Today we’re starting a two day special in our Off the Road series with 10,000 Maniacs’ singer/violin/viola player Mary Ramsey joining HPR All Things Considered Host Dave Lawrence. Off the Road is a series of interviews with musicians remotely sharing how they’ve been touched by the pandemic and other crises.
10,000 Maniacs is a critically acclaimed alternative rock act with roots in New York State. Formed in 1981, the band only made their Hawaii debut last year, after decades of touring (hear the 2019 interview Dave Lawrence did with co-founder and keyboardist Dennis Drew). Original vocalist Natalie Merchant departed in 1993 and Mary Ramsey, already a back-up singer with the band, and part of related side-project John and Mary (with bandmate John Lombardo), has fronted the group since.
In a one hour interview performance session, Mary joined the show remotely from her home in Buffalo, New York, and spoke about the impact of the pandemic on 10,000 Maniacs, who like most touring acts, had their tour plans blown out by the virus. She also spoke about other projects being affected, her personal connections to late local Buffalo actor Joey Giambra, who lost his life to the virus, and she offered her perspective on the black lives matter / police reform crises, as well as ways she’s been dealing with the realities of the virus.
Perhaps best of all, Mary shared some special musical performances, singing and playing viola for us, including covering a song with a huge connection to both Hawaii and Buffalo, which we’ll hear tomorrow. She also performed music that is part of a new spoken word album she played on based around the work of poet William Butler Yeats with Vincent O’Neill of the Irish Classical Theatre Company.
Tomorrow we’ll conclude the radio feature and post the complete interview.
See a complete 10,000 Maniacs concert with Mary: