John Hardt

Melodies Cafe Presents

John Hardt

Chris Milam, Marina Evans

Thursday 10/17

8:00 pm

Melodies Cafe

Ardmore, PA

$8.00 - $10.00

John Hardt
John Hardt
Musician. Pastor. Facilitator of a broken liturgy. Engaging the homeless, the hapless, and the hipster in liturgical spaces that embrace doubt, lament, and blessedly foolish hope.
Chris Milam
Chris Milam
Step into a Greenwich Village venue and notice the cardigan-clad kid onstage. Notice the crowd--young, sizeable, and overeager. Now notice that, despite the packed room, the air is silent. The metallic ring of a finger-picked acoustic cuts through the tension. There's some quick applause, some halted "shhh's," and the kid onstage begins a song you haven't heard yet: "I see her only in cold weather/in lieu of something better/while the band plays I watch her roll her eyes..."
The kid plays like a polished troubadour but looks like a prep-schooler; he jokes between songs like the class clown but sings stunningly poetic lyrics with a valedictorian's pride. Forty-five minutes later, this packed listening room has applauded wildly, nodded reverently, and one bookish undergrad has surprisingly thrown a bra onstage. Something is happening here. A rising singer/songwriter in the Village, packaging lyricism with a pop melody to a new generation. It could be 2010, or it could be 1963. "Who is this kid," you think, "and where did he come from?"

Chris Milam, the known Nashville critical darling and songwriting prodigy, just dropped his suitcase in the Big Apple. He moved to New York in the fall of 2009, leaving behind his home base, a stack of industry offers, and a potential career as a hit Nashville songwriter. He came by way of Nashville, Memphis, and (most recently) a secluded winter in an Arkansas attic. But to really understand what's happening now, we need to learn a little about what happened before; what turned a professor's son from Memphis into New York's hottest singing commodity.

Growing up in the Memphis suburbs, he soaked up the musical heritage of his hometown. While he picked out Stax melodies on the piano and bass, his friends were learning Dave Matthews covers on guitar. "I kept trying to fit in, and failing," Milam laughs. When he wanted to learn guitar, Milam (a southpaw) taught himself to play his brother's acoustic upside-down. He created a music major Vanderbilt didn't previously offer while his friends pursued medicine, law, and finance. "I was doomed from the beginning," he laughs. "My dad's a Miltonist. My mom teaches Greek drama. Banking wasn't an option--I can't even add."

Milam began playing local coffee-shops, house parties, frat-houses, and every open stage he could find while still in college. Some nights, he played three different open mics. On average, he played six concerts a week. By the spring of 2005, his hard work paid off: he released his debut album, Leaving Tennessee, to a large local fanbase and widespread critical acclaim.

"One of the South's most promising songwriters." --Vanderbilt Hustler
"His skill as a songwriter surpasses artists twice his age...a huge local discovery." --Hardcore Troubadours

Next, Milam was true to his word: he left Tennessee. He spent the two years on the road, booking his own tours, playing coffeehouses, colleges, dive bars, and theaters coast-to-coast. His pop-friendly melodies, honey-sweet voice, and unpredictable performances won glowing reviews and an increasing fan-base at every stop.

"He continues to turn a phrase on end with lethal precision." --Chattanooga Times Free Press

Soon, the Nashville music industry took notice: prompted by multiple publishing companies, Chris Milam released the Tin Angel EP in 2008. It was a pop songwriting showcase, and a departure from his typically intimate, lyrically-driven songs. After another six months of DIY touring to promote the Tin Angel EP, the offers rolled in. Milam found himself in office after office, outlining his future as a Nashville songwriter, adapting his prodigious talent to the country music landscape. Artistically, and professionally, Milam had reached his first real crossroads. He explains:

"I was told that if I wanted to strictly be a songwriter, I could do that. But it wasn't my passion. Plus, I was exhausted. I'd spent about three years touring. I'd spent my whole life in Tennessee. I knew artists moving to Nashville to be songwriters, and here were these opportunities, but I needed a break."

In February of 2009, Chris Milam did what any fatigued artist might do: he went to Arkansas. For two freezing months, he put his Nashville career, his touring schedule, his industry offers, and even his personal life on hold. He did nothing but write songs in an attic in Arkansas, every day, for eight weeks. In April, he reemerged in Nashville with a mountain of new demos and a plan: make an album, and move to New York. New York, the site of his own favorite performances, past inspiration, and his singer/songwriter heroes.

Milam played the demos for a local producer Steve Martin. Blown away by the new material, he offered to make the album regardless of time or budget. Chris Milam knew this album had to be an intimate, stripped-down, deeply-personal work; it had to tell his story in his own language. The session was booked, the plan set: no session players, no independent contractors, no background singers, no support staff. "We wanted to make something as close, intimate, self-contained, and narrative as the songs themselves" he explains. "We wanted that combination of vintage songwriting with an intimate sound; Simon & Garfunkel meets 21st century DIY home recording."

Two guys, nine songs, seven days, a roomful of instruments, and a few microphones. They played every part, mixed and mastered every song, front to back, in just over one week. A month later, Chris Milam moved to New York, album in hand.

The result is Up, a work of breath-taking lyricism, expert songwriting, and startling maturity. It sounds like a secret you're in on. It sounds like a little world you're suddenly transported to. It sounds like the songs you've been waiting to hear. It's both classic and contemporary, a return to the poeticism of 60's singer-songwriters with the voice of a new generation. It's the work of a moment--a perfect storm of talent, work, timing, and inspiration--but its story has been months in the making.

"Reminiscent of Paul Simon…I've got a feeling about this kid." --Listen! Nashville
"Expertly crafted…a fresh new voice." --Music City Unsigned

Now, step into a Greenwich Village venue to find this cardigan-clad kid with a prep-school tie and literary lyrics singing to the applause, nods, and bra-throwing approval of a new generation. Go and find the professor's son-turned-songwriting prodigy in your nearest coffeehouse, bar, or theater, telling a new story with every turn of phrase. Watch the audience mouth along: "From the pavement to the stratosphere tonight, a generation's song/and though we're all young enough tonight, we won't be young for long." Something is happening here. Go, and take a listen.

After all, this only the beginning.
Marina Evans
Marina Evans
Marina has traveled far and wide performing as a singer/songwriter. Her solo career began in 2006 in New York City, and in the ensuing years she has taken her music from Manhattan to San Francisco, Philadelphia, and most recently Europe! Blending jazz, folk and rock, Evans counts among her vocal influences such jazz greats as Billie Holliday and Anita O'Day; she is also greatly influenced by songwriters Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan. Stream or download Marina's latest record, Dogtown: The EP at www.marinaevansmusic.com/music/
Venue Information:
Melodies Cafe
2 East Lancaster Avenue
Ardmore, PA, 19003