summer tours and a new opera
After a spring full of teaching, reading, and refilling the well a bit, I'm looking forward to getting back on the road, both as a sideman and a headliner. First date, as guitarist, is Saturday, July 7th with Janet Batch at the Great Blue Heron Festival. Then I'll be joining Mary Lorson on guitar on Friday, July 20 at the Grassroots Festival. Then I'll be heading to Europe to tour with Kathy Ziegler (we'll be playing solo sets, and joining each other as well.) Dates above. By October, I'll have a new opera to debut, as well as another date for the Fall of the House of Usher. Hope to see you out there.
"House of Usher" in production now!
A timeless re-telling of the Edgar Allen Poe story, “The Fall of the House of Usher” combines the classic 1928 film by Jean Epstein with modern opera, film-noir, and improvisation by musicians Anna Coogan and Tzar. Explores the place where film, theater, music, and storytelling collide. The neo-operatic score was originally written and performed for the Ithaca Fantastik Film Festival in 2015, and returns to the Cherry in 2018 in a new and exciting form. Directed by Samuel Buggeln.Tickets available here for the March 30-31 performances:
Home safe after a three week tour of film scores, solo sets, and joining Johnny Dowd as a guest guitar player in some of the most beautiful venues in Europe. You can read a few reviews from the tour HERE and HERE.
In other news, LCOST has made several year end lists, including top 10 in No Depression Through the the Lens, Here Comes the Flood, The Ithaca Journal, which listed it as one of the top 5 records of the year, and Monolith Cocktail. Thanks to everyone for the deep support of this release. Onward.
Daytrotter Session: 9/11/17
Anna and Willie's Daytrotter session, recorded on September 11. 2017 in Davenport, Iowa, is now available at the Paste Magazine site. Art by Johnnie Cluney and sound by Ian Harris. Check it out below. It was a long and beautiful drive to Iowa from Ithaca and back again.
Blood of a Poet tour
I'll be leaving in a few weeks for my first ever film score tour, performing an original guitar score to the brilliant 1932 Cocteau masterpiece "The Blood of a Poet" across the UK. You can see clips from the score debut at the Ithaca Fantastik Film Festival HERE and HERE.
LONG FORM BIO
“So here we are/We’re listening… Won’t you show me other worlds, please?” The Lonely Cry of Space & Time
Anna Coogan has been preparing for this moment her whole life, ever since she was a girl growing up in Boston, MA, influenced by her classical opera training and her father’s protest albums by Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan. After several efforts with her Pacific Northwest-based alt-country band north 19, a pair of well-received indie solo releases (2010’s The Nocturnal Among Us and 2012’s The Wasted Ocean) and a collaboration with producer JD Foster (2014’s Birth of the Stars), Coogan’s latest, The Lonely Cry of Space & Time, is a stylistic breakthrough.
The album, a virtual two-person effort which features Willie B (Brian Wilson) on drums and Moog bass, combines Coogan’s three-octave soprano vocals, electric guitar soundscapes and pointed social commentary into a fierce cohesive piece which combines the personal and the political, in a musical hybrid of rock, country, pop and classical opera into a unique whole. Her new direction was born from her series of performances in her adopted hometown of Ithaca, NY, in which Anna and Willie B created live musical accompaniments for vintage silent films.
The title track for the album – with its praise for scientific reason and rationality and its intimations of extraterrestrial life – was originally composed to accompany Soviet filmmaker Jakov Protazanov’s campy 1929 Aelita, Queen of Mars, which likened an alien invasion to the Russian Revolution. The inspiration was the discovery of gravitational waves by a group of researchers, with an actual audio sample included at the very end. “I’m optimistic whenever there’s a news story that doesn’t involve death and destruction,” says Anna, revealing that one of her relatives was part of the team that unearthed the sounds.
Two of the disc’s goth set pieces, “If You Were the Sun” and “A Wedding Vow,” evoke a childhood listening to Puccini’s La Boheme, both created to accompany French director Jean Epstein’s grisly 1928 horror film, La Chute De La Maison Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher), the latter playing over a scene in which an unlucky bride is buried alive.
Anna explains that much of the apocalypse-now-fueled The Lonely Cry of Space & Time was written and recorded during the run-up to the historic 2016 election, a reaction to such hot-button topics as inflammatory campaign rhetoric (“Collateral”), the implicit threats to immigration (“Wishing Well”), the environment (the title track) and Middle East unrest (the first single, “Burn for You”).
A distinct stylistic change from her previous work, Coogan explains her shift from the acoustic Americana of her past to the jangly, electronic buzz of the new album could be described as her “Judas moment.” As a guitarist, think of her rubbery, pneumatic, wah-wah sound like a combination of PJ Harvey, Courtney Barnett and her personal favorites, Bill Frisell and Marc Ribot.
“The music I’m making with Willie is pretty different that my older work,” she says. “I felt I had reached an end point in what I’d been doing, at least for now.”
Just as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Going On were steeped in the tumultuous ‘60s, Anna Coogan’s The Lonely Cry of Space & Time is inextricably linked to the flammable present. The more accessible songs, like the girl-group “Sylvia,” a nod to poet Sylvia Plath, the new wave dance-pop of “Meteor” and the blues-country ballad “Follow Me” (co-written with JD Foster and Willie B) are intensely personal. Still, other tracks, such as “Collateral” (with its plea not to be typed or controlled by inflammatory words), “Burn for You” (an “apocalyptic lullaby” in which she describes “the brushfires of empire burn”) and “Wishing Well” (a pro-immigration plea which insists, “If they throw wide the gates, if they slam the doors/Keep on swimming until you find the shore”), all deal with how political issues affect the individual.
There have been many attempts at rock opera in the past, but The Lonely Cry of Space & Time is something different. Call it operatic rock, a genre previously explored by the likes of Kate Bush, Jane Siberry, Lene Lovich, Yoko Ono and Freddie Mercury, among others. Coogan studied opera at the prestigious Mozarteum University of Salzburg in Austria, before moving to Seattle, where she worked as a fisheries biologist in Washington State and Alaska, which goes a long way to explaining her frequent use of water as a metaphor. In fact, a drought in the Finger Lakes region of New York where she lived in part was a factor in the immediacy she brought to the new album.
A true independent, Anna releases her own albums and books her own tours, which have taken her all over the world, including international festivals like the Blue Ball in Lucerne, Switzerland, the Maverick in Suffolk, U.K., as well as the Glasgow Americana Festival and Celtic Connections in Scotland. She has also played extensively in Germany and the Netherlands, and toured as a member of the Johnny Dowd Band.
“Oh let the oceans rise/To the shining skies,” she sings. “I will burn for you.”
On The Lonely Cry of Space & Time, Anna Coogan does just that, providing a shiny ray of hope for a world seemingly bent on self-destruction, deftly weaving the personal and political into a yin-yang hybrid.
“I think the two have been intertwined in me for a long time, since I was a kid” she observes. “And these days, I don’t feel as alone in my perception of current events.”
And now, neither do we.
The lonely cry of space and time