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Jackopierce With Opener Marie Miller 11/18
at City Winery Atlanta
Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce, the “Jack O” and “Pierce” who make up the seminal duo Jackopierce, celebrate 25 years of making music that has amassed a loyal following of millions of fans across the country with the release of Live 25 on April 29th on Be Music & Entertainment. The 17-track album, which was recorded during their 25th anniversary show for a crowd of 2,100 people at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, Texas, is a culmination of a dream come true for the duo. Returning to where it all began to play at one of the most beautiful venues the state has to offer. Live 25 includes fan favorites like “Vineyard,” “Three Of Us In A Boat,” “I Gotta Know,” and “Promise of Summer.”
To toast the duo’s roots, reconciliation, and reinvigoration, Jackopierce closes Live 25 with a brand new song entitled “This Is Our Time” that tells the story verbatim. The song showcases the band’s signature elegant modern pop-rock sound with a great hook and crisp production.
“We wrote this song together on one of our many trips to Nashville where our management, record label and publisher are all located. We're older and dare I say "wiser." We have a new sense of gratitude for each other, the gift of music, and especially our fans that have stuck with us all these year,” said Pierce. “The tag at the end of the chorus says "the stars aligned, this is our time, and we're gonna take it." That's how we feel. We've been given more than second or third chances. We have an incredible fan base that supports what we do, a new record deal and an incredible team of folks behind us in Nashville.”
Jackopierce formed in 1988 playing shows around their hometown of Dallas. The duo steadily made a name for themselves, in particular with the track “Vineyard,” which became a signature track for the band. They released ten studio albums (two for major label A&M), toured three continents, nine countries, and 44 states (often for sold-out crowds), and along the way accumulated millions of loyal fans. Over the years they have shared the stage with artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, The Wallflowers, Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Alanis Morissette, among others. After a five-year breakup in 1997 the duo reconvened in 2002 as Jackopierce for a sold-out run of shows in TX. Today Jack O'Neill and Cary Pierce have a renewed creative vigor, mutual respect, and deep gratitude for their Jackopierce heritage and continue to make music that fans love and newcomers continue to discover. These good vibes shine through on their 25th anniversary live album Live 25.
It’s a time of fertile creativity for the duo, and celebrating the past inspires the guys to move forward in inventive ways. To freshen the live show, Jackopierce have initiated uniquely intimate “Destination Shows.” This is a whole new fan experience where people can enjoy gorgeous scenery, delicious food, and campfire performance accessibility to their favorite band. It’s a vacation and concert in one. Each destination provides a unique experience dedicated to the local culture: CA vineyards at sunset, BBQ in Austin, high society in Dallas, gondolas in CO, and history at the Biltmore in NC. In April Jackopierce will host their first international destination event in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico at a magnificent private Hacienda, Casa Hyder. In August they will host their Jackopierce Founders Clambake Dinner at the beautiful Oak Bluffs Sailing Camp Park on Martha's Vineyard, MA. “We have been doing destination events for the last four years and they have been a huge hit with our fans and have allowed us to make new ones along the way,” said Cary Pierce. “I think these events continue to grow and sell out because people want more than "just a show” - they want an experience. They want to create lasting memories, explore a new place or visit an old favorite. In some cases, we're offering them a trip of a lifetime. We're finding there a lot of people that value these experiences.”
Jackopierce have celebrated numerous career milestones including the T-Bone Burnett produced A&M debut album Bringing on The Weather, being a part of one of the largest live events with close to 400K people in attendance at the 1997 Blockbuster RockFest at Texas Motor Speedway alongside artists No Doubt, Counting Crows, and Matchbox Twenty, performing on Conan O’Brien in 1992 with the Max Weinberg Band backing them up and sitting in the chairs on the Rosie O'Donnell Show.
“Even after 25 years I feel like we're just getting started,” said Cary Pierce. “We couldn’t have asked for a better show at the Winspear Opera House and are so excited to have this live album out there to our fans. We are currently in the midst of writing songs for a new album and we also have a wine in the works to be released this Fall. We started JP because it seemed "fun." Twenty five years later we're still pretty much doing things because they're fun and wouldn’t have it any other way!”
When Marie Miller writes a song, she does what all gifted writers do: She looks at her life and into her heart to make sure what she creates comes from real emotion and experience.
She also does something none of peers likely do: She searches through classic literature, whether it be Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy or Homer. There, she finds parallels for what she wants to say, channels that inspiration into her lyrics and comes up with something unique: Music that’s immediate and timeless, driven by feelings all listeners can relate to yet infused with a perspective that transcends the present.
“I have a song called ‘Story’ on my new album,” she explains, referencing Letterbox, scheduled for release in the spring of 2017 on Curb Records. “It brings in a lot of epic characters: Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights, Hector’s wife Andromache from The Iliad. I’ve always loved epic stories — Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment — because they’re filled with relationships that are super serious and dramatic. Sometimes I feel like I’m right there in the midst of them.”
Yet Letterbox is no droning lecture on literature. It’s a celebration of freedom. Miller has paid plenty of dues to get to the point where she feels she can write what she wants how she wants to, and sing without constraint. Still young, she has survived years in the music business. She impacted initially with the infectious, “You’re Not Alone.” More than 115,000 downloaded that single on Amazon. ABC’s Dancing with the Stars featured her second single, “6’2,” in 2014.
That’s a success story for sure, one that Miller is grateful to have had. Still, she realized that this was only the first of many steps she needed to take to achieve her goals.
Much more than literature feeds into Miller’s unfettered performance on Letterbox. First and most enduring is the foundation she received from being born into a family that loved and performed music. They gravitated toward bluegrass and cultivated Marie’s obvious talent through lessons with banjo virtuoso Murphy Henry. Around age 12 she began singing with her family and later with her sister as a duo, appearing at churches, festivals, community picnics and, every Saturday, on the porch of the winery her father and a partner had opened in rural Virginia, across the road from the Miller family home.
Miller also began writing songs when she was about 12 years old. “The first one I started performing was an original melody and lyrics based on a poem I’d read in Lord of the Rings,” she says, with a grin. “I was really into American music at the time — the kind of music you’d hear in a Ken Burns documentary, the people’s music, the storytelling of bluegrass and Irish music. I was attracted initially to the New Grass artists, like Nickel Creek and Alison Krauss and mainly Chris Thile. She pauses and then laughs, a little embarrassed. “I was actually 100 percent certain when I was 14 that Chris Thile and I were going to get married someday.” Miller then found herself diving into the lyrics and melodies from the likes of The Eagles to Stevie Wonder to modern hitmaker Sara Bareilles. This wide range of influences impacted her music making when she signed with Curb Records in Nashville at the age of 16 where she fulfilled her dream to write songs. “I began my life as a traveling musician then,” she says. “I love performing, but it was so uncomfortable to be 16 or 17 and have everybody telling me what to do. I remember one time five people criticized what I was wearing. When you’re 17 years old you’re uncomfortable with yourself already, so to have a bunch of old people talk to you about your clothes, it was just really weird.”
Discouraged, Miller returned to Virginia. She took time off from music, went to college for a while, but kept practicing and writing. With a new confidence, she eventually went back to Nashville. Before long she had made her mark in music. And from there, we come to this pivotal moment in her story.
Working with producers Eric Rosse (Sara Bareillis, Tory Amos) and Chad Capelin, Miller moved decisively into a new creative milieu with Letterbox. Begin with the title. “It’s from the Beatles’ song ‘Across the Universe,’” she points out, and then sings the John Lennon lyric: “Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letterbox.”
Why do these words speak to her? “I still write letters to my friends and to my grandparents and to my boyfriends … when I have them,” she says, smiling. “I’ve discovered that sometimes, when you want to say something, you just can’t. It’s too awkward. So Letterbox is about how I love to write letters but it’s also radically relational, about friendships, parents, a child or romance. It’s about how we affect each other as people.”
Miller describes the songs on Letterbox as “almost literal letters to people in my life. ‘Glitter Gold,’ ‘Boardwalk’ and ‘Angeline’ are like letters you leave on someone’s doorstep — teenage, broken-heart messages. ‘More’ is a letter that you never sent. ’Stones You Throw’ is about how the world feels ripples from every little thing we say or do, whether we like it or not. We live constantly in the ripples of other people’s actions, whether they’re from love or hatred.”
The album’s exultant first single, “This Side of Paradise,” which Miller describes as “hopeful and daring” … the promise to wait, in the language of many a folk song, for “the day that I see my own true love again” on “Lonely Ends” … compelling imagery, vocals that whisper and soar, from a lover “Lost at Sea” … Every moment on Letterbox rings true and lingers afterwards, like a memory or a passage from a favorite book.
This is the true Marie Miller, breathing in all that life has to offer and crafting it with her own sense of hope, wonder and enchantment.
And, in case you’re wondering, “Now, if people tell me what to wear or what to say, I just totally ignore them.”
She laughs out loud. It feels good to be free. It feels good to share that freedom through music. With Letterbox, we savor it all, as if delivered to us alone, from a friend not so far away.