Put her on a stage, and watch how within minutes Melissa Ferrick earns a fresh new batch of hardcore fans. She does it simply by being herself: fierce & funny, outspoken & vulnerable, passionate & playful. Above all, Ferrick's keenly aware that a truly memorable concert will contain as many shifts of energy and spur-of-the-moment surprises as life itself.
And now Ferrick gives us The Other Side, an album packed with all the intensity and subtlety of her live shows. This entirely solo project was created in her home studio, with Melissa playing all the instruments (save for a single cameo guitar appearance by Teddy Goldstein) - and recording, producing and engineering the album all alone. "The Other Side marks the first time I've made a record by myself," she notes. "I just put down what I heard in my head, in real time. I love being in my own element like that."
Of course it doesn't hurt that she's a masterful guitarist. Or that she's got a powerhouse voice and a constantly deepening catalogue of irresistible songs. Then there's the emotional honesty of Ferrick's first-person lyrics; the force of her vocal delivery; the disciplined fury of her musicianship; and her instinctive ability to connect to her audience with both confidence and grace. Whether playing an acoustic set in an intimate club or rocking a crowd of thousands, Melissa takes command of her surroundings and beckons her growing community of listeners to hear where she'll take them next. And take them she does. Playing well over 150 dates a year, Melissa packs venues like Manhattan and LA's Knitting Factory, New Orleans' House of Blues, Slim's in San Francisco, and Boston's Somerville Theatre.
Ferrick started attracting widespread attention back in her teen years; by age twenty she was signed to Atlantic Records where she released her first two records, Massive Blur and Willing to Wait. Her next three recordings were put out by indie label What Are Records, and then, in 2000, Melissa launched her own label: Right On Records. So far Right On has released three studio albums, including The Other Side, and a double live set.
Born in 1970, Ferrick spent her formative years in Ipswich, Massachusetts, raised by a public school teacher dad with a love of poetry and a thoroughly devoted mom who instilled in Melissa the gifts of passion and commitment. Mr. Ferrick also managed a few free-jazz bands back then and often brought his five-year-old daughter to clubs on Boston's North Shore to listen and to watch. The results: by junior high school, Melissa had learned the violin, bass and trumpet. Twelve years of classical training, starting with her elementary Suzuki lessons and capped by two years each at Berklee College of Music and at New England Conservatory of Music, provided her with ample background in music theory. But it wasn't until she picked up a guitar that she truly found her own voice. "I feel like we found each other," Melissa says of her favorite instrument. "I'm constantly discovering ways I can make sounds come out of it; ways I can make an acoustic guitar not sound like an acoustic guitar."
Ferrick is truly in her element these days, both in-concert and offstage. Right On Records continues to grow and, thanks to a brand-new arrangement with North Carolina-based Redeye Distribution, her albums are now readily available throughout the States, in addition to Canada (via RAM Recordings) and Japan (through SMASH). As if this wasn't enough, Ferrick recently released the live CD she recorded in Flagstaff, AZ, with drummer Brian Winton, 70 People @ 7000 ft.
These days you'll find Melissa keeping pretty busy: working on a collection of updated versions of songs from her early albums, editing a forthcoming DVD document of her first ten years on the road, running her record company, writing music and, oh yeah, up on stage winning over more and more people every night she plays.