OUT & ABOUT
Finger Lake Times
Folk singer performs songs from the heart
By Emily McFaul
Nashville-based folk star Taylor Pie will take the stage this week to sing not only beloved favorites, but also new songs from the heart with fellow folk singer and friend Jim Clare.
Clare, a Canandaigua resident, arranged the dates for Pie, whom he first heard in the 1960’s when she was performing with the Pozo-Seco Singers as Susan Taylor. The group’s song, “Time,” a wistful ballad about the fleetingness of life, was a hit both in the Pozo’s hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas and at radio stations in major cities.
“They were a pretty well known group,” recalls Clare.
It was a song that Clare- a folk aficionado since college- often played with his friends in performances at bars and parties during their down time from Naval training near Corpus Christi.
“They sang all of our songs at beach parties,” says Pie, who connected with Clare a few years ago on Facebook. “We might have even been partying next to each other on the beach!”
These days, Clare has returned to songwriting and performing, releasing an album called, “Old Empty Hall” in 2009. Last year, he joined Pie for a gig in Pennsylvania, and he’s looking forward to performing with her again.
Not only is Pie an accomplished guitar finger-picker, says Clare, but her voice, songwriting skills and stage presence hit home with her audience.
“She has a very compelling voice and way of singing the songs,” says Clare. “She has a real way of connecting with local folks.”
For her part- despite a busy schedule that includes a stop at WXXI for a chat with “Open Tuning” show host Scott Regan – Pie is hoping for a chance to sit down and collaborate with Clare.
I totally admire his songwriting style, because he’s a storyteller,” says Pie. “For me, songs were always something that evolved from life itself, as we live it in the emotional body. I don’t know how to write anything unless it comes from the heart – I have to feel the feeling first.”
For instance, Pie’s song, “When All That’s Left To Say is Good-bye,” grew out of watching a close friend die of cancer. It took two years after her friend’s passing to be able to perform the song in public -but for Pie, putting her heart and soul into her work and her performances is a kind of emotional catharsis.
If I can write a song, then it’s like exorcising that feeling out of me,” she says. “I can just move on.”
Fans are similarly touched by those heartfelt emotions – and another song Pie released in 2007 called, “So Little Has Changed,” also strikes a chord with many listeners.
While some label it an antiwar song, Pie likes to call it a peace song. Inspired by the memory of her father, a decorated World War II pilot, telling her about the uselessness of war, the song came together when Pie saw a new report on yet another group of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
“It took me back to the days of Vietnam, when I lost quite a few friends,” says Pie. “And I thought, ‘Here we go again! For all of our progress technologically, so little has changed.”
With a wellspring of emotions to draw from, and the music of antiwar folk songwriter Tom Paxton as inspiration, Pie says the song was an easy one to write.
“The words just came,” she recalls. “The song just poured right out.”
Those catching one of Pie’s local performances can expect to hear some of her more recent songs, as well as several of Clare’s works. His song “Old Empty Hall” actually pays tribute to one of the venues – Fatzinger Hall at the Waterloo Library, a well-known boyhood stop for Clare.
“The first thing I had in my little plastic alligator wallet was a Waterloo library card,” recalls Clare, who grew up on a farm in Waterloo that’s now the site of a housing development.
Of course, audience members can also expect to hear “Time,” still considered Pie’s biggest hit.
“They won’t let me get away with not singing it,” she laughs.
Friday, June 3, 2011