Independent record label Blix Street Records might be a low-key presence in Gig Harbor, but its music packs an impact. The label is out with a new album: a musical retrospective on the migrant workers of California’s “salad bowl” region.
“Dreams of the San Joaquin” was released on Sept. 25 and features the work of Grammy-winning western singer/songwriters Randy Sharp and Jack Wesley Routh. It also features singer Sharon Bays and Blix Street favorite Maia Sharp, a singer/songwriter who has written for Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood, Cher and others. Maia Sharp is the daughter of Bays and Randy Sharp.
“It’s all loosely related to the music that came out of the San Joaquin,” Blix Street founder Bill Straw said of the new album.
Straw calls the style western as opposed to country western and it features cowboy harmonies. “There is a distinct difference between Randy’s voice and Jack’s voice,” Straw said. He calls Sharp’s voice warm and Routh’s edgy, akin to Johnny Cash. “You have the dark and the light.”
The women, who are singing in harmony as well, smooth it out, Straw said. He thinks the album “appeals to country audiences but also people who profess not to like country.”
Blix Street’s eclectic catalog began with a focus on Celtic music. But its most successful work has been nine albums featuring the late Eva Cassidy. They’ve sold more than 10 million copies since 1998.
Straw became aware of Cassidy just weeks before the singer’s death from cancer in November 1996.
“I knew from the first song she was extraordinary,” Straw said. He compares her style to Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Roberta Flack and Raitt.
“She has an instrument that is capable of those interpretations combined with an emotional depth and taste,” Straw said. “I don’t think there’s a better pop singer in our time.”
A tenth album, “The Best of Eva Cassidy,” will be released Nov. 13. It consists of 20 songs on one disc. The first track is a previously unheard performance of “You Take My Breath Away.”
Other artists on the label include Irish vocalist Mary Black and Cathy Jordan, lead singer of the Irish band Dervish.
Straw and his wife and partner, Lois Gerard, started Blix Street in 1994 and moved to Gig Harbor in 2001. Straw began his career in the legal department at Capitol Records and later worked for Warner Bros. Records and MCA Records.Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541 email@example.com