Expressing the ineffable

I’m thinking about a quote from the artist Dan Rice in which he describes painting as “a means of expressing the ineffable.” The idea of articulating that which cannot be uttered is, to me, so rich. In fact, there are days I believe it’s my purpose in this life. The thing is, as hard is it is to get there — into that current of creative inspiration — it’s even harder to maintain the connection. So I spend a lot of time trying to find routes in. Art helps. Watching the sky change, mood ring-like, from inky night into blue dawn. Music is often the quickest path: I’m currently listening to “Open Up A Window” by Sean Hayes.”

So here’s the thing. If I feel that in a song — the connection to that which illuminates us, the flipping of the switch — then the musician must have felt it too, right? Alone in the studio, making something and knowing that it really is something. That it is, indeed, an inroad. Continue reading

Interviews over the years

This is a lot of what I do: Talk to musicians. One of the first interviews I ever had was with Michelle Shocked, the most recent interview I had was with Eric D. Johnson. The most famous person I’ve spoken to was Yoko Ono, the musician I’ve interviewed the most is Josh Ritter. Nearly all of these interviews are by phone, so it’s a thrill to get to meet an artist I admire in person. A few years ago I started a series of pre-show video interviews (view the full series here), during which I get to talk about music, touring, off-day hobbies (Donavon Frankenreiter collects antiques) and whatever else crosses my mind.

Left to right, from top: Rhett Miller, Fine Peduncle, Sean Hayes, Langhorne Slim, Callaghan, Joseph Arthur, Charlie Starr (Blackberry Smoke), Austin Hicks and Matt Walsh (The Low Counts), Vienna Teng.

So, I might have written a book about you…

What is the responsibility of the writer to her muse? That’s the question rattling around in my head today.

And by “muse” I don’t mean some esoteric inspiration, or chorus of angelic voices encouraging me to put pen to paper. Or, more precisely, fingertips to keyboard. By “muse” I mean the actual person who inspires a character or story. Or, you know, entire novel. Continue reading

Terrifying and gorgeous multiplicity

I’ve been kind of stalking Morgan Sorne‘s website for months now, hoping he’d announce an Asheville show. And then, like kismet, he appeared in my inbox yesterday. To get a personal note from a musician I really like is still breathlessly exciting, 13 or however many years into my job as an arts writer. Sorne says he’s in the process of mastering his new project, and he gave me a download to the last release, Death I. I’ve been listening to that and taking in the accompanying artwork, and decided to repost my review from the show that started it all, for me.

Originally posted on Mountain Xpress’ Mountain Oasis Tumblr: Continue reading

Hello Internet…

paris bookshopThis is the virtual home of Alli Marshall, writer of stories, reviewer of bands, baker of cookies, walker of dogs and taker of weird Instagrams.

For now, you can read Alli’s articles at Mountain Xpress, check out her music musings on Tumblr, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

What Alli’s currently reading: The Goldfinch by Donna Tart.

What Alli’s listening to: EDJ, the new album by Eric D. Johnson (of Fruit Bats) and Love’s Crushing Diamond by Mutual Benefit.