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Ferron


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

Contemporary folk, lesbian-feminist women's music

Status:

Most recent release, Thunder & Lighten-ing (film and album, 2013)

See also:

Wikipedia's entry on Ferron

Comparisons:

Leonard Cohen, Holly Near. (Neile)

Tanita Tikaram, Bob Dylan. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Janis Ian. I've also seen her compared to Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison, though I don't know enough about either of those artists to judge the accuracy of those comparisons. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Covers/own material:

Own lyrics, usually co-writes music; Inside Out is an album of covers

General comments:

Ferron is a lesbian folksinger-songwriter with a wry sense of humour and a gravelly voice. She is great live. (Neile)

Ferron sings in the same tradition as Bob Dylan. Her voice isn't pretty but, like Dylan's, fits the music very well. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Ferron's songs were wonderfully moving. (mundopax@ingress.com)

So now I have 3 of her CDs: Phantom Center, Shadows on a Dime, and Driver. I rather like them all—there is a certain quality about Ferron and her songs that really appeals to me—hard to describe. And of course, I am partial to Canadian brethren and sistren. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

Comments about live performance:

When I saw Ferron in concert, it was really pretty fun, and she has excellent stage patter. She also had a great backing band that added an upbeat flavor to her folky songs. (stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

I like Ferron a lot. She carves out a very unique space in the musical spectrum. She's a neat person. I *loved* the way she introduced her band—a little personal story about each one—that kind of thing really endears the audience. And the band was good (though the cello was a little too buried in the mix for my tastes). Every time I see one of those electric cello/bass violins, I think it is crippled or something—a little scary—violins aren't supposed to look like that. Anyways, she played a variety of songs from different albums. The final song was one I hadn't heard but she it was the one that made her famous—something about having a heart like a woman, and hands for this and eyes for that. She played "Harmless Love" which she said was the song that got Warner to rerelease Phantom Center. I wish she had played more songs from Shadows on a Dime, but did at least 2—the title track and the last song. Anyways, a good show. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

Ferron was more straightforward folk (which I can like), but didn't really grab me when I saw her. I was completely unfamiliar with her, and only when I was driving home did I realize what was bugging me in my head. The whole evening I had confused her with Phranc, another woman I don't know. No wonder she seemed much older than I expected and didn't look anything like the pictures I'd seen! Anyway, the show was quite nice, though not what I expected. I guess I was imagining a smoother folk sound, á la Joan Baez or Dar Williams or someone, and not someone in the Leonard Cohen vein. Not a problem, it just took a bit longer for me to get into what she was doing. She's got a pretty gruff voice, and didn't seem to do much actual singing, sticking more to the Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan style of delivery. What really made the evening for me was that she had a top notch band with her. I think the drummer dated back to her first album (late 60's!) and some of the others also went back at least 15 or 20 years. They meshed perfectly, complimented each other when appropriate, and snuck out for some fun soloing and ad libbing that caught the others off guard without throwing the music out of whack. The highlight for me was definitely the cello player: Jami Sieber. Amongst all the Ferron discs on sale, I snapped up Jami's solo album. (neal)

Recommended first album:

Testimony, Shadows on a Dime or Phantom Center

Recordings:

  • Ferron (1977)
  • Backed Up (1978)
  • Testimony (1980)
  • Shadows on a Dime (1984)
  • Resting with the Question (1992)
  • Not a Still Life—Live at the Great American Music Hall (live, 1992)
  • Driver (1994)
  • Phantom Center (1995)
  • Still Riot (1996)
  • Inside Out—the IMA sessions (2004)
  • Impressionistic Ferron (2000)
  • Turning Into Beautiful (2005)
  • Boulder (2008)
  • Girl on a Road (live, 2011)
  • Thunder & Lighten-ing (film and album, 2013)

Testimony

Release info:

1980—Cherrywood Station—CW 003

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for lovers of folk and/or women's music

Group members:

Ferron—lead vocals and acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Brent Shindell—acoustic and electric guitar
Laurence Knight, Doug Edwards—bass
Chris Nordquist, Glen Hendrickson—drums
Will MacCalder, Robbie King—piano, organ
Stephen Nikleva—electric guitar
Jim Rothermel—reeds
Tom Hazlitt—acoustic bass
Albert St. Albert—percussion
Jane Phillips—cello
Gypsy—tambourine
Blaine Dunaway—string arrangements
Betty Chaba, Jane Mortifee, Charlotte Hodgins Virtue—background vocals

Produced by:

Will MacCalder

Comments:

This is a simple and delightful album. The songs are good and clear and her sense of humour readily apparent. Good contemporary folk music. Some lovely love songs. This is the only album of hers that has aged particularly well for me. (Neile)

Shadows on a Dime

Release info:

1984—Cherrywood Station—CW 004

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for lovers of folk and/or women's music

Group members:

Ferron—vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Glen Hedrickson—drums
Michael Lent—bass, fretless bass
Brett Wade—electric guitar
Adrienne Torf—synthesizer, electric piano
Mary Fettig—tenor sax, alto flute
Brent Shindell—acoustic guitar, guitar solo on "As Soon As I Find My Shoes I'm Gone"
Nina Gerber—harmonica, mandolin
Brian Newcombe—bass
Dave Pickell—synthesizers, piano
Novi—synthesizers, electric viola
Barbara Higbie—violin, fiddle, support vocals
Tony Simmonds—lute
Diane Lindsay—electric bass
Barbara Borden—drums
Joe Goldmark—pedal steel
Marc vanWageningen—bass
Paul vanWageningen—drums
Vicki Randle—congas
Dawne Milligan—arrangements of lute and second viola parts
Terry Garthwaite, Willow Wray, Gayle Scott, Teresa Trull, Jeanne Bradshaw, Lucinda Smith, John Clavin, Linda Domingo—support vocals
Roy Forbes aka Bim—harmony vocals on "Proud Crowd/Pride Cried

Produced by:

Ferron, Terry Garthwaite; Gayle Scott, executive producer

Comments:

Much like Testimony, though her songwriting shows a little more sophistication. (Neile)

This is my favorite Ferron album, particularly the title track. Very folky and fun. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Phantom Center

Release info:

Re-released 1995—EarthBeat! (PO Box 1460, Redway, CA 95560-1460)—9 42576-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Very high if you like protest songs. (jbr@casetech.dk)

Recommended for lovers of folk and women's music. (Neile)

Group members:

Ferron—lead vocals, acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Denny Fongheiser—drums, percussion
Barbara Higbie—violin
Tim Landers—bass
Jim Lang—keyboards
Novi Novog—viola
Steve Reid—percussion
Larry Tuttle—Chapman stick
Jerry Marotta—drums and percussion on "Stand Up"
Sara Lee—bass on "Stand Up"
Amy Ray (Indigo Girls)—acoustic guitar and support vocals on "Stand Up"
Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls)—acoustic guitar, nylon-string guitar, electric guitar, and support vocals on "Stand Up"
Eric Williams—Acoustic and electric guitars, ukelele, mandolin, melodica, e-bow
Tori Amos, Nancy Shanks, Lauren Wood—support vocals on "Stand Up"

Produced by:

Ferron, Joe Chiccarelli

Comments:

Phantom Center is a great discovery. Love her intensity—especially on 'White Wing Mercy'! (abehrend@Direct.CA)

OK, so I'm not totally nuts—I thought Phantom Center was an older CD, but then I saw the 1995 copyright so I couldn't figure it out. Sure enough Tori Amos does do backing vocals, along with Nancy Shanks, Lauren Wood, and Amy and Emily of Indigo Girls. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

This is Ferron's most polished recording. Songs are more political than her earlier recordings. Her songwriting continues to be strong. (Neile)


Still Riot

Release info:

1996—Warner Bros.—9 46292-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Group members:

Ferron—lead vocals, acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Craig Kaleal—drums
db Benedictson—fretless bass, fretted bass, vocal chorus on "Primitive Future"
Jami Sieber—electric cello, chorus vocal
Darryl Havers—grand piano, keyboards, Hammond A100 organ, Suzuki melodion, Hammond100 organ, synth bass, melodica
John Ellis—electric guitars, nylon string guitars, rhythm guitar
Vicki Randle—congas, shakers, percussion, timbales, cowbell, djembe, agogo bells, support vocal on "I Am Hungry"
Shelley Jennings—acoustic guitar, electric guitars
Steve Hilliam—saxophone
Scarlet Rivera—violin
Novi Novog—viola
Larry Tuttle—Chapman stick
Jim McGilvrey—percussion
Chris Webster—support vocal on 3 tracks, chorus vocal on "Takes a Little Time"
Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls)—support vocals, chorus
Vicki Randle, Chris Webster, Lauren Wood—vocal chorus

Produced by:

Ferron; db Benedictson, Associate Producer

Comments:

This album is less folky, more pop/rock, even some jazz influences, but very much Ferron. Her deep voice can be a bit of an acquired taste, but it can also be wonderfully sensual when you're used to it. There is definitely some of that on this album. "Ain't Life a Brook," from Testimony appears here in updated form. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Impressionistic Ferron

Release info:

2000—Cherrywood Station

Availability:

I've only seen this listed at www.cdnow.com and www.ladyslipper.org

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Group members:

Ferron—vocals

Guest artists:

Annette Aguilar—wood block
John Allair—organ
Jane Clark—xylophone
Michaelle Goerlitz—percussion
Bobbye Hall—bongos, cabasa, claves, conga, guiro, percussion
Jack Jacobsen—organ, background vocals
June Millington—bass, guitar, acoustic guitar, background vocals
Melanie Monsur—piano
David Phillips—pedal steel guitar
Michelle Sell—harp
Bobby Vega—bass
Mary Watkins—piano, background vocals
June Millington—string arrangements
Tret Fure, Barbara Higbie, Jami Sieber, Teresa Trull, Chris Webster, Cris Williamson—background vocals

Produced by:

June Millington

Comments:

Apparently this is a double cd, 30 tracks, including many from her now out-of-print albums, and includes a 24-page booklet describing the backgrounds of the songs. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

Fan Club e-mail: FerronFan@aol.com

Mailing list: FerronFans@lists.best.com

Ferron's music can be mail-ordered from: Ferron c/o Cherrywood Station W, P.O. Box 871, Vashon, WA 98070, U.S.A.

Ferron also writes poetry and has released a book of 10 poems entitled The Hunger Poems: Unbound, Signed, available from www.ladyslipper.org. She has started Big Universe Productions to support her poetry. She also gives writing workshops (information available on her website)

A live version of "Testimony" appears on Putomayo's Women's Work collection. "Ain't Life a Brook" appears on The Acoustic Edge compilation. "Sunshine" appears on the lullaby compilation Hand in Hand. Ferron's music also appears on the Better Than Chocolate soundtrack, the compilations Treasures Left Behind: Remembering Kate Wolf, and Women Like Us: Lesbian Favorites. The Indigo Girls recorded Ferron's song "It Won't Take Long" for the Spirit of '73: Rock For Choice compilation.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2017-04-30 21:15:29.
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