92ZEW’s Second Tuesday local musician spotlight will feature four area songwriters sharing their songs and the stories behind the songs on stage Tuesday, Oct. 13 at Azalea Manor, downtown on Dauphin Street.
The artists slated to play are Rick Hirsh (Wet Willie), Molly Thomas (Slow Moses), Ferrill Gibbs, Ingrid Marie Felts, and Steve Varnes
As always, the show is free and will be simulcast live on the ZEW’s airwaves and web stream.
Produced by 92ZEW
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Gibbs is a singer-songwriter from Mobile, Alabama who struggled for years to find his place in music and once gave it up when he went as far as he could and realized it wasn’t where he needed to be. Years later, a song written for his wife, Elizabeth “Fish” Gibbs, to celebrate their first anniversary returned the guitar to his hand and changed his songwriting, his voice, and his life.
Gibbs is a self-conscious writer with a degree in English and a love for reading and the rhythm of words. His songs begin with a progression on guitar and lyrics come from how the notes make him feel. He wraps personal stories in music and metaphor to protect himself and the people he writes about.
Musician/composer and BMI songwriter, Rick Hirsch’s roots are imbedded in the antebellum South, Georgia and Alabama to be specific. It was there, on the Gulf Coast, that he grew up in the land of Drivin’ Miss Daisy and down the path from Forrest Gump, as a yung’un always falling asleep at night with guitar in hand. After graduating from the U. of Alabama with his degree in Biology/Chemistry, he did the obvious and began to play guitar professionally around the South. And quite soon in 1969, he helped found the Seventies rock and roll band eventually known as WET WILLIE, a group on the Capricorn label sharing the roster with several other bands including the Allman Brothers (the original ones). Wet Willie enjoyed some nice successes during the band’s tenure on Capricorn, eg. a Billboard Magazine top 5 hit, Keep On Smilin’ and a dozen or so albums. By 1976 though, “thrill turned to chill”, or was at least put on the back burner, and Rick had an opportunity to record and tour with Cher and Gregg Allman, who were preparing to do their duo album, Allman and Woman. He did so and subsequently moved to Los Angeles in 1977, he now spends time between LA and LA (lower Alabama). He has worked with numerous acts as a guitarist and is a published songwriter, having had his songs and music performed and recorded by various artists as well as being featured in film and television. Today, he perseveres in the capricious world of music as Owner/Producer at Studio H2O on Dog River in Mobile.
“Molly Thomas is unfiltered ‘south.’ She is the feel and the sound of the southern United States. In an America where food chains, homogenized broadcasting and department stores oppress the uniqueness of any time and place, Molly manages to sound untouched and singular in her expression. She’s vulnerable and stubborn while she honors the themes of loneliness, literature and that ethereal humidity that comes with the southern perspective.”
As a writer, Thomas isn’t about dressing her messages up; she’s about carving down to the essence of the matter at hand. It’s an approach that can be downright brutal.
Ingrid Marie Felts
Ingrid Felts is the lead singer of Summit records’ Watters/Felts Project (‘2010-present) and just released her solo project, Manna, with producer Rick Hirsch, of In Sync Music. Born Ingrid Marie Wever, near Rochester, NY, she was exposed to mostly classical music growing up and took cello, flute, and piano lessons at SUNY Brockport and Eastman School of Music in Rochester.
She has played organ at Westminster Cathedral and performed at Eastman’s Kilbourn Hall, shared the stage with jazz great Maynard Ferguson, and performed with rock, country, and R&B bands nationwide. She has earned awards for classical voice and songwriting, as well as in her academic field of poetry.
Ingrid Marie writes alternative rock and rhythm and bluesy ballads, influenced by artists such as Brandi Carlile and Fiona Apple. You’ll hear some Feist and even Tori Amos as you listen closer.
Steve “Duck” Varnes
Varnes, nicknamed “Duck” because his grandfather said he looked like a Muscovy duck when he learned to walk.
Varnes was in a Mobile cover band in the late ‘70’s called Flat Rock, but he slid the guitar under the bed for 15 years, attending college on the G.I. Bill and raising his children. “The last child went to school and I told my wife I want to play again,” he says. “I went to Traders because I knew there were people my age there. I got a gig on Friday nights and I have been at Traders for 20 years.
Steve is now a Guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter in “Deluxe Trio”.
“One of my challenges now is I’m older,” says Varnes. “Time is everything and I don’t take what is happening with Deluxe Trio for granted. I have been fortunate for as long as I have played this town and I get to play what I want to play.
“We have all gone through different phases and reincarnations and we are grateful for this chance and the people who come out to hear us,” he says. “We are building a devoted following of people who appreciate our harmony and texture. I am exactly where I want to be and I have found my identity with this band.”