Tag Archives: Elizabeth Mitchell

A Conversation with Elizabeth Mitchell

You don’t hear her doing Disney theme songs or dancing around between shows on Nick Jr., but Elizabeth Mitchell is kindie royalty — especially for parents who appreciate family music on the quieter, more natural end of the spectrum. With minimum production, Mitchell and her family (including her husband, Daniel Littleton, and their daughter Storey) harmonize over gently arranged versions of traditional tunes like “Little Liza Jane,” more recent classics like Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day,” and a smattering of originals.

Around my house, Elizabeth’s music is frequently heard, and her name comes up in conversation on a regular basis, but maybe your home isn’t so lucky. Let this interview be your introduction to an artist who’s making some of the warmest, most enriching family music on the modern kindie landscape. And if you’re already a fan? Here’s a peek behind the scenes of some of your family’s favorite songs.

I’d like to begin by talking about how you found your voice as an artist. Your albums are filled with such a wonderful sense of peace.

Well, I think it’s definitely informed by spending time with children, and my beginnings as a teacher. That was something I felt like they maybe weren’t getting elsewhere — that the sense of being grounded, and the peace you’re talking about, was something that maybe wasn’t being imparted by Spongebob Squarepants. [Laughter] That has its place, too — we all need to yuk it up and goof around. But maybe there aren’t so many outlets for centering, being compassionate, and thinking about the larger world. Just having a quiet moment with someone else, shared through music.

I just kind of got a sense that was a place I could go with the kids when I was teaching, and it’s a place you can find naturally and effortlessly. It’s also something that comes easily to me — I don’t do zany super well. This is just sort of what revealed itself to me, and it seems to be what resonates and seems to be of service to people. That’s the response I get, and it inspires me to keep going. Continue reading

CD Review: Elizabeth Mitchell, “Sunny Day”

As a parent of two small children, I value peace — and peaceful things — more than just about anything else. And as a music lover, I place a similar value on songs and albums created the old-fashioned way, with live musicians playing in the same space, with a respect for the roots of the craft they share.

These are two of the reasons that I was thrilled to see Elizabeth Mitchell’s Sunny Day on the release schedule, and why it’s high on my list of the most wonderful family albums of 2010. Matter of fact, much like the Flannery Brothers’ New Explorers Club, I’d argue that this is an album that you can enjoy even if your kids aren’t around — or if you don’t have any children at all.

I’m a big fan of the New York axis of the kindie movement, and Mitchell is firmly ensconced as a jewel in its crown — something Sunny Day reaffirms with cameos from famous residents like Levon and Amy Helm, Larry Campbell, and Dan Zanes, as well as an obvious respect for standards like “Shoo Lie Loo” and “Mr. Rabbit” and American classics like “Keep on the Sunny Side,” as well as hip, smartly chosen covers like Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day” and Chuck Berry’s “School Days.” Continue reading

Melting Down at the 2010 Green River Festival

Greenfield, MA isn’t necessarily known as an entertainment mecca, unless you count the fact that it’s the birthplace of Penn Jillette. But last weekend, while folks in Philly were sweating it out during the XPoNential Festival held by our pals at WXPN — and hipper listeners were at the Pitchfork Music Festival — New England was busy being blessed with its own live music extravaganza: the 24th Green River Festival.

It’s held on the grounds of a community college in rural northern Massachusetts, but the Green River Festival isn’t the collection of acoustic guitar-toting folk singers you might expect. This year’s lineup, which sprawled out over two hot summer days and nights, included a touch of the traditional (Brooks Williams opened the main stage on Saturday), but made plenty of room for the unexpected (Allen Toussaint, Cake, and Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars are just a few eclectic examples).

One of the great things about the festival’s location is room — and plenty of it: Aside from the spacious main stage area, which housed thousands of chair-and-umbrella-toting concertgoers and dozens of craft and food booths, the festivities spilled over into a huge lawn area where lesser-known acts played at the Dance Tent, hot air balloon rides were available for folks who had $250 to burn, and our pal Bill Childs delivered two days of marvelous family entertainment at the Meltdown Stage.

I’ll be writing about the grown-up artists at Popdose later, but here’s a brief rundown of my Meltdown experience: Continue reading