Mary Fahl performs in The Sound Room at WEEU, 830 AM in Reading, PA. Set includes “Return to me” at 0:35, “Gravity” at 6:00, and a cover of “Brain Damage/Eclipse” at 11:42.
From Mary’s website:
“Sounding like no other singer of her generation” (Allmusic.com), Mary Fahl is an expressive, emotional singer/songwriter who first achieved fame as lead singer and co-founder of the mid-1990s NYC- based chamber-pop group October Project. The hallmark of their sound was Mary Fahl’s awe-inspiring power vocals over gorgeous melodies played with passion and sophistication. As a solo artist, Mary has released several compelling albums, including the fantastic re-working of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” for V2 Records and her wonderful, original studio album “The Other Side of Time” on Sony Odyssey. She has also written and performed songs for several major motion pictures, including the lead song (“Going Home”) for the Civil War epic Gods and Generals. Her most recent album “Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House”, winner of the Indie Acoustic “Album of the Year” award, is a collection of twenty-four tracks recorded live at one of America’s oldest vaudeville theaters that captures the soaring, soul-permeating vocals and musical breadth that makes the Mary Fahl concert experience what the Portland Press called “soul-permeating”. The show was filmed for PBS and is currently airing on PBS affiliates around the country. Fahl’s elegant, cinematic songs draw on classical and world music sources, American art song, as well as thinking man’s folk-pop which she performs with an earthy, viscerally powerful contralto that Boston Globe critic Steve Morse calls “a voice for the gods that can transport listeners to other realms”. Her music appeals to a wide range of musical enthusiasts, including a large, loyal fan base of Mary Fahl evangelists.
Mary Fahl will wrap up Berks Country Fest Sunday at the Scottish Rite Cathedral
Thursday June 18, 2015 12:01 AM
By Don Botch
Singer-songwriter Mary Fahl is an alluring figure onstage and off, but the thing that shines brightest in the glare of the spotlight is that voice.
“A voice for the gods” is how Boston Globe music critic Steve Morse described it.
Fahl’s vocal prowess will be on full display this weekend at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in West Reading when she headlines Singin’ and Strummin’ Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. on the final day of the inaugural Berks Country Fest.
Hearing Fahl sing, you wouldn’t guess that she never has had a voice lesson in her life.
“I never had any training whatsoever,” she said. “My parents were supportive of me, but they were the kind of people that you were kind of on your own. If I asked them for something, they’d do it, but they didn’t push me in any way whatsoever.”
Looking back, Fahl regards that as beneficial, because it meant she had to develop her own style that is undeniably distinctive.
“When you get training – I could be wrong – I think you begin to sound like other people,” she said. “And I think when you find your own way of expressing yourself, that’s where the uniqueness comes from.
“Whether you like me or you don’t – and I’m sure there are many people out there who don’t like my voice, which is fine – I’m me. So in that sense, I think not having training was probably a good thing.”
Fahl counts herself among members of a club including the likes of Barbra Streisand, Sinead O’Connor and Annie Lennox, all singers who never had a lick of vocal training.
“It’s just innate,” she said. “It’s like there’s a tribe and we sing. And I can always recognize other members of my tribe. I know who they are. It’s sort of like, ‘She’s one of us.’ We were always this way. We were born this way.”
Fahl gained notoriety in 1993 as the voice of October Project, a trio that was part of a scene at Cafe Sin-e, a “hole in the wall” on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village of New York City, at the same time O’Connor, who had already gained celebrity status, was hanging out there.
“She was huge at the time,” Fahl said, adding that she never really got to know O’Connor. “We wanted to give her her privacy, let her feel like you’re not going to come up and tug at her when she’s at this place where she feels at home.”
On a given day in the early ’90s, Cafe Sin-e patrons might encounter up-and-comers like David Gray or Ben Folds, or more famous people like Iggy Pop, Johnny Depp or members of U2. Jeff Buckley’s first recording, released in 1993, was a four-song EP called “Live at Sin-e,” and 10 years later he released a double album by the same name.
Drawn by the famous people who would perform or just hang out there, record-label scouts would come to the club looking for the next big thing, and before long October Project got signed to Sony BMG subsidiary Epic Records and turned out a debut CD that included the hit “Return to Me.”
They went on tour opening for Crash Test Dummies in the harsh winter of 1994, but it was far from a glamorous existence.
“Our first year on the road was very, very hard,” Fahl said. “They (the label) gave us enough money to tour, but we didn’t have a tour bus, so we would ride behind the big tour bus that rode all night. We would just drive, I mean hundreds and hundreds of miles, then have to do a show.
“It really was one of the hardest things I had to do. Not romantic. Not fun. The shows were fun, but we were tired and sick most of the time.”
That summer they latched on to Sarah McLachlan’s tour, which exposed them to a wider audience, but when their second album came out and didn’t produce a hit song, the label lost interest in them.
Fahl subsequently signed with Sony Classical and launched a solo career that now takes her all over the country.
“I’m gone almost every weekend,” she said. “My audience is a Friday/Saturday date-night kind of crowd. I’m gone all the time. I love it.”
She travels with her husband, Richard Lutz, a renowned oceanographer who manages her business affairs on the side. Most of her shows are solo gigs, but for Sunday’s concert, her backing band, led by her music director, Mark Doyle, will be making the relatively short excursion from Syracuse, N.Y., where they all live and work.
“We’re able to do large sections of (Pink Floyd’s) ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ which I covered a couple of years ago, and I covered it in my own way,” Fahl said. “I think it’s a fairly unique way. I call it more of a reinterpretation.
“And because I have them, I’m able to do sort of a whole retrospective of my career. So there’s October Project songs that I do, I do some covers as well – I love finding interesting new covers – and, of course, as a songwriter myself, I do some of my own songs.
“What’s nice about having the band is, it expands the repertoire.”
Fahl originally hails from a small town called Stony Point, along the Hudson River in Rockland County, N.Y., but now lives in Easton, in a house that was built in 1680 and overlooks the Delaware River. She called it a beautiful, very secluded spot.
“It’s like this little, tiny oasis,” she said. “We have a lot of privacy, and it’s like this little magical kingdom.”
She’s looking forward to making the drive down I-78 with her husband and her band on Sunday.
“It’ll be a fun show,” she said. “We love playing together. I think the space sounds amazing, this beautiful Masonic concert hall. It’ll be a really fun afternoon and really worthwhile to come out and see it.”
Contact Don Botch: 610-371-5055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.