Kristin Hersh - guitar, vocals
Kristin Hersh's band Throwing Muses had was dissolved in 1997 due to financial strains that left them unable to raise funds for continued recording. But Hersh had been pairing solo acoustic material with the Throwing Muses' power-trio material since 1992 and she was prepared to continue as a solo artist. So six years and two LPs into her solo career, Hersh stopped through San Francisco to play a show at Noe Valley Ministry, a Victorian church that is said to be "acoustically perfect." A near 90-minute set ensued.
The bulk of the material performed comes straight off of Hersh's first two solo LPs. Strange Angles had been released about two months prior to this recording, and seven of that album's titles make it into the set. Even weightier is her debut album, Hips and Makers, which makes up six songs, plus a three-song medley. The audience is particularly excited to hear "Your Ghost," the lead-off track and only single from that record. "Your Ghost," which featured backing vocals from Michael Stipe on its studio version, continues to be a live favorite, and has been covered by The Dandy Warhols.
Hersh digs back into the Throwing Muses catalog as well. When she announces her intention to play Muses material, the audience applauds, which prompts her to say, "Don't do that I'll cry." She unearths more material than most fans would know what to do with. Some of the tracks are obvious selection: From the Muses' '96 LP Limbo (the band's last LP before their '03 self-titled reunion), Hersh cherry-picks the eager waltz "Serene"; and from '92's Red Heaven, Hersh delivers "Pearl," which has endured as a live track in her repertoire. But she also goes way back to "Delicate Cutters" from the Muses' '86 debut; and "Same Sun," which was a b-side from the 1991 single "Counting Backwards." "Soap and Water" from the experimental House Tornado rounds out the bunch.
Interestingly, the next Hersh record following this performance, Murder, Misery and Then Goodnight, was a collection of arrangements of folk songs learned from her father. In an indication that she was heading that direction she plays a song written by her father, "Uncle June and Aunt Kiyote," which she prefaces by saying, "My father did a lot of acid in the '60s." She also plays her arrangement of the traditional song "Cuckoo."
Kristin Hersh is best known as the frontwoman of Throwing Muses. The band began as a collaboration between Hersh and Tanya Donelly, stepsisters that had already become fast friends when their parents met and married. They began playing together at 14 in 1981, a collaboration that Hersh reportedly muscled her sister into.
After making a name for themselves with the single "Sinkhole" on the college radio circuit, Throwing Muses was the first American signee on the British 4AD label. (Pals and contemporaries the Pixies followed Throwing Muses through the door.)
After their third album, the critical and commercial hit The Real Ramona, cofounder Donelly left the band to better pursue her own songwriting ambitions. Although the media has often interpreted this as significant of a rift between the two, the sisters have denied it. Donelly rejoined the band for their 2003 reunion LP, Throwing Muses, and in 2007 Hersh and Donelly co-headlined a show in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Hersh's most recent full-length LP, Learn to Sing Like a Star (2007) featured original Throwing Muses drummer David Narcizo. It was well received critically. Hersh continues touring and recording as a solo artist and with power trio Fifty Foot Wave.