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Barbara Jean CD Release: The Great Escape

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by Paul Whyte

If you’re looking for an amazingly beautiful, smooth and well recorded folk/country album, look no further than “The Great Escape” by North Shore native, Barbara Jean. The approach to this album is fantastic and Barbara holds down the majority of what holds it together. Her vocals, work on the banjo and not to mention the fiddle and viola pulls this somewhat old-timey yet totally listenable experience.  
Her solid songwriting and lyrics have already been noted in the area by winning the 2011 Big Top Chautauqua songwriter’s competition as well as an honorable mention in the 2012 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour Contest. She let’s just enough of herself out on this album that often deals with relationships to make it a human a relatable album, she creates situations and images but yet does not let on too much; it’s a delicate balance. There is plenty of soul in the lyrics and delivery and she takes it on masterfully. Two of the more personal songs seem to be “Flesh and Bones” and perhaps “Not What You Thought,” which deals with divorce. The first track, “The River,” also deals with a break up, but it’s uptempo feel is a fine way to start off this album that is deeper than what it may seem upon a first listen.  
It’s pretty hard to go wrong with the lineup of contributing members and people who created this album. Bernie Larson (Cry on Cue) takes on percussion, bass and keys. It should be noted that this album is very light and it’s Barbara’s banjo, fiddle and soothing vocals that create a wonderful listening experience on this album. Andy Dee is credited with pedal steel, ukulele, dobro and weissenborn. Boyd Blomberg, a musician who has played on many gigs with Barbara, lays down guitar on six out of the ten songs on this album. Bringing in David Huckfelt from The Pines and local recording legend, Tom Fabjance on the engineering, mixing and some handclaps on this album never hurts either.
She will be playing her CD release show at Tycoon’s in Duluth with Murder of Crows featuring Gaelynn Lea and Alan Sparhawk. If you happen to be in Minneapolis on Friday, she will be playing with Caitlin Robertson at the Icehouse in Minneapolis located at 2528 Nicollet Ave. South at 10 p.m. A contributing artist to this album, David Huckfelt, will be playing with his band The Pines and next week at Sacred Heart with Actual Wolf on Saturday, November 24.

Cecilia Lieder:
Woodcuts and Stone Lithographs

This Saturday, November 17 there will an opening by Cecilia Lieder at Northern Prints Gallery which is located at 318 North 14th Ave. East in Duluth (across the avenue from Burrito Union). This free opening will be open to the public and will feature a once a year opportunity to view a wide range of this local master printmaker’s works. Meet the artist, tour her studio, and explore the vibrant world of original prints.
Lieder has been working with the medium of stone and wood lithographs for over 40 years. “It’s a growing field. In my lifetime it has gone from only a few people like me to hundreds,” said Lieder. Now there are conferences that attract a wide variety of those interested in the unique art form. Stone lithography is one of the first means of offset printing that has only been replaced in more contemporary years by digital means of printing. She creates her works by hand and in the process of printing a variety of plates are used to lay down each color separately. “There are many different layers, almost like a painting,” said Leider. “It’s extracted down to the essentials, which gives them a powerful punch.”
Leider often creates images of nature with her work. “My images are mantras of life. They resonate with the symbolic meaning behind the surfaces of natural objects,” said Leider in her artist statement. Her opening will be held on Saturday from 1-6 p.m. and the gallery is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 1-6 p.m. The prints will be shown through January 6.

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