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Julianna Waters


Julianna Waters: A Song Resurfacing

"A piece of myself went underground." That's how singer and songwriter Julianna Waters describes the 17 years she went without music in her life. Trained to sing opera as a young woman, Waters got her Master's degree in social work from U.C. Berkeley, began a career as a psychotherapist, and lived a domestic life that she says had "little room for artistry."

But when music lives deep in the heart, it never really goes away.

More influenced by poets than pop music, Julianna went to Death Valley for a 12-day Vision Quest in 1996. When she came out of the desert, she was singing. "I was close to the land, out in the desert by myself, and when I got around other people, singing seemed like the most appropriate way to communicate." She's been singing, playing guitar and writing ever since, reclaiming a love of music and literary expression in what seems like an endless wellspring of songs.

Julianna's songs strip away the ornamental and plunge deep into the soul of images and meaning. One of her recent compositions and a candidate for the 2009 Mountain Stage New Song Songwriting Award, "I Am Not A Mother" stands up fearlessly against autumnal isolation. The "daughter of empty spaces" pulls all of humanity under a parental wing as though they were her own children, singing, "I have loved the lonely stranger/and listened to the tales they tell/I am the shepherd of the walking wounded/I keep the secrets they let spill."

One of the first things listeners notice in Julianna's work is her eye for psychological detail. It's tempting to attribute her piercing insights to her therapeutic work, but Julianna says that's not quite the case. "I don't write about my clients, because you don't tell somebody else's stories. You hold on to them. Keeping their stories helps me tell mine." In "Wide Wyoming Skies," she evokes a desolate trailer park of "cracker boxes with flimsy locks" from her childhood. Little ghosts and unwashed kids and un-kept hounds live under the haunting gaze of "phantoms of the past." All the while, an eight-year-old girl with a ponytail plays horses with a jump rope in her teeth. It's a complex mosaic of fate and freedom.


Julianna's clean vocals add an unusual polish to the poetic lines of her songs. Her voice is sure, at times rising an octave to offer a glimpse of the vocal training she mastered many years ago. And although her delivery is unquestionably strong, she also includes an undertone of human frailty—a bit of lilt and rounded corner. "I like to sing," Julianna says, "But I love to write. A singer's voice will go, but a writer's voice stays." Lucky for us, both Julianna's writing and singing voices have finally come together.

More suited for listening venues than overcrowded bars, Julianna Waters' sound appeals to fans of folk, Americana, blues, contemporary literature, bittersweet fairy tales, old standards and new poetry. She lives, works and records her music in Portland, Oregon, and currently plays in the duo Heart & Hammer with Barry Crannell.

For more information and for booking, contact Julianna Waters at 503-225-0908.

Barry Crannell


The Instrumentalist Picks Up the Pen

"Instrumentalist." That suited Barry Crannell just fine. Whether playing rock, folk, bluegrass or Celtic music, Barry was a sought-after band member and collaborator. He'd performed since the early 1970s in bands like In Cahoots, Wildgeese, and Crannell & Krevans. He'd shared the stage with Clive Gregson, Kevin Burke, Michael O'Domhnaill, Kate Wolf and Bill Staines. For clean, elegant guitar and a flash of kerosene banjo, Barry was the man.

Then, one summer day in 1996, after finding what he calls "a sudden rejuvenation" at music camp, Barry Crannell took a bold step and let his first song fill the blank page. He's never looked back.

With songs co-written with Lisa Aschmann, he made the finals in the Wildflower songwriting contest, the finals in the Napa songwriting contest and, in 1997, won the Kerrville Emerging Songwriters Contest. He found his voice in a simple, to-the-point lyrical style that can range from the ridiculous to the sublime, giving romance the heart is deserves while finding the thorny tangles in tenderness. 

One of his first staple songs, "Grandma," is an homage to the woman who gave Crannell his first guitar. With flawless finger picking and a voice refreshingly sincere, Crannell asks "Dear Grandma, did you know that I'm a star/Do you know it's all because of this old guitar that you gave me/Such a long time ago?" It's a song about a love that transcends time, walking one's own path in life, and the snapshots and things remembered along the way.


In most of his songs, the stellar guitar first attracts the attention. But soon enough, Crannell's words begin to resonate with unmistakable strength and sincerity from a former Marine who learned half a lifetime of lessons before he ever put pen to paper. His music prowess mixes with a rawness that stays with you. Perhaps the bumper sticker on Crannell's car sums it up best, "More Music. Less B.S."

Barry Crannell has taught guitar for years both privately and as a staff member at Puget Sound Guitar Workshop. Happiest in listening venues and wherever good songs and clawhammer banjo are savored, his music appeals to fans of Americana and folk, musical purists, skeptical cynics, storytellers and former honky tonk heroes. He lives, works and records his music in Portland, Oregon, and currently plays in the duo Heart & Hammer with Julianna Waters.