Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SHE'S BACK.... CHI COLTRANE


Sept. 30, 2009 : Muziekcentrum Eindhoven - Eindhoven
Fri. Oct. 2, 2009 : Muziekcentrum - Enschede
Oct. 4, 2009 : Philharmonie - Haarlem (Amsterdam)
Oct. 6, 2009 : De Lawei - Drachten
Oct. 9, 2009 : Stadsschouwburg - Middelburg
Oct. 10, 2009 : Vredenburg - Utrecht
Oct. 13, 2009 : De Tamboer - Hoogeveen
Oct. 14, 2009 : Stedelijk Concertgebouw - Leiden

Yes, it's true, the return of Chi Coltrane on tour starts TOMORROW.

You can go to YouTube and check out her bold first appearance in public...at an outdoor concert in Vienna, where she is in total command of the crowd. Any tweens and 20-somethings wondering "Who's this Hot Lips Houlihan with a black jazz man's last name..." will see that Chi smacks a piano harder than Ray Charles and her "sweet shout" Gospel-tinged delivery can still lash into roars and snarls. It was proof she's ready to try a tour.

This long overdue illfolks tribute was delayed because I knew she was planning a return, and I wanted to salute it when it happened.

Coltrane's early 70's hit "Thunder and Lightning" blazed up the charts. Then critics took a closer look, and apparently were surprised that the woman belting that song was a beautiful blonde...someone "too white" to be authentic. Chi (pronounced "shy") was, after all, from Wisconsin, part of Lawrence Welk land. She has never lost the tendency-ah to end a sentence-ah with an extra vowel...a trait also uncomfortably associated with the Swaggart style used to preach religion-ah.

Perhaps some of the Archies who saw her album covers, expected a sweet Betty to Linda Ronstadt's Veronica, and were unprepared for someone who could growl. Listen to the way she sings "what am I to do" on "You Were My Friend" - she sounds the way a wet cat looks.

Even on a passionate ballad, such as "Ooh Baby," Chi will not stay pretty and passive. That song is an emotional roller coaster of hushed sighs and powerful yearning, and it's easy to understand how people could be a little surprised and alarmed by it...it's like cuddling an ocelot...it's furry, it's kissable, but it can turn dangerous, too. Chi's snarling vocals on some notes make you almost think she might grow fangs. We want our ladies to sing soft songs vulnerably, ala Billie Holiday, or powerful songs strongly, ala Aretha, but Chi was doing both.

Some of her best songs have that mixed message; sweet vocals that turn into Gospel "whoa ho ho" whoops, pretty melodies punctuated by fierce full-bodied chords...it makes for a unique, individual and challenging artist. Publicists, writers and disc jockeys couldn't categorize her as easily as Ronstadt or Aretha...

....so after two Columbia albums (and despite the enthusiasm of Clive Davis), Chi slipped off the label, and remained adrift for three years until 1977's "Road to Tomorrow." This was a brilliant album, but unfortunately on Clouds, a small subsidiary of T.K., a label that pushed disco junk such as "K.C. and the Sunshine Band."

When that album, and its gorgeous cover photo, failed to re-ignite her career here, Coltrane moved to Europe, finding a strong following in Holland and Germany, where an attractive white woman could sing with black gospel influences and be lauded for it. Europeans were also enthusiastic about her very American, Evangelical approach to lyrics of life and love. In concert, she could mention "Jesus, my lord" without getting groans.

You can hear that line on "You," from her lone live album, one of three she recorded for Germany's Teldec label in the 80's...albums that fetched big prices from American fans fighting to out-bid each other on eBay for them.

Through the years there were whispers about Chi's emotional fragility, which is part of the temperament of singer/songwriters. The pressures of coming up with another "Thunder and Lightning" were great, the end of her two-lp deal with Columbia had to be painful, and the lack of interest in "Road to Tomorrow" a major disappointment. Yet, Chi's years in Germany, and the albums she made, retained her trademark energy and drive.

So what happened? Where was she for the past two decades?

"I had a debilitating illness for many years, similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, which left me too tired to tour. But I was fortunate enough to find a doctor who uses herbal treatments, and who has helped me overcome this affliction. I'm completely recovered and ready to resume my recording and performing career."

You can buy her new CD via her website. Last time I checked, she even had autographed copies available. While there aren't many new songs on it (it's mostly a "best of" tracks from the Teldec albums of the 80's) her recent works show that she's as dynamic and sensitive as ever, and that's quite a combination to have fighting inside anyone's mind and body.

Her "best of" the Columbia era is still around on CD, but she's surprisingly hard to find on iTunes, eMusic and the usual suspects. Her self-made "best of" (with the two fresh tracks) is a good place to start, especially since you can probably still get an autographed version of it...try autographing an mp3 file!

The photo above? Vintage Chi on her "Road to Tomorrow" album (she autographed it, "I hope you like it...") and the new CD.

Your introduction to the vast tapestry of Chi Coltrane greatness: four live tracks. "You Were My Friend" with its honest pain, "You," a ballad that her powerful voice makes one of strength more than subservience, "Leavin' It All Behind," a typical piano-pounding song of joyous contradictions ("Christmas, in the middle of May") and the rousing "Go Like Elijah." You, go, Chi. And if any of you can go to a Chi Coltrane concert...don't be shy. You won't be converted into anything but a fan.

Update: Nov, 2011. Rapidshare's annoying "30 days without a download kills it" policy killed the original link. It's back via a better company.

CHI COLTRANE LIVE
Download or listen on line. No capcha codes. No porn ads. No percentage going to the blogger for his "hard work." The hard work was done by the artist.

2 comments:

pixelmutt said...

Hello IF

I'm going to start up the old blog, if it'll turn over.

had to rename it:

http://pixelmuttz.blogspot.com/

It's a brave new world out there, what with the kids and their crazy contraptions.


Thank you in advance for your undying support in this matter.

Ill Folks said...

"That's the best news I ever heard."
DYLAN, "Isis"