PEGI YOUNG: "YOU'VE JUST GOT TO GIVE BACK."
by Jason Gonulsen, SpeakersInCode, May 21, 2013

I'm inside Pegi Young's tour bus.

For a while, it's just me and Pegi, sitting next to a lone open window. It's mostly dark, and the only sounds are our voices. Until, that is, when two members of her band walk in and join us for a few minutes.

First comes Spooner Oldham, who is famous for recording in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, on songs such as "Mustang Sally" and "When A Man Loves A Woman." He also played on Neil Young's Harvest Moon. Oldham now plays piano and the Hammond B3 in Pegi Young's band, The Survivors.

I say hello to Spooner, and he looks at me -- almost through me -- with eyes that are heavy and old.

"It's nice to meet you," he says.

"Likewise," I respond.

Later walks in Rick Rosas, who I last saw at Bonnaroo in 2011, when he was playing as a bassist with the reformed and reunited Buffalo Springfield.

"The Bonnaroo show was a thrill," I tell him. "What a memory."

"Thank you so much," Rosas responds. "What a great time that was."

Pegi looks at me and says, "I've got an amazing band." We talk about them for a bit.

"I've known Rick and Spooner the longest," she explains. "I've known Rick since back in the 80's. Spooner and I were trying to remember when we met, but it might have been around the International Harvesters time. He worked with Neil on Comes a Time, but I was not there -- Neil and I had met, but we were not together yet. But he's just a genius. And I've gotten to be in other bands with him -- Neil's bands -- the Friends and Relatives tour. That was a great tour -- Duck Dunn on bass, Jimmy Keltner on drums."

Legendary names float in and out of our conversation. This is the life that Pegi Young lives.

I ask her about her last time in St. Louis, in 2007, when she opened for her husband, Neil, at the Fox Theatre.

"That was a beautiful theater, I remember that," she says. "It was just gorgeous. I'm not sure where we are in St. Louis right now. I saw a big sign down there called 'The Grove.'"

Pegi continues to talk about her band, which once included the late Ben Keith, who, as you may know, first played with Neil Young on Harvest in 1972.

"You know, we lost Ben," she says, looking out the window with a long stare. "His style of playing was so unique -- I haven't tried any pedal steel player since. We've got one song in the new batch (for a new album) that is probably going to want pedal steel, so I might venture back into that territory. We miss Ben as a human being, as an incredible musician -- he could play anything. And we was just a dear friend."

I mention to Pegi that her husband once said that were some songs that he would never play live again, because he would never try to replace Ben Keith.

She looks me in the eye.

"Yeah. Yeah...and I have the same situation," Pegi responds. "I, of course, don't have anywhere near the catalog Neil has, but there are certain songs that the steel is so integral, like "Hickory Wind." I didn't write that -- it was a Gram Parsons song -- but without the steel...I can't do it or "Key to Love." I wrote "Key To Love" when I was like 20, and who would have dreamed I would have the great Ben Keith play that incredible part on it."

The Survivors' current touring lineup includes a new guitar player, Kelvin Holly, who played with Little Richard for fifteen years, and drummer Phil Jones. Bracing for Impact is the name of their latest album.

"When we get done with this run, we're going to go back to the studio," Pegi says. "We've been traveling a lot, and sleeping a lot on the bus."

Again, she stares out the window.

"I've been on the road for most of my adult life, so it's very natural," Pegi continues. "And we all live on the same bus, which is a little different when I'm traveling with Neil, and then it's our bus and it's comfortable -- it's our family bus. But this bus, I've got the back lounge, which has been converted to Princess Pegi world."

I change the subject to her earlier days, when she was 20 and living in a teepee.

"Card-carrying hippie," she says with a laugh. "I don't have a teepee currently. Although, since I've been living on the ranch in California with Neil, which has been 35 years now, we did have a teepee set up on the lower lawn for a while."

We both laugh. I then ask her if she read Neil's autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace, which was released last summer.

"Oh yeah, I was an editor," she explains. "I made sure he spelled names right, and ran through sequence of events. His life's been so full, sometimes he gets things mixed up. But as far as content or anything like that, that's not my job."

"Would you ever write a book? You've led an interesting life," I tell her.

"Yeah, I would probably write a book eventually," she says. "I have had an interesting life, you're right. Both before I married Neil and since."

Bracing for Impact features "I Don't Want To Talk About It," a cover by the late Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, who was the subject of Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done."

"I did not know Danny," Pegi says. "He had passed before I was in the picture. But, he wrote a beautiful song, and I love that song. When I do a cover, it's really important to me that I can get inside the song, so you're not just singing it without meaning it. And then you try to do it justice to the writer, and in this case, his memory."

Pegi Young did not release her first album until 2007. I ask why she waited.

"I was just way too shy," she says. "Way too shy."

"But now you're on Letterman," I quip.

"Yeah, shoot," she says, eyes getting big. "I've gotten over it, apparently."

We both laugh for a few seconds, until our conversation turns to the Bridge School, which she co-founded in 1986. The Bridge School, explained on its website, is "a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that individuals with severe speech and physical impairments achieve full participation in their communities through the use of augmentative & alternative means of communication and assistive technology applications and through the development, implementation and dissemination of innovative life-long educational strategies."

"I'm not hands on day-to-day anymore, but I'm on the phone and email with our Executive Director all the time," Pegi explains. "So, much of what I envisioned originally was making this have a global impact, because it's not just kids that can get to Hillsboro, California, to benefit from what we're doing there. The school is transitionary by design, so the kids stay with us for a period of time before they transition back into their home school districts. And we follow them, and we work with the receiving teams. Participation through communication."

We switch back to her music, which now consists of three albums, largely of original material. I ask about the one she's about to record, and if she is as passionate about analog as her husband.

"Obviously, I get very heavily influenced by living with the King of Analog," she says, laughing. "But, yeah, I am. I just had an interesting conversation with an engineer yesterday who we're thinking of working with, and he was all about digital. And I was like, "What? We have to roll tape!"

We talk more about the King of Analog, Neil Young.

"I've been lucky to be in a lot of his bands, and now he's in Crazy Horse, so, obviously, they don't need anyone else right now," she says. "Neil and I talk every day. He's super happy playing with the Horse right now."

"We're really normal," she continues. "I'm in my garden. He's playing with his model trains. You know, I cook dinner. We live a very normal life, really, with very extraordinary moments mixed in."

I ask about those extraordinary moments, and her overall outlook on life.

"It's really simple, Jason," Pegi says. "You've just got to give back."

Amen.


PEGI YOUNG: THE TVD INTERVIEW
by Jennifer Carney, The Vinyl District, MARCH 21, 2013

Could you dismiss Pegi Young as having a charmed musical life? I suppose so.

But Young's third LP, Bracing For Impact, is an album from a woman who's long past her first tentative steps out into the musical world. Her music is as confident as it is introspective, and Young's skillful songwriting makes the listener wonder which songs are really tongue-in-cheek, because they all reach deeper. The transitions are seamless, and even the three songs not penned by Pegi Young (including one by her husband, Neil) fit in perfectly with the theme of survival with a smile.

Ghosts abound--from the beautiful pedal steel of the late Ben Keith, to a sad song of Danny Whitten's, to the playful spirit of her departed dog, Carl. And still Impact is unflagging in its storytelling, embracing the tragedy and the unintentional comedy alike. It's just life, after all. However charmed it might seem for some, there's always another shoe waiting to drop. But we move on, we create, we laugh through the anguish and stress. Pegi Young puts it all into perspective beautifully with Bracing for Impact.

Pegi and her band of legendary musicians, The Survivors, embark on a tour today (March 21) that will include dates with Willie Nelson and an appearance on Late Show with David Letterman. As I quickly discovered in our conversation, Pegi Young is herself the archetypal musician: she loves touring, loves collaborating, and loves her vinyl.

Bracing For Impact has lots of different musical elements--rock, Dixieland stuff--and maybe more blues and R&B than your previous records. Are these some of your favorite genres, or did the songs just work out the way they did?

I mean, kind of "yes" to all the above. When we brought in Kelvin Holly as lead guitar player in the band after Anthony Crawford left, he had fifteen years of experience playing with Little Richard, so y'know, he's a solidly R&B guy. And, of course, with Spooner Oldham in the band, we also got the great Muscle Shoals sound. So, the songs ended up kind of lending themselves to that sound.

I think the Dixieland band sound you're referring to was on "Trouble in a Bottle" and that was our drummer Phil Jones' idea. We were recording in LA and he had a horn section down there that he knew... we just sort of heard that. And that was an older song, but we re-worked it a little bit, gave it a different tempo. We recorded it a different way back with the other band before Ben Keith passed away and Anthony Crawford left the band, so we kind of perked it up and then it sort of lent itself to the Dixieland band sound. A lot of it was kind of a collaborative effort when we were in there recording, just thinking, "What would sound cool here?"

It seems like you surround yourself with collaborators and supporters who are like family. Why is this so important to you?

Well, most of the guys in the band... well, all of the musicians that I started with were all guys I'd known for twenty, thirty years because they'd worked with my husband and we'd just gotten to know each other over time. There are two relative newcomers to this band, but having said that, I've been working with them now for a few years. So, when I first went into the studio for my first record, I think it's safe to say I was really terrified and intimidated! [Laughs] And working up my new songs--my new old songs at that time--stepping out from being a background singer to a lead singer was a big leap for me. So, it was really important that I feel safe.

Do you ever find that you doubt yourself now? Do you ever feel unworthy? I know for many artists doubt can creep in even when they're doing well.

Well, you know I think that yeah, there's probably some, "Ooo, is this song really any good, or am I just thinking it's great and everyone else will go, 'Whaaaat?!'" [Laughs]

We just rehearsed for a week last week and I have four new originals and two covers that we worked up. And we've also been playing on the road a song that we recorded for Bracing For Impact, but didn't end up putting it on the record, and then another one that I wrote kind of along the way.

I guess I just get so much affirmation from the band that this time they really were very positive about the songs. And the one that we kind of never quite got for the first record, it's a wonderful Jerry Ragovoy tune called, "Don't Let Me Be Lonely." We were working on it, trying to replicate what the first one sounded like, when all of a sudden Rick Rosas--the bass player--just started doing this Motown kind of lick on the bass and we all just jumped in and went for it. It was like, "Oh, yeah! Now this song's coming to life! This is cool."

That's awesome. It sounds like being on the road inspires you to write and to co-create.

Well, you know a lot of these songs... gosh, let me think, now. We were scheduled to be on the road opening for 10,000 Maniacs and we were all geared up to go, and the lead guitar player in that band had to have emergency back surgery. So, our tour got cancelled, but sort of at the same time I was writing. I'm really grateful that we had this week to just rehearse--to just get together and play, and work out songs--because in the past what we've done is pretty much get together prior to a tour and we have one to maybe three days of rehearsal. We needed the time to really suss these ones out.

You've opened for Willie Nelson, Stephen Stills, John Mayall and quite a few other notable musicians. Now you'll be opening for Willie again for some shows. Do you find that inspiring, or is it really more that you have your own stuff kind of brewing in your mind?

Oh, it's totally inspiring, my gosh--those guys are legends--all of them. Stephen's a really good friend of the family, of course, and Willie too, for that matter--although a little different than Stephen because Neil and Stephen go back so far. But Willie is so gracious and so welcoming, and his band and his crew are just great, great people. And that one show we did with John Mayall was just kind of mind-blowing to me because I was a teenager when I was first listening to the Bluesbreakers and stuff. I was like, "I can't believe this! I'm actually opening for John Mayall!" Who would've thunk it when I was sixteen years old?

He really is an amazing performer. I saw him at the Eureka Springs Blues Festival probably a decade ago and he killed it.

He's just great! And he was just a very wonderful gentleman. The bass player in his band is really good friends with Rick, the bass player in our band. So far, everybody that we've opened for has just been super welcoming and supportive and I couldn't ask for it to go any better.

I wanted to talk about a couple of the songs on Bracing For Impact, firstly "Daddy Married Satan" which, although I know it's tongue-in-cheek, I found myself wondering if you knew my father's second wife...

[Laughs]

And I know everybody's pulling out "No Heart Beat Sounds," but I think it's for good reason. The whole theme of, "once you start to relax, you'll get blindsided." I understand it was written when tragedies were sort of piling up in your life, but you don't strike me as someone who really thinks this way, so I'd love to hear more about this song in particular.

Well, that song is an interesting one because the first thing that came to me was the melody. I worked that out on the piano when we were over in Hawaii. Then our son became very ill and was in the hospital over there, so I was fishing around for the lyrics. Then he got better, so it was really gonna end up on this great, cheerful note and then a really close friend of our family died very suddenly--within a matter of weeks after we felt like we were out of woods and out of the sludge of just trying to hold on and make sure our son was going to be okay. So, then it kind of went a whole different direction and it turned out to be... it is kind of a sad song. I can't sing it without thinking of my buddy.

It does seem like tragedies kind of come in threes almost--like a bunch will happen at once.

Yeah, they do kind of seem to come in threes. That was a difficult time, that whole year, really--2010 was... we were like, "Oh, boy! We're out of 2009! Phew! Great! We're leaving that behind us." And then 2010 was a tough year, too. Really tough.

You know, I've read other interviews with you and it seems like the focus inevitably shifts to your husband or to your philanthropic work with the Bridge School. Does that bother you at all? When you do interviews like this, are there other things you wish the focus was on?

Well, you know, I think it's quite natural that people will bring up my husband. He's obviously such a well-established musician; he's had such an incredible career and body of work. And we've been married thirty-five years, so that's never unexpected. And then I love talking about the Bridge School. I'm really proud of my association with the Bridge School. We're in our twenty-sixth year and it's grown from a small... well, it never was a small vision; it was a small school with a big vision! We're actually starting to really realize that vision in ways that I may not have even dreamed possible.

The Bridge School Benefit Concerts are always amazing, especially with the way the musicians interact with the kids on stage.

Well, I think the kids really set the atmosphere for it to be the unique concert that it is. Having the kids right there, the families, the staff, the artists. We always host a barbecue up here on Friday night for all the artists so everybody can get to know each other if they don't already, and our son lives with us, so they can get to understand a little bit more about what this event is all about, and what the funds raised will go towards.

And by the end of the weekend, shoot, the kids are doing interviews with the artists and the artists are really beginning to get a much better understanding of the nuances of what's going on with these kids. They're very much like any normal, able-bodied kid--they're just living in different bodies, but they've got a sense of humor, and their comments, and their personalities. By the end of the weekend, friendships have been formed. For example, Eddie Vedder has been playing the show--second to my husband--he's played it the most often. During that time period, he had kids and his kids are becoming friends with the Bridge School kids. He's already friends with some of the founding students who are now in their mid-thirties and even early forties, believe it or not.

When I was on tour with Everest, I got to meet your son and see first-hand how the Bridge School has impacted his life. It was awesome seeing the guys interact with him as well, as I know they've participated in the Bridge School Benefit, too.

The Everest guys are just terrific. And our crew--many of them have known Ben since he was born, he's just very accepted out there. He's been on the road since he was about--I don't know--three, four, five weeks old? [Laughs] Well, even in utero he was on the road, for that matter! [Laughs]

You recorded Bracing For Impact and your previous albums in analog as opposed to digital. Was that an important decision for you?

Well, you know it was kind of a natural decision. The first records we recorded here at the ranch. My husband's got a world-class studio here and it was all set up for analog recording. He's well-known for being a huge proponent of analog. Then the last record we did in LA [at the Sound Factory], but we really searched out a studio that still ran tape.

You get a warm sound, you get the room sound, you get the imperfections. It's not fixing everything so it comes out sounding perfect--it's got a lot of the human quality to it. I'm kind of big on vinyl.

So, you have your own collection, I'm assuming?

Oh, gosh, I do! I couldn't even believe it! I was just looking back through... what was I looking for? Something sparked a memory for me of an early, early Fleetwood Mac record called Future Games. This is prior to Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joining the band. And Christine McVie is one of my favorites--I think she's just fabulous. She is just awesome! So, I listened to a couple of her tunes and I thought about trying some covers, but we have so much other material that we haven't gotten to it yet. But she's got one song on there, "Show Me A Smile" and it's just... so sweet. It sounds like to me, and I don't know her at all, but it sounds like she's singing to her little son or something. It's just a beautiful song, so maybe one day we'll get to it.

But yeah, I pulled out The Joy of Cooking record [Laughs] from back in the late '60s for my first record and reworked, "Sometimes Like a River". It's amazing to me that these vinyl records have stayed with me all these years because I used to move around a lot. But, anyway, they're here. And Neil's got a huge Jimmy Reed collection; we've got quite a mix downstairs where I keep them all with our turntable. [Laughs]

I have to ask--what turntable do you use?

Oh, gosh... it's a BNL, I think! I'm pretty sure.

I know we're running up on time, here, but is there anything else that you'd like to talk about?

Well, we are going to playing a lot of our new songs out there. In fact, I'm going over to the studio today to do a little vocal overdubbing. But we've got the songs worked out, and the band's going to rehearse next week in Washington before we start off. We're doing a taping for Letterman on the 26th, but I'm not quite sure when it's airing. I don't think it's airing the same day. That's super exciting! I've done Conan and Jimmy Fallon a couple of times each, but now we're moving into the 11:30 time slot! [Laughs] We're movin' up!


AT 60, PEGI YOUNG IS JUST TUNING UP
by Jon Ferguson, Lancaster Online, March 17, 2013

Pegi Young's debut as a professional musician came in the mid-1990s, when she performed at the Academy Awards.

She sang backup on a song called "Philadelphia," which had been written for a film of the same name and was subsequently nominated for best original song. (Bruce Springsteen won for "Streets of Philadelphia.")

Those kinds of things can happen when you're married to the song's composer, Neil Young.

Using that experience as the tiniest of foundations, Pegi Young slowly started to build a music career, something she had aspired to when she was in her 20s but had put aside when she got married and raised a family.

First she joined her husband's band as a backup singer and went on tour with him in 2000. Then she started to pick up the pieces of songs she had started decades ago and finished them.

Next she made use of the studio in their California home at the Broken Arrow Ranch and recorded them. Finally, she released her debut album in 2007, put together a band and hit the road to promote it.

"Music came back into my life," Young, 60, says during a telephone interview from the ranch. "Little by little, my confidence built up. I was pretty shy about going out there, especially putting my songs out there, because it exposes you a little bit more. Once I got started, though, well I haven't stopped yet."

Young, who will perform with her band, the Survivors, at the Chameleon Club on Friday night, is now the owner of a blossoming career.

She has released three albums of mostly original material and the third, "Bracing for Impact" (2011), is the best yet.

The music is a stew of expertly played rock, blues, soul and country that showcases her weary, evocative vocals. Her melancholic songs tend to skew toward the dark side of things.

"They're not strictly autobiographical," Young says of her songs, "but I think there are kernels of our own life experience in them. I'm actually pretty easygoing. I like to have a good time. I seem to be a pretty happy person, but I think we all have what I like to call our 'inside' voice and our 'outside' voice. I think we all have the dark places we go to."

She also has a knack for choosing covers. "Bracing for Impact" includes a novelty song called "Doghouse" that was written by her husband, who also contributes some guitar, harmonica and background singing to the album.

Young also turns in a gorgeous rendition of "I Don't Want to Talk About It," a song by the late Danny Whitten, an original member of Crazy Horse who was one of the inspirations behind Neil Young's harrowing 1975 album "Tonight's the Night."

"The only version I listened to was the Crazy Horse version," she says. "I know other people have covered it, but I just wanted to go back to the source."

As the wife of one of rock music's most iconic figures, Young realizes she had advantages that other musicians who are starting careers just don't have available to them. She makes no apologies for that. After all, there aren't many musicians who try to launch careers when they're already in their 50s.

"I can't separate myself from my husband of 35 years," she says. "I can't do that. Obviously, I had access to these great musicians that I've met over the years, from walking through this life together. I had a studio and a record label. The resources clearly are there.

"And I'm not a young up-and-comer. I'm more than a middle-aged woman, so getting these opportunities are huge for me."

Young -- who performed at Farm Aid, which her husband helped found, in Hershey in September -- will bring a powerhouse band to the Chameleon. It includes Spooner Oldham on piano, Rick Rosas on bass, Kevin Holly on guitar and drummer Phil Jones. The late steel guitarist Ben Keith also played in her band before he died in 2010.

"I've known all these guys for years because they've worked with my husband so much," she says. "They were there to support me when I started and was really insecure and wondering if I can even do this. We just got to be such a unit, and everybody has a good time and they like the songs and they play the heck out of them."

Young says she and her husband don't write songs together and they don't bounce musical ideas off each other. Music, however, is a constant in their house.

"We kind of both do our thing individually," she says. "I'll hear him playing something in the house -- on piano usually, sometimes on the guitar -- but I wait till he's done and go, 'God, what a beautiful melody that is.'"

She says he has helped her out at times with a chord or two when she's stuck on a song and can't figure out how to make the transition from one part to another.

And she worked as her husband's de facto editor when he was writing his book, "Waging Heavy Peace," which was released in the fall. She says she didn't rearrange content but mostly made sure he got dates right and had everybody's names spelled correctly.

Young says her husband is in the middle of a second book, and she's also keeping an editor's eye on that one.

"He's a very prolific writer, and he's got so many memories," she says. "It's fascinating to read all this stuff. I don't think we're even up to where we've met yet. I mean, god, he had a really super-cool life before we met."

The Youngs share their home with their son, Ben. (They also have a daughter, Amber, a talented artist.)

Ben has cerebral palsy, and the Youngs have dedicated much of their life together to helping him and children like him lead full, productive lives. Together they founded the Bridge School, which uses innovative approaches to educate children with severe speech and physical impairments.

They fund the school through benefit concerts that consistently attract the best musicians in the world. For years, Pegi Young served as the school's "very hands-on" executive director.

"I didn't have any experience running a school," she says. "I was just a parent on a mission."

She is no longer the executive director but continues to serve on its board of directors. She believes she accomplished her mission, and taking a step back from the school has given her the time to pursue a music career.

"Ben is doing great," she says. "He is fantastic. He's 34 now. He's actually just getting ready to leave the house here. He goes down across the hill, as we call it here. He's got an office there. He's got a very active social life. He was just up skiing a couple weekends ago. He's doing great. He's doing great. I couldn't be happier with his health and his life situation."

Before the interview ends, Pegi Young is asked if she's ever considered writing her own book.

She pauses and says, "I've had a pretty interesting life, too, both before I married Neil and since. Yeah, I probably have a story in me."


PEGI YOUNG AT CLUB CAFÉ, PITTSBURGH, PA 9/25/12
by Michael Rampa, American Songwriter, September 27, 2012

The crowd at Pittsburgh's Club Café that showed up to see Pegi Young and the Survivors Tuesday night did not come because the bandleader is Neil 's wife. The band's third album, Bracing For Impact, is proving to be its breakthrough. Cross format airplay and brisk sales have carved out an identity distinctly separate from her iconic husband. Somehow, the band managed to pack the energy of an arena sized show into a 1,000 square foot venue.

Highlights included a soulful rendition of "I Don't Want To Talk About It," (penned by former Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten) and the monster jams on "Trouble" and "Blue Sunday". The band boasts Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Spooner Oldham on keyboard, but the clear standout is its newest member, guitarist Kevin Holly. His touch on the Telecaster ranges from weepy and soulful to fretblazing blues rock.

The show had a humorous moment where the bus driver was brought onstage for the cover of "Dog House," an outtake penned by her famous husband. Young rocked a cowbell reminiscent of Will Ferrell's hilarious skit.

She has been married to Neil for 34 years and has sung in many of his bands. Judging from the crowd's reaction, her emergence into the spotlight is most welcome.


Pegi Young & the Survivors
The Hamilton, Washington, D.C. April 7

PEGI YOUNG & THE SURVIVORS IN WASHINGTON
by Nancy Dunham, Relix, April 17, 2012

Pegi Young rarely covers songs by a certain artist, but on this night she couldn't resist.

"I don't usually do ones my husband wrote," said Young, referring to Mr. Neil Young. "But this one was screaming to be done. Screaming."

With that Young and her band -rock royalty one and all - launched into a blazing hot version of 'Fuckin' Up.'

Pegi Young may consider herself something of an upstart compared to her much-lauded spouse of more than three decades, but her vibe was all confidence and cool as she bounded about the stage during the 11- song set and three-song encore of mostly original material.

At various times during the show she traded licks with lead guitarist Kelvin Holly and bassist Rick Rosas, pounded out a beat on a wood block with an extra stick from drummer Phil Jones, and played a second set of keyboards in accompaniment with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Spooner Oldham. What made the show exceptional, though, was the musical breadth Young and her band the Survivors - supplemented by multi-instrumentalist Larry Cragg on saxophone, harmonica, and more - displayed as they moved from alt-country to blues, to soul to hard-pounding rock.

Of course, that's a reflection of Young's songwriting. The first three songs in the set were the first three songs on her November 2011 release "Bracing for Impact:" the alt-country "Flatline Mama," the blues weary "Med Line," and the stand-out soul-infused "Trouble in a Bottle."

Other than offering basic commentary about these and the other songs they performed, Young let the music tell her audience all it needed to know.

Little wonder the band left the stage to a standing ovation that lasted well after the last notes faded.


PEGI YOUNG INTERVIEW by Arthur Kade
at The Iron Horse in Northhampton, Mass.

Click here to watch the interview.


PEGI YOUNG FINDS HER OWN TUNE WITHOUT NEIL
by Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail, April 08, 2012

Pegi Young, the wife of the iconic musician Neil Young, is perhaps best known for co-founding in 1986 the Bridge School, a facility for children with severe physical and speech impairments (such as their son, Ben, a former student, who was born with cerebral palsy and is now 33).

But in 2007, she launched a belated musical career that so far has seen the release of three albums, including last year's Bracing For Impact.

The singer-songwriter spoke recently from a tour bus that takes her and her band the Survivors to Montreal's L'Astral (April 13) and Toronto's Great Hall (April 14).

Despite your three albums, do you think that some of the people who come to see you do so because of your well-known husband?

I'm sure there's some curiosity. It's quite natural that people would wonder what I do. Neil is so well known, and has had such a varied career in terms of his musical stylings. But I make my own music.

Some of the members of your band have connections with Neil. How would you describe your music?

Well, Spooner Oldham is on keys. Kevin Holly is our lead guitar player. They're both from Alabama, and have deep roots in the Muscle Shoals world. So, there's an undercurrent of R&B there. I've started playing some electric guitar now, so we've got some rockers. I think it's just good solid R&B and rock kind of music.

Does the name of your band, the Survivors, have anything to do with the death in 2010 of your original pedal-steel player, Ben Keith?

In the aftermath of his very unexpected, sudden passing, our name was born. Around the same time, our original guitar player Anthony Crawford left to do some stuff with his wife. So Rick and Phil and Spooner and I became the Survivors. We miss Ben. He was my go-to guy - my anchor.

Literally irreplaceable, given that you don't tour with a pedal-steel player any longer.

That's right. His playing was so unique. There are certain songs we don't do any longer, but that's okay. Life goes on, and we just go on in a little different direction.

You and your band opened up for Stephen Stills last year. I thought perhaps your band's name came about as a result of surviving that tour.

No. [Laughs]. He couldn't have been nicer. He was gracious and completely welcoming. He invited me on stage to sing Neil's Long May You Run. He's like my brother, or, I guess, my brother-in-law, because he's like Neil's brother.

You once said that the fact that your marriage with Neil had lasted as long as it had, which was going on 30 years at the time, was amazing. Did you mean amazing as in fantastic, or amazing as in unexpected?

It's both. Divorce is not uncommon. So for us to have been married so long and be in the entertainment industry, you have to calculate it in dog years. But, you know, it's amazing in both ways. We get along really well. We love and respect each other. We like each other. We have fun together. And now we're going on 34 years.

That's more than 200 years in dog years.

You're right. [Laughs] That is amazing.

Have you ever written a song about him, or to him?

You take inspiration from a lot of places. But I live with him. I'm inspired by him everyday. Is he a character in a story or poem that I've written? No, it's more abstract than that. At least it is in my writing, and I believe it is in his as well.

The both of you are so busy and productive, musically and otherwise. It sounds like you're not so much surviving as thriving. Would you agree with that?

Sure would. It's works for me. The Thriving Survivors, yeah. We're not just taking up space on the planet. We're trying to make a difference.


PEGI YOUNG HARVESTS HER OWN TASTY SONGS
by George Lenker, MassLive, April 04, 2012

Pegi Young has gained a lot of confidence in her songwriting over the past few year, but doesn't like to compare it that of her spouse, who just happens to be renowned singer-songwriter-guitarist Neil Young.

"I've never stopped writing, even though I stopped making music for years," she said during a telephone interview last wee. "But I don't compare it to my husband's. If I did that, I wouldn't get out of bed in the morning."

Young will bring her music and her band, The Survivors, to the Iron Horse Music Hall on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

But Young, who has been married to Neil for more than 30 years, isn't intimidated playing her new material for him. She actually worries more about her band's reaction when she brings her music to them.

"It's funny, but it's way more intimidating to get in studio with world class musicians and play," she said with a laugh. "Neil knows my music and has heard it for years, while my band, who all have been friends for years, never knew me as songwriter until the past few years.

Pegi initially garnered the public's attention through her longstanding role as backup singer for her husband, which she has done since 2000. Around 2006, she felt the bug to go back and record some of her own songs and released her eponymous CD then following year. Album contains a mix of cover tunes and originals, some dating back to her teen years, when she started writing. This was followed by the critically acclaimed "Foul Deeds" in 2010, which only featured three Young originals. But her latest disc, last years "Bracing for Impact," brings Young's tunesmithing back to the fore: eight of the 11 songs are written or co-written by her. She says her writing process is fairly loose.

"I must admit I'm not very disciplined as a writer," she said, chuckling. "I am an observer and take stuff in, and sometimes that sparks a song. Other times it's just random and it comes out of the blue. Like with 'Gonna Walk Away' (the penultimate song on the new album). I thought we were done with the album, and I laid down to take a nap and it came to me. And I was like, 'Damn, why do you have to come now?' but we recorded it and I'm glad we did."

When it comes to choosing covers, however, Young goes to great pains.

"There are so many great songs out there and there are plenty of songs I'm tempted to try, but some have been done so well, that i wonder how can I make it my own?" she said. "I try to pick songs I can relate to, or ones I wished I'd written."

Along with being an artist in her right and Neil Young's wife/backup singer, Pegi Young is also known as the founder of the Bridge School. This cause grew from the couple's son, Ben, who was born with cerebral palsy. The Bridge School aids children with severe speech and physical impairments and has established itself as a leader in its field over the past 25 years. The Youngs have also been the forces behind the annual all-star Bridge School Benefit concerts, and Pegi continues to serve as president of the school's Board of Directors. She said the school has exceeded her original expectations.

"I'm still very much involved with it," she said. "And I have to put in a plug for my son, who was just on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle's 'Datebook' section. He's now an organic egg farmer and they featured him. It's a great example of what can happen when you address communication issues with people who have them."


Pegi Young and her backing band, The Survivors, will play StageOne at the Fairfield Theatre Company Friday night, April 6.

PEGI YOUNG MAKING AN 'IMPACT' WITH HER MUSIC
by Sean Spillane, NewsTimes, April 3, 2012

Pegi Young has been a backup singer in husband Neil's various bands for many years, performing in front of tens of thousands of people at a time and on television in broadcasts seen by millions.

So it's a bit of a surprise how often she uses the word "terrified" in describing her initial foray into making her own records a few years ago.

"It's really a different role when you're bringing out your songs, and you're the lead singer, and you're playing with guys that you've known for 30-odd years," Young said during a recent phone interview from her California home. "But the guys know me as a background singer and as a mom and a wife and all of those kinds of things, and to expose myself to them through my songwriting that was definitely terrifying.

"I was hiding in the bed, under the covers, really, really terrified."

She may have felt a lot of apprehension, but her self-titled debut album, which came out in 2007, was well-received, as was the 2010 follow-up, "Foul Deeds." For her latest record, "Bracing for Impact," Young took a slightly different approach.

"Well, you do hope to keep evolving," she said, with a laugh. "There's a little more of an R&B flavor than there was when I first started, when there was more of a country-rock kind of influence with a pedal steel and a dobro. It's a different band configuration now, and that kind of steers the music a different way, too.

"That's sort of been a learning process, I guess. But from the beginning, I knew what I wanted and where I wanted to go with my music. Even though I was kind of terrified at the outset, I had an internal compass, so to speak, that told me how I wanted things to sound.

"And I certainly got a lot of advice from my veteran players on arrangements and other things. I still look at it as a real collaborative effort."

Some of her musicians are longtime associates of Neil Young's, including keyboardist Spooner Oldham, bassist Rick Rosas and drummer Phil Jones.

Pegi Young wrote songs long before she married Neil in 1978. Any thoughts she might have had about a career in music were put on the back burner in the early '80s after the birth of their son, Ben, who has severe cerebral palsy. The Youngs, disappointed in the lack of educational opportunities for children like Ben, started the Bridge School, which serves kids needing speech and physical therapy.

The Bridge School opened in Hillsborough, Calif., in 1987, and the annual fundraising concerts the Youngs put together attract the biggest names from throughout the music industry. Past performers include Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and Pearl Jam.

"I literally ran the Bridge School for the first seven years or so, but we have an executive director (Vicki Cassella) who's just dynamite," Young said. "Getting her in place enabled me to kind of turn my attention much more into music. I'm still president of the board and I am definitely involved in what's going on, just not on a day-to-day basis. ... My role is to work with the board and look at the projects we're taking on and how they corollate with our mission and to handle the big fundraisers for the organization."

With the school in good hands, Young got the itch to finally do a music project of her own.

"I did cover songs at first," she said. "I wasn't even really planning on doing any of my own songs. ... But once we got going, the band was so supportive and things were really going well that Anthony (Crawford), the lead guitar player at the time, said, `When are we going to hear some of your songs?'

"So I worked up the nerve to break out songs from my archive. ... I could still tell the same stories in the songs, only now as a woman and not the young girl who wrote them."

"Bracing for Impact" is almost entirely comprised of Young's original songs, and one of the ones that isn't hers is "Doghouse," which was written by Neil, but never recorded. It is the first time she has recorded one of her husband's songs.

"Of course, it was written originally from the man's perspective, so I turned it on its head and interpreted it as the woman whose husband has been out all night long, worrying her sick, and that worry turns to, `I'm ticked off!,' " Young said. "But it also brings some comic relief to the record, which we seem to insert a little into each one of my three records, so far."


photo: Maria Younghans

MRS. SOUL
Rock 'n' roll wife Pegi Young determined to make an 'impact' of her own
by Greg Cahill, Pacific Sun, March 8, 2012

Ask Pegi Young what she's working on these days and she laughs: "Which hat should I put on?" quips Young, a singer/songwriter, wife of legendary rock musician Neil Young, and president of the board of directors of the organization that stages the annual all-star Bridge School benefit concert.

These days, Young is preparing to go on the road with members of Neil Young's acoustic band, including San Anselmo resident and guitar tech Larry Cragg, on a West Coast tour that brings her to the Sweetwater Music Hall next week.

"I've been going back through my modest catalog, putting together a set list and figuring out what we want to play," she says. "I want to play stuff from my new record, Bracing for Impact, but I'm looking at including songs from the first two records, too, as well as some stuff that's never been released."

That new album has drawn rave reviews. "Neil Young's wife grows more confident and, even better, more cantankerous," Rolling Stone recently opined. "Gone are the wispy folky strains of 2007's Pegi Young, replaced by an appealingly scruffy mix of low-fi Western swing, wry honky-tonk, and dusky blues shuffles."

And then there's her advocacy work.

A couple of weeks ago, Young hosted a three-day symposium in conjunction with the Bridge School, of which she is one of three co-founders, on the use of augmented and alternative communication for developmentally disabled children.

Her work in the field was spurred by raising her son, Ben, who was born with cerebral palsy. Ben, 33, now operates a certified-organic egg business in Half Moon Bay, started at age 19 with the assistance of his dad.

"The conference included a whole lot on self-determination," she says enthusiastically. "One of the coolest panels was made up of four alumni of the Bridge School, and one other person, presenting examples of things that they do in their everyday lives, so you can translate the theoretical construct into examples of how folks are making it happen.

"That was really exciting--I felt just like a mother hen being so proud of my little brood."

In addition, she's working with the computer networking giant Cisco Systems, Inc., to develop methods to disseminate this information worldwide.

"It was an information-packed three days," she says. "Now, I'm turning my head back to music, music, music."

Music has been a part of Young's life since her childhood. "I was a typical suburban Irish-Catholic girl," she says. "We all had to play an instrument."

For her, that meant three or four years of piano lessons.

"As it happened," she says, "I loved piano, so that was no problem."In her early teens, Young began playing guitar, and singing and writing songs. "I was doing that pretty much right up until I met Neil (in 1978) and we had our son," she adds. "Even when I put music aside to raise the kids, I always kept writing."

Just as she has devoted so much of her adult life to empowering others through her work at the Bridge School, Young says music has empowered her.

"It's like this," she says. "I believe you should do the things that scare you. When you do those things and survive, then you can keep building on that."

True to her word, her first public appearance was as a backup singer for Neil during his televised 1994 Academy Award performance of the Oscar-nominated title track to Philadelphia, a performance seen by a billion viewers worldwide.

"I just focused on the people in the first row," she says when asked about her nerves on that night. "Paid no attention to the cameras swirling around us."

Inspired, she started a women's singing group. Eventually, her emerging role as a touring backup singer led her to record a solo album, at the suggestion of Neil's manager, the producer Elliot Mazer.

"That was terrifying, to open that side of me," she says. "I wondered, will I be good enough? Will they like my songs? You know, all those self-doubt things. Once I finished that recording project, the bar just kept getting set higher.

"I say, just keep pushing the limits of what you think you can do."


photo: Maria Younghans

PEGI YOUNG INTERVIEW
by Doctor Bartlemania, WHRW Binghampton NY,
March 09, 2012

Pegi Young is the wife of Neil Young. She's been happily married to him since 1978. But as one reviewer put it, she isn't merely riding her husband's coattails.

Her performance career began with her doing backup vocals during Neil's performance of the theme from the motion picture, Philadelphia, at the 1994 Academy Awards ceremonies. While some slight influences from her husband's sound are pretty much inevitable. they're way, way down in the mix. She is a top-flight musician and songwriter in her own right as her current album, Bracing For Impact proves.

We discussed that album as well as her contribution to disability rights via The Bridge School, which she and her husband founded in 1986.


READY FOR 'IMPACT'
Pegi Young stepping out from behind her legendary husband into spotlight as world-class musician in her own right

By Paul Liberatore, Marin Independent Journal, March 2, 2012

Pegi Young laughs when she calls herself "a middle-aged emerging artist."

But that's cool, because, as she says, "At this point in my life, I wasn't even sure I'd be on the planet."

At 59, Young and her band, the Survivors, make their Marin County debut March 13 at the new Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, one of her first shows since the release of her new album, "Bracing for Impact," her third in five years.

It showcases her lived-in voice on eight of her original songs, a couple of tasty covers and a novelty tune by her husband of 34 years, Neil Young. She began her singing career as a backup vocalist for him, and he returns the favor, singing background vocals for her on this impressive new album.

"He believed in me before I believed in me," she says one day this week. "We support each other."

Young may be a late bloomer, but it's not like she had nothing else to do with her life. Before she married Neil in 1978, she sang and wrote songs and played guitar, but never professionally. After their son, Ben, was born with cerebral palsy, the Youngs founded the Bridge School in 1987 for children with severe speech and physical impairments, funding it through annual acoustic concerts that have become a Bay Area tradition.

"I did have to put my music on hold because for years I was immersed in getting the Bridge School going and in wearing my mom hat, getting my kids educational stuff dialed in," she explained. "But, little by little, I had opportunities."

The first opportunity came in 1994, when she sang backup for Neil while he performed his Oscar-nominated song, "Philadelphia," at the Academy Awards.

"That was my first public appearance," she recalls. "That was diving into the deep end. It was terrifying and exciting and really fun."

After that experience, she formed a singing group, the Mountainettes, with several women in her La Honda neighborhood, practicing in a tepee on their Broken Arrow Ranch.

In 2000, she sang backup with her sister-in-law, Astrid Young, Neil's half sister, on his Good Friends and Relatives Tour.

"That was my first real professional gig," she remembers.

In 2007, the time was right for her to step out on her own with her folksy debut, "Pegi Young," followed three years later by "Foul Deeds," an album that delved into divorce, disillusionment and other dark themes.

And now, only 17 months later, she's touring behind "Bracing for Impact." In a three-star review in Rolling Stone, David Browne writes: "With each album in her belated solo career, Neil Young's wife grows more confident and, even better, more cantankerous. Gone are the wispy folky strains of 2007's 'Pegi Young,' replaced by an appealingly scruffy mix of low-fi Western swing, wry honky-tonk and dusky blues shuffles."

"I've been fortunate to have this window of time, to have this opportunity," she says. "Everything has been very stable with our son and the team around him, which enables me to travel more than I could in the early days," she adds, explaining that Ben, 33, is now an organic egg farmer on their ranch. "It's all about the timing of things."

And having something to say. Young has had her share of family crises and tough times that she draws on when she writes her often personal songs. In 1980, she underwent successful brain surgery for congenital arterial malformation.

"It's something you're born with and If you're lucky, you find it and it's operable," she explains. "If you don't, it can be catastrophic. I was lucky."

In 2005, while working on his "Prairie Wind" album in Nashville, Tenn., Neil was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. He suffered complications from a minimally invasive surgical procedure, but was back onstage within months.

"That was scary," she remembers.

A song on the new album, the fatalistic ballad "No Heartbeat Sounds," is a reflection on those close calls as well as Ben's recent hospitalization with a serious illness. When he recovered, she began to give the unhappy song a happy ending, but then a close friend passed away and the song became once again about life pulling the rug out from under you.

In her world-wise soprano, she sings, "Every time you think you've got it covered/Every time you think you've got it made/That's the time it's slipping through your fingers/And it fades away/And it's gone/No heartbeat sounds."

The Youngs celebrated their 34th Valentine's Day last month, and they have made a point of not being apart for long periods of time. Nevertheless, being a rock star's wife has built-in insecurities that she expresses in the song "Lie."

"It could be about anybody whose partner travels and leaves them at home, and they worry if they're going to find someone else out there," she explains. "What's that one line, 'Warm embraces keep you from the cold.' I like most of my songs to be universal, to not be autobiographical, but there are many times when Neil is on the road and I'm here, so there's that aspect to it."

Not that all the songs on "Bracing for Impact" are so serious. She wrote the risible "Daddy Married Satan" as a kind of menopausal apology tune, and Neil added "Doghouse," a novelty number that any man who has had to sneak in the back door late at night can probably relate to.

As a wife and mother trying to have a career and an identity of her own, Young finds a soul sister in another rock star spouse, the late Linda McCartney, who was criticized unmercifully for performing with her Beatle husband.

"If you ask any one of us who's married to a high-profile musician and steps out on her own, it comes with some criticism," she says. "People say, 'Why don't they stay in this neat little box where we put you? How dare you branch out.' But that's OK, you have to expect that, and then not let it stop you."


The Bridge School Benefit Concerts
25th Anniversary Edition

Available Now as a 3 DVD Set and 2 CD Set


photo: Bob Vergara, Paramount Classics

Singer/songwriter Pegi Young is 'Bracing for Impact'
by Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY, November 27, 2011

She didn't ride his coattails. She hid behind them.

Pegi Young was singing, writing songs and playing guitar long before she wed rock icon Neil Young in 1978.

"When I met Neil, I was way too shy to perform publicly," says Young, who released third album Bracing for Impact this month. It follows last year's Foul Deeds and 2007's self-titled debut.

Her first public performance, after years of playing with friends and relatives in private homes, was trial by fire. She sang backup for her husband when he performed his nominated Philadelphia at the 1993 Oscars. Then she booked sporadic gigs with female singing groups before joining the backup singers on Neil's tour in 2000.

"That helped the confidence factor, just getting out and doing it," says Young, 58. "When I was writing songs for my first record, a lot of what came out was unearthed from my 20-year-old self. It's been an evolution. The first day we recorded, I was exceedingly nervous. Neil told me, 'What are you worried about? It's just world-class musicians crawling all over the place.' I knew it wouldn't be easy but I didn't want to lie on my death bed going, 'Darn, I wish I'd made a record.' I have something to say."

Young, who wrote eight of Impact's 11 tunes, spins yarns that hopscotch from sass to heartbreak. She covers "I Don't Want to Talk About It" by Crazy Horse's Danny Whitten. Neil wrote "Doghouse," inspired by the death of her dog Carl, and plays guitar on two tunes and harmonica on a rendition of Tarheel Slim's "Number 9 Train."

She and her band The Survivors recorded in Los Angeles rather than at the more convenient studio on the Youngs' Broken Arrow Ranch in Northern California.

"There's a fantastic studio here, but there are also distractions," she says. "We started on a full moon, which Neil swears by, and we recorded seven tracks in one day."

Sessions ended after five days and Young went home, only to return a few weeks later with the newly hatched "Gonna Walk Away."

"I was lying down to take a nap and this song came in," she says, "I thought, no, not now. But when the muse knocks, you open the door."

While she and Neil share musical tastes and outlooks, they operate on parallel tracks.

"Each of us goes into our hidey-holes to write," she says. "We share the philosophy that you have to be honest and true and feel good about what you're doing. It hasn't been a hindrance being married to someone who's made a life example of that."

The couple has worked closely to establish and maintain the Bay Area's non-profit Bridge School, opened in 1987, and its annual all-star acoustic benefit concerts, launched in 1986 to fund the school's programs for children with severe speech and physical impairments.

One reason the Youngs built Bridge: "I couldn't find education programs that met the needs of our kid," she says, referring to son Ben, who has severe cerebral palsy.

Bridge's tech-driven communication programs spread globally, even in the school's pre-Internet stages.

"We were trying to do something not available anywhere in the world," says Elliot Roberts, Neil's manager and a Bridge School board member. "The problem is funding the school on a permanent basis. You don't start a school and back off. All the credit goes to Pegi for making Bridge what it is. Neil and Pegi were committed to making it sustainable."

Bridge has flourished, as has Ben, 33, a state-certified organic egg farmer.

"Ben has enriched our lives," Young says. "We call him our spiritual leader. Most of the artists who perform at the Bridge concerts have never interacted with the disabled. They get immersed in the kids and their families, and by the end of the weekend, they change. It's a huge honor to be able to bridge those worlds."



Pegi Young and the Survivors - Bracing for Impact
star rating: ***
by David Browne, Rolling Stone, November 22, 2011

With each album in her belated solo career, Neil Young's wife grows more confident and, even better, more cantankerous. Gone are the wispy folky strains of 2007's Pegi Young, replaced by an appealingly scruffy mix of low-fi Western swing, wry honky-tonk and dusky blues shuffles. Young, who wrote most of these songs herself, is no lyrical softy, either: Her weathered soprano is a suitable match for odes to sobering up ("Med Line") and a hellacious mom ("Daddy Married Satan"). Neil shows up to blow feisty harmonica on a hilarious, grinding version of his outtake "Doghouse," about the wrath of an ignored spouse. It's fitting: You ignore this one at your own peril.



photo: Maria Younghans

Late bloomer Pegi Young comes to Belly Up Aspen
by Stewart Oksenhorn, The Aspen Times, November 11, 2011

ASPEN -- At the 1994 Academy Awards, Pegi Young sang back-up for her husband Neil on a performance of the song the song "Philadelphia," which Neil had written for the Jonathan Demme film of the same name. It was a potentially nerve-wracking experience: The performance was hushed -- just Neil at the piano, backed by Pegi and one other singer, playing an especially naked, emotional song. The audience was filled with A-list celebs; Johnny Depp introduced the song. An enormous national audience watched on TV.

Topping it off, it was Pegi Young's debut as a professional singer.

"That's going in in the deep end," she said.

Still, from the way she describes it, singing at the Academy Awards was a lot less scary than a singing date she had on a quiet, northern California ranch, a little more than a decade later. That gig had no audience -- as long as you don't count the musicians in attendance, including keyboardist Spooner Oldham, steel guitarist Ben Keith, and bassist Rick Rosas, who were assembled to help record Pegi's debut album. All were close associates of Neil's, which might have relieved Pegi's nerves. But to Pegi, they were, at the moment at least, exceptional and vastly experienced players, who were about to record songs by a newcomer.

"It had its moments of terror," Young said from the deck of her house on that California ranch, "thinking of all the musicians up on the ranch, ready to work with me. It was, 'Ahh, is this a good idea?' I'd known all these guys for years, but knew them as a wife, a mother, from the Bridge School" -- a school for physically handicapped children that Pegi co-founded in 1986. "But they didn't know me as a songwriter. I wasn't confident that people liked my songs.

"At one point in the terror stage, literally in the bed with the covers pulled over my head, my husband laughed and said, 'What are you worried about? It's just world-class musicians crawling all over the place.'"

Young tiptoed into that first recording session by starting with songs written by others, and the list shows her range of musical history: "Side of the Road" by Lucinda Williams; "The Sky Isn't Blue Anymore" by the late Cajun musician Bobby Charles"; "Body Breaks" by Devendra Banhart"; "Sometimes Like a River" by the early female rock band Joy of Cooking.

Then lead guitarist Anthony Crawford asked when Young was going to break out her own songs. "And once I sang one of them, the spout was open," she said.

"Pegi Young," her 2007 debut, features six originals, many of them written as far back as her high school years. The terror faded; Young said recording her first album turned out to be fun, and allowed her to ease into her second album -- "Foul Deeds," released in 2010 -- with little nervousness.

Now she seems to be roaring ahead at full speed. Her third album, "Bracing for Impact," set for release next week, comes just 17 months after "Foul Deeds." Of the album's 11 songs, nine were written by Young.

There's nothing tentative about the way the album kicks off: the opening track, "Flatline Mama," is a sassy, funny, rollicking song about a man who wants his woman sedate: "No booze, no pills, no THC/ 'Cause he wants peace and serenity/ She's a flatline mama," Young sings in a tune that combines country swing and '60s girl group backing vocals. She moves smoothly into rootsy r&b mode on "Trouble in a Bottle," and has no trouble slipping into a more meditative space for "No Heart Beat Sounds." Young does a lovely country-ish version of "I Don't Want to Talk About It," written by the late Danny Whitten, Neil's bandmate from Crazy Horse. She shows off her confidence on "Gonna Walk Away," a song about boldly setting off on her own.

Young has a stated attraction for darker material, and that is emphatic on "Bracing for Impact." But she knows how to lighten the mood: "Daddy Married Satan" might be about severe family strife, but the beat bounces along, and Young sings in a feathery tone.

Young brings her songs on the road in a tour that has her opening for her husband's on-and-off bandmate, Stephen Stills. The tour, with Young backed by her band, the Survivors, stops on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Belly Up Aspen.

* * * *

Growing up in San Mateo, Calif., Young was magnetically drawn to what was happening a few miles up the peninsula. "I made my way to San Francisco as soon as possible, in 1968, just after the Summer of Love," Young, who turns 59 on Dec. 1. She didn't want to simply see Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service perform -- though she does recall that, at the Avalon Ballroom, you could wait till 1 a.m., then pay a dollar and still catch the headline act -- she wanted to add her own music to the scene.

"I did some street busking, sang with friends in the living room -- that's that time," she said. "People just did that, and I wanted to be in that scene."

Young never got far as a performer, but she kept writing -- lyrics that she often set to music, even if she had no outlet for performing them. "It was just the immediate moment of writing, expressing myself. That's what I had always done," she said.

In the '70s, while working as a bartender, Pegi met Neil Young, and the two married. (On Dec. 2, they intend to celebrate a momentous anniversary -- 33 and a third years together.) In 1978, the couple had a son, Ben, who was diagnosed early with a severe case of cerebral palsy. Any dreams Pegi had of becoming a performing musician were put on hold, as she devoted herself to motherhood and, in 1986, establishing the Bridge School, which is funded in part by an annual concert, headlined by Neil, that has also featured the Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Eddie Vedder and Nine Inch Nails. (Pegi did, however, have a hand in music history, serving as the inspiration for songs on her husband's great 1992 album "Harvest Moon." The opening track, "Unknown Legend," is a straightforward tribute: "She used to work in a diner/ Never saw woman look finer/ I used to order just to watch her float across the floor.")

After the 1994 appearance at the Academy Awards, Pegi joined up with a group of women in her neighborhood to start a singing group. "I had a teepee set up in the backyard, and we'd really practice singing," she said. "Nancy Hall would bring in music; we'd work out parts -- it wasn't just an excuse for the girls to get together." The group, which numbered around eight, would sing the Everly Brothers, the Beatles, the Mamas & the Papas -- "anything with beautiful harmonies," Young said.

The group, dubbed the Mountainettes, played a few local gigs, once opening for Buck Owens. The group -- or at least, four of the singers, Pegi included -- were good enough to get hired to be backing singers for a major artist: Neil Young used the Mountainettes on his 2003 "rock novel" "Greendale." The Mountainettes were also featured on the "Greendale" tour, which made a stop at the 2003 Jazz Aspen Labor Day Festival in Snowmass Village. Pegi has since become a regular on her husband's albums, appearing on 2009's "Fork in the Road," 2007's "Chrome Dreams II" and 2005's "Prairie Wind."

Neil has returned the favor, playing some harmonica and guitar, and adding vocals, to "Bracing for Impact." But Pegi tends to keep Neil at something of a distance from her own songwriting.

"He hears what I'm playing and I hear what he's playing," she said. "But we write really differently. We write what comes from our own inner selves."

Pegi is, though, a fan of Neil's, and finds his singular approach to music and career inspirational.

"His ability, his drive almost, to keep changing and let whatever can come in come in, has been a huge influence on me. I don't know what it is about him -- he's on the cutting edge of things; he's prescient," she said. "It's about just making music that's fulfilling for yourself, for you to feel good about, that's true to you, honest -- that's all you can do. That's the best lesson I've gotten from all these years, as he goes through different things."

Around 2007, Young thought it was time for her own evolution. There was nothing momentous behind recording her debut album. "I think it was just timing," she said. "I'd been writing most of my adult life. I had a whole backlog of stuff, and I'd been working with Neil quite bit. I think it was [Neil's longtime manager] Elliot Roberts' idea: 'Why don't you get in the studio and make an album?'"

Pegi is not quite the veteran musician yet. She confessed to a case of nerves as she began thinking about the current tour, an eight-show swing through Colorado, Arizona and California.

"I'm getting pretty nervous about performing again -- and that's a good thing," she said. "I'm feeling those butterflies, and that tells me I'm ready to go out there."


photo: Larry Cragg

Pegi Young's musical 'Heart of Gold'
Neil's better half works tirelessly for kids in need
by George Varga, SignOnSanDiego.com, November 16, 2011

Pegi Young has done an excellent job of avoiding the spotlight, even though she's spent several decades involved with some very high-profile activities.

You won't, for example, find a page devoted to her on the Wikipedia web site, where a recent search for her name elicited the response: "Did you mean Neil Young?"

Pegi Young, 57, laughed heartily when informed of this at the start of a recent Night&Day interview. She has been married to the legendary singer-songwriter for the past 33 years (and at least partly inspired his heartfelt 1992 song, "Unknown Legend").

"I think it's fair to say I haven't done many interviews," she said. "But I enjoy talking to people and getting the word out about my music and, certainly, about the Bridge Schoolconcerts and (related) CDs and DVDs. Right now, were all-Bridge, all the time."

The Youngs launched the Bridge School benefit concerts in 1986 at the 17,500-capacity Shoreline Amphitheatre, near San Jose. The lineup that year included Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Don Henley, Nils Lofgren, Robin Williams and a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reunion. It raised $250,000 for the non-profit Bridge School (bridgeschool.org), a then-fledgling Bay Area school designed for students with physical impairments, such as Neil and Pegi's son, Ben, who was eight at the time and has cerebral palsy.

Subsequent editions of the Bridge School concerts have featured Paul McCartney, The Who, Pearl Jam, Elton John, David Bowie, Willie Nelson, Metallica, Norah Jones, Simon & Garfunkel, Green Day and many more. To celebrate the event's 25th anniversary (and raise more money for the school), a 2-CD set and a 3-DVD set were released last month that feature performances from the entire quarter-century of the Bridge School benefits.

"It was extremely difficult to decide what to include on the CDs and DVDs," said Pegi Young, the executive producer for both sets. "Without the concerts, we could not fund the school. We've been trying, quite seriously, to raise funds to sustain the school into perpetuity."

A life-long music fan and singer, Pegi Young first performed in public with her husband when he sang "Philadelphia" during the 1994 Oscars telecast. But she only released her rustic, self-titled debut album in 2007, followed by the slyly titled "Foul Deeds" . Her Belly Up show Monday is to promote her brand new third album, the charming "Bracing For Impact." It's an earthy, easy-going affair that mixes blues, folk, rock and more, with help from Neil Young and members of his bands the Stray Gators and Crazy Horse, among others.

"I have no illusions this will be a career for me," Pegi Young said.

"I'm a middle-aged woman, but I love to play shows!"


Pegi Young Talks About Her Just-Released Album, "Bracing for Impact"
ABC News Radio, November 16, 2011

Bracing for Impact, the third album by Pegi Young, Neil Young's wife, hit stores on Tuesday. Pegi didn't release her 2007 self-titled debut effort until she was in her mid-fifties, but since then she has been rivaling her husband in the "prolific" department. Bracing for Impact features 11 tunes, seven of which were written by her. Among the three songs not composed by Pegi is "Doghouse," a tongue-in-cheek tune penned by Neil.

The album was recorded with the help of her backing group, The Survivors, which features a pair of longtime Neil Young collaborators, bassist Rick Rosas and renowned soul keyboard player Spooner Oldham, as well as drummer Phil Jones and guitarist Kelvin Holly. Neil also pops up on several tracks to lend his various musical talents.

Speaking recently to ABC News Radio, Pegi described her music as "sort of down and melancholy and nostalgic, not-particularly-happy songs." In contrast, she noted, "'Doghouse' is a hoot," adding, "I think it gives us a little comic relief to the record."

Among the other non-original compositions featured on Bracing for Impact is "I Don't Want to Talk About It," by late Crazy Horse co-founder Danny Whitten.

"I always like to seek out covers that just are meaningful to me," she explained. [And] 'I Don't Want to Talk About It' [is a] song that I just always loved...I hope we did it justice."

The third and last cover included on the album is "Number 9 Train," a 1950s rave-up by Tarheel Slim. Husband Neil lends his harmonica talents to her rendition.

"We've been playing it live forever," Pegi revealed. "And, we've recorded it a number of different times but I just never felt like we quite got it. And this time, I think we got it."

Asked about to name some of her favorite self-penned tunes on Bracing for Impact, Pegi singles out "Flatline Mama," which says is "just fun," and "No Heart Beat Sounds" -- "a very poignant song for me because [it] was inspired by a loss of a dear friend of ours last year."

Pegi Young & the Survivors will be the musical guest Wednesday night on Conan O'Brien's TBS talk show, Conan, which airs at 11 p.m. ET/PT. Pegi and her group also are in the middle of a brief series of West Coast dates, opening for Stephen Stills.


photo: Stewart Oksenhorn / The Aspen Times

Review: Stills Standing
by Stewart Oksenhorn, The Aspen Times, November 14, 2011

ASPEN -- Among those surprised by what Stephen Stills -- age 66 and a veteran of many of the pitfalls that come with rock stardom -- is still able to accomplish is Stills himself.

About six songs into his first set Saturday night at Belly Up, Stills began "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," perhaps the best of his masterpieces. But the song was written 42 years ago, and many of its singing parts were written for a flexible, strong 20-something voice. In a concession to time, Stills has clearly rethought some of those high notes and vocal acrobatics. But Stills seemed in an apparent good mood and noticeably good shape, so when he came to one of the trickier passages -- "It's my heart that's a-suffering" -- he went for it full-throttle.

And more or less nailed it, which brought a sigh of relief from this listener, and from Stills himself, this midsong ad-lib: "I'm as astonished as the rest of you."

A bit earlier, the direction of this night was not a sure thing. The show had opened with a strong opening set of mostly straightforward country-rock by Pegi Young & the Survivors. Stills opened his set with "Bluebird," a song from his days with Buffalo Springfield, and for a moment it looked as if Stills might play second fiddle to the wife of one of his Buffalo Springfield bandmates. (Yes, Pegi Young also goes by Mrs. Neil Young.) Stills' voice during the song lacked power, and Stills strikes me as the sort who might be given to downward spirals.

But the song closed with Stills' good mood intact; he introduced the next song, the lovely "Helplessly Hoping," with a riff about "Occupying Aspen." (His frequent collaborators David Crosby and Graham Nash had made news a few days earlier by performing at Occupy Wall Street.) "But this being Aspen, I'm occupying with a two-million dollar bus," Stills claimed. (And he might not have been exaggerating: I took a close look at his tour bus parked outside Belly Up, and have never seen the likes.) "Helplessly Hoping" found his voice warming up and by the end of the following song, "Johnny's Garden," the audience, one of the oldest I've seen at Belly Up, had fully warmed to him.

Stills then dismissed his band -- including his longtime, most capable rhythm section of bassist Kenny Passarelli and drummer Joe Vitale -- for a solo acoustic set that included a take on Bob Dylan's "Girl From the North Country."

Several audience members worried about Stills' occasional walks to the side of the stage, apparently to discuss issues of sound. As far as I could tell, these were handled with no theatrics -- again, not a matter I took for granted.

The show ended predictably: "Rocky Mountain Way" and "Love the One You're With" to close the second set, and an encore of "For What It's Worth."

"Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" opens with the line, "It's getting to the point where I'm no fun anymore." I went into Saturday night's show wondering whether Stills had hit that point.

I bet Stills has some of those nights. This wasn't one of them.


photo: Maria Younghans

An interview with Pegi Young: Heart of Gold
by Kevin Yeanoplos, Tucson Concerts Examiner, November 14, 2011

Notwithstanding the current youth movement in popular song, the real news is when a middle-aged "teenager" comes out of nowhere to make their musical mark, proving once again that it's better late than never. How many more lyrically challenged pre-pubescent performers do we need anyway?

And there's no better example of a "veteran" sleeper than a certain singer-songwriter named Young that is currently touring with rock legend Stephen Stills. Just like old times, eh? Except for the fact that the older Young isn't Neil -but his wife of three decades, Pegi Young.

Pegi first became known through her longtime role as backup singer--onstage and on record-- for Neil. Incredibly, she debuted as a solo artist with a self-titled 2007 album, following it up with 2010's Foul Deeds.

She continues to gather "late game momentum" with the Nov. 15 release of her latest album, Bracing For Impact. With the new disc, Pegi continues her progression as a singer-songwriter whose work is defined by uncommon grace, affecting warmth, and heartbreaking honesty.

Phoenicians get a timely taste of the new album when she opens for Stills at the Celebrity Theatre on Nov. 15 as well.

Young is accompanied on Bracing For Impact once again by her acclaimed recording and touring band, The Survivors: legendary keyboard player Spooner Oldham on piano, bassist Rick Rosas (part of the reunited Buffalo Springfield), guitarist Kelvin Holly, and drummer Phil Jones.

Eight of the album's 11 songs are originals written by Pegi Young, with highlights including "Flatline Mama" - featuring a horn section and background vocals from The Watson Twins - "No Heart Beats Sound," and "Trouble In A Bottle."

Neil Young wrote the rollicking "Doghouse," and contributes background vocals and harmonica as well. He is also featured playing electric guitar on "Lie" and "Song For A Baby Girl," and harmonica for "Number 9 Train," written by late bluesman Tarheel Slim.

Pegi Young was kind enough to take the time to chat with Examiner recently about her music and the new record in between shows. She was energized about the upcoming release of the solid new effort.

"I like it very much. I think we captured some great music. In fact, I was at Tom Wait's house yesterday. It was an interview with Terry Gross. He said something like, 'You go in the studio and it's either magic or it's hell' (laughing). And this was magic, you know, so it really worked out great."

In addition to the outstanding original tunes on the new record, Young covers several songs from other songwriters. There are some performers that find it more challenging to put their soul into someone else's work - but not the forthright musician.

"It hasn't been for me because the songs that I do lean towards and tend to cover are songs that really resonate for me. I wish I'd written them because they're just so beautiful and they tell such a compelling story."

"So my job when I take on a cover is to try to do it justice first. To honor that song and its essence was really important to me. I really think about what covers I'm gonna do and really try to make them my own."

Young chuckled at the "late bloomer" tag, but acknowledged the relatively late start as a solo performer. At the same time, the additional "life experience" just may have enabled her to put together more meaningful music.

"You know, that's so hard to say. Because had I followed a different course and let's say, music from my early twenties, I really don't know where it would have gone or what would have happened. So I just look at it like everything has happened in its own time - and right now it's time."

"The last decade or so has been time to really delve into my music, in a much more concentrated and focused way. And so, I'm quite content really with the way time has marched on here. And opportunities have presented themselves at the time I was ready for them for the most part."

Young's creative talent is readily apparent in her songwriting. But music hasn't been the only creative outlet in her life.

"Well, I had my camera around my neck an awful lot. I started doing photography about the same time I started playing guitar - probably, when I was around sixteen and just used to walk around and take pictures of stuff. And then later on, I took pictures of the shows - Neil's shows."

"I do that to make myself useful on the road, so I wasn't just hanging around because I'm not really good at that. And creating a home for me has been a better creative pursuit. I cook and garden."

"And creating the Bridge School was kind of a creative endeavor as well. I had to bring my organizational brain for that too. I've got some organization abilities (laughing). And I wrote, you know, I always wrote."

Whether or not Young's musical outlook has been affected by some of the challenges that she has faced, from Neil's brush with a brain aneurism to their son Ben's cerebral palsy, it has unquestionably helped her to have a better personal outlook.

"Well, it's made me a better human being. How much that spills over into my art is hard for me to say. But giving birth to a guy with severe disabilities has opened the world to me that I would never have known."

"And I've met people, both professionals and the parent community and other people with disabilities that have totally enriched my life. And you know, health is a precious commodity and when we get up to the brink of losing it, it's pretty frightening."

Ben's birth inspired Pegi and Neil to found the non-profit Bridge School in 1986, serving children with severe speech and physical impairments. The school's innovative methods have established it as a leader in its field. The Youngs are also the driving force behind the annual all-star Bridge School Benefit concerts.

After 25 successful years, the Bridge School has proven to be a godsend for disabled children. But Pegi felt there was still much to do.

"There is definitely more to do. But I don't feel frustrated by it. In fact, what's happened with Bridge School in twenty-five years, it's really exceeded (hopes). Although when we started Bridge School, it's sort of a lofty goal, making this a worldwide movement, sort of along the lines of Montessori or Rudolf Steiner and the work that they've done."

"When you hear about a Montessori School, that means something to you, you know what that is. My dream was always that the Bridge method, or the Bridge way or whatever you wanna call it, would mean something."

"We're actually getting there. So in many ways it's exceeded my hopes and dreams. But again, I had kind of wild dreams to begin with. I'm so grateful to all the people that work with us. Everybody that's passed through Bridge School, all the professionals, all the families - we learn something from everybody and everybody's contributed to where we are today."

"I do know that we're having an impact. We have this international teacher-in-residence program. And every second year, we bring a professional from a developing company to Bridge School and they live and work alongside our staff and return to their home countries and begin to affect change there."

"On those off years a team from Bridge School goes to visit them in their countries. Our executive director keeps saying to me, 'Pegi, you've got to go with me on these trips. You've got to see what's happening. It's just phenomenal.'"

As much as living with Ben has been a life changer for Pegi, experiencing Neil's career from the inside has provided Pegi with a unique musical perspective, one that has no doubt influenced her own growth.

"There's no doubt about it, it's been an opportunity. I mean, having access to all these amazing musicians that I've met over the years. And some that I've met through guys that I already knew, including Phil Jones on drums and Kelvin Holly, my new lead guitar player."

"Having (late producer and multi-instrumentalist) Ben Keith as one of my dear friends for over thirty years, to help me right from the get go - and knowing (producer) Elliot Mazer for years and years and years."

"I've known all these people for a long, long time. So having them get behind me and support me, it's been nothing but an opportunity. The only places where it gets weird is when other people say, 'What is she doing!?' "People don't like that I'm doing my music and that's got nothing to do with me."

"I have had a lot of people who have been really behind me too. Audiences have been by and large super receptive. I think it was initially kind of a curiosity and 'Oh, another wife of a rock star going out and doing their thing.' Some of them have been very unfair."

"I think Linda McCartney was a wonderful musician and she was one of the most maligned. But then she married a Beatle (laughing). And she was a photographer too. So we actually had a lot in common. Not that I married a Beatle mind you, but (laughing), I married a very well established musician."

It must be a surreal experience to have that "established musician" sing backup on an album.

"(Laughing) I love it! You know, he's such a huge add. Everything he brings to the table is just so great. He's genius, you know. Even when he just puts on some cool guitar change on live, it's like, 'Oh yeah, that is just perfect.'"

"The harp sound you got on 'Number 9 Train'? We went in the studio and he came down to do some overdubs with us and it was like he walked around the room and then he walked into another room and it was just gettin' that sound he wanted."

"He knows what he wants to hear, he's just gotta find it. Once he found it, it was, 'Okay, that was definitely worth the wait - that's perfect.'"

A statement that could just as easily apply to Pegi Young. Call her a late bloomer, a sleeper, or whatever you will - but the talented singer-songwriter is definitely worth the wait...


A Conversation with Pegi Young
by Mike Ragogna, Huffington Post, October 31, 2011

Mike Ragogna: Hello, Pegi.

Pegi Young: Hello there.

MR: You have a new album coming, Bracing For Impact. How do you know when it's time for another album and what is your creative process like?

PY: Well, it tends to not be much of a well thought out plan. It happens when the songs come in and I've got a bunch of new songs. In this case, my band had just been out on the road for a short tour--ten days--and we decided to go into the studio. We had all these new songs and we'd just been playing them, so why not? You go in and you don't really know how long it's going to take. My first record, I think, took about three years. (laughs) This one took about two weeks. That's an exaggeration, but literally, I think it took about two months--it came together very quickly. My first record was just called Pegi Young, and that one just took that time. I was very inexperienced, though I had a great producer, Elliot Mazer. I went back and forth to Nashville a lot. Even though we recorded it at a ranch in California, my engineer was from Nashville, so I went back and forth to Nashville. We also recorded like thirty songs, so part of it was just figuring out which ones to put on that first record. I kind of like this idea of telling some sort of story, so that was that process. Foul Deeds took a while as well because we had recorded it on a break from Neil's tour--all the band, except Phil, the drummer, was out with Neil. My engineer would send me files to wherever I was, then I'd go find Ben and we'd sit in the dressing room somewhere and listen to the file. So, that one took a while too. For this one, we were all in one big area, except for Ben, of course.

MR: That would be Ben Keith.

PY: Yes, the late, great Ben Keith. He co-produced Foul Deeds with me, and was a tremendous musician, friend, and just a great guy.

MR: Nice. Let's talk about The Bridge School, a beautiful educational organization that you have set up with Neil. Can you talk about how that all came about?

PY: Well, sure. The Bridge is an educational program designed to meet the needs of kids with severe speech and physical impairments. The term they use today is "complex communication needs," and that just means that they need some kind of augmented communication device so they can have a variety of communication partners and can be clearly conveying their messages. The program started as a small school with four parent-placed students--our own son, Ben, among them. In twenty-five years, it has grown a lot. Of course, the school is the heart and soul of the organization, but there is an active and growing transition program because the educational program is transitional by design. The kids stay with us for an average of three to five years, transition back into their home school districts, and then our team supports the professionals and the student in that environment. This is because curriculum has to be adapted and material presented so our kids can access it. Technology is a tremendous tool, and it has been from the mid-eighties when we were using the Apple IIGS, which were the hot new thing, to today's plethora of technological devices. We pride ourselves on being a really cutting edge program that keeps up with what's happening, and looks for ways to incorporate it into our program for the kids. While we were looking to satisfy an immediate need--creating an appropriate educational program for our kids--we also knew that there were only going to be so many kids that could get to our small little school in the bay area. So, dissemination has been a critical component of our mission from the beginning, and in order to do that, we have developed a number of outreach programs, and we've really begun to have a significant impact, both locally, nationwide, and internationally.

MR: Well, it's clearly been a successful organization because I guess we're celebration the twenty-fifth anniversary this year, right?

PY: We are.

MR: And in celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary, there is apparently a three DVD, two CD package of many of the concerts related to The Bridge School.

PY: That is correct. On the DVD package, there is also a documentary on the school. So, people who purchase the DVD set will be able to learn more about the school. You can also learn more on the website, which can give interested people much more in-depth information than we can right now on the scope of the programs that we run.

MR: I guess the outreach within the musical community also was good to be able to have names like Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, The Who, Tom Petty, Simon & Garfunkel--this is an incredible line up. It seems like your family--considering The Bridge School and what Neil's doing his experimental the LincVolt--truly are trying to change the status quo, attracting great talent along the way.

PY: Well, we appreciate the people that come to play--all the people you mentioned and many, many more. We truly appreciate all of their time and generosity to come and play for our organization. Yeah, I think that Neil and I both feel the same way about being given many blessings, and it's incumbent on us to give back. Neil is also just such a creative guy--he's constantly coming up with stuff kind of ahead of the curve. When he started this LincVolt project several years back now, there wasn't nearly as much thought about having electric powered vehicles or what you guys are doing at the radio station--being driven by solar energy--it's fantastic. One of the early tours--I'm trying to think of how long ago he did this--but he had all the buses and trucks on the tour running on biodiesel. I remember pulling off in the middle of a cornfield in the Midwest somewhere at two o'clock in the morning to meet these farmers that would fuel up our trucks. More typically, we would get the fuel delivered to the venues, but that's what we would do in order to make it happen. I think that's something that we both feel really good about--being a part of that movement.

MR: It's giving back, and it's being part of the human community, which is really a beautiful thing.

PY: Well, thanks. That's what we're trying to do--not just take up space on the planet. (laughs)

MR: Nicely said, and thank you for the nod to the solar powered station here.

PY: Yeah, that's so impressive. I'm really glad to know about this.

MR: We're the only one in the Midwest, and we can't figure out why nobody else is doing this.

PY: Somebody's got to be the first, you know? More will follow. Again, back to filling the trucks and buses with biodiesel, some people were very skeptical about that, but somebody had to start it. I think Willie (Nelson) was doing it at the same time, or shortly before or after, and now, many artists run their vehicles on the same principle of not just burning up fossil fuels.

MR: It seems like consciousness is growing all around the planet. I mean, look what Occupy Wall Street is spurring on.

PY: Yeah, I'm pretty impressed with that. I've had some pretty interesting discussions around that with some people, but I think it's a good thing. Keep it peaceful, keep it focused, keep it real--my advice, having been a child of the sixties and being out there on the Vietnam War protests--don't alienate, just keep people focused on the message, keep the message clear, and don't get violent because those things just detract from the message and it turns people against the messengers.

MR: And people have such short attention spans that even if there was a reasonable explanation for a disturbance amongst the protesters, people might not be able to think through whatever that reason was that caused the disturbance.

PY: Yeah, if you cause disturbances and there are innocent victims--people start breaking up store windows and stuff like that--that's just a losing proposition. You're not going to make any friends that way.

MR: I'd like to get back to Bracing For Impact. It seems that the characters on this album are all "bracing for impact" in one way or another. Would that be right?

PY: I think that's a good point. I hadn't really thought it through, but yeah, absolutely. In one way, shape, or form, they all are.

MR: You definitely commit to your subject matter, like in "Flat Line Mama." And there's "No Highs, No Lows," and "Medline," which was almost the complimentary song to "No Highs, No Lows," to me. Even the cover of "I Don't Want To Talk About It" comes off like a kind of commentary.

PY: Well, the good news is that there has been no crash yet, so they're still just bracing for impact. (laughs) I love that song, "I Don't Want To Talk About It." That's just such a gorgeous song. I went back to Danny Whitten, the writer, and listened to his Crazy Horse version, and to me, that was my reference point...it's so soulful and so beautiful.

MR: I want to get into your process of songwriting, picking material, and your studio routine. We heard a little bit earlier about the recording process, but when you're sitting down, writing songs, what is that like? Is it, well, pencil and paper?

PY: I kind of look at it this way--it's almost like the songs approach me. When I go looking for covers, that's me on the search, but generally speaking, they really come in different ways. Sometimes, they come in snippets, but then a song like "Walk Away" came in almost like you hear it on the album. I might have tweaked the verses a little bit, but the essence of the song was right there. I was trying to lie down and take a nap when the song just came charging in. It was like, "Oh, really? Right now? I just want to rest." I write with pencil and paper, or pen and paper, whatever I have. I try to make sure I always have something around me to write with because you just never know when a little thought is going to come in. I don't typically just sit down and try to write a song. I might hear a little melody and go to the piano to try to figure out where it is. I find that easier to do than on the guitar because I kind of understand the piano keyboard better--that was my first instrument. I wish I had kept playing since I was a kid because I was a lot better then than I am now. On the guitar, I started learning chords, and I'll still be searching for notes. I'll go, "Ah, where is that one?" And sometimes I'll have to count it out. If I start with lyrics, I'll generally pick up the guitar, but if I hear a melody, I go to the piano and figure it out that way. For "No Heartbeat Sounds" on this record, I had the melody for that for probably six months or so before the words came in. Then, all of a sudden while I was walking my dog on the beach in Hawaii, the words just came in, and I just had to rush home and write them all down before I forgot them. It's kind of random, really, but I don't think it's that unusual in songwriting. I suppose there are people who are a lot more disciplined than I am and can just sit down and write a song, but it just doesn't work that way for me.

MR: What song on this album has a topic that is most personal to you?

PY: "Lie" is a really sweet song. It's never just about me--none of the songs are. But if I think about that one, her partner is leaving and going off somewhere and maybe he's going to find somebody else out there. So, I guess that's something that comes from my experience, in some regards, or when Neil would go on tour. There were always people out there who would be happy to replace me. (laughs) I don't know, maybe that one is a little more personal than others. "No Heartbeat Sounds" I love because I had the melody, and then when Larry Johnson died, our really dear friend, that's when the words came in. So, I'm kind of partial to that one I guess. It's kind of like trying to pick your favorite child--you just can't do it. They all have a special place.

MR: That's usually what comes up as an answer when I ask that question of people. Let me ask you a personal question--how has it been living in a family with challenged children?

PY: This may sound strange, but I think other parents of kids with disabilities will really relate to this. At first, it's maybe not the kid you expected to be coming into your life, but the doors that my children have opened to me by way of their disabilities have been huge. I consider it a blessing. You know, I might not have said that two weeks into it, but I have been enriched, truly, by having this entree into the world of disabilities. Parents of kids with disabilities just rock, and I'm so proud to be part of that community. It's not always easy--it can be very challenging and a strain on the family--but it's worth it. I wouldn't change it for the world.

MR: That's beautiful. Pegi, what advice do you have for new artists?

PY: The only advice I have is just be true to yourself. Be as honest as you can be. Be true to yourself, don't listen to what everybody is telling you, just be true to yourself. Make your music for yourself because at the end of the day, it's your name up there. There are a lot of people who want to create formulaic songs and looks for artists, but be true to yourself. I've learned that by living with a guy who has made his life's work out of always doing that, and that's what I try to do myself.

MR: Very nice. Pegi, this has really been a pleasure. All the best with The Bridge School, and also your new album, Bracing For Impact. Thank you so much for your time.

PY: Thank you.


Pegi Young Talks New Album, Bridge School Benefit
by Evan Schlansky, American Songwriter, October 21, 2011

Don't ask Pegi Young, Neil Young's wife and a formidable songwriter and musician in her own right, to name her favorite track on the Bridge School Benefit Concerts 25th Anniversary Edition CD and DVD. "It's like picking your favorite child. It's just impossible. There are just so many incredible performances."

Pegi was the impetus behind the star-studded acoustic charity concert that takes place every year in Mountain View, California, which Neil always helms. Artists featured on the CD/DVD are a who's who of rock royalty -- including Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Pearl Jam, and R.E.M..

This year's lineup isn't short on bold faced names, with acts like Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons and Tony Bennett topping the bill (you can stream it on Facebook and YouTube this weekend). "It was quite humbling to take a step back and look at the Bridge School benefits as a whole body of work, 24 years," says Pegi. "The 25th is this weekend, which we are really excited about. We've got some great young talents and some veterans. I'm really excited to see Santana, because I've never seen Santana play acoustic. I grew up in the Bay Area, and I saw Santana the first time probably when I was about 15 or 16 years old. And Arcade Fire, they're just a great band. Eddie [Vedder] will be back, it's just going to be really fun. Tony Bennett, he's just genius. We're looking forward to it."

The vibe among the artists is always communal, Pegi says. "We don't have press back there, it's a camera-free zone ,so people can come out of their dressing rooms and just hang out and be with each other. Some of those things that we've done by design over the years have created this very nice, comfortable, warm backstage environment for them. That's our goal. We start off the weekend on Friday with a barbecue at our house, so we get a chance for everybody to meet each other. It's our way of thanking them in advance for coming out and being part of this event."

Young is also gearing up for the November release of her third solo album, Bracing For Impact, which she cut with her band The Survivors (Rick Rosas on bass, Spooner Oldham on keys, Phil Jones on drums, and Kelvin Holly on guitar). With the recent passing of her friend Bert Jansch and longtime collaborator Ben Keith, she says the name felt appropriate. The album features a reading of the oft-covered "I Don't Want To Talk About It," written by the late Danny Whitten of Crazy Horse. "I really love Danny's version of it," she says. "That's what I used as my reference point. And he did it even slower than I did it."

Neil Young plays electric guitar on "Lie" and "Song For A Baby Girl," and adds his trademark harmonica to a cover of Tarheel Slim's "Number Nine Train." Neil also helped write the Bracing For Impact song "Doghouse."

I had to put my old dog Carl down in December," Pegi says of the song's origins. "The band had come into rehearse for our tour that we did in December, opening for the great Bert Jansch. Who, of course, has sadly left the planet now, too. So, I put old Carl down, and I was pretty brokenhearted about that. But, the band had come in, and so we went over to the studio to rehearse. It was sort of like a wake rehearsal, I would say. And somehow, that song came up. Neil probably started it because he was jamming with us that night. I didn't even remember the lyrics, so I was just making up lyrics. We just had so much fun with it, and we were playing a show the next night. We did it there, and it just became part of our repertoire. It came out of a sad place, but it was okay because we were able to howl with the best of them."

When asked if her husband ever gives her feedback on her music, Pegi notes that he's always taken a hands-off approach. "Because our son doesn't speak, we're both pretty good at reading non-verbal communication," she says. "We're kind of experts now. But, we don't really have that with the songwriting or music. If I'm singing backgrounds for him, and he wants to hear something a certain way, he's really clear about that. And I don't get any more slack than any other band member because he's very clear about what he wants to hear. But when it comes to my songwriting, I can't think of anything negative he's ever said, at all. He's completely supportive."

"He loves that I'm making music and having fun with it," she adds. "So, it's a mutual admiration, I think."


Pegi Young Talks Solo CD, Bridge School Benefit
by Aidin Vaziri, San Francisco Chronicle, October 16, 2011

Pegi Young and her husband, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Neil Young, host the 25th anniversary Bridge School Benefit concerts this weekend at Shoreline Amphitheatre with marquee names such as Arcade Fire, Eddie Vedder and Dave Matthews. To mark the occasion, there is a new three-DVD, two-CD set stuffed with highlights from past concerts, which benefit the school the Young family established for their son Ben and other children with severe physical impairments. Next month, Pegi will release her third solo album, "Bracing for Impact." She spoke to us last week from their Broken Arrow Ranch in La Honda.

Q: You waited 30 years to put out your first album. Now there seems to be no stopping you.

A: You know, they let the genie out of the bottle and there's no stuffing her back in.

Q: There must be some challenges that come with being married to a well-known songwriter like Neil Young. Do you feel like you have to compete with his work?

A: There's no competition. We make our own music. He's a genius. He's an incredible songwriter. I have tremendous respect for him.

Q: Do you get annoyed by the people who come to your shows and just glance around the whole time looking for him?

A: I expect people are going to be looking around. That's natural. I hope they still enjoy the show.

Q: Do you still get stage fright?

A: You know, I do. It's the anticipation. Just standing there on the side of the stage waiting to go out I get those nerves. But I think that's a good thing. Once you get out there it disappears and you just have fun.

Q: Looking at the track list for "The Bridge School Concerts 25th Anniversary Edition," can you believe all the bands that have played through the years? It seems like just about everybody.

A: The list goes on and on. It's astounding. Getting this chance to reflect and try to pick which of the first 25 to put out was extremely humbling.

Q: Are you still running around making phone calls at this point, or is everything ready to go?

A: It's a finely tuned machine at this point. Hopefully, we'll get the rain out of the way. We've only had two episodes of rain in 25 years.

Q: I'll never forget the year the Foo Fighters played and it was just pouring.

A: Sorry about that. We can only control so much. Was that the year Dave did "Everlong" by himself? I remember he burst into tears right after he walked off stage. It was a stunning moment.

Q: What happens onstage at these concerts is incredible. But you must see amazing things backstage.

A: My favorite moments are seeing the artists develop a rapport with the kids. Everybody gets a close and personal look at what this whole thing is about. They are the real stars of the show. The artists really get that. It's a life-altering experience.


Interview: Singer/Songwriter Pegi Young Confesses Her Foul Deeds And More
by Glen Boyd, blogcritics.org, September 9, 2010

With her second solo album, Foul Deeds, singer-songwriter Pegi Young may be about to break away from the long shadow cast by her more famous husband, rock legend Neil Young. Not literally of course. Despite the many songs expressing themes of heartbreak and loss heard on Foul Deeds, Pegi has assured us that she and Neil are doing just fine, thank you very much.

However, Foul Deeds does represent a bold enough progression from her self-titled 2007 solo debut, that Pegi Young seems to be poised for an artistic breakthrough of her own.

With a mix of strong originals like "Traveling" (which is heard in two versions on the album) and the title track, as well as well-chosen covers like Will Jennings' "Pleasing To Me" (that nicely compliment the overall storytelling arc of Foul Deeds), any bets against it would at the very least be unwise.

The album, released this past June by Vapor Records (the indie imprint started up by her husband and Elliot Roberts -- who also manages both acts), has been getting some very positive reviews. A series of small venue concerts by Pegi and her band that took place on the West Coast this past June, were likewise well received by audiences and critics alike.

In October, Pegi Young will once again take the Foul Deeds show out on the road, this time hitting small venues mostly on the East Coast. As was the case with the shows in June, Pegi and her all-star band (which includes such veterans of her husband's recordings as keyboardist Spooner Oldham and bassist Rick Rosas) will be sharing the bill with Scottish folk singer/songwriter/guitarist Bert Jansch. They will however, be minus one key member, the great multi-instrumentalist Ben Keith, who sadly passed away in July at the age of 73.

Earlier this week, Pegi Young phoned Blogcritics music editor Glen Boyd from the Young family's Broken Arrow Ranch in Northern California. She talked about Ben Keith's untimely passing, her new album, being a late bloomer as an artist and a number of other subjects in the rare interview which follows:

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. So, are you back on the road now?

No, I'm here at our place in California. We are scheduled to go back on the road in early October.

I was fortunate to enough to see you here in Seattle back in June at the Triple Door.

Yeah...I read your review, and I read your subsequent album review. I definitely appreciated your show review and the mention of Spooner and Ben, because I thought "okay, this guy really gets it."

Well, thank you for that (laughs). Those were of course the last shows Ben Keith did before his untimely passing. Can you talk about that for a minute?

Well, of course we didn't know at the time that they were his last shows. So you know, everything was just normal. We just pulled into town like we always do, you know and it was like "that was fun" and everybody was just looking forward to the next show. He really is just a brilliant player, and he plays so many instruments. We always worked really closely on the production and he's just really always been my "go-to" guy. It's just really, really (long pause)...sad, that he's gone.

It seemed like it was pretty sudden.

It was very sudden.

So, what's it like playing the smaller places as a headliner or sharing the bill with someone like Bert Jansch, as opposed to playing the bigger arenas with your husband?

Well, the Triple Door is cool...we really like the Triple Door. I remember walking into the WAMU Center (Seattle's WAMU Theater) when we played there with Neil, and thinking "oh, God...do I have to?" I mean it scared me...it was so big compared to some of the theaters we just played. It was pretty daunting. I mean I get stage fright anyway (laughs). But I like the small places myself. I mean, you know you can really feel it, and for me the music just goes really well in the smaller places. Some of the theaters were really great, you know, really intimate and warm.

I don't know if you were aware, but the WAMU Theater is also used for things like home shows. It's like a converted exhibition hall...

No, I had no idea...I just looked at it and went, "oh, boy..." (sighs and laughs). But you know, all in all the people seemed to be really enjoying themselves, even if some of them were just coming in for the opening act. The crowds were pretty cool. But The Triple Door...that's a great club. I like the history of that club too, it's like an old vaudevillian place. So yeah, that was a lot of fun.

So how did you come about to start making your own records, you know, later in life?

Well, it was kind of a process from when I was much younger, just playing small time gigs -- fairgrounds and things. And then I had done some tours with Neil, and at one point Elliot Roberts just said "when are you going to think about doing your record?" And I just said, "well, I have been thinking about that" (laughs). Anyway, I knew who I wanted in the band, because they were all my friends, right? (laughs).

I said, "Well, I really like Rick Rosas' bass playing, and Karl's drums (Himmel), and of course Ben and Spooner." And of course, we had all just worked with Anthony on the Prairie Wind tour (with Neil Young), and I hadn't seen Anthony in about twenty years...

He's a great guitar player...

Right, and he's a great all-around musician and songwriter.

Well, they say you have your entire life to make your first record, and then you have to make your second one. So what was the difference between making that first album and this new one?

Well...I mean, probably the terror factor (laughs). Starting at the very beginning with the first time, I was initially thinking this probably isn't a very good idea.

I mean it's personal, you know? These are personal songs. So once I got over the terror, and when we went into the studio, I played maybe six or seven demos. I mean we had years, so for somebody to just sit there with me and listen to mixes...we could just sit there together in the studio and... listen, to everything, you know? Every single note. But this time, we were touring...

So this time around, part of the record was actually made while you were on the road?

It very much was. The whole mixing process was. We recorded, and (Editor's note: This part of the tape was unintelligible, but presumably Pegi is referring to Ben Keith) said look if it's okay with you, I'm gonna' go back and start mixing. So he was sending me files, and we were listening, and as it turned out, it still took several months.

I've heard you mention that your songs don't necessarily have to come from a personal, autobiographical place. So based on the songs on this new album, I hope we can assume you and Neil are still doing well? (laughs) But the lyrical content of the first few songs especially, seems to tell a story about the breakup of a relationship...

Yeah...I read how you wrote that (laughs), and I loved how you took the album that way. And that is my intention...it's just not autobiographical, you know? It's really not (laughs).

You know, when you break it down, "Broken Vows" is, if anything, more about my parents divorce. And "Starting Over" was written after I went to a funeral. A guy we knew had been married to his wife, for like fifty years, and she died.

But yeah, I really liked that. I mean that's what you want as a songwriter, that people can take it into their lives. But that song just came out of a gospel thing, or something in my head. But you know, I really like to present the songs on an album as a story, as something thematic, rather than something you'd put on a random shuffle.

And I really think that's what the best songwriters do. Dylan, Springsteen...certainly Neil does. So what's your favorite song on the record?

Well, let's see, how does the album end? I think it ends on a high note, doesn't it? (laughs)

I think it ends with the second version of "Traveling." So is that song your favorite?

Well, "Traveling," yeah I love "Traveling" (laughs). I really love the spare version of it, but I think the band did a really great version of it too, with Phil (Jones) and Anthony (Crawford). They did a really great job on that.

I like your version of the Devendra Banhart song "Body Breaks" a lot too. It has a very torchy sort of feel to it, like Norah Jones or Sade...

Devendra Banhart played the Bridge School show one year. I love the song, and I like the way we did it. It has a very different tempo. I mean, I'm not trying to brag or anything, but I love the arrangement. Did we do that in Seattle? I think we did...

You know to be honest, I couldn't tell you. I wasn't that familiar with the album yet. Was it even out back then?

No problem. But I think we did do it. I think the album was out, but we might have been still trying to get copies up to Seattle to sell.

So you mentioned that Devendra played the Bridge School benefit one year. How's that going? I hear you have Pearl Jam lined up this year.

It's going great. Yes, we do. We have Pearl Jam, they announced it on their website. So, yes they are playing.

How hands-on is your involvement in the Bridge School at this point?

It's pretty hands-on (laughs). I mean, look, by way of floating ideas and such, Elliot and I talk often about who might be able to play.

Does your involvement at this point extend to anything in the administrative area?

We now have a wonderful executive director who is starting her seventh year. I was the executive director for the first six or seven years, and you know, I have my heart into it as a parent. I sit on the board still.

You guys are definitely doing some great work. Well, once again, thanks for taking the time to talk today Pegi.

I'm happy to talk to you, and I really appreciate your appreciation of my work, and I really do feel your review was one of those ones I read where, this guy really gets it. I feel good about that. So, thank you.


Dog Ears Music: As Summer Ends Playlist
September 3, 2010

Foul Deeds is a featured pick by Phil Ramone and Danielle Evin in the entertainment section of the Huffington Post.

Click here to see the list.


Music Review: Pegi Young - Foul Deeds (Limited Edition CD/DVD)
by Glen Boyd, blogcritics.org, September 3, 2010

Pegi Young is somewhat known as Neil Young's occasional backup singer and as co-founder of the Bridge School for children with speech and other learning disabilities. Mainly though, she is known as Mrs. Neil Young.

As the spouse of a rock legend, the temptation to immediately dismiss Mrs. Neil Young as a credible artist in her own right (see Yoko Ono or Linda McCartney for reference) is an understandably strong one. But in Pegi Young's case, such a premature rush to judgment would not only be unfair -- it would also be dead wrong.

On Foul Deeds -- her second solo album and her first for Vapor Records, the indie label started by Neil Young and manager Elliot Roberts -- Pegi Young convincingly casts aside any such doubts. The fact is, Pegi shows herself to be coming into her own as both a singer and songwriter quite nicely here.

Of course, it doesn't hurt to have great musicians like bassist Rick Rosas, guitarist Anthony Crawford, and the late, great multi-instrumentalist Ben Keith in the band. All of these names are familiar to anyone who has ever listened to Neil Young albums like Harvest Moon and Prairie Wind. Guys like keyboardist Spooner Oldham and even Neil himself turn up here as well.

But as the saying goes, you can have the greatest band in the world, and it still won't mean a thing without great songs to match. Fortunately, the songs on Foul Deeds -- divided equally between Pegi's originals, and a handful of well chosen covers by people like Will Jennings, Lucinda Williams, and Devendra Banhart -- are all pretty damn great.

Taken together, these songs also tell a story that flows like water from the first track to the last. Will Jennings' "Pleasing To Me" sets the table nicely, describing an idyllic relationship with lyrics like "I watch the sunshine tangled up in your hair, and it's pleasing to me." Pegi's smoothly pleasing voice, backed by Ben Keith (on Hammond B3 organ and pedal steel) and Crawford (on electric guitar), is also so convincing, that for a minute you'd be forgiven for thinking she actually wrote the song (she didn't) about Shakey himself.

But then, the lyrics take a darker, more melancholic tone as the next three songs -- all Pegi Young originals -- take you through the different stages of a relationship on the skids.

Departing somewhat from the laid back country feel heard elsewhere on this album, "Broken Vows" finds Pegi singing the heartbreak blues in lines like "in sickness and in health, it's a sickness and a sin, 'cuz you've taken off yet again" as Keith's pedal steel adds a perfectly understated touch of melancholy.

On the title track, she's still hurting, but begging forgiveness for "all my foul deeds." Talk about the stages of heartbreak!

But by the time of "Starting Over" she's resigned to "starting over anew in a world without you." "Who Knew" finds the once hurting party gathering new found strength and "making my place, might fall on my face." So, how's that for a series of songs that tell a story?

Another Pegi Young original called "Traveling" shows up twice here. Once, as a bare bones jazzy trio piece with Crawford on Fender Rhodes piano and drummer Phil Jones riding the cymbal brushes. It's later reprised as a slow blues in a full band arrangement as a bonus track.

Continuing the tales of heartbreak, Pegi Young turns in a beautifully rendered version of Lucinda Williams' "Side Of The Road," where she is joined by her famous husband on electric guitar and harmonica, as well as the great Spooner Oldham on the Wurlitzer(!).

However, the best cover version on the album -- and Pegi's best overall vocal performance -- is saved for a gorgeous version of Devendra Banhart's "Body Breaks." Joined once again by Neil Young on guitar and Spooner Oldham on piano, the song falls right in line with the overall theme of romantic heartbreak. But the mood is more dreamy and meditative, and Pegi's torchy vocal serves as the icing on the cake. Think Norah Jones singing Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" and you'd be pretty close to the atmospheric feel here.

The first 5000 copies of Foul Deeds also feature a bonus DVD of a Pegi Young concert filmed by Jonathan Demme at Philadelphia's Tower Theater and produced by L.A. Johnson and Bernard Shakey himself. Playing in front of the familiar staging of Neil Young's Chrome Dreams II tour, one has to assume this film was made at the same time as Demme's Trunk Show film document of that tour.

Featuring the same great band heard on the album -- Keith, Crawford, Rosas and Jones -- the film mostly features songs from Pegi Young's solo debut (although there is also a nice version of "Starting Over" from Foul Deeds). Several songs feature split screen effects, which mostly work well (particularly when you get to see Ben Keith's fingers on the dobro and pedal steel up close).

For me though, one of the best performances here is "Trouble In A Bottle," where Pegi Young pulls off the rather impressive feat of making a song about alcoholism sound warmer than it has any right to. Guitar tech Larry Cragg also turns in a spellbinding electric sitar solo on the semi-psychedelic "Love Like Water," that gave me instant flashbacks of the Box Tops' old single "Cry Like A Baby." And just when you think Ben Keith couldn't surprise you anymore, he pulls out a freaking autoharp!

On Foul Deeds, Pegi Young has pulled off the near impossible task of establishing herself as a unique artistic voice able to stand quite tall on her own, and well outside of the long shadow cast by her husband. To those tempted to dismiss her, I've got three words for you:

Don't Be Denied. Any questions?


Intimate and Satisfying Deeds: Pegi Young's Foul Deeds
by John Corcelli, Critics At Large, August 30, 2010

Pegi Young's Foul Deeds is a very satisfying album. (Pegi Young's music career has traditionally been seen in the shadow of her famous husband Neil. Yet she has written her own songs and released a few albums featuring members of Neil's band.) But it's sad to learn that Ben Keith, the long-time pedal steel guitarist who died July 26, 2010, has turned up on Foul Deeds as his last recorded statement. After a good career in Nashville as sideman and studio musician to such greats as Patsy Cline and Faron Young, Keith was hired to play on Harvest (1972), one of the most beloved albums in Neil Young's catalogue. Listening is the most important element to good musicians and Keith's ears were second to none. His work on Foul Deeds is exceptional in giving the record a sound and musical quality that's "in the pocket." Keith's style and tone supports the singer and the song while fueling the tempo. "Side of the Road," featuring Neil Young on harmonica, makes the case.

One of the best tracks on the album for its irony and sensuality is "Who Knew" particularly due to Keith's equally supportive dobro playing. In fact, this whole album is very intimate. Young's vocals, though limited in range, sound personal and private and on the confessional side: "Foul Deeds" or "Blue Sunday" make the case. That kind of intimacy is really hard to do in music, but Young succeeds because she sounds like she's singing only to you. This strategy may not be useful in finding commercial radio airplay, but it certainly draws you in. Besides, as I get older, that's the kind of music that I really appreciate and enjoy.

Foul Deeds also includes a DVD directed by Jonathan Demme, featuring Ben Keith, called, Love like Water. It's Pegi Young in performance at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia and it's included in the first 5,000 copies of the album.


Pegi Young (The Interview)
by Jason Gonulsen, SpeakersInCode.com, August 24, 2010

I'm sure there are many of you out there who know part of Pegi Young's story. Sure, she's the wife of Neil Young, and you won't find many tours of his where she's not singing with him or opening for him.

She also co-founded the Bridge School in 1986, giving children like her son, Ben, who has cerebral palsy, a place to develop skills and talents in order to achieve a high quality of life as adults.

Pegi Young, whether you like her music or not, is a person whose achievements prove her heart of gold.

Her new album, Foul Deeds, is her latest accomplishment, one that she co-produced and recorded with the late Ben Keith, Anthony Crawford, Rick Rosas, and Phil Jones. Spooner Oldham, Karl Himmel, and yes, Neil Young himself, also play on three of the album's tracks.

Foul Deeds features many originals written by Young, but also finds her covering Lucinda Williams, Will Jennings, Devendra Banhart, and B. Boatman. You can listen to Young's cover of Banhart's "Body Breaks" here.

We're proud to announce that we have a copy of Young's Foul Deeds to give away! Simply e-mail jason.speakersincode@gmail.com by August 30th to enter. We'll announce the winner on August 31st.

Luckily, we were able to catch up with Pegi over e-mail, where she talked to us about Foul Deeds and the Bridge School, among other topics. Enjoy!

1. Foul Deeds is your second album. How was the recording process different this time around? Did you deliberately do anything different?

The band stretched out instrumentally a bit more. We had been touring a lot with Neil and the guys had been playing some different instruments, so for instance, Ben ended playing B3 and piano, in addition to steel and dobro, and Anthony played mostly all electric guitar. My voice was probably stronger as we had been singing a lot. We always record to tape.

2. Where do you go when you want to write a song?

Inside my head.

3. If there is one thing you would like the listener to know before he or she spins Foul Deeds, it would be...

Keep away from sharp objects (Ha-ha).

4. You chose to cover one of my favorite Lucinda Williams songs, "Side of the Road," for Foul Deeds. It's such an introspective song, and fits well with your album. What does that song mean to you?

It's just such a great story about craving a moment to be with yourself, to be in the world as an individual, but only a moment. It's pretty plaintive. I love her writing.

5. In 2007, you opened quite a few shows for your husband, Neil Young. What were some of your favorite memories from that tour?

Strong memories of standing on the side of the stage, ready to go on, with shaking knees and chattering teeth. I heard that someone once said that the longest walk is from the dressing room to the stage, and that sure was my experience. Once we got going we had a blast.

6. Each year, you organize benefit concerts for the Bridge School, a school you co-founded. Musically or non-musically, what have been some of your favorite moments during those shows over the years?

The rapport that is established between the artists and the kids. The shift in perception; the growing awareness that within these people and their severely disabled bodies, they have such a lot of depth and personality. That's huge.

7. If you could choose one musician to write a song with, who would it be and why?

Hmmm. Good question. Spooner Oldham is genius. Back when we were making Prairie Wind with Neil, one night Spooner handed me a little scrap of paper with a little lyric, the beginnings of a song, on it. It would be fun AND awesome to finish that one together.

8. "Traveling" is my favorite song that you wrote for Foul Deeds, and it's been such a constant in your life. What have you learned from all the traveling you have done over the years?

Keep moving! Traveling opens your eyes to other peoples and cultures and experiences. Great for writing songs, too. Nothing like it.

9. If you could help your husband choose a setlist for one of his shows, what five tunes would absolutely have to be included?

Oh man! Impossible question. I will say that "Birds" is, and always has been, one of my all time favorite songs of his. Now if you asked me which songs I would like to sing on...

10. Finally, please tell us, how is your son, Ben, doing?

Great. He's a warrior and our spiritual leader, all rolled into one.


Post #997 - Pegi Young's Foul Deeds
mightyjoecastro.com, August 19, 2010

I was recently sent Pegi Young's new album, Foul Deeds, - I wasn't familiar with her previous record so I didn't know what to expect but was, honestly, pleasantly surprised. The whole album's got a really warm, almost countryish vibe - more of a rainy Fall Sunday player than a Saturday night banger - with a smokey lead vocal that gives a road-worn maturity to the tracks. Her backing band is solid and confident with enough class to know when to step back and just set the stage. Normally, this blend of mellow country folk rock is not really my thing but I think she does it justice, and I caught myself humming along to the songs after a few listens, especially the hook laden lead track Pleasing to Me, which has some nice Steve Cropper-esque guitar work in there. There's a good mix of original tunes as well as some covers, including a lap steel drenched version of Lucinda Williams' Side of the Road. And I always have a soft spot for records that state "This Album Was Recorded To 2 24 Track Analog & Mixed To 1/2 2 Track Analog" in the liner notes. Overall, if you're into Ms. Williams or maybe Tift Merritt or Bonnie Raitt., then this album is solid listen that should be right up your alley. Should go over with the WXPN crowd as well.

But why take my word for it when you can check it out yourself - download an mp3 of Starting Over from Pegi Young's Foul Deeds album here. And yes - it's totally legit and legal so enjoy some tunes guilt free.


Pegi Young Talks Her New Album, Neil Young and Jimmy Fallon
By Matt Thompson, CelebrityCafe.com, August 8, 2010

Pegi Young recently released her second album, Foul Deeds, to follow up on her 2007 self-titled debut. Known to many as the wife of legendary rocker Neil Young, she has not shied away from making a name for herself. She spoke to TheCelebrityCafe's Matt Thompson about Foul Deeds, Neil Young, the death of Ben Keith and Jimmy Fallon's impersonation of Neil, amongst other things.

TheCelebrityCafe: Let's get right into it. Foul Deeds. Not to judge a book by its cover, but it kind of sounds like a dark album. Tell me about it.

Pegi: It's got its share of dark themes, I guess you could say. It's got its divorce, a little debauchery, a little drunkenness.

TCC: What type of messages are you trying to send out through your songs?

Pegi: Oh, I'm just an observer. I just observe around me. I've lived for some time and so -- I'm not really sending a message. I'm just sending a message of music that means something to me, that I hope other people can find someplace to put it in their life.

TCC: What was the thinking process behind the songs you wrote personally such as "Broken Vows" and "Foul Deeds"?

Pegi: Well they came from two really different places. I wrote "Broken Vows," I wrote the music first on the piano. You know we were touring a lot with my husband, there was always a piano in the room. So, I just started playing on it. It took several cities to get the words to come through on that one. Again, it's just about watching my parents or my other friends, or people that split up. I was pretty much influenced by that. And then "Broken Vows", I woke up from a deep sleep. I was having a dream about this really cool place we played up in New York. The united palace. This whole presence, the history of this place was so awesome. It had such a big impression on me. I woke up and I was first thinking about that. And then all of a sudden, this other song came in like practically all at once, intact. Everything, the melody, the lyrics. It's a simple little song. But I can't explain that one, it just sort of popped in. I guess just thinking about going to Church and thinking about being in Church and what do you think about in Church. You think about your foul deeds and like "oh what have a I done?" You know I was raised Catholic, that might not be every church person's experience. (laughs)

TCC: Do you think that every artist gets their music from personal life experiences?

Pegi: Not necessarily. You know, I think you can be an observer of life too. Just see something that triggers off a thought. There are so many songs; there are just countless ones. It's imagery. It's not literal.

TCC: The cover tracks you did on the album, why did you choose these particular songs?

Pegi: "Blue Sunday" I first heard on the JJ Cale rewind record. It's a compilation of things he's done over the years with his producers that had passed away somewhat recently. My engineer had worked with JJ Cale a lot when he was younger. So he turned me on to this record. And I loved it for a few reasons. I loved it because it was a good honky tonk bar song and that's what we were going to play. And I loved that it had the beautiful steel part in it, because it obviously suited our band real well. Because we have the best steel player in the world in our band. The Lucinda Williams tune, I sang that one for my first record. Again, it's just kind of that lonely thing. I just admire her writing. She's just so wonderful in getting to the heart of the human condition so well. I put my own little thing on it. I know my arrangement is a little different from hers. What was the other one I did?

TCC: Pleasing To Me?

Pegi: Oh yeah, Will Jennings. I really dig his writing. I think he's a really good writer. I put three of his songs on my first record. We recorded that one previously and then we just thought we'd give it another shot. We thought it turned out good, we're happy with it. We've been doing that one live too.

TCC: How to do you feel about this album to your self-titled debut that you were just talking about?

Pegi: They're both my children. I don't have a favorite or anything. I think we did some different stuff on this record. We stretched out musically. The guys especially, because we've been playing so much on the road with my husband. Anthony played more lead guitar, we had a different drummer who was not with us on the road. But we played some live shows with him. It's just kind of a little shift. I think my songs are more current. They're not harkening back to another time and place and remembering what that felt like. I'm having experiences living more now. I'm a grown woman now. I wrote the other songs when I was a mere child.

TCC: Why did you choose to release your debut album later in life than when you were younger?

Pegi: Well there just wasn't room for it. First of all, I was just shy. I was not at all confident. I didn't even know any of the world-class musicians that ended up playing on my stuff. It was years before knowing them. I just used to play around with my friends. You know, it was just weird like in people's living rooms and stuff. I didn't have confidence, I didn't have access. I didn't even know where I would even go. How do you reach for a record? It really didn't even cross my mind to be honest. And then ultimately, I started thinking about it. Once I started playing more with Neil and playing with some of other guys. And I got my singing group going. And then one of my friends asked me to sing on her record and that was real exciting. And I had been in the studio with Neil. And I was like, "this could be cool." My kids had gotten to a certain stage in their lives where I could be focused on my music and not trying to balance all that. It's a lot to balance. A lot of women do it really well; I just didn't know how I could do it really well.

TCC: After singing back up to Neil for awhile, was it hard trying to find your own voice in music?

Pegi: Well, it was never hard trying to find my own voice, because it was kinda there. It is what it is. But to be more center stage and revealing myself in ways that you do when you sing your own music. That was definitely a leap. The guys were great and made me feel very secure. But it was terrifying, just about every night it turns out I have very bad stage freight. Once you get going everything's fine, the anticipation was killing me.

TCC: How does it feel once you get up on stage and the adrenaline is running and you're finally playing?

Pegi: It's great. It's so much fun. My band really has a lot of fun together. There's just a lot of support that goes on between us. The main thing is to have fun and get the people going and hopefully get them moving. And receiving it, doing good.

TCC: Obviously it seems like you would love to sell a lot of albums, but it doesn't seem that the money side of music interests you as much as the creative side. Is that true?

Pegi: Well, I think maybe what you read, I said somewhere, "Look, I'm 57 years old, I don't really expect to be the next big thing." I'm realistic about that. So I don't have to be as focused on the commerce side of it. And I don't have to be as focused on trying to make a living as a working artist. I have the luxury of being able to just create, be focused on my art and if people want to buy my record, I'm very happy about that too. I don't have any illusions of everything all in one basket. That puts people in a different headspace. I'm very grateful that I don't have to be in that headspace, but I also think that's why I didn't do it when I was younger. I didn't have what that took to really be that focused and that singular minded in order to try to make it and making it is very illusive now that the music business is a business. When I was younger, I think people were only just starting to figure out, there's a lot of money to be in this. The business side of it. And I think everybody just starts out making it for the love of music and then people that are in the business side of things start to figure out how to make the commerce side of it work too. Sometimes it doesn't always go well hand in hand.

TCC: Do you feel any pressure as a musician in being the wife of Neil Young?

Pegi: Yeah I sure do, only in that people are always going to say whatever they're going to say. I knew that going in. I could either just stifle myself or I could take a chance and people will receive it how they're going to receive it. And it is something that's been a love of mine for many, many years. I had the opportunity, I had the fantastic musicians, I had the songs, I had the place. I had the opportunity. And then I had more opportunities. I've had opportunities to open for him with the four of us. Lots and lots of opportunities. But I know that I'm very blessed and very lucky and very grateful to have all these opportunities. To have Vapor Records behind me, to have Warner Bros helping me out. Those things are very special and not something that happens to every woman at my age that decides she wants to make a record, obviously. Getting to talk to you and other people, I recognize this. It's not a pressure that would stop me. I don't really know what would stop me from doing it. Now that it's started, it's so much fun. People are going to say what they're going to say. Some people will like me, some people will really not like me. Some people will say whatever they're going to say. I can't control that. That's not me. I just have to try to make the move that's true to me and stay true to myself and that's all I can do.

TCC: How is touring to promote your own album differ from touring with your husband?

Pegi: Well, let's see. Our last tour that we did just in June, we had eight of us all on one bus. And we had our gear underneath. It was actually really fun. We had the band and the crew and the driver and me and we just went up and down the west coast. So that's a little different experience from when my husband travels. Although I will say on his last tour here, his last two that he's been doing. He's been doing really similar things. He doesn't have the band on the bus, but he's been doing a lot of driving. He's got our son on the bus or occasionally a couple visitors. We have a customized bus that's not able to accommodate bunks and multiple people. It's got room for our family basically.

TCC: Can you talk about Ben Keith a little bit? He was with Neil for a really long time. It's an unfortunate situation.

Pegi: It's not a lot to say. He played with me and my band. He's like a brother to me. I very much miss him. It's very new and very raw. I don't even know how we're going to play going forward without him. But we're thinking about it. And I'm not talking about Neil right now, I'm talking about my band. Neil has to make his decisions about that himself of course, but my band we've been talking a little bit, trying to figure out what we do. Because Ben wouldn't want us to stop.

TCC: I was reading up and I saw that you've been working with the Bridge School for more than two decades. I saw some clips on YouTube and it triggered in my mind, I wanted to know how the awareness and struggle against cerebral palsy has changed over the past two decades.

Pegi: Well the technology has changed. Probably not as quickly as we would like it to change. But it has moved along. That's a big emphasis of our program is enabling the kids to participate in their lives through the use of technology and other skills that we teach them there. Our son's almost 32 and I think that's a generation that's kind of moving forward in mainstream society for the first time in mass. There's obviously been other exceptional people with significant disabilities who have been in mainstream society quite successfully and are much older. I'm just thinking about this group that previously have more than likely been put in some sort of institutional setting when they were young and they grew up in that setting and that's the extent of their life. There's getting to be less and less of that, which I think is a real positive. There's much more kids growing up at home and being integrated into their families and their communities and their neighborhoods. All of that I think is very positive too. Part of what we do at Bridge School is we reach out internationally. So we've had five feature residents international. So when they return, they begin to impact what's going on in their countries. They're moving from one model to another model. A model of much more inclusion. So those are just a couple of things that come to mind. There's so much more research that's being done. Effective practices, strategies, teachings, methodologies and all of that. Kids hanging out with other kids.

TCC: Do you get a lot of enjoyment working with kids that have disabilities?

Pegi: Yes, I do. I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Talk about people that are inspirational. They are some inspirational folks for you. There are seemingly pure of spirit. There's not a lot of game playing, there's not a lot of time for trips. It's pretty much straight on communication. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all do that? They are tremendously hard working, because they just have so much to deal with. Their bodies just work for them to hit a switch, to eat, to breathe. Some of these kids are pretty significantly disabled. I'm very inspired by them and it's a great joy to spend time with them.

TCC: I wanted to ask you something on an unrelated note, did you have a chance to see Late Night with Jimmy Fallon recently where he did an impersonation of Neil.

Pegi: Well I've seen the "Pants on the Ground" one. I've seen one other one. But there's one lately, I think it's "Double Rainbow" or something like that, I don't even know exactly what that is. But to be honest they're just too broken to go into. Jimmy does a great impression; let's just say that. He's fantastic. He's pretty spot on. Between all the other stuff we've been doing, I just haven't had a real chance to check that out.


Foul Deeds never seemed so pure
by Matt Coleman, The Music Court, June 30, 2010

Pegi Young, the wife of folk troubadour Neil, is not just a female backup singer for her husband any longer. Instead, her new album, Foul Deeds, paired with her self-titled debut in 2007, proves that she is far more than a one-trick-pony; more like a true Crazy Horse.

Young is the classic example of a late-blooming artist, releasing her first album in her 50s. But, don't let age fool you. In response to her age Young says, "I'm 57, so I'm never gonna be the next big thing, but I'm cool with that. If I was younger, I might be more focused on the commerce part of it. But I'm not a 20-year-old trying to make a living, so I don't have to conform to some record company's idea of whatever they're looking for that week. In that way, I guess I can be truly independent and focus on the creative part. I have no idea where it will go from here, but I'm having fun and I feel really, really good about what I've done so far."

While Young was too shy to do anything past amateur recording when she was younger, she began pursuing music only 10 years ago after her kids were grown. As a back-up singer for her husband, she was exposed more to music and was able begin recording her own songs.

As Young says in her quotation above, she does not need to conform to any record company's idea and therefore can be independent. This is certainly reflected in her music. Her maturity inspired by life experiences is highlighted in her lyric and song. It is as if she just simply skipped the "growing up" portion that most musicians need to go through, and went straight into clean, fulfilling performances. Young knows who she is and it shows. I have so much respect for musicians who let everything out in their craft.

"Foul Deeds seemed like a good album title, because this record definitely has its share of dark themes... divorce, debauchery, disillusionment and despair," Pegi Young says of her second album and first for Vapor Records. "But I'm not trying to be a bummer. I'm just trying to tell some stories and make music that I can get behind."

And, isn't this a breath of fresh air. Young tells it straight. So many musicians today put on a musical facade, refusing to reveal themselves. Young, while she may have been shy when she was younger, is recording music that she, "can get behind." Music that she knows is real.

Foul Deeds is full of creative originals and fantastic covers. Her originals represent her grasp on heavy emotional issues and mastery over the folk style.

Young also concentrated on the flow of the album, a concept that is commonly forgotten about today. "I'm still a big believer in the old idea of a record being a complete experience," Young asserts. "So it matters to me that the songs have thematic relevance, and that somehow it tells some kind of story. Maybe people don't really listen to records as a whole anymore, and you can work on the sequencing till the cows come home but they'll still put it on shuffle and it doesn't matter. But it matters to me, and this group of songs just seem to make sense together."


Foul Deeds - Review
by Thom Jurek, allmusic.com

The follow-up to Pegi Young's self-titled 2006 debut reaches farther than its predecessor. Young's voice here is fuller, though it still contains its inherent reedy, smoky quality; it's still somewhat plaintive, but she uses it to get exactly what she needs to serve these songs. Her band includes pedal steel guitarist and co-producer Keith, guitarist and pianist Anthony Crawford, bassist Rick Rosas, and either Phil Jones or Karl Himmell on drums. Husband Neil Young and Spooner Oldham reprise their sporadic guest roles from her debut. The set thematically examines emotions as complex as grief, loss, redemption, the acceptance of change, and heartbreak, but it's hardly depressing. Foul Deeds includes four covers and five originals with an untitled track hidden after the end. The most notable of the covers includes the opening country rocker "Pleasing to Me" by Will Jennings, a truly gorgeous reading of Lucinda Williams "Side of the Road" that actually lends depth to the already beautiful lyrics; and the closer and album standout: a lilting, deeply moving version of Devendra Banhart's "Body Breaks." Young and Oldham appear on the latter two. Of the originals, the title track, a vulnerable country waltz that expresses regret and repentance for unnamed transgressions, the 2-stepping country shuffle of "Who Knew," and the sparse, elegiac waltz "Traveling" are standouts. Foul Deeds reflects Young's growing confidence as a songwriter, singer, and producer. It appears that she knows exactly where she wants to go and exactly how to get there.


in which country and folk mixed together can be a good thing
by Heather, July 8, 2010

so, when i was a teenager, and therefore thought i was right about everything, i consistently insisted i hated country music. my dad pretty much listens to it all the time, and every time i got into a car with him, i thought i was going to go mad because i couldn't take all the whiny guitars and cheesy lyrics. and then i went off to england one summer to work on an archaeological dig and for some bizarre reason or other, i came back liking, and more importantly appreciating, country music.

there are a lot of instances in which folk and country overlap, and sometimes this can be a really good thing. take pegi young, for example. this singer/songwriter has plenty of country beats mixed into her music, but it still comes across as thoughtful, melodious folk. her latest album, foul deeds, is a study of disillusionment, a topic both country artists and singer/songwriters have lamented for decades.

starting over is such a sad song and yet set to a knee-bouncing beat. this is the way country rolls, friends. and sometimes, this juxtaposition is the sugar that makes the medicine of beautiful, sad songs go down easier and why i find myself putting songs like this on repeat.

memories last for days
will the tears fall at night?
how we could, i go on
if my heart was aching so tight
in your chest
you know you do your best
'cause you're starting over
you're starting over
starting over
i knew
in a world without you

Download - Pegi Young
loundvine.com

It must run in the family. From being Neil Young's backup singer and wife for a long long time to this very moment in musical history, Neil himself should feel blessed to grace the stage with Pegi Young! Pegi Young recently released her first album on Vapor Records, "Foul Deeds" and it is so delightful, thoughtful, stunningly simple and beautiful, it is music that resonates in you long after the last play.

Pegi is accompanied by a deep musical connection with an amazing group of musicians that makes this an album people will be talking about for a long, long time. It includes, multiinstrumentalist Ben Keith (who coproduced the album with Young), guitarist/harmony singer Anthony Crawford and bassist Rick Rosas, who comprised Young's live band while touring behind her debut. They were also were joined on the sessions by drummer Phil Jones.


Drinks With: Pegi Young
By Skip Matheny, American Songwriter,
May 27, 2010

I was fortunate enough to get to chat with Pegi in Austin this spring at SXSW. Though she had been writing songs and poems since high school and married Neil Young along the way, she had never had the chance to properly record her first record until a few years ago. Many of the songs on 2007's Pegi Young she wrote either in high school or while living in a teepee and tending bar in north California (incidentally, she told me, the same bar in which she met Neil). She has a very distinct voice as a lyricist, and its a rare thing to be able to hear a writer debut songs that she's been living with for 20-30 years. The song "Key to Love" sounds just as appropriate coming out of a twenty-year-old's mouth, as a woman whose been married for twenty years. Her latest record, Foul Deeds will be out June 22.

What's your favorite drink?

I love water, love a lot of tea on show days, but red wine is also right up there. Good red wine.

Some of the songs of your first record were written as far back as high school. When you were writing back then, were you typically writing lyrics or poems mainly? Was there music attached to it in your head? What were the origins of these songs like?

Mostly poems, though on the first record "White Line In The Sun" that was a song that came out as a song, there's a few of those. "Key To Love" was a poem that I came up with a little melody for.

That's a great song.

Oh thanks, man! I wrote it when I was twenty years old and never in my wildest dreams thought anybody would ever hear it. 'Cause I was twenty years old living in a teepee, living this counter - culture lifestyle and didn't even know any of these guys -- Neil, or the wonderful musicians that I've gotten to play with, you know? I played around with my friends, just amateur, casual stuff.

That's amazing that a song written so far back would stand up so well on a debut album, years later in your life. I think I read also that [the song] "Heterosexual Masses" was written when you were working at a bar back at this time?

Yeah that was right around that same time -- I was [bartending] watching that 'dance of the singles' that was on.

That's got some fun lines in it like "When you can have fun pinching asses."

Yeah, "Telling lies and pinchin' asses" [laughs]

For Foul Deeds, were you starting from scratch with new songs, or did you or did you still have songs from over the years to record?

Most of the stuff on the new record is way more current. I do still have some stuff -- I've even got my book that I carry around with me -- and I look at it, and look at it and I know one of these days a melody is gonna come in for it, 'cause I like it, you know?

Absolutely. Any specific one from the new record come to mind as a "recent" composition?

Yeah, "Foul Deeds," the title song. I woke up and I was having this dream about Reverend Ike and this place the Palace Cathedral where we'd played up in New York. It's up in Harlem and we had like six nights there, and that's when we were still doing the theater show, so my band was opening for Neil and it just made an impression on me, that place. Something about Reverend Ike and the whole thinking about the singing going on in that church -- and so I started to write something about that -- and then all of a sudden this other song ["Foul Deeds"] came in pretty much just intact just the way it is. It's just it's really short; like we've timed it out, 'cause we were doing the set, its only like two and a half minutes, and it's over before it begins.

Typically do you more often start with lyrics and then sort of let the melodies arrive? Or does music come first?

Most often it's lyrics. I like lyrics and I think in words I guess somehow, sometimes they come in together which is always nice.

It is convenient when that happens.

It's convenient. But "Foul Deeds" came in all nice and intact and there it was. There's another song on the record from another time recently where I was driving down the road and I saw this big moving van and it was just like [makes buzzing sound]. So I pulled over and wrote down lyrics and then the melody. The basic melody came in pretty quickly after that. Then I was just tweaking on it and tweaking on it and I think actually Neil gave me a little passing thing that was just like this little link that put the two pieces together. I think it was just basically a chord change getting from an A back to an E minor. I was like oh yeah! Good idea!

I love it when a chord change can pull everything in line.

It really helped, it was like the song was in two sections almost or something. So yeah, its mostly lyrics for sure. Although now see I've been writing on piano a little bit more, and the piano tends to come in more with music and melodies. I did play piano when I was little, and I can figure things out differently on it than I can on the guitar neck. I still don't even really understand the guitar neck; I have to count it out. What key am I in?

I live I Nashville now so everybody there uses numbers for chords. It's the most standard thing.

Oh the number system.

Yeah, I haven't caught up to that musical knowledge yet, so if we have to transpose something, we have to send the rest of the band outside to smoke or something.

Right! [laughs]

I think I read this somewhere about recording time, that you all arrange sessions around the full moon?

Yeah, it kind of happened by accident the first time. Of course Neil is well known for working around the full moon and I think it is a really productive time. I don't remember exactly now, 'cause its been a while, but it seems to me it wasn't really planned -- these were the available dates and then we realized [it was the full moon], and it was like oh, this is cool. And it was the three days leading up to it, the fourth day was the full moon and all that build was so productive, and everything was just going great. And then as it began to wane so did we!

That's really funny. The full moon is a really productive time -- ask pregnant women the world over. Or emergency room workers.

It is a productive time. There's no question about it. That's amazing. So now I have tried a little bit more to plan around that but this session -- that this album kind of spilled out of -- I don't recall if that was around the full moon or if it was just more like necessity. We were on tour [in between strings of dates] and we'd had so much fun playing some of these new songs I'd written, and some of the other songs we were doing that I didn't write -- Will Jennings, and some other writers -- that we were getting near to the next break, and I thought, "You know if we don't get in the studio right now..."

So literally we were in Reno, and it was the last show and I went to Elliot [Mazer, producer] and I said, "Can you see if you can book a session for me next week? See if all the guys can be available and get the team together and bring in Chad from Nashville?" 'Cause if we didn't get in the studio then we weren't gonna get in until February.

We have to be productive with or without the moon this time.

Exactly.

There's this really cool stated vulnerability in a song like "Fake" that I've never really heard on male songwriters' records. You can hear it on a lot of Joni Mitchell's records. Its just a very cool or rough-edged or experienced kind of vulnerability. Is this something that you're conscious of? Are you consciously trying to portray particular characters or situations? Or are you just writing what comes out naturally?

Oh, I am so flattered beyond belief to be even thought of in the same world as Joni Mitchell. I don't think about trying to come out with a certain vulnerability or anything else. That song "Fake" was one when we were just flying somewhere and it just came through. You know it's got something that sparks it, but then what I strive for is, the best songs have that universal quality, so people can take them into their own lives and interpret them for themselves, whatever their experience is. It's a big, grand wish to be able to do that.

Can you think of a time in the last few years when you were really just surprised by how good a piece of music was?

Oh man, there's some interesting people out there now. I was really surprised that Pink could get up in that thing and really sing at the Grammys! I was surprised at that.

That's amazing.

I was impressed. I was like what?!

You've been witness to and participated in so many important recordings in the past few decades, both as a creator and an observer. You've worked with, or been in close quarters with, several of the more influential artists and musicians I can think of. From the position of trying to make good music or good art, is there anything you have learned or observed that seems to work across most all situations?

Be true. Just stay true. That's the best advice I've ever gotten from Neil, in particular, but many others around me as well. All the wonderful musicians I've gotten to work with. Anthony and I were just taking a walk here the other day, and I was nervous 'cause we hadn't done a show and he said, "We're going out there to groove, not prove." But, for real, you know, don't try to fake it -- just follow your muse. Just follow where your artistry takes you. And don't try to be "something" cause -- I mean well look at American Idol; there's some talented people in there, but there's a lot of people who I think are just trying so hard to get something and they don't even know what it is.

That's great advice -- almost deceptively simple. It's been a great time chatting with you Pegi and I really appreciate it.

Thank you! I've really enjoyed chatting with you too.


Pegi Young Releases Foul Deeds Today
by altsounds, June 29, 2010

"Foul Deeds seemed like a good album title, because this record definitely has its share of dark themes... divorce, debauchery, disillusionment and despair," Pegi Young says of her second album and first for Vapor Records. "But I'm not trying to be a bummer. I'm just trying to tell some stories and make music that I can get behind."

Young initially came to the public's attention through her longstanding role as backup singer with Neil Young, her husband of three decades, but on this new album, she makes it clear that her iconoclastic creative voice is very much her own.

The first 5000 copies of the album will include the bonus live DVD Love Like Water, directed by filmmaker Jonathan Demme at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia.

In addition to Young's own compositions, Foul Deeds features the artist's personalized interpretations of a quartet of songs by other writers. Her compelling readings of Will Jennings' "Pleasing to Me," Lucinda Williams' "Side of the Road," Devendra Banhart's "Body Breaks" and B. Boatman's "Blue Sunday" imbue those already-distinctive songs with additional depth and color. /P>


Pegi Young
Foul Deeds
Vapor
by Brian Robbins, JamBands.com, June 21, 2010

Okay, okay - she may be Neil Young's wife, but let me tell you something right now, boys and girls: Pegi Young's new album Foul Deeds stands just fine on its own, thank you very much. With a voice that manages to sound both a little rough and a little sweet (and always real) at the same time, and the ability to either write some solid tunes or pull off covers that sound like she wrote them, Pegi Young is one solid, soulful talent. (And for all you absolute Rusties out there that just need to know: yes, ol' Neil adds little touches of acoustic guitar and harmonica in a couple places, but don't sweat it. This is Pegi's album - and it's good.)

Take, for instance, Young's take on Lucinda Williams' "Side Of The Road," a song about the tug-of-war between connecting with someone else and potentially losing part of yourself in the process. On the original, when Williams sings "You wait in the car on the side of the road/Let me go and stand awhile" and assures her partner "If I stray away too far from you/Don't go and try to find me/It doesn't mean I don't love you/It doesn't mean I won't come back", it's easy to envision her backing slowly away from the car, on the verge of spinning around and making a break for the puckerbrush, never to be seen again. There's an undefined unsettledness with Lucinda that disappears in Pegi Young's hands. She sounds cool and comfortable with things - and just needing to check in with herself for a minute, that's all. She's okay.

Ben Keith's relationship with the Young family goes all the way back to the Harvest sessions when (as a member of Neil's Stray Gators) he helped define and sculpt that album's sound with his beautiful pedal steel work. On Foul Deeds, Keith's contributions are just right: tasty touches of steel here (the Memphis-flavored "Pleasing To Me" and a lovely waltz with Pegi's vocals on "Broken Vows"); Saturday-night dobro there ("Who Knew" and "Starting Over"); and a bit of B3 organ as needed. Other players on Foul Deeds include six-string vet Anthony Crawford, bassist Rick Rosas, drummers Phil Jones and Karl Himmel - and a Wurlitzer cameo by Spooner Oldham.

A very dry and immediate-sounding mix complements Young's vocals - this gal needs no "Hall of the Mountain King" reverb to sound good. She can go cool bluesy on you ("Blue Sunday" aptly enough), get Donna Jean Godchaux-funky with it (the aforementioned "Pleasing To Me"), or sing a little hurt out ("Traveling") and wear them all equally well.

Thinking about it, it is kind of cool that Neal and Pegi are husband and wife (it'd make for cool birthday sing-alongs, if nothing else), but that's got little or nothing to do with this album. Foul Deeds belongs to Pegi Young and that's that.


Concert Review: Bert Jansch and Pegi Young At The Triple Door, Seattle, WA
By Glen Boyd
Blogcritics.org
June 11, 2010
(Photo by C.C. Chapman)

Sixty-six year old Scottish folk singer/songwriter/guitarist Bert Jansch (it's pronounced "Yanch") is a living legend who has had a profound and lasting influence on rock musicians ranging from Neil Young, Jimmy Page and Johnny Marr, to Pete Doherty and Devendra Banhart.

Yet, he is all but unknown in America outside of a small, but quite rabid group of devotees. However, that may be changing.

Jansch, a guitarist who Neil Young once called "as great as Jimi (Hendrix) was," has been opening the shows on Young's current Twisted Road tour. And despite the reputation of some of Neil's more boisterous fans for drunkenly yelling out things like "Rawk N' F**in' Roll" during the quieter moments of his shows, audiences have not only been uncharacteristically respectful of Jansch -- quite a few of them also seem to be actually getting it.

Judging by Jansch's solo acoustic performance this past Thursday night at Seattle's Triple Door, it's not hard to see why. As a guitarist, Jansch is absolutely spellbinding to watch -- a fact which became even more apparent in witnessing him work his magic in the small, intimate confines of Seattle's Triple Door.

Best known in the States as a founding member of sixties/seventies British folkie cult faves The Pentangle, Jansch's music is a product of that same indigenous scene which spawned the much better known Fairport Convention and its offshoots Sandy Denny and especially the great Richard Thompson.

But at the risk of offending Thompson fanatics everywhere, Jansch's guitar work is simply in a class all its own.

Watching Jansch's amazing guitar skills up close and personal at the Triple Door on Thursday night was almost like seeing two virtuoso guitarists doing their thing at once.

In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the first few times I saw Jeff Beck play live. In the same way I once was hypnotized by all those crazy things Beck does with a whammy bar and a Strat, the combination of Jansch's full-throttle hand strumming and intricate five fingered style of picking was something I simply couldn't take my eyes off of.

As a vocalist, Jansch sings in a gruff sounding, heavily accented, deeply voiced sort of timbre. On Thursday night, the songs themselves veered from the ultra-traditional British and Scottish folk of "Rosemary Lane" and "The Old Triangle" (from his current album, The Black Swan -- which the normally stingy Mojo Magazine recently afforded a rare five star rating), to darker, bluesier-based fare like "Duck In The Diamond" (a song Jansch said he wrote after spending a few nights out with notorious lunatic Pete Doherty).

Opening up for Jansch was Pegi Young, who was backed by a great six-piece band, including such notable players as bassist Rick Rosas, keyboardist Spooner Oldham, and multi-instrumentalist Ben Keith -- all of whom are veteran sidemen in bands fronted by Pegi's famous husband, Neil Young.

Having seen Pegi open for Neil Young in much larger venues, I was particularly struck by how much better she comes across in a more intimate space like the Triple Door.

Her vocals were not only much stronger than I remember from the arena shows with Neil I've seen, but her stage presence also came across as much warmer -- although she needs to work more on letting the audience know the names of the songs being played, especially when they are newer ones.

Concentrating on new songs like "Blue Sunday" and the title track of an upcoming album called Foul Deeds, Pegi also performed songs from her debut album, including the Spooner Oldham penned "I'm Not Through Loving You Yet."

While the band all sounded great playing Pegi's mostly twangy, folk and country-rock influenced songs, the always great Ben Keith was a particular standout on pedal steel and dobro. Guitarist Anthony Crawford also had some fine moments though, and Phil Jones more than passed the Old Grey Whistle Test on drums.

Both Pegi Young and Bert Jansch will resume opening the remaining shows on Neil Young's Twisted Road tour next month -- including a return date in Seattle -- following a round of headlining club dates on the west coast.

If you make it out to any of these shows, be sure to get there early. Because whether he's headlining in a club or opening for Neil Young in an arena, Bert Jansch is not to be missed.


Live Shots
By Michael Bertin
Austin Chronicle
March 19, 2010
(Photo by Sandy Carson)

Pegi Young at Maggie Mae's,
Wednesday, March 17


For someone embarking on a solo career relatively, oh, late in the game - her second solo album will be out on Vapor later this year - Pegi Young has a few things working decidedly in her favor. She's got decades worth of experience on the road as a backup singer. Her fivepiece backing band has probably three centuries of combined living under their belt (and some of it visibly hard). And, oh yeah, she's Neil Young's wife. The latter probably gets people in the door, if for no other reason than to see if the unsubstantiated rumor of a cameo by Mr. Soul might come with the package (it didn't), but ultimately, the missus' songs have to be judged on their own merits, and if you subscribe to Sturgeon's Law - that 90% of everything is crap - then Young's material easily clears the bar for the upper decile. Songs like "I Like the Party Life" and "Blue Sunday" aren't the anthems of this or any generation - they're straight-up roadhouse Americana - but they don't pretend to be anything else, and the unassuming comfort with which Young consistently delivers her material makes it hard to dismiss her as just a curiosity.


Pegi Young Showcases For SXSW
by Paul Cashmere
Undercover
March 19 2010
(photo by Ros O'Gorman)

Pegi Young has one huge advantage and one huge disadvantage. The advantage is being the wife of Neil Young. The disadvantage is being the wife of Neil Young.

The Young name got the crowd in the door at Maggie Mae's in Austin last night but it was the music that made them stay.

Pegi Young is no newcomer and the experience shows. Her debut album was three decades in the making. At her SXSW showcase she debuted songs from her second album 'Foul Deeds'.

Pegi is a performer comfortable with the stage. When you do it for so long as a backing singer, taking those few extra steps to the spotlight isn't a huge leap. Confidence is the key, and comfort in the creation of those songs was what made Pegi Young live a great show to watch.

Oh yeah, and then there is the band. Pegi shares her band with her husband Neil. Ben Keith was on slide, Rick Rosas on bass, Anthony Crawford on guitars and vocals and special guest Spooner Oldham was on the keyboard. The missing component last night was in fact Neil who does play on her album and has appeared with her on stage before.


Pegi Young Interview: SXSW 2010 Mar 11th 2010
by Matt Levin
Spinner

Pegi Young released her soulful, country-twanged debut album in 2007 -- more than 30 years after she started writing music. But for so long, Young never found the time to get into the studio to work on her own material. Between being a background singer for her husband, rock legend Neil Young, and co-founding a special-needs school (The Bridge School), Pegi Young had other priorities up until recently. Now her music career is starting to take off, with a second album coming out this spring. She'll play on Vapor Records Night at SXSW on March 17, and she spoke with Spinner about her expectations of the festival.

Describe your sound on the upcoming album, 'Foul Deeds.'

It's similar in some ways [to her self-titled first album], because [it has] some of the same instrumentation -- a little bit more electric guitar a little less bell. Kind of veering toward rock 'n' roll.

How did your band form?

I played the Academy Awards in 1994 (as a singer in Neil Young's band); that was my first live performance. Everybody knew I had songs. [Manager Elliot Roberts] and [guitarist Ben Keith] and Neil -- they knew I played. I played before I Neil ... So I think it was in 2000 that I started actually working on my first tour as a background singer. Then I started a singing group back where we lived. One thing led to another, and it was like well, OK, why not now? I've got the opportunity.

What are your musical influences?

I love great harmonies, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, a kinda jazzy thing. Also, the California, Bay Area kids: I grew up with the psychedelic San Francisco scene. Love that kind of music: the Dead, Joy of Cooking, It's a Beautiful Day, Santana, Janis -- all this great music that came out of that era. But also music like Emmylou Harris. Real country music.

What's your biggest vice?

I think a lot of those vices went a long time ago. Like I said, I was a child of the Sixties.

What's your plans for SXSW, and what is your festival survival kit?

I like to go and check out some of the young bands; people that I may or not know of. I've been [to SXSW] before, but I've never performed. I'm excited and I'm even a little nervous about it. It's such a cool festival. On the days when I'm doing my thing, [I drink] a lot of tea, a lot of water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

What's your musical guilty pleasure?

Amy Winehouse, though she's much better than the poppy stuff out there. I just want her to get through this ... whatever's happening.

Beatles or Stones?

I'm so about Brian Jones. The Beatles were incredible and changed the face of music, and the Stones were like the bad boys.

What's the craziest thing you've seen or experienced while on tour?

[Laughs] I don't think I can answer that.

How much is your husband involved in the creative process when you're working on an album?

He was really not involved in the ['Foul Deeds'] record. ... He's on this record because of stuff I used from the first session [for 'Pegi Young']. He was cool, very supportive of the first one. In the studio, it's not easy for him to just sit there. ... It's natural for him to come into the studio and start calling the shots. He tries to do his own thing. I'll ask him straight up [what he thinks]. I listen. I trust these guys. They've been in the studio a lot. Made a lot of music... I'm in kindergarten. They're cutting their Ph.D's.