Julie Rhodes has had a pretty amazing year so far, starting with the release of her first album Bound to Meet the Devil in March and landing gigs at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC and on NPR’s World Cafe. This weekend, she is heading down South to Athens, Georgia as part of the next leg of her tour where she will play the Wildwood Revival, a three day festival that is something of a to-do amongst music aficionados. She caught up with Glide to share her thoughts prior to taking the stage on Sunday.
How has this year felt for you? How does it feel to be heading to Wildwood Revival?
It feels great! Independently releasing an album can be pretty challenging from a lot of different standpoints so it feels really gratifying to see some of the hard work paying off. Wildwood is definitely something the band and I are most looking forward to.
What have the biggest challenges been this year?
Being an independent artist means being your own manager, tour manager, booking agent, promoter, ‘label’ etc. It’s rewarding, but taking all of that on can also be pretty trying at times.
What has your favorite moment been this year?
It’s been a wild year so far, so it’s hard to choose. I guess I’d have to say my album release shows back in March. We played back to back sold out shows in Boston and Providence with some of our favorite people. Great energy and lots of love in the room. I wish we could do it all again.
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Who are you most excited to see at Wildwood?
Ugh! This is a tough one. Libby (Rose) does such a great job at booking this festival, there is really no one that I’m NOT excited to see. My set is in a sandwich between Sammy Brue and Brian Wright, so that should be fun. J.P. Harris and Aaron Lee Tasjan are always a great time. Also, very excited to see the Legendary Shack Shakers. And of course Gillian Welch!
Tell folks who don’t know about Wildwood; why was it so important for you as an emerging artist to play there?
This is my first time at Wildwood Revival, so I’ll have to get back to you on how amazing it is. But, I will say that being on the Wildwood lineup means a lot to me because I’m getting to share the stage with folks who I have looked up to since before I was even making music. That in itself is incredibly motivating.
Who do you draw your inspiration from?
I’d say it’s more like ‘what’ than ‘who’. I think no matter what, some of the music that you love is going to find its way into your music, but I wouldn’t say it’s what I draw my inspiration from. I mostly pull from experiences and what I’m going through at the time.
How would you classify your sound? I know this is hard to do.
Lower-middle. Hah! Just kidding! Well, kind of. In all seriousness though, a common theme for Bound to Meet the Devil is this constant struggle that our society faces trying to stay afloat in such a lopsided economic world. We spend most of our lives at a constant grind trying to keep a roof over our heads. Two jobs, three jobs – however many it takes. Rent, especially where I live in Boston, is rising uncontrollably and many people are being forced out of their homes. I know this isn’t the answer to the question you were asking, but the sound really does come from this sort of heartache, trouble, anger etc. Some people might call it the blues, though I wouldn’t necessarily put just that stamp on it.
Who are your top five artists you are listening to?
It definitely varies. I’ve always been a huge fan of Amos Lee. He could be my favorite living singer and pretty steady on the rotation. Carl Anderson, who we have the pleasure of playing with in Nashville on this tour, recently put out a record called Risk of Loss which is one of my favorite albums to come out this year. Limbeck is an old favorite of mine that were way ahead of their time. Best road jams. John Moreland, and I rarely get through a whole day without listening to Gospel at least once. And of course my homegirl, Etta James.
Cover photo: Rich Gastwirt