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The Buzz: Bill Deasy took a quiet approach in creating his solo album

Wednesday, December 08, 1999

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For a while, Bill Deasy was thinking of cutting a live release with the Gathering Field, but it seemed like every other band in town -- or specifically, Nick's Fat City's Rolodex -- was doing that.

And then, one night, he was putting his son to bed, quietly playing guitar in the dark and singing the way you would sing with a kid you were putting to bed in the room.

"And my wife said, 'Man, that sounds good. You should do something like that.' "

It got him to thinking, he says. And once he decided to do it, he started writing new songs and sorting through old songs the Gathering Field had rejected -- without necessarily knowing.

He's sensitive that way.

"If I bring a song to the band and it doesn't light up the room the first time they hear it and try to play along with it," he says, "a lot of times, I'll just take it away. But I sort of gauge it by if I pick up a guitar, like, six months after I wrote it and still have the urge to play it every now and then. That, to me, shows that it's probably worthwhile.

"So this is just a collection of some brand new songs and some other songs that just kind of wouldn't go away and that I felt were good enough to at least record, you know, to document in some way."

Enlisting the aid of his long-running partner-in-crime in the Gathering Field, guitarist/producer Dave Brown, he set out to record "Spring Lies Waiting," an album he calls "a pretty modest exercise for me to spread my wings a little bit."

It's a quieter album than people have probably come to expect from the Gathering Field -- but no more quiet, as it turns out, than the quieter moments of "Lost in America" or "Reliance." In fact, there's not much here to suggest that he couldn't have cut these songs with the Gathering Field.

"The only difference, I guess, is that this is a little more bare," he says. "And it might seem a little more vulnerable for that reason. But really, all the other records are that way, too. There's just more music around it."

Deasy likes the quiet moments.

"Even touring with the band," he says, "we're in bars -- we always play bars -- and a lot of times, especially lately, I'll just feel like, 'Man, I wish we could just do something acoustic and really bring it down to nothing.' "

A few of the songs on "Spring Lies Waiting" were written in France at a songwriting seminar held in a castle. The opening cut, "So It Goes," was recorded there with Kim Richey, who co-wrote the song and released her own recording of it earlier this year.

The Gathering Field has recorded a version as well.

"We recorded a couple new Gathering Field songs a few months ago," he says, "at the studio where we did 'Lost in America' and 'Reliance,' with the idea, I guess, of it being a demo to send to some labels that had gotten a little bit interested from 'Reliance' but not enough to sign us. So I think the stuff we did there will end up on our next record."

"So It Goes" is the first of many songs on "Spring Lies Waiting" that deal in relationships falling apart, but Deasy says you shouldn't read a whole lot of personal meaning into that.

"I'm probably in every single song I've ever written," he says. "So there's definitely some element of me in all the stuff. But really, the only two truly personal songs, to me, are the last two songs on the record. And all the other songs, I'm kind of hiding behind stories and revealing parts of myself. I hardly ever write a song that's "this is how I feel, I'm going to sing it to you.' But those two songs hit home for me. And those are more hopeful, I think."

The final cut finds Deasy singing, "Of all the choices I have made that I'd change if I could do again/Loving you is still not one of them."

It's a song about aging, really.

"It's harder as you get older with more pressures on you," he says. "That song is about life as an aging musician who's married and has a child. It gets hard to hold on to dreams that don't pay the bills."

Other songs were written more because they seemed like good ideas at the time.

"A lot of times," he says, "if I start writing a song and it seems to have some real merit to it, I feel, like, an obligation to finish it no matter what. And probably the songs on this record that people might take the most personal...

"There's a song called 'Even Though.' It's just piano and it seems, like, really just in-your-face personal, but it's completely not. It took me an hour to write the song. And it's not about me. It's just a song I wrote that really doesn't move me. Listening to it now, with the trumpet and everything, it gets to me a little bit but not in the sense of 'Man, that reveals so much about me.' "

And the song about the guy whose girl goes out to buy them cigarettes and pulls a disappearing act the likes of which we haven't seen since "Hungry Heart?" Is that about Deasy?


"That wasn't me," he says. "I don't smoke cigarettes."

He'll celebrate the release of his solo debut tonight and tomorrow at Club Cafe. Both shows begin at 8 p.m.

-- Ed Masley,
Post-Gazette Pop Music Critic


Alby Oxenreiter and WPGH have agreed on a new contract that will keep the sports anchor at the station for another three years.

But weekend weathercaster Karen Eden won't be at WPGH beyond January. The station chose not to renew her contract. Reporter Allison Haunss will depart soon as well.

Anchor John Huck, who couldn't come to terms with the station on a new contract, will make his final on-air appearance Dec. 22. Station executives have not yet selected a replacement.

-- Rob Owen,
Post-Gazette TV Editor


If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That's exactly what Pittsburgh mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich has done, earning another shot at making the final cut of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York City. She did so by claiming first prize last weekend at the National Council's Great Lakes Regional Auditions, held at Carlow College's Antonian Theatre.

The National Council will give Aldrich $800 and a trip to New York City to participate in the audition finals. This is the 26-year-old's second attempt to make the final cut of 10 singers, who receive $10,000 and also perform in a concert March 5 on the Met stage. She won that opportunity last year by winning the regional competition, but didn't make it past the semifinal round of 25 singers.

The other award-winners were: second place, Denise Knowlton, a 31-year-old mezzo-soprano from Cleveland; and third place, Cheryl Evans, a 31-year-old soprano from Pittsburgh.

-- Andrew Druckenbrod,
Post-Gazette Music Writer

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