I first met Annie Gallup when I heard her play at the Radio Cafe in Nashville, about three years ago. My close friend Kate Wallace had suggested strongly that I happen down, if I wanted to see a rare bird, a fingerstyle poet. Kate's a well known and very talented singer songwriter who does not suffer fools gladly or otherwise. It's not generally too hard to get me out of the house to see a great singer songwriter, especially a woman. So go I did, and changed my life a little in the process.
One sees so many good songwriters either coming through or residing in Nashville, I couldn't tell you who else played that night besides Kate and Annie. They were probably all really good, that's a fast folk crowd. But my attention was centered on the rare bird. She was so many glorious things to a man of my persuasion. Diminutive, graceful, profound, soft spoken. Pretty like a writer, not an actor. A deft guitarist, with strong country blues roots, but who played in an altered tuning of some sort. The important thing, the cathartic and confounding thing, was how different she was.
So I found myself shelling out 15 bucks after the show, to bring a piece of that uniqueness home. And at that post-show moment, I also wanted a closer look at the artist. She was packing up, selling CDs, taking quiet compliments in stride. She returned my effusive commentary with a professional friendliness, neither encouraging nor discouraging. Pretty aloof, I thought. Elusive.
Annie, Kate and I met for brunch the next day, Sunday, and watched the Gypsy Hombres play. Annie took off for the next town and the next gig after that, and I didn't see her again for a year or so. But we started emailing. Two and a half years and about 300 emails later, I still don't claim to know her very well. But we've seen each other spin through different relationships, geographic and artistic upheavals, making records, and the messes and joys of everyday life. And one of the things that each of us silently counts on is that a message from the other one will come across the screen, if not today, tomorrow. Dropping in, from somewhere.
Annie Gallup is a brave and fascinating artist, always trying something new, always being her unique self in a world of inadvertent imitation. Swerve is her new record on the Prime CD label. Inventive NYC players and production, and a typically great dozen compositions softly sung and expertly strung by a real original. Against tall odds, she books herself in the small, overcrowded, and somewhat monopolized acoustic club circuit: folk clubs, festivals, workshops, Unitarian churches, and now, in theaters. Annie Gallup's one-woman show Stay Me With Flagons premieres in her hometown of Ann Arbor, MI in July. The details and a small insight into the vast insides of this wiry angel follow in a telephone interview with her cyberspace compadre. continue to interview