Folk singer/songwriter and musician Annette Conlon is as principled about her music as she is about veganism and Americana. Her musical journey has taken her through many places, as evidenced by the songs on her critically acclaimed debut solo album Life, Death and the Spaces Between. Part sweet, part dark, the songs show a view deep into Annette Conlon’s soul. Her songs about compassion, social consciousness, human interaction and animals are intended to make people think and make a social statement. “I am so excited to share my love for animals and vegan-ism with folks across the country, to show them how easy it is to live more compassionately, from what you eat, to what you wear, and to help folks make the connection that our animal friends are not food,” says Conlon.
Her music has influences from many areas, including country. Annette’s album Life, Death and the Spaces Between shows definite influences from Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Her song Rodeo is a good example, a country song yet with a deeper meaning too. As Annette told the Boise Beat:
“The Rodeo is a metaphor for life.
The new shoes represent coping mechanisms that can manifest in compulsive behavior. Ultimately, the song is about being so worried about living life that we live in our head instead of going out and living it. I say, get out and enjoy the Rodeo!”
Conlon, who is set to embark on her second Compassionette U.S. Tour beginning September 1is very much into spreading the word of her activism at many festivals across the country. Along with songs from Life, Death and the Spaces Between, she will also be performing songs from her upcoming album that will be released in 2018. Currently working with three-time Grammy winner Alf Rodenas on her second album, Conlon promises a “sweeter, happier, Ameri-Folk/Rock” effort that “delves ever deeper into my human heart.” Husband Doug Conlon will accompany Annette, playing mandolin, banjo, and guitar, while providing background harmonies.
Of course, a big part of Annette’s music is that it’s true to the origins of Americana and Folk music. She told the Boise Beat why Americana/folk music is important now:
“The term Folk music came from England, where they took the German word “volk,” meaning people, and applied it to the common people of England. These were the illiterate peasants who passed on stories and legend through song as they were unable to publish books. Since the 19th Century, Folk musicians have told stories, both in lyric and melody, and shared these stories by word of mouth. But, consider, people were telling stories in this manner long before it had a name.
There are many beloved songs of unknown authorship that have been transmitted from generation to generation. There is a kinship between Folk artists, be it traditional Folk, contemporary, or roots, and the Folk genre we love fits under the umbrella of Americana (Americana is an amalgam of American folk music formed by the confluence of the shared and varied traditions that make up the musical ethos of the United States; specifically, those sounds that are merged from folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and other external influences. source: Wikipedia).
Folk gatherings continue to this day (a post revival-revival?) to spread and share the songs from the past, and introduce new Folk songs for the future. I think both the gatherings and the sharing of songs old and new are the only way we will keep this genre alive. In a world where we are frequently isolated behind computer and phone screens, gathering together to share music is more important than ever before. We are the archivists of our generation and it is our turn to chronicle what is happening in the world.
Going back to the meaning of the word…, FOLK. This is the music of the people. This is our music. These are our stories. To be written and sung by us. There is no greater time in history than for us to be writing, singing, and sharing songs together.”
Annette’s concern for animals and her attempt to raise vegan awareness doesn’t just extend to her singing. On her tour, Annette will be playing her Bedell Blackbird Vegan Parlor guitar and her Seagull Artist Studio Concert Hall guitar. Both instruments are made from sustainably-sourced woods and found tone-woods, and the Bedell is 100% vegan, containing no animal products. (Annette is endorsed by both Bedell and Seagull).
In her own way, Annette is following in the footsteps of such folksingers as Peter Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, not only showing their activism through their music but through their actions too. The famous ethnomusicologist and folk music documentarian, Alan Lomax, would be pleased to see that Annette is carrying the mantle of his work in trying to keep Americana and Folk Music alive.