CD cover
The CD Songs From the End of the Road features three new songs from individual songwriters Rodd Ambroson, Carolyn Lochert, Janis Carper and Heidi Muller. Themes reflect life in Wallowa County and Eastern Oregon, relationships, inner strength and social commentary. Each writer has a distinctive style, ranging from the contemporary folk of Ambroson and Muller to Lochert’s smooth jazz grooves and Carper’s bluesy country-rock. There are plenty of vocal harmonies, guitar backup and a creative mix of other instruments. In most cases, each singer played guitar on his or her own songs. Carper, Lochert and Muller sang most of the backup vocals. Carper shows her broad musical versatility by playing everything from Spanish guitar and hot leads to dobro, banjo, bass and percussion. Other supporting musicians include the duo Sky in the Road on harmonium and vocal, Roger McGee on Native American flute, Rich Shirley on upright bass, Bob Webb on electric cello and mandolin, and Lisa Robertson on fiddle. Carper’s sister, Julie Turner of Houston, TX, played piano on a song Carper wrote for her.

The CD grew out of regular gatherings between the four songwriters to critique each other’s new songs. Meeting monthly since last fall, they would bring what they have written, whether fully formed into a song or just a few lines that needed more work. As each writer played a new song, the group listened, read the lyric sheets, made suggestions for lyric, melodic and chord changes and sent it back for finishing. By the next meeting the song would be reviewed and given a thumbs-up or sent back for more work. Each of the 12 songs on this new CD received that special attention, resulting in a higher level of song craft than the writers may have achieved if they had worked alone.
Here we are standing on the truck.
Janis Carper and Heidi Muller were original members of a four-person songwriters group that met monthly in Seattle from 1989 to 2000. After Carper moved to Enterprise and Muller moved to the East Coast, they continued the process occasionally by sending each other MP3s of their new work. “We’d seek each other out to be a sounding board. Sometimes we’d need help with lyrics, but other times we just wanted to share a song we felt good about writing,” said Muller. “We trusted each other’s judgment and appreciated the chance to run songs past each other before performing them. It would always make a difference.”

Ambroson, Lochert, Carper and Muller have all participated in the Summer Fishtrap songwriting workshops held at Wallowa Lake each July. Muller was the songwriting instructor there in 2005. A couple of the songs on this CD were begun in last summer’s class, and refined through the group process over the winter.

Each of the artists has made a name for themselves in Wallowa County over the past few years. Rodd Ambroson, from Joseph, is a master artist and bronze sculptor. In addition, he is a fingerstyle guitarist who approaches his music with the same attention to detail that he brings to his visual works. His ballads tell stories that are full of imagery, and he sings with a warm voice and gentle strength. His offerings on the new CD include “Katy Sue,” “Scarecrow,” and “Eastern Oregon.”

Janis Carper is the executive director of the Wallowa Valley Music Alliance, and performs both solo and with the group The Alibis. She has been writing award-winning songs since the early 1980’s and has released six albums. Carper performs her country-rock songs with a powerful, bluesy voice and guitar virtuosity. The new CD showcases her songs “South,” “Come Back to Me,” and “Sister.”

Carolyn Lochert of Lostine is a popular jazz performer in the area. Her career has led from her third grade debut role as Head Lettuce in Peter Rabbit to music studies with an emphasis in jazz composition, with Portland trumpeter and composer Rob Blakeslee. After teaching voice for four years, she sang in several jazz combos including the Tone Sharks. Lochert’s smooth vocals, colorful arrangements and no-nonsense lyrics are hallmarks of her songs on this new CD: “Someday,” “Carlota” (sung in Spanish), and “This Place.”

Heidi Muller is a performer and teacher who has written songs for over 25 years. A frequent visitor to Wallowa County from West Virginia, she has spent the winter in Joseph. She has recorded six CDs and is known for her song “Good Road” which is the theme song of the radio show, Inland Folk, heard on Northwest Public Radio and KPBX-Spokane. Muller enjoys writing songs with a sense of place, full of visual imagery, supported by her clear alto vocals and guitar and dulcimer playing. Her new songs “In Wallowa,” “Traveler,” and “Keep an Eye on the Moon” appear on the new CD.

Songs From the End of the Road will be for sale at the Tunesmith concert and can be found at many local sales outlets across the county, including The Bookloft and Central Copy & Shipping in Enterprise, and Uptown Art in Joseph. For those who wish to purchase online with a credit card, the CD is available through www.cdbaby.com. 

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