Back to the desert

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Sylvie is heading back to Tucson, Arizona soon to record a new album. Howe Gelb of Giant Sand will once again be producing and adding his musical magic along with Thoger Lund. The new songs Sylvie is recording include several that she has played at recent shows – including “Keep Dancing,” “Nothing,” “Creation Day,” “Waiting For The Shadows,” “Imaginary Boy” and more.

Sylvie will also be doing a few shows in the Tucson area. Please see the tour page for details.

Here’s a pic of Sylvie performing with Howe and Thogerat the Henry Miller library in Big Sur.

SS HG TL Big Sur2 copy

Desert rocks

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

sylvie_simmons_jpgTucson, Arizona legend Howe Gelb celebrated his 60th birthday on 22nd October with a giant hometown concert, four hours long, featuring special guest musicians from across his 50-album career.

First up was Sylvie, who sang “Midnight Cowboy” with a cast of luminaries as her backing band, including Howe on guitar and Maggie Bjorklund on pedal steel. The lineup included Thoger Lund (bass), Brian Lopez (guitar), Gabriel Sullivan (guitar), Tommy Larkins (drums), Neil Harry (pedal steel), Winston Watson (drums), Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Tom Walbank (harmonica), John Convertino (Calexico, drums), Lana Kelly (vocals), John Diaz (trumpet), Annie “Sister Town” Dolan (guitar), Scott Garber (bass) and  Patsy Gelb (vocals), plus two members of the Sno’ Angel gospel choir, UK-via-Portland singer Scout Niblett,  and John Doe and Exene Cervenka from X.

Here’s a report from Tucson Weekly.

http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2016/10/25/in-the-flesh-howe-gelbs-60th-b-day-bash-at-the-rialto-theater

And the winner is …

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

Well, we don’t know who the winner is yet –  but we do know that Sylvie’s debut album Sylvie,  produced by Howe Gelb and released on Light In The Attic Records, has made it onto the ballot for Best Folk Album for the 58th Grammy Awards!!  Voting in the first round begins this week, so we’re crossing our fingers and lighting candles that she’ll make it to the next round!

Here’s some photos from a show Sylvie played with Howe and Giant Sand at the Aarhus festival last month. There was an amazine line-up  onstage in the grand finale – including M Ward, Grant Lee Phillips,  Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth,  Bob Dylan bassist Tony Garnier, Maggie Bjorklund,  Giant Sand, Howe and Sylvie and more.

Midway through the encore – a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “A Thousand Kisses Deep”, with Howe, M Ward and Sylvie on vocals, Howe led Sylvie in an impromptu tango during an accordion solo, while managing not to knock over the violin players!

Grand finale

 

Sylvie at Howe etc show

Sylvie and Howe Town CalledDance finale copy

 

‘Adios’, Chile… ‘Hej’, Denmark!

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

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Sylvie spent the last two weeks back in San Francisco after a short but super-sweet trip to Chile where she performed to 500 people, made a TV appearance and did three radio shows (with Chilean’s best-known DJs Alfredo Lewin and Hernán Rojas) and, on the morning of her long flight home, went into a studio to record a bootleg album with her two Santiago accompanists, Matías Cena and Diego Alorda, with Alejandro ‘Perrosky’ Gomez at the mixing board.

Now she’s off to Scandinavia again – Denmark this time – for the amazing Aarhus Festival. Sylvie has three events, each of them different: she’ll start with a Leonard Cohen-related appearance at Kristian F Møller book shop on August 31st; then on Sept 1st she’ll be onstage interviewing the festival’s keynote speaker, the legendary Jac Holzman. And last but by no means least, she’s playing a concert with Howe Gelb (who produced and played on her album ‘Sylvie’) and Giant Sand, Grant-Lee Phillips Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) and more in what will be a very, very special evening!
Full details of tickets, times and dates are on her tour page.

What a summer!

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Whew! Is it sweltering where you are too? It’s turning out to be quite a summer, in so many ways. First, the touring. After her performances in Bogota,  S.America Sylvie did a handful of shows in California then flew to Scandinavia  where she played three concerts in Norway – way up in the north of the country, and also in Oslo (pictured below, where the musicians included American singer-songwriter Luke Elliott and Norwegian poet Havard Rem, who translated Sylvie’s book I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen) – with a few days off to climb a mountain and take a fishing boat out into the Norwegian sea and catch an enormous cod!

Now she’s headed back to S.America again – Chile this time, to play a concert with Chilean musician Matías Cena and be interviewed onstage by Santiago journalist Alfredo Lewin. And after that it’s back to Scandinavia! Three shows in Denmark as part of the Aarhus festival, one of them sharing the stage with Howe Gelb and Giant Sand,  Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and M.Ward. Check the Tour page  for details of these and also some local shows.

Despite all the traveling, Sylvie has kept to her resolution to Tweet her book Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes every day, a dozen or so tweets at a time, with the occasional commentary and picture! At last glance she was four chapters and around 700 tweets into it. Join her on Twitter or if you want the whole book, which  has been updated and is available as an e-book/kindle  after a long time out of print, it’s here:

http://www.amazon.com/Serge-Gainsbourg-Fistful-Gitanes-Expanded-ebook/dp/B00VU4ZA6Y/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

Sylvie has also been compiling an album, The Rough Guide to Americana: Vol 2.’ The first volume, coincidentally, came out the same year as her Serge Gainsbourg book, in 2001, and featured then-unknown artists, now highly-acclaimed, like The Handsome Family, best-known these days for their theme song to True Detective Season 1. Season 2’s theme tune is a Leonard Cohen song!!

And of course she’s still writing about music. Here’s an essay she wrote on Iggy Pop for Radio Silence magazine and book – part personal story, part critique and the second in her series of heartbreak albums , ‘The Best Part Of Breaking Up’.  Read it here: http://ht.ly/P3Cr6

Encore 2 Oslo

Life in a motel without a car

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Life in a motel without a car

Part1: People in motels with cars get up early.

Woke before dawn when two people walked past my window talking. People in motels with cars get up early so they can get in their cars and go. My sleepy brain, thinking we were home where there’s nothing outside the window but a long drop, frenziedly tried to figure out what was happening. I couldn’t find the light switch so I turned the TV on. The news said that while I slept a man in McDonalds was shot to death. The thought of a fluorescent-lit MacMeal being the last thing you eat, or even see, before you die was a mournful one to start the day on. The weatherman said 93 degrees and gusty winds; a good day for an early run.

 

Part 2: Going for a run beside a freeway.

It was a freeway motel and since I don’t have a car, the only place to run is the freeway. Running beside a freeway isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s far less boring than a treadmill – for one thing there’s that tinge of anxiety that the driver of one of those enormous trucks going by at 75mph might get distracted by the sight of you trying to race them, veer over and squash you like a bug. Though still safer than McDonalds probably. Also, the knowledge that however fast you run you’re still going to get there last and that there really isn’t any ‘there’ to get to, gives it a Zen element that running  – running by choice, I mean, as opposed to necessity, like if you’ve a bus to catch or an armed maniac to evade – ought to have.

Part 3: Breakfast.

I’ve never much enjoyed going out for breakfast; I’m not much of a morning person and like to ease into a day. The motel offers a free continental breakfast – although America is the only continent I know that breakfasts from a big plastic bin of fruit loops. I’d forgotten all about fruit loops – can you get them outside of motels? But I appreciated the subtlety of their colours, the pastel lime and dusty pink. Breakfasts in America and the places you eat them tend to be far too colourful for the food they serve and for the time of morning. The motel also had a waffle machine, which looked scary, and good coffee with those little pots of half and half that make you feel guilty that your desire to open a third one and only to use a drop of it has put yet another knife into the environment. And, on my run, I noticed there was a Dennys. I think I’ll start going out for breakfast.

Part 4: Buying shit.

Really there are too many shops, period. You can get almost anything you need to get by from a freeway gas station. And the staff is friendly. The gas station was empty; when the guy working there noticed that there was no car accompanying me, he seemed genuinely concerned for my well-being and my ability to return whence I came without the help of wheels. Had I been a several decades younger or a few decades older I’m pretty sure he would have given me an icecream and called the authorities. I came back with fresh milk for the fridge, a bag of trail mix and a hand-drawn map to a dry river bed where I could go for a run tomorrow.

Part 5: Motel pools.

Motels invariably have pools. They tend to be small and square and fenced into their own little gated compound, as if to protect them from someone making off with them in their truck. There’s a slew of  trucks parked around the back of the motel, but strangely only the fronts. All of the trucks are missing their back ends, which makes them look funny, like semi-pantomime horses. The pool in this motel here is sparkly clean, with loungers all around and an umbrella that no-one’s put up, because no-one but me is here. In motels, most people tend to get in their cars and leave by seven in the morning, so the car-less guest gets the pool to herself. And the sound of the traffic going by on the freeway is soothing. Like Tom Petty wrote in American Girl, the cars roll by like waves crashing on a beach. And yes, for one desperate moment there, he crept back in my memory.