Monday, February 7, 2011

Pacific NW Artist Mia Vermillion Opening for John Hammond at Jazz Alley

By Eric Steiner

 Pacific NW blues artist Mia Vermillion will open up for award winning blues guitarist John Hammond at Jazz Alley in Seattle on Feb. 22nd and 23rd. Washington Blues Society (WBS) President Eric Steiner had the good fortune to catch up to Mia Vermillion recently, and published this interview in the Society's February 2011 Bluesletter:

WBS: Congratulations on your upcoming Jazz Alley performance, opening up for John Hammond. How are you going to develop your set list for this pretty high-profile gig?

MV: By maintaining a degree of focus. I have a fairly short time to present my music. So, with this in mind I will be preparing two new songs that I've written as well as revisiting songs from my album "Alone Together With the Blues." I'm rehearsing the program on guitar by doing some unannounced solo performances over the month of January/ February and of course rehearsing it with Orville. In addition, I'm offering a house concert February 12th in Anacortes which I see as a warm up for my opener at Jazz Alley.

WBS: Since I first saw you and Orville Johnson at the Anacortes Public Library a few years ago, your CD has taken off. Literally! Bill Wax plays songs on it on BB King's Bluesville at XM Satellite Radio and John Kessler regularly uses it on All Blues. Are there any really far-flung places that have played it?

MV: Oh yes! For example, Radio Upper Galilee Israel 105.3 FM. It's on radio in Russia, Croatia, Norway ... and on and on. It's all over the globe really. On the Russian Facebook equivalent networking site vkontakte.ru, I've seen my music on people’s playlists. In July 2009, I put up a map on Google maps of where I was aware of it playing at that time. It's an interesting look at locations. You can still find the map in a blog post on my website under the blog tab. lt's representative at that time (July 2009).

WBS: You won our International Blues Challenge, but could not compete due to health reasons. I hope your health is getting better, and that we'll see you out more and more in 2011. What are your plans for 2011?

MV: The health thing was a really tough go - an injury. I still have some residual effects from it. I expect to overcome completely, but it's just going to take time. One of the toughest issues for me was the loss of confidence I went through. Getting back to the music and performances has helped me gain some of that back. I'm just so grateful for all the opportunities that are coming my way right now. My main focus and plan right now is to develop live performances and connect with the people who love the music. I have been rehearsing a 4 piece band. They are a great group and I love the sound we are producing. I'm wanting to extend my sound with them and I have been scheduling shows with the band. I expect to continue to build on that momentum through this spring and summer. I'm excited about this and about connecting with my audience again. Working with talented folks, performing the music and getting feedback from audiences makes me physically and mentally feel well. So I'm motivated. I also want to continue to develop is my solo work. I like the expression and freedom in it. I'm working new music into my sets and starting to write. I've taken up a part time residence in Seattle for a bit to get my artistic juices going. I hope to experience a change in patterns of living and perspective to help me branch out personally and artistically. I'm wanting to grow. That's my plan Eric.

WBS: What are the last five CDs you've listened to?

MV: The last 5 CD's I've seriously listened too were Candye Kane "Super Hero" I listened for inspiration and healing myself. Thornetta Davis "Sunday Morning Music" for the power of her voice. Joni Mitchell "Blue" because I was told by Sue Ennis it was her masterpiece, and I had never listened to any of her work before. I fell in love with it as a songwriter. Eva Cassidy "Songbird" because of the beauty and soul in her voice and again it was recommended to me by a friend who felt it was a must 'listen' for me. I took a shine to Dusty Springfield recently, and have been listening to individual songs, but I want to get "Dusty in Memphis" and listen to it closely. When I hear a female voice that speaks to me, I'll take quite a bit of time to 'get' it.

WBS: When will you release a new record? Any plans in the works to follow "Alone Together with the Blues?"

MV: I do want to release a second album of work. I'm planning on starting a project this coming fall 2011 for release in spring 2012. I expect to write the majority of songs on this project with a few covers. I feel a vetting of emotionality coming through in my writing. It is the healing aspect of this type of personal inspection that will lead me in creating another record. I've been needing a lot of fun in my life lately and I've done quite a bit of traveling this past fall to find some and I plan to do more. It's has helped me get better and feel good and I find it freeing. So, perhaps the shaping of my personal journey via some traveling blues is the order and the ticket to my next album.

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