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Amanda Shires performs in The Current studio

Amanda Shires performing in The Current studio.
Amanda Shires performing in The Current studio.Nate Ryan | MPR
  Play Now [26:19]

by Bill DeVille

August 18, 2019

Amanda Shires - Parking Lot Pirouette (Live at The Current)
by MPR
Amanda Shires - Break out the Champagne (Live at The Current)
by MPR
Amanda Shires - White Feather (Live at The Current)
by MPR
Amanda Shires - Swimmer (Live at The Current)
by MPR

"I think I only know busy," Amanda Shires says, "because when I stop, I feel funny."

Amanda Shires is a singer-songwriter, violinist and ukulele player, and to say she is busy is an understatement. Her 2018 album, To The Sunset, is nominated for Album of the Year at the upcoming Americana Music Association's Honors and Awards in September. She's played and toured with John Prine (among others), and she's a member of Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. And if that's not enough, she is the architect of the new group The Highwomen — consisting of Shires, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris and Natalie Hemby — who seem poised to take the world by storm.

Recently in the Twin Cities for a gig at the Fine Line in Minneapolis with her own band, Shires stopped at The Current for a session hosted by Bill DeVille. Use the audio player above to listen to the complete session with Amana Shires — including a bonus song Shires and company recorded for this web feature. You can also read highlights of the interview below.

Interview Highlights

On being nominated for Album of the Year at the upcoming Americana Fest:
"It's a huge honor. John Prine's nominated for that, too, so if he doesn't get it, then I'll just have to quit. I'll lose faith in all of the world!"

On working with Nashville super-producer Dave Cobb:
"It is just like hanging out with your friend — he is my friend now! But he has a way of interpreting what artists and songwriters are describing, as far as what they hear in their mind, for the record and the sounds they want to hear."

On recording at Nashville's legendary RCA Studio:
"I haven't actually felt a ghost there, but when I walk in there, it's definitely a place where you walk in and you think, 'Well, this is business and this is real life and it's happening right now.' … Walking in there, you feel like you've gotten past the point where everybody thinks you're a bum because you play music. I feel lucky to be in there."

On "fiddle" vs "violin":
"Most people call it 'a violin' when they're selling it and 'a fiddle' when they're buying it. … You can spill a beer on a fiddle."

On playing with the Texas Playboys, her first professional music gig:
"I compare everything to that because it was my first experience working in a band, and it was super serious. You're onstage and you play music, but you also have fun, but you also show up on time and everybody treats you with respect. With them, I had no real idea that there was a difference in a woman playing music than a guy … It was amazing and it was beautiful."

On how she hatched the idea for The Highwomen:
"I'd first seen an article by Marissa Moss that pointed out the difference in women being played on the radio versus men. And I decided that I was going to check that out for myself … she was right. … If you look at the Billboard chart for country right now, at least last week when I looked at it, there were only two women in the top 50.

"I was talking to Dave Cobb, our producer, and I was telling him I want to start this band called the Highwomen, and I want it to be like country — like you would hear on the radio — and maybe we could tell stories that are different than the ones we're allowed to tell currently on country radio. For the most part, the songs you hear women do for country radio tend to be a slower, ballad type of thing, or it's like a needy 'I want you' love song kind of thing. There's a lot more to us than that, you know? We do a lot on the daily."

More Video

Songs Performed

"Parking Lot Pirouette"
"Break out the Champagne"
"White Feather"
All songs from Amanda Shires' 2018 album, To The Sunset, available on Silver Knife Records.

Hosted by Bill DeVille
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark
Visuals by Nate Ryan and Mary Mathis
Web feature by Luke Taylor

Amanda Shires - official site