Amy Ray Band
with Special Guest Daphne Willis
DOORS: 5:00 PM
STARTS: 7:00 PM
Live on the Outdoor StageGenre: Americana
Age Limit: All Ages are Welcome
Rain or Shine; No Refunds
About Amy Ray Band:
A lot of artists defy categorization. Some do so because they are tirelessly searching for the place they fit, while others are constantly chasing trends. Some, though, are genuinely exploring and expressing their myriad influences. Amy Ray belongs in the latter group. Pulling from every direction — Patty Griffin to Patti Smith, Big Star to Bon Iver — Ray’s music might best be described as folk-rock, though even that would be a tough sell, depending on the song.
Ray’s musical beginnings trace back to her high school days in Atlanta, Georgia, when she and Emily Saliers formed the duo that would become the Indigo Girls. Their story started in 1981 with a basement tape called “Tuesday’s Children” and went on to include a deal with Epic Records in 1988, a Grammy in 1990, and nearly 20 albums over more than 30 years.
Rooted in shared passions for harmony and justice, the Indigo Girls have forged a career that combines artistry and activism to push against every boundary and box anyone tries to put them in. As activists, they have supported as many great causes as they can, from LGBTQ+ rights to voter registration, going so far as to co-found an environmental justice organization, Honor the Earth, with Winona LaDuke in 1993. As artists, they have dipped their toes into a similar multitude of waters — folk, rock, country, pop, and more — but the resulting releases are always pure Indigo.
Ray’s six solo sets — and three live albums — have charted even wider seas, from the political punk of 2001’s Stag to the feminist Americana of 2018’s Holler. Each effort seems to lean into her influences in different ways, whether it’s the Allman Brothers or the Carter Family. One album finds the Butchies on full blast, another features Alison Brown on bluegrass banjo.
Both Stag and its follow-up, Prom (2005),found Ray addressing societal woes, ranging from the dangers of homophobia to the machismo of rock & roll, all while channeling her inner Replacements into a Southern punk sound that she has called “subversiveness with a smile.” Ray softened her sonic stance a bit for her next two efforts, 2008’s Didn’t It Feel Kinder and 2012’s Lung of Love, both of which felt closer in tone to her work with Indigo Girls, confronting cultural issues alongside personal ones.
In retrospect, it’s easy to see how songs like Lung of Love’s “Bird in the Hand” and “The Rock Is My Foundation” served as signposts of what was to come next for Ray. With Goodnight Tender in 2014, she recorded in Asheville, North Carolina, and stepped squarely into the country music that has been a part of everything she’s done. But it’s not the kind of country heard on the radio; it’s the country music culled from folk, bluegrass, gospel, and Southern rock, going so far as to title a tune after Duane Allman.
For 2018’s Holler, Ray recorded, once again, with her Carolina country kin, adding horns and strings to all but split the musical distance between Kinder and Tender to create a soulful, country-tinged, gospel-infused Americana sound. More cohesively than her prior releases, Holler encompasses and imparts all the disparate aspects of Ray’s influences in a singular offering.
Ray’s vast artistic inspirations are matched only by the deep peer admiration that is reflected in her albums’ guest appearances, which have included Vince Gill, Brandi Carlile, Justin Vernon, Jim James, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Phil Cook, and others. That kind of good will is something only built from a lifetime of good deeds and great music.
While she partnered with Compass Records to issue Holler, Ray’s home base is Daemon Records, the not-for-profit label she founded in 1990 to support grassroots artists, including Kristen Hall, Rose Polenzani, Danielle Howle, John Trudell, Gerard McHugh, the Rock-A-Teens, and others. With Daemon, as with everything, Ray aimed to give something back to the community from which she has gotten so much.
When 2020 found the world immersed in a pandemic, Amy and her band turned to the digital world and started producing and recording singles from their own makeshift studios. “Tear it Down” released along with a video in November, 2020 wrestled with Amy’s upbringing in the cradle of the confederacy and pays tribute to activists working to dismantle racism.
In February, 2021, Amy Ray Band released another video and song, “Muscadine”, to sing of dogs and what they teach us of unconditional love. Another song, “Chuck Will’s Widow” is due for release this summer 2021.
Solo or duo, with a band or an orchestra, together and apart, both Ray and Saliers pour themselves into every performance, and their audiences still soak up every ounce of that generosity, spilling their own hearts and souls out as they sing along to every song. Theirs isn’t a fanbase; it’s a family.
Listen to Amy Ray Band:
About Daphne Willis:
Described as “strong, resilient and passionate,” by B-Sides and Badlands and “a badass, a mic
killer, and a hustler,” by Popdust, Daphne Willis is a genderfluid artist that exists with her
multitudes on full display. “I stay true to myself, I’m honest with my fans, and I try to put music
out that doesn’t shy away from the dark sht… that says ‘it’s okay to have dark sht’,” she states
with typical candidness. This sentiment has helped her create a diverse catalogue of work that
straddles worlds of commercial incandescence and raw emotionality, all whilst defying the
constraints of conventional genre. Her powerhouse RnB releases like “BrickxBrick” are favorites
on ESPN, whilst her pop/rock track “Legacy” was featured in Equality Now’s gala in tribute to
Ruth Bader Ginsberg (introduced by Meryl Streep and Gloria Steinem). Her music is constantly
featured in popular programming like Empire, One Tree Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and
more. Meanwhile, her breathtaking musical letter on addiction, “Somebody’s Someone”, has
amassed over 24 million views online, and launched her as a sought after speaker in the worlds
of mental health, addiction and trauma recovery. It’s no wonder that the press has declared her
to be, “fun and refreshingly smooth” (Paste), “timeless” (Pop Matters), and “taking the world of
music by storm” (Affinity). Daphne Willis is a singer-songwriter who is an industry unto herself.
Born in Texas and raised in Chicago, Daphne cut her musical teeth sneaking into the blues and
jazz clubs of the windy city. Two years into her college experience, Daphne landed a deal with
Vanguard Records, sending her on frequent writing trips to Nashville, where she eventually
moved. Immersing herself in the scene, she became a regular on the festival circuit, saw
packed houses at bigger and bigger venues, and eventually left her record deal to mint a fresh
publishing contract with Sony/ATV. Her greatest avenue for exposure was quickly proving to be
in her music’s intense commercial applicability. Daphne’s track “Do It Like This,” in particular,
has seen more than ten major international placements including Samsung, xfinity, Empire,
Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge on the Run, and, among other honors, is, to this day, still the
hold music for Royal Carribean Cruise Lines.
Willis’ identity as an artist, however, was not truly cemented until the release of “Somebody’s
Someone”, a song borne from the heartbreak of addiction and mental health battles within her
family. The song and its video quickly blazed a trail through the internet, growing Daphne’s
audience twenty-fold. “Every single day I get an email from someone who tells me what that
song means to them,” she explains, “It changed me and my whole artist platform. It helped me
on a personal level as well in my own struggles with depression and trauma recovery.”
With ever-consistent sync placements in projects like Puppy Bowl with Snoop Dog and Martha
Stewart, Queenpins, and Work It, new music in the pipeline, and burgeoning work as an
independent producer, Willis shows no signs of slowing down. Out, proud, forthright, and the
curator of one of the most welcoming fanbases around, Daphne is as authentic a performer and
activist as they come, her prodigious output matched only by her capacity for empathy.