Americana Meets Rock and Blues Music

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Austin’s singer-songwriter, Heather Bishop, has been performing her crossroad of rock, soul, and Americana roots music since 2011. Thus far, she has released three albums and performed many shows both on her own and in festivals. Bishop has collaborated with many different artists, such as and credits her musical growth and development as an artist to her mentors that she has worked with. Bishop’s most recent album, Dime to a Dollar - Live at One-2-One, was released in October, and Bishop shares the unique way that her album came to be and tells about the beauty of working closely with other musicians.

Caroline LaMotta: When did you start writing and performing music? And what drove you to create your music?
Heather Bishop: Both of my grandmothers played piano, so I started playing music at a very young age. It felt natural to sit next to them on the piano bench as a little kid and "add" to their compositions, which may be why I've always preferred to approach music from a collaborative perspective. I started playing strings in elementary school and added guitar in college. It's never felt so much of a calling as it just feels like part of who I am and what I do- music has always been there.

At what age did you realize that you wanted to have a career in music?
One of my favorite things to do as a little kid was to sit on the floor of our family room and listen to records with my mother. I was looking at the liner notes of an album one day and noticed a musician with an unusual name. I played the entire album over and over again to see if I could pick out who it was and what they were doing. I repeated that with other albums and began to read more and more liner notes. That was the beginning of my understanding of the concept of "session musicians" and when I first thought about that as a possibility. I was about 5 years old. When I started in orchestra, my father suggested that I consider playing strings professionally if it was something that I was truly passionate about, but to be sure to put in my all with training and education just as one would with any career.

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Can you describe your musical style and who influenced you?
Musically I'm influenced by pretty much everything I hear- there's no genre of music that I can truly say that I dislike, but I certainly have preferences. Folk and country were a big part of my childhood, but so were soul, gospel, blues, calypso, and music of the British rock invasion. Artists ranging from Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash to Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones were vinyl staples, but the Motown sound and Stax Records made me happy, too. I have a ridiculous appreciation for 80's metal and indie punk as well. My music is pretty much a blend of all it - Americana meets rock and blues.

How has working with other artists improved your musical ability and songwriting?
Working with other artists has been an essential part of my development over time. I love to write and play but I'm inherently a shy performer- other artists push me out of my comfort zones in good ways. Working with artists you feel a strong connection with gives you the freedom to experiment with new ideas as well as inspiration. Artists like drummer Barry "Frosty" Smith, bassist and producer Yoggie Musgrove, and musician/composer Danny Grochow (Danny G) have had a profound impact on me musically. Each of these folks as well as producers Jeffrey Currier and Cris Burns are experts in their own craft but they also have unique connections with artists like me.

Do you prefer to play at solo concerts or festivals?
That's an excellent question! They both have merit and I can't say that I prefer one over the other, with the exception of organization. Even the best festivals can get a little chaotic at times, but that's not a reason to not play them. So both- I like them both.

How long have you spent on Dime To A Dollar - Live at One-2-One from its conception until its release? (What did you discover about the creative process?)
Dime to A Dollar was truly a gift. None of us in the band knew in advance that the show was being recorded. A dear friend and fellow musician showed up and recorded the show knowing that I would have given him permission. At the end of the night he handed it to me and said, "Here's your next album. People need to hear more." He had known that I wanted a new album but didn't have one planned yet, so he just made it happen. I've been truly fortunate to have longtime friends and fans. I'd say that I was reminded of the beauty of the organic process- because I was thrilled with the comfortable, relaxed feel of the recording that might not have happened the same if it had been a planned event.

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How is Dime To A Dollar - Live at One-2-One different from and similar to your past music?
It's funny that you ask that. For me it doesn't feel much different- it's merely a live recording of a full band gig where we're having a great time- and there is often a difference between anyone's studio albums and live performances. I'm definitely more raw live than in the studio. But I've heard a lot of comments from friends and fans that they hear me a lot differently on this album- that it's more rock, more blues, more assertive than anyone was expecting from me. So I guess that's a thing- this album is more raw and more rock. I'm glad.

What message does Dime To A Dollar - Live at One-2-One send to your listeners?
In a big picture way, I'd like to think that it says that I'm still here and strong and resonant. But I'd like to think that it also showcases my love for collaboration and my fellow musicians. My mother pointed out that this is very much a band-focused album rather than being all about me and it made me happy to know that this came through. The album probably reflects a headspace of strength and resilience, which is the journey I've been on this year. Danny and I will be in the studio with Cris Burns this January for the next record and I'm excited to hear what we come up with next.

Would you like to add anything else about your music?
I'd say that one thing that I love about music is that it is a unifying art- a thing that connects people across lines that are often arbitrary and artificial. And I'm so glad that it is an art in where I can contribute.

by - Caroline LaMotta