The South is more than just a place. It’s a feeling you get when you’re sitting on the porch on a warm summer night sipping sweat tea. It’s the haunting comfort that envelops you when you drive the wooded back roads in your hometown. It’s the sound of cicadas rustling in the trees. It’s the salt, grease and love that goes into every plate of grits served. The South is everywhere, especially in the stories told by Brigitte DeMeyer’s music.
With her sixth offering, Savannah Road, DeMeyer gives the listener access to a special place in her mind. The title track is inspired by Gregg Allman’s book My Cross to Bear. The celebrated musician’s biography was DeMeyer’s companion and took her in all different, musical and emotional directions. It helped her feel connected to Georgia, the South, and in the process, connected to herself. Due out April 2014, Savannah Road intermingles acoustic steel and slide guitar, fingerpicking, gospel-tinged vocals and literary imagery. DeMeyer writes songs as weavers thread tapestries. Poetry laden with southern groove, her music transports to another place and time. A self-produced collection of 13 songs written mostly by DeMeyer and frequent collaborator and string-master Will Kimbrough, Savannah Road has been described as “gorgeous and greasy.” DeMeyer simply calls it “acoustic soul.”
DeMeyer has built a solid foundation with her first five albums, collaborating with giants of the Americana drummer/producer Brady Blade, Buddy Miller, Sam Bush, and more recently, Kimbrough—and has shown herself to have a wonderfully natural feel for soul-steeped, blues-infused roots music. The daughter of Belgian and German immigrants, she was born in the Midwest, and at a young age moved to Southern California with her family where she started latching onto rootsy sounds, from Etta James, Mavis Staples and Sly Stone, to her discovery of The Allman Brothers, Steve Earle and of course, Patti Griffin. Before embarking on the quest that brings Brigitte’s music to the main stage, she acquired a Bachelors of Arts Degree from the University of San Diego and, instead of sleeping on random couches and going the “starving artist”route, she took the road less travelled in rock and roll: She got a job. Not wanting to depend on anybody, she worked to make enough money to get her music career going, realizing that being self-sufficient was the only way to feel truly content while turning her musical dreams into a reality. Brigitte was able to pay rent and play music. Eventually, she was able to leave the marketing world behind and concentrate on her craft full-time.
With a 2010 relocation from California to Nashville, DeMeyer has gained much momentum and visibility as a performing artist, and has built strong musical partnerships through touring, writing and contributing to the community. She is a storyteller. She is the blues personified. Each lyric drips with emotion, curiosity and imagination. “There’s something sparkly about each song,” DeMeyer says about the story told by Savannah Road. “Boy’s Got Soul” is a beautiful anecdote about finding someone who possesses or moves you unexpectedly, in which she uses the term “scrapyard lullabies”(a Chris Whitley reference) over smooth, yet haunting guitar strums. “Home Ground” is a poignant, soulful adventure about finding that special place where you can be free. However, it’s “Build Me A Fire” where Brigitte’s storytelling mastery really comes to life. It’s a personal story, an ode her to the hardships her mother had to overcome during the Second World War. Besides the aforementioned standout tracks, the entire album is bursting with the same rare passion that is found on old Fleetwood Mac records. Savannah Road is teeming with elements of melancholy, longing, and most of all, each track brings its own little piece of the South. “Mother Nature is boss here,”she smiles. “And, there’s a spirit here, a vibe in the air that gets absorbed, and it goes into the music.”
“Think Swamp. Think Spooky. Think Longing. Think heat. Think Sweat. Think Post Civil War Georgia. A vintage wander searching for where you belong. With whom you belong. Nothing but stars and desire as the compass, and the encounters along the way. This is Savannah Road.” DeMeyer says. Although the songs stem from DeMeyer and Kimbrough’s musical chemistry, they are brought further to life with additional players Brady Blade, keyboardist Jimmy Wallace, guitar/mandolinist Guthrie Trapp, and bassist Chris Donohue. Also featured are the McCrary Sisters, Ricky and Micol Davis of Blue Mother Tupelo, Bassist Michael Rhodes, and Wood Brother’s Jano Rix.
If there’s one thing the listener is sure to take away from Brigitte DeMeyer’s music it’s that life is more than a destination, it’s a journey. From opening for Bob Dylan, to playing with the McCrary Sisters and Buddy Miller, to forming lifelong musical friendships with Blade and Kimbrough, the journey is far from over. With each song, each album, each tour, there is a soul-infused story to tell, and Brigitte DeMeyer is here to tell it.