thing”), and others. Shearer himself plays the bass on many of the songs.
Supporting these vocalists is a who’s who of instrumentalists and producers: guitar stars Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Steve Lukather, Beach Boys/Brian Wilson musical director Jeffrey Foskett, producer John P. Fischbach, guitarist Bruce Gaitsch, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, session ace CJ Vanston and Memphis artist Charlie Wood.
Can’t Take a Hint, which follows Grammy-nominated albums Songs Pointed and Pointless (2007) and Songs of the Bushmen (2008), differs from its predecessors in that it isn’t limited to one topical theme. Rather Shearer, Le Show’s master of satire, tackles various issues of the day — from the foibles of celebrity to the Bridge to Nowhere, from the cost of war to weather extremes in Shearer’s beloved Crescent City.
With the exception of a couple of what Shearer refers to as “song songs,” most of the tracks are comedic musical sketches of the kind he produces for Le Show, which has been heard on public radio since 1983 and more recently as an iTunes podcast. Regular listeners to Le Show have heard a few of these songs over the past year or two but they have not been commercially available until now.
About the songs on Can’t Take a Hint:
• “Celebrity Booze Endorser” (Harry Shearer, vocals; Fountains of Wayne, guest band): Shearer came to love the title phrase when Variety reported Madonna had joined the ranks of celebrity booze endorsers. Song features indie rockers Fountains of Wayne of whom Shearer is a “huge f—ing fan.”
• “Macondo” (Rob Brydon, vocals; Bruce Gaitsch, guitar; Chris Tedesco, trumpet; Shearer, bass; CJ Vanston, track): The song is written from the vantage point of the BP Petroleum executive who famously wanted his life back after the oil spill. Singing on the Randy Newman-esque track is Welsh actor/comic Rob Brydon, known for co-starring with Steve Coogan in "The Trip.”
• “Deaf Boys” (Shearer, vocals): Just your average a capella crooner- and Gregorian chant-inspired song about priests in U.S., U.K. and Italy who in a single week were found to have molested 200 deaf boys.
• “Autumn in New Orleans” (Dr. John, vocals; Nicholas Payton, trumpet; produced by David Torkanowsky): Shearer was in the Crescent City working on his acclaimed documentary about the 2005 New Orleans flood disaster, The Big Uneasy, and lived through a typically steamy New Orleans summer. In the second or third week of September, one could open the windows and breath a sigh of relief. The song is written as an homage to Hoagy Carmichael.
• “Touch My Junk” (Shearer, vocals; Vanston, track; Baxter, guitars, dobro, pedal steel; Gaitsch, guitar): Precipitated by the defiant airport security subject who exclaimed, “Don’t touch my junk!” When flying, Shearer’s motto is “a pat-down is for now, radiation is forever.” Skunk Baxter lends a country feel on dobro and steel.
• “A Few Bad Apples” (Jamie Cullum, vocals; Shearer, bass; Tedesco, trumpet; Vanston, piano; Glen Berger, saxes): A Sinatra-inspired song about blaming the underlings — the guys on the ground — for what’s gone wrong in modern-day wars. Shearer has known Cullum since Spinal Tap’s Glastonbury show.
• “Joe the Plumber” (Shearer, vocals; Jeffrey Foskett & Gary Griffin, arrangement and production; Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, guitars): In a metaphor for politics today, Joe the Plumber is neither named Joe nor is he a plumber. The song is straight-faced praise of the congressional candidate, with production from long-time Beach Boys/Brian Wilson musical director Foskett and engineering and co-production by Griffin.
• “Like a Charity” (Jane Lynch, vocals): A parody of a celebrity known for too much charity work in Africa and too little follow-up. Shearer knew Lynch from their work together on the movies A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration.
• “When the Crocodile Cries” (Shearer, vocals and bass; Gaitsch, guitar; Berger, clarinets; Vanston, track): A study of media mogul Rupert Murdoch from outside the character, looking in. Bruce Gaitsch (writer for Madonna, Richard Marx, Chicago, more) takes the guitar lead.
• “Your Thing” (Judith Owen, vocals; Shearer, rap; Steve Lukather, guitars; Berger, saxes; Vanston, track): The song came from a radio sketch about New York wanting to keep New Year’s Eve tourists in the city for the weekend. The two-note riff is invoked repeatedly, with guitar from Lukather all over it.
• “Trillion Dollar Bargain” (Alice Russell and Tommy Malone (Subdudes), guest vocalist; CJ Vanston, keyboards; Jo Pusateri, drums, percussion, vibes): After the lowball estimates we were given on the war in Iraq, someone needed to make a case for how well the money had been spent. Musically, the song captures the spirit of Motown.
• “Cold Is to the Bone” (Charlie Wood, vocals, piano; Danny Thompson, bass): Shearer wrote this after a frigid February Mardi Gras upon realizing “Heat is only skin deep, but cold is to the bone.” Charlie Wood has accompanied Elvis Costello; Danny Thompson has played with everybody from Pentangle to Peter Gabriel.
• “Bridge to Nowhere: (Owen, vocals; Shearer, background vocals and bass; Vanston, track): The title doubles as a metaphor of the career of the politician who loved the ill-fated Alaskan project (before changing her mind). Owen does her best Sarah Palin here, and a video for the song appears on My Damn Channel.
Actor, comedian, writer, voice artist, musician, author and radio host Shearer, in addition to Le Show and his work on The Simpsons, is known for a stint on Saturday Night Live, radio comedy group the Credibility Gap, his films A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration (both collaborations with Christopher Guest), and for actual tours with his comedy band Spinal Tap (Shearer is bass player Derek Smalls).
Shearer’s most recent project is a new TV comedy drama based on real-life recordings from President Nixon’s Oval Office. Written by and starring Shearer as Richard Nixon, Nixon’s the One aired on Sky Arts this spring. He will return to the UK shortly to star in and produce five more episodes of Nixon's the One, that he has written in conjunction with Hat Trick for the Sky Network.
Harry Shearer is revered for his bitingly satirical songs and impersonations. He was nominated for a Grammy for his CD Songs of the Pointed and the Pointless. His album Songs of the Bushmen (also Grammy nominated) was an incisive musical impeachment of the Bush administration with impersonations in song of the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove. His last album, Greed & Fear, was a searing satirical attack on Wall Street in the wake of the world economic meltdown. Shearer’s musical collaborations with his wife, singer/songwriter Judith Owen, and her manager Bambi Moé, led to the launch of Courgette Records (a nod to the infamous airport scene from This Is Spinal Tap).
Prior to these recordings, Shearer recorded and toured in both Spinal Tap and the Folksmen. The Unwigged Tour in 2009 featured Guest, McKean and Shearer performing the music of both Spinal Tap and the Folksmen.
The new album, Can’t Take a Hint, will be supported by a tour of major market clubs.
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