True Weiler

Dan Haugen

After playing hundreds of coffee shop shows across the country and selling over 10,000 copies of her three previous studio albums, local singer/songwriter Brenda Weiler will finally compliment her catalog with the release of a live record this Saturday at the Women`s Club Theatre of Minneapolis.

Weiler says touring in support of last year`s Fly Me Back got the gears turning for Live. Besides being Weiler`s first self-released records since splitting with Fargo-based Barking Dog Records, Fly Me Back was a sonic departure as well, leaving the earthier sound of her first two records behind for a bigger, more produced sound. Unlike previous efforts, Weiler chose her own producer (Alva Star`s John Hermanson) and engineer (Alex Oana).

“I really wanted to explore the songs I`d written for that album and expand them as much as I could,” Weiler said. “John Hermanson really brought a lot of different ideas into it and just totally changed the sound on a lot of songs. I just felt ready to do something a little bigger and wider.”

While Fly Me Back proved to be her best-selling and most critically acclaimed work to date, touring quickly made Weiler realize “that the songs are presented so differently in a live show than they are on that album.” She added that “the songs on my first two albums have changed so much since I recorded them, that it just kind of made sense to put them all together on one album.”

Clocking in at just under 70 minutes, Live provides a stark contrast to her last record`s production, with solo, non-orchestrated versions of songs like “Breathe” and “Noella Rae,” in addition to fresh takes on songs from her first two albums, Trickle Down and Crazy Happy. Four new, previously unreleased songs also made their way onto Live, the best of which is “Trouble,” a rolling ballad about the West. Recorded earlier this year at the 400 Bar, the song fittingly features Kid Dakota`s Darren Jackson (See Aug. 13`s “True West” on www.mndaily.com archieves) on electric guitar and backing vocals.

“I met [Jackson] about a year ago,” said Weiler. “He had just moved to town at that time, and I was recording my album, Fly Me Back. We sort of had the same circle of friends. We just kind of kept crossing paths and started hanging out. I`m a big fan of his music. I asked him to play with me at one of my shows. Now, whenever we`re both in town, I try to drag him on stage with me.”

Four of Live`s tracks came from Weiler`s 400 Bar collaboration with Jackson. The others were recorded during two shows in her hometown of Fargo, where she began writing songs about five years ago.

After playing the cello for ten years, Weiler didn`t pick up guitar until after high school. “I graduated from high school in `96,” said Weiler. “Basically, that first summer I knew I wasn`t going to go to college right away, and so I started playing guitar and just became obsessed with it. There was always something that really attracted me to singer/songwriters. I have always felt that connection, and wanted to express my own experiences in that way, too. I don`t really have a way to explain it. It just started happening. I just started writing.”

Weiler`s words mostly focus on people and relationships. Her weakness may be an occasional lack of plot, but Weiler consistently succeeds in building deep characters like the wandering “Jordan” who “never knows” or “cares where she`s going” or the “Tease” who`s “got your number down.” Live`s track listing is an excellent representation of her career thus far and could easily double as a `best of` collection.

Brenda Weiler`s Live CD release party is Saturday, September 15th at the Women`s Club Theatre of Minneapolis (410 Oak Grove St., Mpls.). Kid Dakota opens. 8 p.m. $10/12. All-Ages. Download Brenda Weiler mp3`s at www.brendaweiler.com.

Dan Haugen is The Lens Music Editor. He can be contacted at [email protected]