"Violintro" featured on Rewind & Review by Bluff City Weekend 

Rewind & Review: Violintro by Alice Hasen 

By Brandon McAninch 
Bluff City Weekend - Oct. 23, 2019

Violintroducing… 

If you’re invested in the Memphis or North Mississippi music scenes at all, there’s a decent probability you’ve seen or heard Alice Hasen in action. She makes up ⅓ of the folk-Americana outfit Blackwater Trio, is a staple of Tony Manard’s Big Ole Band, and occasionally accompanies Jason D. Williams and so many more. Her violin (and fiddle) talents find her traversing almost all genres from classical to bluegrass, Celtic to rock ‘n roll, jazzy, funky, and all the in-between. 

But recently Hasen has taken on a new sort of challenge: a solo project. The aptly named Violintro offers an introduction to Hasen’s music as the sole creative lead. Violintro also features a hefty support cast: Carlos Gonzales and Walt Busby on guitar, Lannie McMillan and Vinnie Manard playing keys, Andrew Geraci on bass, Zechariah Tillitson holding down percussion, and Angela Blair providing back up vocals. Two tracks feature rapper Gospel of Rufus as a co-writer along with Hasen’s boyfriend (and Bluff City Weekend’s own) Brandon McAninch. Mixed by Magic MiC Wilson at Ardent Studios, Violintro lives up to its name as Hasen absolutely makes her grand entrance as her own star. 

Good Vibe-olins 

Violintro opens with a classically informed cadenza where Hasen’s violin seems to be wandering through some misty forest trying to find itself, its sound. The gentle ups and downs of the melody lands like a dove on one last held note before kicking into the much more upbeat “Boots ‘n Cats”, which ditches the classical tone in favor of a more dance track sound. It’s here that the rest of the band joins in and the sound rounds out ever fuller with energetic drums driving it forward. 

After the seamless integration of the opening tracks, the album continues to drift in and out of the many styles Hasen has clearly come to master over the years. Be it the watery jam of “Queen”, the slick vibes driving “Love Story”, or her layered classical stylings in “The Depths”, Violintro serves as an impressive showcase of the sheer breadth of Hasen’s talents across all genres. 

Perhaps the most critical moment comes in the crux of “Memphis Sands” during which her solo whinnies like the apocalyptic horseman of Famine before breaking into the full gallop of virtuosic shredding. Whether sweet, savory, or spicy, Hasen’s fiddle prowess on Violintro has something to offer for any taste. 

Oh, The Urbanity! 

Don’t let Hasen’s classical and folk background fool you – Memphis and its musical history have made an impact on her debut record. Most notably, the addition of Gospel of Rufus as a rapper and co-writer on “Love Story” and “Outro” give the album a few sprinklings of hip hop flair. On top of that, Angela Blair’s backing vocals on “Love Story” and “Cutie Booty Boogie” add a pinch of soul to the mix, the latter seeming to have influence of the STAX sound baked into its foundation. 

Despite the more urban sound, Hasen maintains a voice of environmental consciousness throughout the album, from the abstract forest imagery of “Queen” to the admonitions of “Memphis Sands” and even in Gospel of Rufus’s feature on “Outro”. Coupled with the positivity of the love-centric songs and the undeniable energy found in the instrumental tracks, Hasen has made her Violintro as an emerging star with a skill set that leaves the ear wanting to know – if this was merely the introduction – where she will go from here. 

Violintro is available for streaming on Apple Music, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Google Play. You can also purchase physical and digital copies at alicehasen.com.

Photo: Photographymiyabi

King Biscuit Blues Festival - Cedell Davis Stage 

Alice Hasen & the Blaze take the Cedell Davis Stage tonight at King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, AR.  Showtime is 7 PM; the festival is a Wednesday-Sunday event open to all ages.  Vendors, musical acts and more fill the streets of this historic blues town, bringing the blues up close and personal.  Don't miss this internationally-acclaimed event!  More details at kingbiscuitfestival.com.

Cooper-Young Festival 2019 - Grizzlies Stage Headliners 

Hey friends!  Alice Hasen & the Blaze will be featured September 14 at Tennessee's largest one-day music and arts festival: the Cooper-Young Festival.  Alice and the band will headline the Grizzlies Stage at 4:30 PM.  This is a free festival for all ages!  Check out the Commercial Appeal press release, below.

COOPER-YOUNG FESTIVAL SET FOR SEPTEMBER; THESE ARE THE 17 MUSICAL ACTS SET TO PERFORM (by Bob Mehr)

The annual Cooper-Young Festival returns for its 32nd year this September. This year’s edition of the free arts and crafts fest takes place Sept. 14 and is sponsored by Evolve Bank & Trust. 

The festival is expected to draw more than 130,000 attendees to this historic Midtown district to "enjoy a mix of art, music and crafts presented by over 435 artisans from around the country," according to a news release. 

Organizers have confirmed the musical entertainment for the festival, with 17  different acts set to perform on three stages. 

Arkansas rockers The ShotGunBillys will headline the main stage, located in front of Young Avenue Deli. Bluff City garage combo James & The Ultrasounds will be the featured act on the We Are Memphis — A New Century of Soul Stage, which will be set up in the First Congo Church parking lot. Up-and-coming singer Alice Hasen will close things out on the Memphis Grizzlies Stage, situated at the intersection of Young Avenue and Meda Street. 

Other local and regional artists set to perform include rapper Robenx, singer-songwriter Stephen Chopek, the Lucky 7 Brass Band, and swamp-soul songstress  Marcella Simien, among others. 

For more information, go to cooperyoungfestival.com. 

 

2019 Cooper Young Festival 

When: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 14 

Admission: Free 

 

Main Stage 

11:15 a.m. Obruni Dance Band 

12:15 p.m. Amber McCain Band 

1:15 p.m. Mama Honey 

2:15 p.m. Seeing Red 

3:15 p.m. Under the Radar 

4:15 p.m. Fevertree 

5:15 p.m. ShotGunBillys 

 

Memphis Grizzlies Stage 

12:30 p.m. Amy Jamison 

1:30 p.m. Stephen Chopek 

2:30 p.m. Robenx 

3:30 p.m. Brother Levee 

4:30 p.m. Alice Hasen and the Blaze 

 

We Are Memphis — A New Century of Soul Stage 

12:15 p.m. Harlan 

1:15 p.m. Lucky 7 Brass Band 

2:15 p.m. Marcella & Her Lovers 

3:15 p.m. CMajor 

4:15 p.m. James & The Ultrasounds

"Violintro" available for pre-order now! 

ALICE HASEN BRINGS FIDDLE-POWERED GROOVE ON SOLO DEBUT ‘VIOLINTRO,’ OUT SEPTEMBER 6 

Eight-Song Collection Recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis 

Portion Of Album Sales On Release Day Will Be Donated To Protect Our Aquifer 

Violinist/singer-songwriter Alice Hasen is set to release her solo debut album ‘Violintro’ on September 6.  Drawing on themes of self-actualization, love and environmental awareness, this project features the Memphis-based artist’s dynamic classical orchestration bookended by sparsely elegant funk and jazz arrangements, assorted sonic textures and sly hip-hop and R&B beats. 

Recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, ‘Violintro’ was self-produced with additional production and engineering by Magic MiC Wilson and features eight tracks all written or co-written by Hasen.  

“I like to think of this album as illustrative of the ‘crossroads’ of experiences that made me the equal-parts-violinist-and-fiddler that I am today,” explains Hasen. “It’s an exploration of the versatility of the violin - where it can be pushed, stylistically, beyond the ways in which a violin or fiddle is usually presented in a song.” 

“I grew up classically trained in Vermont, with a mother who plays flute in the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. I performed in the Yale Symphony Orchestra.   By contrast, when I came down to the South in 2012 to be a band director, I landed smack in the middle of America’s musical heartland: Clarksdale, Mississippi, “Home of the blues.” It was the perfect transition to my time living in Memphis, where jazz, soul and grit would mix with the blues and rock influences I was already steeping in.  The South (these towns in particular) was the crucible in which I was formed as a fiddler.” 

The solitary wandering melody of the album title track kicks off the album, swiftly leading in to the propulsive “Boots’n Cats.” Inspired by the disco boxing beat “boots and cats” (bass and snare), the instrumental features indelible players like Memphis jazz legend Lannie MacMillan and Vinnie Manard on piano; guitarist Carlos Gonzalez and Hasen at her most emotive and sublime. 

With its lush melodies and melancholy softness, “Queen” tackles the fragilities of the natural world and the meditative exploration of oneself while navigating a blossoming relationship.  

Switching gears, “Love Story” is a clever, autobiographical track with help from rapper Rufus Smith while “The Depths” is as stunningly beautiful as it is intricate. 

Other highlights on the album include “Memphis Sands” – an environmental warning song that features a fiery fiddle amongst jam-funk grooves. This is Hasen’s call-to-action for the contamination threat towards the Memphis Sands Aquifer. Furthering her efforts, Hasen will donate 20% of the album sales on September 6 (including digital purchases AND CDs sold at the show) to Protect Our Aquifer. 

Rounding out the album is “Cutie Booty Boogie: - a happy-go-lucky blues and soul ditty with clear Stax influences punctuated by the distinctive Hammond A3 organ while “Outro” ties together the album’s themes with optimism about what’s to come in the future. 

Looking ahead, Hasen will play two special hometown album shows including B-Side Memphis on September 7 and Cooper Young Festival on September 14. Additionally, she’ll play the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, AR on October 12.  Fans can tune in to hear Hasen on Radio Memphis (Sept 4) and Thacker Mountain Radio in Oxford, MS (Sept 12). 

ALICE HASEN'S DEBUT EP "VIOLINTRO" DROPS SEPTEMBER 7 

Alice Hasen will be recording her debut album, "Violintro," at Ardent Studios in Memphis TN this March 21-26.  The album will include seven songs and is scheduled for release on September 7, 2019.  B-Side Memphis will host the album release show, 7-9 PM on the same day as the release. 

 

Photo by Susan Kephart Brown.

 “A monster talent.” 
– Jim Hurst, Singer/Songwriter

 

 “Spontaneous and incredibly intuitive.” 
– Jason D. Williams, Rock'n Roll Piano Legend


“World Class.” 
– John Mohead, Singer/Songwriter


“One in a million.” 
– Alan Rowoth, Founder, folkmusic.org; host, Big Orange Tarp


“She transcends this physical plane with her nuance and brilliance.” 
– Piper Hayes, Singer/Songwriter

 

“Alice Hasen’s technical skills are exceptional and her melodic approach is refreshing. She works hard to give a producer what is asked for and performs with a joy that is infectious. She is definitely on my ‘A’ list to call for violin/fiddle.”

– Tricia Walker, Singer/Songwriter; Director, DMI Entertainment Industry Studies, Delta State University
 
“Hasen’s playing [gives] the songs soul and movement… that feeling you get when you put your hand out the window of a moving car, and let it fly!”
– KOTO Radio, Telluride, CO.
 

Alice Hasen is a professional violinist/fiddler specializing in rock, folk, roots, jazz and classical music.  Born in Vermont but residing in Memphis, TN, 
Alice is the leader of Alice Hasen and the Blaze, a fiddle-powered groove band that primarily plays Alice's original compositions.  Alice is also a member of the Blackwater Trio, an acoustic rock group that performs both covers and originals.  Outside of these acts, Alice collaborates with several singer-songwriters, bands and recording artists in the South.  Her playing covers all styles, but her favorites are rock, funk, and gypsy jazz.  

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