FEATURE ARTICLE: Wisconsin Artists Showcased in new CD Release – One on One

Reprint from Mad Folk News Newsletter
Published: January 2004 by Madison Folk Music Society

One on One CD cover artThe Wisconsin independent record label Spiritone has just released its fourth compilation album One on One. Like previous releases in the series, One on One promotes Wisconsin artists and includes area musicians and others with a strong tie to Wisconsin .

You will likely recognize the established names like Don Conoscenti, Ralston Bowles, Tracy Jane Comer, Kenn Fox, Bill Camplin and Randy Green. A surprise appearance by west coast legend Simon Stokes and a collection of newcomers make this release rich with artistry and diversity. One on One opens with Ralston Bowles’ outstanding songcraft. As the tracks progress, the emotional thread moves from heart to humor and back before transitioning to stark expression. The album closes with Mare Edstrom’s breathtaking, introspective “I”. One on One is approachable and beautiful yet takes risks with relevant commentary on our times.

The music on this album is in a “one on one” format - one singer/one instrument. Duo Fred & Ethel extend the format slightly offering only voice – one Fred/one Ethel. The songwriting is all original. Every track on One on One is an original recording which has not been released on other albums. A few of the songs can be found elsewhere, but in completely different versions. The folk influence is predominant as is the all acoustic vibe.

Kenn Fox is the man behind the Wisconsin-based Spiritone Records and the producer of One on One. On the eve of the new release, we caught up with Kenn to get some insight on his latest project.

Many of the artists showcased on One on One are returning from the previous Wisconsin Collections albums, but there are several newcomers on One on One. Are there highlights from these new artist's work that you would like to point out?

“That has been one of my underlying goals from the start - the concept of always introducing new artists to the mix. The idea of combining new artists with so called veterans gives each CD a fresh and exciting angle. The fans of established artists get a taste of the new talent as well. They all promote each other, as well as promoting the entire Wisconsin scene. There are many exciting new artists being introduced on this collection. Mare Edstrom, Greg Boerner, Fred and Ethel, Amy Curl, Bill Reuter, and Tim Angsten are all newcomers to Spiritone. Both Mare Edstrom and Fred and Ethel will have full length releases due out on Spiritone in early this year. It will be a very exciting year for the label!”

Thematically this album runs the range from social consciousness and political concerns to love and introspection. When you approached the artists to participate on the project, did you have this sort of mosaic in mind?

“I never influence any of the artists as far as content. This freedom is very important to me. It is not my role to designate content. That is the true beauty of the process for me, seeing where it all falls in the end.“

This is your fourth release in the Wisconsin Collections series. How is this one different?

“I believe everyone involved has grown throughout the course of the four releases. Certainly the artists have grown. This release has more participants as well, so I believe interest has grown. I’ve grown as a producer. The people who are working with me on the editing and mastering have added a whole new dimension to the process. So all and all, every aspect of the process has truly evolved!”

One on One and the other Wisconsin Collections CDs are available directly from Spiritone Records and from select area independent record stores. A release concert is being organized, to be held at the Café Carpe in Fort Atkinson and featuring many of the Spiritone artists. Details on that and other Spiritone news are available online at www.kennfox.com .


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