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Extended interview: Singer-songwriter SONiA Disappear Fear ready for next week’s WoodyFest
by Brandy McDonnell Modified: July 7, 2014 at 2:05 pm • Published: July 4, 2014
SONiA Disappear Fear will perform Thursday at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah. Photo provided
This is an extended interview that appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.
Singer-songwriter SONiA Disappear Fear ready for WoodyFest
The 17th Annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival is set for Wednesday through July 13 at various venues around Okemah, the late, great folk icon’s hometown.
Singer-songwriter SONiA Disappear Fear feels she’s walking in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie — and she’s hardly alone.
“Anyone who’s pursuing an independent path in music after Woody, like from the Beatles to any band that’s performing its own thing – or singer-songwriter – is walking in his footsteps because he really lived it,” she said in a phone interview this week from her hometown of Baltimore. where she was readying to shoot a music video for her song “Farmland and the Sky.”
“So, we’re all walking in his footsteps.”
The award-winning songstress also known as Sonia Rutstein, 55, is preparing to make her third pilgrimage to perform at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, the hometown of the late, great folk icon. WoodyFest begins Wednesday with a Pete Seeger Sing-A-Long benefit show and continues through July 13 with concerts, an open mike, and special events like a poetry reading and more historical presentations and children’s music.
SONiA, who is touring in support of her new album “Broken Film,” will play WoodyFest Thursday at the Pastures of Plenty outdoor stage.
Q: What keeps you coming back to play the festival?
A: Connections. The people that put it together really have the right idea, and I think it helps us remember the real purpose of Woody’s music and to fully carry that torch on to what we’re doing. in our lives – both in music and in our lives.
Q: Do you have a favorite Woody Guthrie song and what does that song mean to you?
A: Of course, I like ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ the popular one, and I love it that people put in their own original lyrics with it, too, to address issues of the day and that it’s open that way. I like also some of like what Billy Bragg and what Ellis Paul have done with some of his (Guthrie) poetry that he didn’t actually put music to but they did later. I think they’re really strong.
I recorded a song of his “Worried Man Blues,” it’s a very bluesy song, it’s standard blues style, and that’s on my “Blood, Bones & Baltimore” CD. … “It’s kind of a good song to get you through a bad day (laughs). Because singing something sad about someone is like watching a soap opera, I suppose. You know, it just makes you feel a little better.”
Q: I like talking to musicians about Woody Guthrie because he wrote so many songs, you can’t possibly know every Woody Guthrie song. So, it seems like I’m always learning new ones. I don’t remember that one, so I’ll be looking it up. Do you have that experience too?
A: Of obscure Woody songs? Yes, they always pump me up. It’s like, “Oh, wait, what’s that one?” It definitely seems like a never-ending hill, but it will be for a long time because he had so many pieces of poetry. When he was like in a creative crush, he just went for it … so there’s still many, many songs to be written with his words that haven’t been written yet. I would love to do it. I’d love to get some lyrics and work with ‘em. It’d be fun.
Q: This is your 17th album. Have you always done music?
A: I’ve been writing songs since I was about 13. … I went on study film, how to make films, in college, with a minor in musicology. And that was good. Eventually, I worked for the rape crisis center in Baltimore, and that’s where I came up with the name ‘Disappear Fear.’ Because I thought if you could disappear fear between people you could get your life back, the choices in your life. And also when you disappear fear between people, what you have is love. For me, I’ve really always done this.
Q: Is there something about this one that maybe builds on what you’ve learned in the past or is specific to this time in your life?
A: The songs really reflect what has happened to me in the past couple of years, certainly the death of my father and just changes around me with friends and family, big changes. …
That was the essence of ‘Broken Film’ was sort of like looking back. I saw this reel that my dad done, like these 8-millimeter films from like birthday parties when we were kids, me and my brother and my sister. And there was his handwriting in pencil, it said “broken film.” And I was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s it. That’s exactly it.” … It’s kind of like walking down and finding like a four-leaf clover, seeing it and picking it up.”
17th Annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival
When: Wednesday through July 13.
Where: Various venues in Okemah.
What: Musical performances, children’s activities, open mike, poetry reading and fundraisers for the state chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.
Benefit show: General admission tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door for the Pete Seeger Sing-A-Long at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Crystal Theater, 401 W Broadway Street. For tickets, go to http://www.brownpapertickets.com.
Festival admission: Free.
Parking: Free for daytime events; $20 per car (including campers) evenings at the Pastures of Plenty Stage.
OutVoice June 2014 Top Ten Song Chart
Check out the countdown show!
|1||Disappear Fear / SONiA||“Love Out Loud” *||“Broken Film” *|
|2||Suzanne Nuttall||“Trophy Wife” *||Single|
|3||Linq||“Disconnect” *||“Disconnect” *|
|4||Derek Bishop||“What It Takes” *||“Resistance Is Beautiful” *|
|5||Anna Gutmanis||” Diamonds and Stiletto Shoes” *||“Single *|
|6||SUGARBEACH||“You Believe In Love” *||“single” *|
|7||Shawn Thomas||“Separated” *||“Voice Of Worship” *|
|8||Kevin Wood||“Today” *||“Out Among The Wolves” *|
|9||Tom Goss||“Illuminate the Dark” *||“Wait” *|
|10||Doug Strahm||“Build Me a Bridge” *||“Freedom Rings” *|
SONiA disappear fear – Broken Film
SONiA’s music is a social conscience that cannot be ignored and should be applauded.
BY JESSICA LILEY
SONiA, aka disappear fear is an enigmatic singer/songwriter making music to challenge hypocrisies and a champion for the message of acceptance and peace. Her latest offering is the album Broken Film, which blends a cool sense of folk with a strong underlying country feel. This time backed with a full band the album presents the listener with 11 classy tracks.
“Start” is where it begins and it has an undeniable folk flavour. As quickly as we ease into the folk journey, “American Artist” thrusts us into the country. With a great melody line infused with brilliant harmonica playing, SONiA interweaves an intriguing story, which draws you in. “Love Out Loud” continues the love affair with the harmonica and it’s just as well – the country sounds on this album are the standout moments.
An intricate and clever integration of Hebrew and English, “L Koll L Vavcha (With All My Heart)” is a heartfelt and upbeat tune. What comes next is undeniably Nashville in its up-tempo sounds, whilst “Be Like You” has you wanting to be more like SONiA.
“The Banker” was the first pre-album single release and addresses the story of an all too familiar world. The story of a man burdened by his and the actions of a corporate world, he and his family are inextricably linked forever.
At times it’s hard to pin this album to a genre. One could almost be forgiven for asking whether there is a cohesive link through the album and tracks; perhaps this listener missed the point entirely – which is fine. What cannot be mistaken is that these tracks on their own are great listening and thought provoking. Broken Film, like all of the work of SONiA is unmistakably and unapologetically political. It’s a social conscience that cannot be ignored and should be applauded.
SONiA was in the studio with Honey Harris on KBAC when she was in Santa Fe last week.
You can listen to the interview here:
Here is the beginning of the article written by Chris Kocher. And you can read the full article at this link:
For more than 25 years, singer-songwriter Sonia Rutstein — better known by the stylized moniker SONiA — has been exploring pretty much any genre that captures her attention, either as a solo artist or with her band, Disappear Fear. Folk, rock, pop, blues, world music, reggae — nothing is really off-limits.
The 11 new tracks on the latest Disappear Fear album, “Broken Film” (released last year), showcase her eclectic abilities and reflect Rutstein’s strong social conscience. Also inspiring her songwriting are her travels around the world, from America, Europe and Australia to the Middle East. (She and her band will stop at 6 On The Square in Oxford on Saturday night to help celebrate the listening room’s seventh anniversary.)
Asked last week if there’s such a thing as having too many tools in the toolbox from which to choose, Rutstein said it’s a good problem to have — that the different moods that stories present require different methods of telling them.
“I follow where the song wants to go,” she said in an interview. “Leonard Cohen said that anybody can write a song, but not everybody has the patience to write a great song — and it really does take a lot of patience.”
The seeds for her wide-ranging tastes were sewn early on: When she was very young, her parents would need to tend to her even-younger sister, and the only thing that caught Sonia’s attention was sitting her down in front of the family’s stereo and playing records.
Rutstein recalls hearing Louis Armstrong’s version of “Hello Dolly” and being captivated by it— and she had the chance to see Satchmo in the flesh at her native Baltimore’s Flower Mart festival, held near the city’s Washington Monument.
“He was performing right there on the stage — not too high. Looking up as a 5-year-old, it was blocking the sun,” she said. “But there it was, the sound I had heard on the radio, and there was a human being actually making that music live. I was just wowed out! Something about his voice and his demeanor — I love him.”
SONiA was on Live at Lunch with Franklin on KRFC radio on Friday.
You can listen to podcast here: