Monday, May 20, 2013
Neoclassical pianist Heather Pierson just released her sixth CD, "The Open Road," consisting of 14 original pieces composed by Pierson and recorded at Baked Beans Recording Studio in Harrison. Pierson was born in Joplin, Mo., but spent her formative years in Maine, and now calls Center Conway, N.H., home. Find her online at heatherpierson.com, where you can purchase "The Open Road." Pierson recently took time out to talk to GO about the new record, her love of vintage pianos and more.
Heather Pierson spent her formative years in Maine.
WHEN: 3 p.m. Oct. 28
WHERE: First Universalist Church, 479 Main St., Norway
HOW MUCH: $15 (includes free copy of "The Open Road")
WHAT'S ON HEATHER PIERSON'S iPOD
"Banquet," Joni Mitchell
"Forget Me Not," The Civil Wars
"In the Meantime," Seth Walker
"Night Train," Oscar Peterson
"Oklahoma Going Home," Kate Wolf
"Quarter Master," Snarky Puppy
"Some Day Baby," Ray Charles
"Teardrop," Massive Attack
"Three to Get Ready," Dave Brubeck
"Tried and Tempted," The Wood Brothers
TURN YOUR RADIO DIAL to 102.9 WBLM every Friday at 8:30 a.m. to hear Aimsel Ponti wax poetic about her top live music picks for the week with the Captain and Celeste.
When did you first start to play the piano?
I got my first piano at age 5. It was a toy that I received for Christmas the first year we were in Maine. It came with a strip of paper of colored squares that went across the keys and a book of songs that were played by "color." I had learned and memorized all the songs in the book by New Year's, which made my parents say, "Maybe she's got a knack for this " My first real piano came the following year, and it's been a love story ever since.
What are some of things you like and appreciate about the 1930 Model A Mason & Hamlin piano that you recorded "The Open Road" on?
First and foremost, I love the care and the attention that Alan Bean (owner of Baked Beans Recording Studio) and his wife, Kim, who teaches on that piano, give so freely and lovingly to the instrument. They have spent a tremendous amount of time, money and energy in dedication to restoring and maintaining this beautiful piano. It's also the same piano on which I recorded all the tracks for "Make It Mine."
When Bob Ludwig (of Portland's Gateway Mastering) mastered that album for me, he was so deeply impressed with the sound of the piano that he made an appointment with Alan specifically to see the piano and the studio. I also love the fact that Alan, whom I've known for over 20 years now, took great care to give the recording of the piano a darker sound to match that of the Steinways that I typically prefer.
Over what period of time were the songs on "The Open Road" written?
A couple of the "Heartland Songs" were originally composed when I was just a teenager during a trip I took back to Missouri and Kansas. They've been revisited and revised for this release. The rest have been composed over the last 10 to 12 years or so since.
What inspires your writing?
Different things inspire different types of writing. For the pieces on "The Open Road" and for that type of composition, I'm inspired very much by the beauty of the natural world. When I'm writing songs with lyrics, I tend to go inward, either to my own personal experience or to reflect on the complexity of human behavior and relationships. I'll be heading into the studio later this fall to start recording the next project -- a collection of Americana/roots/acoustic guitar-driven songs -- which will include my song that won this year's New England Songwriting Contest, "A Hard Man to Please."
What did you grow up listening to?
I spent a lot of time alone in my room with my headphones on, listening to everything I could get my hands on, and enjoyed it all. I grew up in Hebron, where sometimes I could just barely tune in WRBC (Bates College radio), and was introduced to lots of wild and innovative stuff that way. I'd go through phases -- metal, then classical, then punk, then jazz, then electronica, then blues. I bounced around, and I still do. My parents both really loved and enjoyed music too, and we were always listening to something in the house.
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