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Maria Muldaur

Maria Muldaur is best known world-wide for her 1974 mega-hit “Midnight at the Oasis,” which received several Grammy nominations, and enshrined her forever in the hearts of Baby Boomers everywhere; but despite her considerable pop music success, her 52-year career could best be described a long and adventurous odyssey through the various forms of American Roots Music. During the folk revival of the early ’60s, she began exploring and singing early Blues, Bluegrass and Appalachian “Old Timey” Music, beginning her recording career in 1963 with the Even Dozen Jug Band and shortly thereafter, joining the very popular Jim Kweskin Jug Band, touring and recording with them throughout the ’60s.

In the 42 years since “Midnight at the Oasis,” Maria has toured extensively worldwide and has recorded 40 solo albums covering all kinds of American Roots Music, including Gospel, R&B, Jazz and Big Band (not to mention several award-winning children’s albums), before settling comfortably into her favorite idiom, the Blues, in recent years. Often joining forces with some of the top names in the business, Maria has recorded and produced on-average an album per year, several of which have been nominated for Grammy and other awards.

Her critically acclaimed 2001 Stony Plain Records release, Richland Woman Blues, was nominated for a Grammy and by the Blues Foundation as Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year, as was the follow up to that album, Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul. Her timely 2008 album, Yes We Can!, featured songs from some of the most socially conscious songwriters of the past half century: Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Allen Toussaint, Garth Brooks and others, and featured her “Women’s Voices for Peace Choir,” which included: Bonnie Raitt, Joan, Baez, Jane Fonda, Odetta, Phoebe Snow, Holly Near and others.

For her 2009 release, Maria revisited her original Jug Band roots, teaming up with John Sebastian, David Grisman and Dan Hicks. Maria Muldaur & Her Garden of Joy garnered Maria her 6th Grammy nomination, and was also nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year by The Blues Foundation.

In 2011, detouring from her ongoing exploration of acoustic Vintage Blues, Maria released Steady Love, returning to her much-beloved New Orleans (the place she calls her “musical and spiritual home”) to record a contemporary electric Blues album that reflects the kind of music she loves to perform live – what she calls “Bluesiana Music” – her own brand of New Orleans-flavored Blues, R&B and “Swamp Funk.” Steady Love reached #1 on the Living Blues Chart, and garnered her another nomination for Best Traditional Female Blues Artist from the Blues Foundation.

In 2012, for her 40th album, Maria produced ….First Came Memphis Minnie, a loving tribute to the pioneering Blues woman who inspired and influenced so many female Blues artists who followed in her footsteps, many of whom joined Maria on this special project: Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow, Ruthie Foster, Koko Taylor and Rory Block accompanied by the amazing guitar work of Del Rey, David Bromberg, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Roy Rogers, Bob Margolin, Steve James and Steve Freund. Maria considers Memphis Minnie to be a trailblazing musical pioneer for all women, but also a personal Blues hero. “From that first moment I heard her soulful music on an old scratchy 78 to this,” says Maria, “Memphis Minnie, and the example she set for me, has remained a profound influence on my life and my music.”

In 2013, taking a brief hiatus from her yearly recording schedule, Maria focused on 3 special collaborations, performing worldwide with her old Jug Band mates, in a series of 50th Anniversary Kweskin Jug Band Reunion concerts, teaming up with the Campbell Brothers, world-renowned Sacred Steel Gospel artists, for a very special presentation entitled, “Spirit & The Blues”, touring as Special Guest Artist with Bill Wyman and The Rhythm Kings. as well as continuing  to perform with her own Red Hot Bluesiana Band.

2014 marked 40 years since her big hit “Midnight at the Oasis” was riding at the top of the pop charts and she has released 40 albums in that time!!! To celebrate this milestone, Maria created a multi-media retrospective – WAY PAST MIDNIGHT, chronicling her 52 year journey “to the Oasis and Beyond”. This special presentation features all her hits, & her most-requested-over-the-years “fan faves”, as well as the best of her most recent work. She shares stories of her personal encounters, friendships, and collaborations with many of the greatest names in Music, along with photos & videos from her early days in the 60’s folk revival with The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, through her years of “pop stardom”, & on to her continuing exploration of American Roots Music, Blues, Bluesiana, Jazz & Gospel. In 2014 and 2015 Maria toured extensively throughout the United States and Canada with her Way Past Midnight show.

Maria Muldaur continues to tour regularly worldwide, and is available for festivals, concerts, club dates, workshops and residencies.

Music

Biography

Maria Muldaur

In 1973, when a young Maria Muldaur embarked on her own self-titled debut solo recording, she had no way of knowing that “a goofy little song about a camel” would spark a million-seller hit, and launch such an enduring chapter in a lifelong odyssey though all forms of American roots music—but so it did.

It was during those 1973 sessions, that longtime friend and session pianist Dr. John first introduced Maria to the naughty, bawdy blues of Blue Lu Barker. A sassy take of Barker’s “Don’t You Feel My Leg” ensued and made it onto the record. “Listening now to Blue Lu’s young light lilting voice and delivery, I can see in retrospect how Dr. John heard some of that same quality in my young singing and was moved to suggest that song to me,” says Maria.

As it would happen, in the wake of “Midnight At The Oasis,” “Leg,” began to get some traction. Warner Brothers executives would ultimately reject an overwhelming number of requests from DJs to release “Don’t You Feel My Leg” as a second single, in an effort to prevent Maria from being branded as a sex symbol rather than as a serious artist…but to this day, it remains a cult favorite, and the most requested song at her shows.

Maria would later meet Danny and Blue Lu Barker, and they formed a friendship that lasted for many years. “Because of my friendship with Blue Lu and Danny, and my longtime association with that song, I was invited to put on a concert paying tribute to Blue Lu in New Orleans in 2016. Needing to come up with two hours’ worth of Blu Lu Barker material for the concert, I started doing some in-depth research of all their past recordings. I had previously only heard a few of their early recordings besides "Leg." To my surprise and delight I discovered that they had written and recorded dozens of songs equally naughty, bawdy, witty, and clever as ‘Don't You Feel My Leg’. Most of them were recorded in New York City in the early 40s, with some of the finest jazz players on the NYC jazz scene, and besides the wonderfully funny, suggestive lyrics, I was really struck and quite charmed by Blue Lu's delivery of these tunes… droll, sly, full of sass and attitude, yet understated…a bit girlish and coy. Her cool nonchalance and crisp ladylike diction in contrast to the naughty, risqué lyrics made them smolder with innuendo all the more. These were songs by hipsters, for hipsters,” says Maria.

Muldaur’s performance in tribute to Blue Lu that year featured a stellar band of NOLA musicians and created a wave of demand for an album—a demand that she was inspired to fulfill. For this outing, Maria brought in New Orleans A-listers David Torkanowsky on piano (Irma Thomas, Neville Brothers, SolomonBurke), Roland Guerin on bass (Steve Earle, Chris Thomas King, Allen Toussaint), and Herlin Riley on drums (Wynton Marsalis, Cassandra Wilson, Dr.John), among others.

And so it is, that on her first studio album in six years, Maria graces Blue Lu Barker's material with the full measure of her musical journey. This stunning set finds Maria at her finest, and closes the circle yet again, from the days of that first solo recording.

“Don't You Feel My Leg’ was considered quite ‘risqué’ in its day, but compared to the over-amped, kinetic, frenetic, bumpin', grindin', booty shakin', in-your-face X-rated explicit lyrics that prevail in today's music, I find its playful, sly, tongue-in-cheek innuendo to actually be a much sexier approach. Imagination is always the best aphrodisiac,” says Maria.

She adds, “As we sit here in 2018, you might well ask why a vintage gal like me feels it is important to present these vintage tunes at this point in time. Well for one thing, in an era when so many aspects of sexuality are dealt with and discussed with such deadly seriousness, I find the lighthearted playful expressions of sexuality in these songs a pleasant and welcome respite from the fraught discourse prevailing today…and for another...these are all basically hip, fun happy songs, and I think we could all use a big dose of HAPPY right about now.”

Maria Muldaur is best known for “Midnight At The Oasis,” though she has toured extensively worldwide for over four decades, and has released 41 albums covering all stripes of American Roots Music, including Gospel, R&B, Jazz and Big Band, as well as several award-winning children’s albums. Often joining forces with other fine artists, she has recorded and produced on-average, an album per year, several of which have been nominated for Grammy and Blues Foundation awards. These last few years have seen the 50th Anniversary Kweskin Jug Band Reunion concerts, gospel collaborations with the Campbell Brothers, performances with Bill Wyman and The Rhythm Kings, and notable reissues of her early recordings with Jim Kweskin. She remains a revered and preeminent interpreter of American Roots music.