Meet Josie Toney
Accomplished fiddler and Berklee College of Music student Josie Toney will be hitting this stage this Thursday for City Girls/Country Music's first Boston show!
CGCM: How do you balance playing fiddle and singing?
Josie: It's tough! My work with legendary old time fiddler and vocalist Bruce Molsky, who teaches at Berklee a couple of days a week, has really helped me with literally balancing the fiddle and voice when I am doing them at the same time, which is really difficult. The rest of the time, I'm switching back and forth between the two, and sometimes it's a discombobulating transition. I am also a guitarist, so for country shows where I am leading all of the material, I will often play guitar and hire one of the many amazing fiddle players to be found in Boston to play with me. This is always a special treat because as a fiddler myself, I don't often get to perform with my fiddle playin' friends, plus we always break out a few "twin fiddle" numbers during a set, where we both play, and this is a total blast!
CGCM: Do you write your own music?
Josie: Yes! I play a mix of traditional music, covers, and originals, all of which will be represented in my set at Loretta's this Thursday. I write in an older style than most modern audiences may be used to, and I'm very picky about what songs I release into the wild. I've been working with accomplished songwriter and Berklee songwriting faculty member Mark Simos on some new songs that I'm excited to record in the spring. I also write instrumental music, "fiddle tunes," which I've been doing since I was a kid. I've been studying the art of tune writing with Joe K. Walsh, and found that to be a really rewarding part of my time at Berklee.
CGCM: What are your plans after graduation?
Josie: I'm going to continue being based in Boston through at least the summer, but I'm looking at relocating in the fall. Starting in 2020 I'll be really working to promote two projects, Josie Toney and That Old Time Religion, which is an old time string band, and Josie Toney and Her Honky Tonk Heroes, which is the country band that will be playing at Sally O'Brien's on the 21st. It hasn't been announced yet, but we have a residency for a honky tonk night at the Burren beginning in January, so keep your eyes open for that! I also teach private lessons, as well as classes at The Passim School of Music, which is a part of Club Passim. In the spring I am planning at least one recording project, so please go ahead and like my brand new Facebook page.
See Josie this Thursday, November 7th, at our free show at Loretta's Last Call on Landsdowne Street in downtown Boston! RSVP here.
City Girls/Country Music held their kickoff show this month at the famous Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles. It was a meaningful and intimate night featuring all women based in Los Angeles.
Leigh Madison opened the show by belting a stunning acapella song called The Teeter-Totter of Life, a raw look inside the ups and downs of going after your dreams with no guarantee of success or security. Leigh, a single mother, then sang a song for her daughter called I Learned How to Love from You, which was a bit of tear-jerker with theatrical moments that hinted at her background in musical theater, starring opposite Neil Patrick Harris in RENT.
Cindy Jollotta was up next, opening her set with Room in My Pants, a saucy song about a woman with no room in her schedule for a relationship, but plenty of room in her pants for... you know. The song has become an anti-slut shaming anthem in the Los Angeles bi community. Cindy wrapped up with Jet Plane to Reno, a song with the unusual theme of draft dodging. She wrote the song after hearing a story of President LBJ eliminating the marriage exemption from the military draft during the Vietnam War. The government announced the change with no warning and many couples found themselves in a last-minute race to get to Nevada to get married before midnight the day of the announcement.
The husband and wife duo Drew and Ket took the stage next. Their voices blended in gorgeous harmonies throughout the set and it was hard to find a dry eye in the house. Their first song, Wildfire, featured a goosebumps-inducing epic fiddle solo performed by Ket. That was followed by a clever take on the term "fuck boi" with their new song Truck Boy. A favorite of the night was Three Day Weekend, a sweet and relatable song about recapturing the days "when we were 20, with no money, staying up till 3am."
Anna Ash closed out the night with her syrupy soprano voice, tinted with a slight southern drawl. Each of her songs had a quiet poetry about them with memorable lines like "Baby, lock your doors and baby, shut your heart off. Baby, just let this one go. I'm gonna drive to the beach and sleep somewhere expensive alone..." from her song Floodlights. You could hear a pin drop in the room throughout her set, as the audience was hanging on her every word.
It was a special night and everyone on stage and in the audience seemed to know it. Each performer left 'em wanting more. And hopefully, that's what they'll get! City Girls/Country Music plans to return to Los Angeles January 2020.
Photos by Anna Larina
Cindy Jollotta is a singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles.