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Judith Avers: Bio and Stories

Judith's bio from then to now...

Born and raised in Southwest Kansas, far removed from any sort of modern music scene, Avers was spoon-fed country classics like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. Her earliest memory of music is Patsy Cline melting in her ears, "Blue moon of Kentucky, keep on shinin'..." Merle Haggard, Box Car Willie, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette were also familiar voices coming out of the 8-track player at her Grandmothers house next door.

Judith spent some time in various small towns in Kansas and Nebraska before moving to Colorado in 1996. She found herself in a new state with no friends, no job and plenty of time to practice on her brother-in-law's acoustic guitar. She started writing songs. The first song she wrote, she wrote with Tracy Chapman in mind. Other songs followed and soon, Judith, who had been a poet for years, had a handful of songs to her credit.

Judith didn't know a lick about the music business, but knew that she needed a recording. She got some musicians together and off they went to Liberal, Kansas to record their first demo of Judith's songs. Once in the studio, the engineer said something that changed everything. He said, "Why are you recording these songs for someone else to sing? Why not just make a band and sing these songs yourself?" And so she did.

She created (with the help of harmonica man Dan Barerras and guitar wizard, Billy Varn) the band I Know Jack. IKJ played all originals by Judith and were often compared to bands like "Blues Traveler" or other popular jam bands. Their shows were a combination of upbeat melodies and political messages. Judith and the band sold CD's during their breaks, person to person, with Judith taking their T-shirts and CD's to every member of the audience, selling them one by one. (She had borrowed money to make them and paid off the debt very quickly this way.)

After a fairly successful 6 year run with IKJ, 3 studio albums, hundreds of songs written, lots of crazy fun shows, a few wedding proposals, several human teeth and some solid friendships still in place, Judith decided to quit the band and explore a solo career as a singer/songwriter.

In late 2003, she released 2 self-produced albums: "Jude Live" and "Greasefire" which she sold at shows throughout the foothills of Colorado. She recorded "Jude Live" at Avogadro's Number in Ft. Collins, Colorado and "Greasefire" in her friend, Keith Tracy's back room. These records were rough and raw and Judith's first step away from a band setting.

In July 2005, she co-produced her next full length record, "Strong Hands" with Jack Redell (Founder of Satire Records, The National Underground and winner of Denver's Choice Best Male Singer/Songwriter). Together they burned a lot of candles, drank a lot of tea and spent every weekend trying to capture the essence of Judith's live performance.

Shortly after the release of "Strong Hands", Judith moved again. Prior to the move, she became the proud award winner of Denver's Best Female Singer/Songwriter 2005 by Westword Magazine, Colorado's leading Music Mag. She was also a winner in the National Woody Guthrie Songwriting Contest with her original tune, "What Do I Gotta Be Poor For," and 2004 BEAMS Rising Star Song Contest Winner.

While in Colorado, Judith was fortunate enough to share the stage or appear on albums with with such great talents as The Fray, Born in The Flood, Yonder Mountain String Band, Hazel Miller, Gregory Alan Isakov, Holly Near, Glen Phillips, John Sebastian, Devotchka, John Magnie from the Subdudes, Liz Barnez, Nina Storey, and songwriting legends Gary Harrison, Tia Sillers, Mark Selby, Randy Sharp, Mark D. Sanders, and Gary Chamberlain among others.

In late July 2006, Judith relocated to West Virginia. Once there, she booked tours and played across the country. She played small shows, large rooms, Unitarian services, Unity services, fairs, festivals, back rooms, front rooms and everywhere in between.

After all of those years, Judith found herself in familiar territory...a new state without friends, family or distractions. She began working more diligently on her songwriting and singing. The mountains of West Virginia and the people she met were great sources of inspiration. The songs just kept coming and Judith kept letting them.

In 2007, she began recording tracks for her new record in Kentucky at a close friends studio. Quickly, she realized that her music had changed and she wanted her recording experience to be a little different also. She scrapped that project and decided to start over. She began looking for producers.

Judith talked with producers all over the country and ended up at Slaughterhouse Studio in Easthampton, MA. She had gone to meet with a couple of very talented producers who were working with a friend of hers. While there, Mark Alan Miller recommended a friend of his, Anand Nayak. Judith got his contact info and emailed him as soon as she got back to West Virginia. The album, "Mountain and Shore" was made by early Spring.

Judith may have started out singing Patsy Cline in a little trailer in Liberal, Kansas, but her songs are reaching a much larger audience now. Her music is honest and it will only take one listen of her latest album, "Mountain and Shore", and you will know. She's not in Kansas anymore.

The Making of Mountain and Shore- the album.

Anand and Judith set up a meeting in person in the fall of 2007. They both wanted to feel each other out and see if the music and the people would be a good fit. Judith drove from the southern tip of West Virginia to Easthampton, MA for a one hour coffee meeting with Anand. Coffee turned into recording demos in Anand's livingroom. That evening, over homemade pizza at a friends house, Judith knew she had found the right person for the record. She took those demo's out to her friends car and played them for her friends. There was something there.

The next few months were filled with fundraising, service auctions, prayers and some pleading on Judith's part. With the extensive help of her partner and her community, she raised money to make the record. The community members she had met along the way sold handmade goods, food, artwork, services...anything to make the recording possible. The teenage girls she worked with volunteered and everyone she knew pitched in with love, support and money. She raised about a third of what she knew she needed to make the record she wanted, but she took what she had and headed to MA in early spring 2008.

The actual recording of Judith's latest release, "Mountain and Shore" took place in a little over 5 days. The band members all pitched in before arriving in the studio and held practice sessions so Judith could save some studio costs and everyone arrived ready to go. The basic tracks of the record: vocals, lead guitar, acoustic guitar, and drums were, for the most part, all done live. Anand tried different ways to record with Judith, but found she got the best energy if they could sit together in a kind of circle and just connect to the music all at once, so that's exactly what they did.

Guest appearances by Chris Pureka, Kristen Gass, Katie Sawicki, Polly Fiveash, James Armenti, and Josh Relin happened later in the week after Judith, Anand, Sturgis Cunningham and Rose Sinclair had worked out the bones of the songs.

The phrase "it takes a village" is 100% accurate as far as this album goes. Without the support of her partner, community and friends, it would not be here today.

Mountains and Shores- the song.

Mixing the new album involved lots of very late nights and Judith would often go sit in the studio and play guitar while Mark and Anand were mixing. One night, Judith picked up Anand's mandolin and started plucking away at its little strings.

She wrote the song, "Mountains and Shores" and recorded it right away on her computer so that she didn't forget it. She did not know how to play mandolin and knew that the song would slip away overnight. The next day, she borrowed a mandolin from her friend, James Armenti (Lonesome Brothers), and solidified the rough little song in her mind. James' wife, Robbi heard the song and asked for a recording.

On the last night of mixing, Mark Alan Miller and Anand generously offered free studio time if Judith wanted to go and lay a track of the song down for Robbi and so Judith could show her partner her new "mandolin song". Judith recorded one take and then went into the sound booth.
Mark and Anand said that it should go on the record and Judith said "why not?".

On her way home, to West Virginia, with the first mix of her new album, Judith listened to the song, "Mountains and Shores" and decided it was perfect for the title also. A friend of Anand's wrote the song title down as "mounain and shore" and that's how the album title came to be.