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Slaid Cleaves at Pilgrim

Slaid Cleaves photo by Charlie Llewellin

Slaid Cleaves photo by Charlie Llewellin

Enjoy an evening with Slaid Cleaves on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 8 PM at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 2850 Foothill Blvd., Redding, CA. He “spins stories with a novelist’s eye and a poet’s heart.”

Slaid Cleaves has a name that perfectly matches his music and voice. It’s terse, doesn’t have soft vowels, and is more verb than noun. He has a gift for writing incisive lyrics where every word counts. No frills, no fill, no fat. Just great stories delivered with a master poet’s precision and the conviction of a tent preacher. As to the details of Slaid’s own story, he sums it up with inimitable brevity: “Grew up in Maine. Lives in Texas. Writes songs. Makes records. Travels around. Tries to be good.” Granted, there’s a whole lot of history and detail that could be shoehorned into that most minimal of bios.

Cleaves majored in English and philosophy at Tufts University in his native New England; learned guitar listening to the likes of Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, Hank Williams, and Carl Perkins; spent a summer in Ireland busking on the streets in Cork where he decided to have a go at the music life. That life began with playing bars in Maine, but Slaid soon made his way to music-loving Austin. In 1992 he won the Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk competition, joining the company of previous winners Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, and Steve Earle. He released his first album “No Angel Knows” in 1996, with a follow-up album “Brokedown” in 2000, which The Austin Chronicle called “the first great Texas album of the 21st century.”

In 2004, Slaid offered up the critically acclaimed “Wishbone”, followed by “Unsung”, “Everything You Love Will be Taken Away” (featuring liner notes from fan Stephen King), “Sorrow and Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge”, and his latest, “Still Fighting the War”. The title song of the latter album was inspired by Craig F. Walker’s Pulitzer-winning photo essay regarding a soldier’s postwar civilian life.

All that living, writing songs, making records, traveling around and trying to be good has, par for his course, made Slaid Cleaves even better.

Pete Angwin, Artistic Director, Oaksong Music Society says, “Slaid Cleaves is one of those artists that I’ve been trying to get to Redding for years, and now we’ve finally got him! Simply put, he’s an amazing singer, songwriter and musician!”

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