Next showcase an ode to Minnesota
Listen up, Minnesota, Sally Barris wants to sing you a love song.
Barris, the Nashville-based songwriter, has her home state on her mind as she heads north for Wednesday's Americana Showcase concert at Rochester Civic Theatre , where she will perform with Ben Kyle and Brandon Sampson.
Barris has just released a new album, "Wilder Girl."
"It really is an ode to Minnesota," she said. And she described one of the songs on the album, "Angel of the North," as "A love song to Minnesota."
"Last year at this time, I was playing up in Grand Marais, and it really inspired me," Barris said. "I wrote a lot of new songs."
Ironically, Barris, who has written songs recorded by Trisha Yearwood (the Grammy-nominated "Let the Wind Chase You"), Martina McBride and Lee Ann Womack, and who has enjoyed a successful career in Nashville, had to be enticed north by Sampson.
"I moved to Nashville 20 years ago, and I really hadn't been touring in Minnesota until I met Brandon at the Bluebird Cave in Nashville and he invited me to come up," she said.
Since then, Barris has been welcomed by concert audiences in Minnesota and has rediscovered her love for the state.
"I miss the lakes, my family, just the feeling of this is where I'm from," she said. "I realized what a Minnesotan I am at heart."
As for moving back permanently? "It's a dream," Barris said.
For now, though, she and her fans will have to content themselves with events like the Americana Showcase concerts.
"What's not to love?" Barris said of the showcase. "You get that beautiful theater, all those people. I think it's the audience that Brandon has worked so hard to cultivate. They know he's going to bring in somebody who's under the radar and they're going to be great."
Sampson, who organizes the concerts, said fame is never a factor when he books artists for the showcase.
"It doesn't matter if they are considered well-known, or have a hit song on the radio," he said of the guest artists. "All that matters is that they sing and play from the heart."
Audiences keep coming back, Sampson said, because no two of the concerts are alike.
"People know they've just witnessed a one-of-a-kind event, where the artists are inspired by each other," he said.
Sampson is part of the lineup for this month's show, along with Ben Kyle, of the Twin Cities-based band Romantica. Kyle, coincidentally, has his own ode-to-Minnesota song to play. It's called "Minneapolis" and it's featured on his new self-titled solo album.
It's all part of the Minnesota love-in that is the next Americana Showcase.