Talk of the Town
Sara Arthur was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, a place where southern roots and northern influences intersect to create a musical history rich with jazz, swing, country, and blues. The state is the birthplace of such musical talents as Patsy Cline, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Carter Family, to name a few. Each represents a different style of music, but they all told their stories through song. Growing up there, in an era of great pop music on the radio, Sara began singing at a very early age. Her mother remembers her doing remarkably skillful renditions of songs she heard on the AM and FM stations. That's where her eclectic taste in music began. She loved to sing all the styles of music coming over the airwaves and even counts among her earliest influences the music from a long-running TV commercial for a Patsy Cline Collection record album. In college Sara first began to perform in clubs and coffee houses, where she also met her future husband, multi-instrumentalist Charles Arthur, with whom she began to collaborate. Together they moved back to Richmond and eventually joined Johnny Hott's Piedmont Souprize, where for the last ten years Sara has been fronting the band, a vibrant combo that seemlessly mixes what could seem disparate - mid-century pop and jazz (including DixieLand Jazz), old style country, and rhythm and blues. The sound is fresh, and the smoky, fan filled nightclubs are a hoppin' when Sara and the Souprize are in the house. The years of genre-bending performances helped forge Sara's singular, torchy, honey-dipped sound. "Could there be a better education for a singer than a barstool, a mike stand, and a loud barroom?" asks Sara. Her new solo CD, Talk of the Town, pays homage to her diverse musical background. Sara and producer Stephen McCarthy (Long Ryders, Jayhawks, Gutterball) wanted to craft an album that would be influenced by these different artists from the past, yet have a modern feel. On this debut disc, Sara continues the vocal storytelling tradition with soulful songs of love and loss, some of which she co-wrote with producer McCarthy. These originals evoke melodic '60s pop, swinging '40s standards, and even '30s German cabaret. She also freshly spins understated takes on inspired covers such as Todd Rundgren's "I Saw the Light" and Lerner & Loewe's "I Could Have Danced All Night." Dripping with Virginia talent, the CD is enhanced by the musical artistry of McCarthy and Sara's husband, Charles "King" Arthur (Slaid Cleaves), on every track, as well as the work of musicians Coby Batty, Daniel Clarke, Steve Duncan, Johnny Hott, and Brian Jones.