If you dont already know Olga, just listen to her musicand you will.
As this lithe, willowy woman settles into her guitar, the throaty voice that pours out of her takes you by surprise, transporting you to the easy rhythm of a sultry New Orleans afternoon. Gritty and honest, soulful and stirring, Olga sings about love and loss, relationships and the road ahead. Fans all over the world will tell you that Olgas songs have an undeniable authenticity to them, stemming from inspiration drawn from her own lifea journey steeped in music, and the blues. Olga spent years honing her sound in the hill country of northern Mississippi, with friends and mentors like Los Lobos (her favorite band, and people!) and blues legend Jessie Mae Hemphill helping shape her musical trajectory.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Olga was classically trained in music as a child. Her parents, who moved stateside from Innsbruck, Austria, encouraged her as she began writing songs on the piano at the age of five. In high school, Jimi Hendrix provided her first taste of the blues.
I began music very early, and started writing songs very young, she recalls. I got into the business side of things through a chance meeting with a record archivist at a Grateful Dead show in my late teens. He introduced me to Los Lobos and Maria Muldaur, and I apprenticed with Maria soon thereafter. Los Lobos adopted me, and let me hang out and observe how they did things. I often sat on the stage during their shows.
The guitar she received for Christmas in her early twenties sealed her fate. By that time she was living in Colorado and working as a radio disk-jockey. It was during this period that she discovered Jessie Mae Hemphills records.
At that point, I knew I had to move south, as my real journey was only beginning, Olga remembers.
New Orleans and, later, Mississippi, offered the rich musical climate she craved. Olga looked up Jessie Mae Hemphill in Mississippi, and paid her a visit. The two artists soon discovered, among other things, that they shared the same birthday. Jessie Mae and I immediately felt a kinship for one another when we met, she says. She told me that first day that she thought Jesus sent me to her.
While Olgas been likened to greats such as Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin, and Sheryl Crow, the truth is shes carved out a sound thats entirely her own. Her current album, It Comes and It Goes, has an upbeat pop flavor, with bluesy undertones. The songs on this album are rooted in the truth as I know it in my life, rooted in the blues, Olga explains, but we changed the sound, so a broader audience can experience themhopefully in a positive way.
The drums were a key component in shaping the sound of It Comes and It Goesa record about leaving the past behind and starting over. Olga asked her friend Cody Dickinson, drummer for the Grammy-nominated North Mississippi Allstars, to lay down the drums for her. Dickinson, also an accomplished guitar and bass player, songwriter, and producer, agreedand soon took over the lions share of the instrumentation, which he paired with Olgas melodies and lyrics. Producer and engineer Winn McElroy took everything and made it sound good! Olga laughs. It Comes and It Goes was recorded at Black Wings Studio in Water Valley, Mississippi.
This record has been a process of finding my soul again, and reminding myself of what I need to do with my life, she says. It really took on a life of its own, quite naturally and unexpectedly, and Im thrilled with where it has led me.
Olga has three previous albums under her belt: Now Is The Time, Kiss Your Blues Away, and Blues Babe. All three albums elicited overwhelmingly positive reviews. Olga has shared the stage with talent such as Chris Isaak, DJ Logic, Johnny Neel of the Allman Brothers, Coco Robicheaux, Robert Randolph, Los Lobos, North Mississippi Allstars, Papa Mali, JJ Grey & Mofro, Hobex, Jimbo Mathus, Maria Muldaur, The Lee Boys, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Jim Dickinson, and Matt Abts of Gov’t Mule. Olga has also performed with the Papa Leg Acoustic Duo in Italy for the past three years. When shes not performing, Olga juggles a host of other endeavors. She participated in a Martin Scorsese documentary on the blues, co-produced Jessie Mae Hemphills album Dare You To Do It Again, along with a film about Jessie Mae, who passed away in 2006. Additionally, Olga co-engineered Elvis Costello’s Grammy nominated song, “Monkey to Man,” in 2005. She founded the Jessie Mae Hemphill Foundation in 2003, whose mission is to honor Jessie Maes memory by archiving music indigenous to the northern Mississippi region, as a means of preserving it for future generations. Any free time Olga can nail down is devoted to making repairs to her familys New Orleans home, which was damaged in Hurricane Katrina. Olgas music continues to evolve and push her to new creative heights, but always with a Southern twist, a veritable tip-of-the-hat to her blues roots.
Music has been a journey for me, one that I continue to learn from, she says. I have been blessed to experience many things throughout my life, often with intensity. You have to take the good with the bad, and then learn to just let it all go.
And as she begins to sing, you just cant help but groove to her beat.
Original Woodstock co-organizer Michael Lang said Woodstock 2019 is happening next summer in honor of the legendary festival’s 50th anniversary.
Jamgrass act Greensky Bluegrass unveiled “All For Money,” the title track from their forthcoming seventh studio album.
Guitarist Billy Strings told “Tour Stories” and Ron Artis II went “Reelin’ In The Years” for Episode 25 of ‘The JamBase Podcast.’
Ticketmaster’s 2018 Holiday Deals include 2-For-1 Tickets, Me+3 4-Packs and $40 Below for select concerts from Tedeschi Trucks Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Gov’t Mule and many others.
Dark Star Jubilee’s initial 2019 lineup features three nights of Dark Star Orchestra as well as performances from the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Lukas Neslon & Promise Of The Real and more.