Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Brandi Carlile got a start on the streets of her Seattle, her hometown, playing tunes for spare change.
Gigs are bigger now; she plays Telluride Bluegrass Festival on June 20. A couple of months later, you can catch her at Lilith Fair in Dallas on August 16th.
Brandi turns the big ‘3 0’ on June 1, a few weeks before playing Telluride. Now a seasoned veteran in the music industry, she was just 23 when she signed with Columbia, a year after most enterprising young women have graduated college. That takes guts. She’s got a self-confidence that’s kind of sexy.
Which takes us to another interesting fact. Search the Internet and you may find an occasional reference that Brandi identifies herself as a lesbian. But unless you were looking, you might not ever know. Brandi is so relaxed about her sexuality she doesn’t wear it on her sleeve. She just is. Which is also kind of sexy.
Playing gigs in Seattle with the Twins (aka Tim and Phil Hanseroth), Brandi still comes across as Seattle’s unsullied hometown girl. Fame didn’t go to her head. At performances, you’ll usually catch her in trademark Northwest garb – jeans and a simple cotton shirt (sometimes an old-fashioned, born-again tweed pattern last popular in the 1950’s). She even made the Showbox , a tiny venue with standing room only, tolerable for this fan with bad knees and claustrophobia.
Brandi is solidly anti-glam in looks and lyrics – stripped down, unpretentious and emotionally raw. It’s an earnestness and lack of pretense that I see in other lesbian rockers/folkies like the Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge. Maybe it has to do with the need to come to terms with who you really when you are a minority in the celeb industry . Whatever the reason, Brandi’s authenticity is very appealing – like you could sit down with her and have a no-holds barred heart-to-heart with a friend who is “deep” and “really gets it.”
Brandi’s voice hurtles at you like a cannonball. Like a train barrelling down on you full-speed and you suspect, without someone to pull the breaks. It’s emotional, intense and kind of out of control. Not everyone wants to get mowed down by a musician but I love it. It’s one of my favorite things.
Add soaring falsettos and throaty shouting – Brandi is at her best when her voice cracks like a heavy smoker’s – and that rounds out Brandi’s repertoire. She eschews convention and cool technical expertise for raw, unadulterated passion. Very sexy. If I weren’t married – and old enough to be her mother – maybe I’d her out myself (just kidding, Bill).