Grammy-Nominated Gauthier Returns to Pump House Concert Series
Mary Gauthier, along with fellow contemporary singer-songwriter Jaimee Harris, will perform as part of the Orchard Street Pump House Concert Series Thursday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m.
Harris, an Americana-folk artist whose music has drawn comparisons to Patty Griffin and Emmylou Harris, will open the show.
For her part, Gauthier has already left an indelible mark on music. She’s mostly known for her haunting recounting of addiction with the song “I Drink,” which was released on her 2005 album, Mercy Now. “I Drink” recalls her father’s addiction to alcohol, as well as her own struggles with alcoholism. Gauthier has been sober since 1990 after being arrested for a DUI.
Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Jon Fishman from the band Phish are all devoted fans of Gauthier’s music. Last December, Fishman featured her on his SiriusXM radio show Errant Path, on the JamOn station.
According to Gauthier, her songs are about relating experiences to the listener that the listener may or may not have gone through.
“Songs are magic, they are alchemy, and they are powerful if the story in them is true,” Gauthier said. “They can move through huge chunks of time in three minutes. They can make the experience of being lonely a shared experience, and they can bring us deep into the experience of a stranger. So deep, that we will feel the same feelings as that stranger, a person who we thought we had nothing in common with.”
Her latest album, 2018’s “Rifles and Rosary Beads,” received a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Record. The album is part of the SongwritingWith:Soldiers project, which began in 2018 and seeks to help transform the lives of soldiers returning home from combat by crafting their stories as a catalyst for positive change. Other songwriters who have contributed to the project include Marshall Crenshaw, Jay Clementi, and Beth Nielsen Chapman. Songwriters are shared with soldiers to write songs, some of which are released to the public, while others stay unreleased and close to home.
Gauthier understood the depth and importance of the project, and quickly signed on to participate.
“I was invited to do this work by the founder, Darden Smith, and I fell in love with it,” Gauthier said. “My own story had some harrowing moments in it, and I learned early on putting a difficult story into a song can be healing. I can now sit with someone who has been through a difficult experience and not be afraid, and I can listen and take that experience and use it as a way of making art.”
Gauthier went on to add, “Taking something difficult and turning it into something beautiful helps move trauma out of the brain in ways that are quite profound. So I think that's what I'm on earth to do, is to tell the hard stories and show the resilience of human spirit. We're remarkable beings and there's a spirit inside us all that really is about love. These stories in the end, if I look at this record I just made and the story songs I've written over the last four years with the veterans, even the most harrowing ones in the end are about love. Believe it or not. The toughest of the tough guys - in the end, love is what saves us all,” Gauthier said.
Dudley “Smitty” Smith, who serves as the Concert Booker for the Pump House, is excited to have Gauthier back.
“I first met her in Nashville about ten years ago, and tried for many years to book her,” Smith said. “It proved difficult to get such a star to come to our little Pump House Concert series. Being such a fan, I never gave up, and eventually a collaboration among a few Michigan venues paid off. At that first show Mary loved our audience so much that she's now coming back for her third Pump House Concert.”
Gauthier is looking forward to sharing these stories with the attendees of the Pump House Concert and returning to the Mid-Michigan area. Although she points out the travel gets to be a bit rough, performing the music for adoring crowds never gets old.
“I love my job, and while the traveling gets harder over time, it’s still the best job,” Gauthier said. “I am grateful to still be doing it, and I want the audience to walk away knowing that they are not alone. That people are people, and we belong to each other.”
Doors for the show open at 6:30; music at 7:00 p.m. There is a suggested donation of $25 and all proceeds go to the artists.
The Pumphouse is located at 368 Orchard Street.
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