By Al Kaufman
It’s been a busy year for Atlanta’s preeminent blues mama, Michelle Malone. While she spent the whole year on tour behind 2012’s Day 2 album, she also found time to collaborate with Rocky Mountain Slides to make a guitar slide bearing her name. And, more importantly, she just put the finishing touches on a new CD, Acoustic Winter. Around sweet covers of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” Malone creates gorgeous, gentle, personal (but not self-indulgent) songs that showcase her pristine vocal qualities. A song such as “Burning Star,” which a younger Malone would have blazed through, takes on greater depth and contemplation in a softer, slower form, as do songs such as “Super Ball” and “Beyond the Mountain,” old Malone songs that are re-imagined here in all their naked glory. As the album title suggests, this is the perfect music for sitting by the fire with a glass of wine.
Rocky Mountain Slides is now making the Michelle Malone Signature Slide. How did this collaboration come to be?
I’ve been using RMS for years and I really love them. Doc Sigmier, the owner, contacted me and said he wanted to make a signature slide for me, in the colors and style I like. I was honored! They’re great. Best I’ve used.
You are donating a portion of the proceeds from the slides to Wellspring, a nonprofit organization that works with abused and exploited women and children. When did you start your affiliation with that group and why is it important to you?
I feel it’s important to always “give back”. I am so fortunate and this particular organization is a very important one. I heard about it from my percussionist, Trish Land, who became familiar with the organization last year. There is such a high rate of human trafficking in our area, specifically with women and girls. What Wellspring does for these exploited women is quite amazing. They help rehabilitate them on every level.
Your new CD, Acoustic Winter, seems like a natural progression from Day 2, which had been your most personal CD to date, but you said in an interview that this CD “scares the crap out of me.” Why?
I didn’t hold back any of my emotions; fear, love, loss, growth…all of it. It’s very revealing. It’s cathartic for me to put this record out. As I wrote the songs, I experienced every emotion and feeling expressed. It was exhausting, but I love it. It’s important to me.
Day 2 and Acoustic Winter are two of your quietest records, but New Year’s Eve is a time to party. What kind of show can people expect from you at Eddie’s Attic on December 31st?
It’s been a tradition, of late, for me to play New Year’s Eve at The Attic. We blow it out! It’s like Musical Olympics. We do not hold back. I’ll play acoustic and electric. But I will have to play a quiet song or two from Acoustic Winter, to keep it interesting.
Michelle Malone plays Eddie’s Attic on Tuesday, December 31st.