Lisa Bigwood
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View Interview with Lisa on Show "Beyond the Lyric"

Had the distinct pleasure of playing as part of Brian Coughlin's Songwriters In The Round at The House of Hamez Saturday night, along with Coughlin and Lisa Bigwood. The well-caffeinated audience was most forgiving as Coughlin and I played stump the band with ourselves. Bigwood, on the other hand, brought it. She was engaging, charming, and frightening. She hides a lot of subtext in her lyrics and there's an underlying current in her playing as well. Listen and you'll hear even more sting in what she doesn't play, as it stands shoulder to shoulder with the ghosts.~~ Frank Deblase, Rochester City Newspaper, 3/2008

…impressive…a superior performer and writer. Writing of the quality exhibited here is rare. Vic Heyman, Sing Out!

Bigwood is the scariest folk singer I’ve ever heard. Jeff Spevak Rochester D&C

…one gets the sense that the music she’s creating is an insistent force that she could no more hold back than a passerby could resist listening…. Crossroads

…soulful attitude…a commanding vocalist with a deep, sultry voice…. Music Connection

A serious performer with serious songs. Her full bodied tenor and fine fingerpicking convincingly carry the blues. The Richmond Times-Despatch

…her voice and style is as deep and woody as a Tennessee holler. Crossroads

Lisa Bigwood’s albums [are] treasures. Sing Out!

…a promising debut….superbly produced…. Dirty Linen

Sing Out Vol 42 #1, 1997,
Lisa Bigwood

Like No One Else
CEG 49879
LISA BIGWOOD

Woodland
CEG 47868

Lisa Bigwood was impressive in the New Folk contest in Kerrville in May 1995, the same year she showcased at Telluride. She is a superior performer and writer.

Her first album, Like No One Else, is a beautifully recorded, understated folk album featuring Lisa's soft, low voice atop guitars, flute, fiddle and banjo in measured amounts. Dick Weissman did a splendid production job.

It's somewhat bluesy folk, perhaps, but all original material delivered in a distinctive fashion. The first album contains two outstanding songs: "Spruce Top Blues," which starts off "Don't lock me in that long black box, don't lock me in the dark" and turns out to be a song about a tree made into a guitar, and "The Ballad Of Charlie Archer," a five-minute song about a lake bum who is not without redeeming virtues.

Woodland, Lisa's second album, was also produced by Weissman and also features Eric Levine on fiddle. It has the same bluesy sound and distinctive writing style. Unfortunately, there are no lyrics accompanying this album (a disturbing trend that short-changes both the artist and the public).

Most of Lisa's songs have neat twists and turns of phrase in them: "Woodland Band," for example, based on the festival campfire scene, or "Bad Memory," in which a person with Alzheimer's says, "You'll have to pardon me, but I forget your name / It slipped out when you walked in the door."

Writing of the quality exhibited here is rare. That, combined with a minima] production and a low, mellow voice, makes Lisa Bigwood's albums treasures. — VKH

Democrat and Chronicle May 18, 1995
BY STAFF MUSIC CRITIC JEFFSPEVAK

You dont need a concept when just living inspires the blues

Lisa Bigwood sits on the porch of a weathered old house in an Adirondack ghost town. She's leaning against the wall, looking as though she’s come a long way. A big acoustic guitar is propped next to her, and it’s come a long way, too.

This is the cover of Bigwood's first album, Like No One Else. It opens with the twangy Backwoods Woman, which is singer-songwriter autobiographical, she admits. Bigwood is particularly fond of the lines that are her response to a heckler who doesn't like sad songs: "What do you call the blues?" she sings. "You don't learn it in music school, you scrape it off your shoes."

That song earned the Rochester woman a spot in this month's prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. She's one of three dozen performers in the new-artist category previously won by folk luminaries such as Shawn Colvin and David Wilcox. Backwoods Woman has also landed Bigwood a spot in Colorado's Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June.

Democrat and Chronicle December 31. 1995
BY STAFF MUSIC CRITIC JEFF SPEVAK

“Local singer Lisa Bigwood’s debut album was the best thing to happen in music here.”
Jeff Spevak

Thanks to the O.J. Simpson trial, spousal abuse became a hot issue in ’95. It seemed unrelated to the spring release of Like No One Else, a CD by local folk singer Lisa bigwood. But Bigwood’s distinctive voice, twangy guitar and melancholy lyrics on this wonderful debut album (released on a small Colorado label, CEG Records) survived her own 15-year abusive marriage. She doesn’t shove the message in your face. But when she sings, “What do you call the blues? You don’t learn it in music school, you scrape it off your shoes,” there’s no disputing she’s been there.

 

Democrat and Chronicle 1996
BY STAFF MUSIC CRITIC JEFFSPEVAK

Your dog could count on the toes of one paw how many local musicians have a real chance to win a national audience. Lisa Bigwood is one of them.

Lisa Bigwood, Woodland (CEG):Bigwood is the scariest folk singer I've ever heard.

Folk singerBigwood's excellent 1995 debut, Like No One Else, opened with Backwoods Woman, a song that set the tone for the album with the truly outstanding lines "What do you call the blues/ you don't leam it in music school/ you scrape it off your shoes. "Likewise, the new album's opening Woodland Band sets a nice, full, bluegrassy stage. But it's a strange woodland she's taking you into.

There's no warm fuzziness, no declarations of unconditional love. The closest Bigwood ever comes to cracking a joke is a wry observation. She has a big, husky voice, but Bigwood keeps it in check, as though she's guarding her feelings even as she spills out her secrets.

On Bad Memories and No Shame, her characters are people who have grown stronger through experience and now can turn to face their tormentors. "You say you have sorrow/ you say you have pain/ you talk of tomorrow/ like you have no shame."

Bigwood writes these words straight from her own heart. It's clear that many other words are drawn from the wreck of the abusive marriage that she escaped several years ago — an escape that freed her to write these excellent songs.

As was the case with Like No One Else, Bigwood's words hit with the chilling impact of accusations. But musically, Woodlandis a big step forward. Listen to that bass clarinet sneaking around in the back-
ground of Guardian, the sax suddenly shrieking like an animal frightened from the tall grass. And the soprano sax flitting around in Green River is a reminder that Kenny G should be a studio musician, not a headlining act.

Democrat and Chronicle 4/3/2003
BY STAFF MUSIC CRITIC JEFFSPEVAK

Lisa Bigwood has a small poster of her song-writing hero, Steve Earle, taped to her bath-room mirror. "I've only been arrested 50 or 60 times in my life," it quotes him as saying.

Lisa BigwoodPart lifestyle rebel, part social iconoclast, Earle has since cleaned up his personal life, but he proudly allows the civil disobedience aspect of his criminal record to stand: It's your duty in this country to speak out on behalf of what you believe. Most recently, his "John Walker's Blues" was a sympathetic portrait of the young California man who was captured in Afghanistan two years ago while fighting for the Taliban.

Bigwood, a folk singer who writes deeply personal songs, sees Earle's quote every morning. She's never been arrested. But perhaps it prodded her to move her song-writing into the national arena.

"Democracy" has been a work in progress as she has played it in coffee houses over the past couple of weeks, and at a peace rally on March 14 at the Federal Building in downtown Rochester. Songwriters have been active since Sept. 11,2001, but much of the work has been embarrassingly bad, trolling maudlin waters filled with dead firefighters at the World Trade Center, or evil dictators on the other side of the world, without offering any real insight. "Democracy" is no such light-weight.

"I haven't announced it or talked about it before playing it," Bigwood says. "I was a little worried that people would throw tomatoes at me. So far, everyone's really loved it."

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