I figured I’d kick off the December sequence of columns with an acquaintance of mine who I’ve been overlaying for a few years now: Heather Pierson. This pianist/singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist lives over in North Conway, New Hampshire, and has a formidable catalogue of greater than a dozen albums on her personal Vessel Recordings label. There are solo instrumental releases, duo and trio recordings, in addition to some a cappella albums and full-band alternatives to select from. All instructed, she’s a really gifted woman and a pleasure to interview. Again in early November, I known as her at dwelling to seek out out extra about this annual tour she has put collectively and to see how she’s doing since our final chat in 2020.
Q: So that you’re taking Charlie Brown on the street once more.
Pierson: We’re — yeah, and we’ve acquired fairly a line-up of exhibits this yr.
Q: Actually? How far afield do you go together with this?
Pierson: The farthest level this yr is Westport, Connecticut.
Q: Good grief, that could be a methods away. I’m aware of your One Longfellow Sq. exhibits and different Maine gigs, however I imagine you do journey additional along with your duo gigs, proper?
Pierson: Yeah, Shawn (Nadeau) and I simply acquired again just lately from Texas. We had been on the street for many of October. We had a few weeks in Texas and acquired again on the day after Halloween (chuckle). It was loads of driving.
Q: Now, have you ever ever put out a CD of your “Charlie Brown Christmas” present?
Pierson: No, and I don’t assume we’d ever do this, simply because there already is a tremendous recording (laughter) performed in 1964 by Vince Guaraldi. I’ve gotten that query many occasions — yearly individuals ask me — and part of me, only for a second, says, “Nicely, possibly we should always,” after which I’m going, “No, that recording already exists — go get it!” (Chuckle)
Q: (Laughter) Good level. Now the TV present was solely a half an hour lengthy, so do you throw different tunes into your set?
Pierson: Nicely, there’s loads of music on the unique Vince Guaraldi Trio recording, part of which was used within the TV present; so we carry out everything of the album and we additionally carry out another compositions (of his) simply to form of shed some extra mild on what an amazing composer he was. Final yr we had performed our personal Vince Guaraldi-like interpretation of “We Want You a Merry Christmas.” We’d embrace that within the set this yr. The set record isn’t finalized but, however will probably be quickly.
Q: Now, do I perceive accurately that you just’ve acquired a gig up in Bangor?
Pierson: Yeah, we’re going to be at Bangor Arts Trade and that’s on Friday the sixteenth.
Q: Have you ever ever carried out up in that venue earlier than?
Pierson: Sure, I believe that is our fourth or fifth yr bringing this present to Bangor.
Q: When one considers all the assorted tasks you’re concerned with, it looks like you’ve got fairly a couple of hats that you just put on.
Pierson: Sure, I’ve loads of irons within the hearth, loads of artistic tasks going unexpectedly, which is admittedly enjoyable and thrilling. And, sure, it’s just a little exhausting at occasions (chuckle).
Q: With columns and residential repairs and issues like that occuring round right here, I do know precisely what you imply. A minimum of you’re quite a bit youthful than I’m so you’ll be able to in all probability multi-task just a little higher than I can (laughter).
Pierson: (Chuckle) Nicely, I’ve heard it mentioned that there’s really no such factor as multi-tasking, there’s similar to ultra-organization. I wouldn’t say I’m ultra-organized, however I might be no the place with out my lists. I’ve lists that maintain me on job.
Q: I can relate to that, too, I simply maintain forgetting the place I put these lists! So, are you engaged on one thing new so far as recording goes?
Pierson: Sure, I’ve a brand new challenge this yr with my good friend Leah Boyd. … Lengthy story brief, she and I had reconnected in recent times and began making music collectively once more. She was the unique lead singer in Garajh Mahal, which was the primary band I used to be in after I was 13 or 14 over 30 years in the past (laughter). Anyway she and I’ve reunited and are making music collectively once more in a duo known as Peaceable Means. We’ve had a handful of exhibits thus far this yr and, in truth, simply yesterday and this fall, we’ve been within the recording studio engaged on what will likely be our first launch. We now have eight originals deliberate thus far. Some are ones we’ve written on our personal and a few had been ones we’ve written collectively this yr, and I’m actually excited in regards to the music that we’re creating collectively.
Q: Now, is that this instrumental or vocal, or each?
Pierson: It’s vocals. We each sing, and we take turns singing lead. She sings lead on some songs, I sing lead on others, after which we do loads of vocal harmonization collectively. I’m taking part in piano and guitar and percussion, and he or she’s taking part in ukulele and percussion. We’ve simply had a couple of performances right here and there, however thus far the reception has been actually fairly robust and other people maintain asking us, “When are you going to have a recording?” So we’re engaged on that now and hope to have that prepared someday within the new yr.
Q: I inform you, Heather, there may be nothing finer. I don’t care if its heavy steel or people, if there are good vocal harmonies, I’m in!
Pierson: Yeah, I believe you’ll get pleasure from Peaceable Means very a lot (laughter), a number of vocal harmonies.
Q: Now again to that live performance on the Bangor Arts Trade — will probably be a part of the Charlie Brown Christmas tour, right?
Pierson: Proper. Yup, it’s the trio with Shawn Nadeau on bass and Craig Bryan on drums.
Q: What acquired you into the Christmas present, simply out of curiosity?
Pierson: Nicely, I all the time liked that music, and there are such a lot of generations now of individuals, since that particular aired again in 1965, that it was their first publicity to piano jazz music. I’ve all the time loved it, and again in 2010, when my life was form of reshaping for the higher, one factor I’d all the time needed to do was to play in a jazz trio. So in 2011 I began doing the Charlie Brown Christmas. I’d all the time liked that music, and I assumed it might be so enjoyable to carry out it as a jazz trio as Vince did and current it anew to audiences. Yearly I hear from individuals, of all ages, saying that it’s like a homecoming to assemble round that music once more. And since it’s jazz, it’s not precisely the identical each time we do it, the shape is identical for each tune after which there’s what you do with it in that second.
Q: Is there something, Heather that you just’d like me to go on to the oldsters studying this text?
Pierson: Solely that we’re bringing the present to a venue in Maine that’s new to me, I’ve by no means been there earlier than, and it’s the Waldo Theater in Waldoboro, the present is on Sunday the eleventh at 4 within the afternoon.
Fortunate Clark, a 2018 “Holding the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent greater than 50 years writing about good music and the individuals who make it. He will be reached at [email protected]myfairpoint.web when you have any questions, feedback or solutions.