A PAWN shop fiddle was the spark. And the result is the fiery music of Texan fiddler-singer-songwriter Amanda Shires.
To many, she is the voice and fiddle player in the background of albums by such artists as Justin Townes Earle, Jason Isbell and Rod Picott.
But Amanda is taking a deserved turn in the spotlight, promoting her spellbinding new album Carrying Lightning on a UK tour, which swings through Sheffield shortly.
Said Amanda: “I guess the theme of the record as a whole is just, ‘get wrecked in love - and be loved? Or, to steal a quote from Sylvia Plath ‘Wear your heart on your skin in this life.’ That’s my platform.”
Shires currently resides in Nashville, finding her niche in the music industry as an independent artist.
In the recent Hollywood movie Country Strong, she played the fiddle player in the band backing Gwyneth Paltrow’s fictional country superstar.
In real life, Amanda runs with a decidedly non-mainstream crowd. She also occasionally performs with the Lubbock band Thrift Store Cowboys and sometimes teaches fiddle at Texas Playboys’ singer Tommy Allsup’s summer music camp. She got her first fiddle when she was 10. It was a lime-green instrument hanging in a pawn shop. Five years later she was making her performance debut with the Playboys, the western swing band made famous by the late Bob Wills.
In 2005, she released her solo, mostly instrumental, album, around the same time she moved to Nashville, which is where her writing skills grew.
Amanda Shires will be paying a visit to the Greystones, in Greystones Road, Sheffield, on Saturday, April 21.
TWO of the finest folk artists of our time join forces for their Sheffield fans.
Luminary acoustic guitarist and songwriter John Renbourn is best known for his collaborations with the late Bert Jansch and his time with the legendary folk/jazz fusion band Pentangle.
Meanwhile, Scottish multi-instrumentalist, musician, singer, songwriter and master Celtic storyteller Robin Williamson made his name as a member of the Incredible String Band between 1966 and 1974.
Aside from touring with Williamson, John travels the world both as a solo artist and with fellow musicians.
Robin also continues to record and tour extensively in his own right, but perhaps more recently it is his performances with wife Bina Williamson which have been enchanting audiences. In addition, Robin has written a number of books and is Honorary Chief Bard of The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.
John Renbourn and Robin Wlliamson are at the Memorial Hall next Tuesday
Another inspired collaboration is on the cards when Rab Noakes and Allan Taylor join forces at the Rock@Maltby, Wesley Centre, Blyth Road, tomorrow.
Next Friday’s guests will be Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman. They are both incredible musicians who really know how to give traditional music the kiss of life.
MARTIN Simpson is at Chesterfield Folk Club tomorrow.