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T o m ...P a x t o n


Tom Paxton
Anne Hills
Under American Skies



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track listing

1. There Goes the Mountain itunesbuy
2. Under American Skies itunesbuy
3. Follow That Road itunesbuy
4. Clarrissa Jones itunesbuy
5. Birmingham Sunday itunesbuy
6. Carry It On itunesbuy
7. God Bless the Grass itunesbuy
8. Manzanar itunesbuy
9. Getting' Up Early itunesbuy
10. Well, Well, Well itunesbuy
11. Pandora's Box itunesbuy
12. Shadow Crossing the Land itunesbuy
13. Links in the Chain itunesbuy
14. And Lovin' You itunesbuy

“Tom Paxton made me fall in love with folk music.” – Anne Hills

“Anne Hills is quite simply one of my absolute favorite songwriters.” – Tom Paxton

Under American Skies is the first full-length recorded collaboration between Tom Paxton and Anne Hills, two of the best songwriters and folk singers in the world, after more than 20 years of musical friendship, sharing stages, studios and even co-membership in the same band. Their new CD on Appleseed Recordings was created with the dual intention of reviving some of the finest topical but timeless songs of the last four decades and capturing two great artists reveling in each other’s voices, words and music.

Under American Skies was inspired by a conversation between Anne Hills and Appleseed Recordings president Jim Musselman at an outdoor folk festival a few years ago. Both were lamenting the fading status of meaningful songs written in the Sixties and Seventies – while fine new songs are continually being created, some of the earlier classics were receding from performance and memory.

Who better to enlist in a musical reclamation of ever-relevant and moving original folk songs from the genre’s heyday than Tom Paxton, who had authored so many of them and already had a history of working with Anne? Of the 14 songs on Under American Skies, four were written by Paxton alone, two by Hills, and most of the others drawn from the “folk movement” songbooks, including Richard Farina’s “Birmingham Sunday,” about the 1963 racially motivated church bombing that killed four little girls; Malvina Reynolds’ gently metaphorical “God Bless the Grass”; the anthemic “Carry It On” by Gil Turner, and more recent compositions by Tom Russell (“Manzanar,” about the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II) and the late Kate Wolf (her previously unrecorded “Links in the Chain”). The title song, a brand new Paxton/Hills composition, decries the American judicial system and the plight of its victims.

Regardless of authorship, Paxton and Hills split or share vocal honors unselfishly – he sings some of her songs, she sings some of his, and their voices frequently alternate and unite in heartfelt counterpoint and harmony. Strong, sensitive acoustic accompaniment is provided by a group of musicians that includes guitarist Al Pettaway, pianist Jon Carroll (from Mary Chapin Carpenter’s band), and Anne herself on banjo and harmonica.

Under American Skies embodies all the best impulses and achievements of modern day folk music – it is conscious of history, heart and humanity, and incorporates personal, social and political concerns without preachiness or overt sentimentality.

About Anne Hills:

Anne Hills (vocals, banjo, percussion), who could well be crowned “The Great Collaborator,” is both a renowned solo artist and the connecting link between various musical groups, as well as a frequent visitor to Appleseed releases. Born in India and raised in Michigan, she attended the Interlochen Arts Academy there. In 1976, Anne and her then-husband and singing partner Jan Burda moved to Chicago’s fertile folk scene with the intention of starting a folklore center and record label. By the end of the ’70s, Anne had been taken under Bob Gibson’s musical wing, introduced to his Chicago audiences, and found herself overdubbing harmony vocals onto Tom Paxton’s Up and Up live album, which Gibson produced. Within the next few years, Anne was recording for her own Hogeye label, helping to produce a Gibson album, and singing with Paxton and Gibson on some of their local dates, which developed into the short-lived “Best of Friends” group (also including songwriter-musician Michael Smith on bass) in the mid-’80s; a live recording, Best of Friends, was released by Appleseed in 2004. Her first solo album for our label, the brand new Points of View is now available.

Originally recognized for her “superb vocal purity” (Minnesota Monthly) and interpretive abilities, Anne gradually honed her songwriting reputation on her own recordings and in various collaborative situations – in duos with Tom Paxton (with whom she recorded Under American Skies for Appleseed in 2001), Michael Smith, and Cindy Mangsen, in a sporadic but still active trio with Mangsen and Priscilla Herdman, and more recently as a lyricist for jazz drummer Peter Erskine (Weather Report, Yellowjackets), who produced her 1993 October Child CD. In 2003, Anne joined fellow singer-songwriter friends Smith, Mangsen and Steve Gillette to record a collection of “story songs” as Fourtold (on Appleseed).

Gillette rates Anne as “simply the best singer with the best voice in our world. I know that Cindy will forgive me, since she shares that opinion.” Aside from her solo, duo, trio, and quartet activities, Anne is also an author of children’s books (“Dreamcatcher”), an award winning poet, an activist in community service and child-related benefits, and a periodic participant in theater projects. Among her most recent honors are the 2006 Pennsylvania Partner’s in the Arts Project Stream grant award (for the 2007 premiere of An Evening of James Whitcomb Riley). In 2005 she received the same grant for her premiere of The Heartsongs of Opal Whiteley, a multi-media production in which she performed and recorded a CD of its songs.

Anne Hills can also be heard performing “I Come and Stand at Every Door” on our Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger set; she joins Pete Seeger on “Flowers of Peace” and Seeger, Billy Bragg, Ani DiFranco, and Steve Earle on “Bring Them Home (If You Love Your Uncle Sam)” on Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger, Vol. 3 (with the latter song also appearing on Sowing the Seeds – The 10th Anniversary; and the Paxton/Hills/Gibson version of “Bottle of Wine” from their Best of Friends CD also appears on Christine Lavin & Friends’ One Meat Ball.



other releases

comedians and angels
..Comedians & Angels
looking for the moon
.....................Looking for the Moon

best of friends

Best of Friends

also appears on:
where have all the flowers gone
The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol 1
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
The Songs of Pete Seeger Vol 3

one more meatball

Christine Lavin & Friends

One More Meatball