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Songwriter, musician, and novelist Ann Reed debuts new CD

Posted on 26 October 2017 by calvin

By JAN WILLMS

Longfellow music legend Ann Reed (photo right provided) started picking on her brother’s guitar at the age of 12, and she’s never looked back. In a music career that has taken her across the country performing live, Reed has written and sung songs that touch the heart and free the mind. And her new CD, “Winter Springs, Summer Falls,” adds to her repertoire. The CD release concert is scheduled for 7pm, Sun., Nov. 12 at St. Joan of Arc Church, 4537 3rd Ave. S.

Born in Minneapolis, Reed spent the first two years of her life in St. Louis Park and then moved to Minnetonka, where she grew up.

“Almost everyone in my high school was learning how to play guitar,” Reed recalled. She was also a part of a folk mass in a local Catholic church. “That helped me gain confidence,” she said. “The first concert I ever saw was Peter, Paul and Mary, and I was off and running.”

Reed said she tried a year of college in Bemidji, but joked that she is not an academic. Making her home in Minneapolis, she did a variety of part-time and temporary jobs but always focused on her music. “One time I tried to write down all the part-time jobs I had. It took awhile,” Reed quipped.

Reed and her manager, Lin Bick, did go to Nashville. “It was a generally pretty open community as far as being able to talk to publishers and labels,” Reed said. “We got in to see everybody we wanted to. We sat down with the fellow who had brought in Alabama.”
Reed said he listened to her tape, then turned to her manager and asked what Reed wore on stage.

“I thought that if that’s what it’s about, I don’t want a part of that. I would rather be independent. They’re not in the business of discovering people but in the business of making money. They know what they have made money with before, and it just wasn’t comfortable for me. I want to write songs.”

And write songs is what she did. Her new release is her 24th album. Reed worked for a couple of years with Red House Records, but after that went her own way, forming her own company, Turtlecub Productions, Inc.

And, Reed has not limited herself to writing and performing songs. She has written a play based on a song she wrote called “Heroes” and took it on tour. She also wrote a play about Dorothy Fields, the lyricist behind “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.”

Last year Reed (photo left by Jan Willms) completed her first novel, “Citizens of Campbell.” It is the story of two WWII vets living in the small town of Campbell, IA, and their unlikely friendship.

“My wife had an internship in psychology and was working in a small town in Iowa, so small they made announcements when a storm was coming rather than use a siren. That stuck in my head, and I started writing this story after my dad died. The two main characters have a little bit of my dad in them.”

Reed said she wrote about 15 pages and then let it go for many years, until about four years ago. “A friend was writing, and she wanted me to read her work. But then she wanted to read some of mine in exchange. So we started mutually helping each other, and I got it done.”

Reed has also published a book of Haiku. “I write at least one Haiku every day, and I have been doing it for the past eight years,” she stated. “It’s a nice way to focus your day, and it’s a centering kind of poem. You only have those three lines and 17 syllables. It’s the opposite of writing a novel.”

The writing process, whether songs or Haiku, is something Reed enjoys very much. “It really fills me up, and is kind of my number one thing,” she said. “Writing is a very solitary endeavor, but very peaceful for the most part, unless you’re frustrated, which can happen too. I have a small writing group, and we talk about writing or drawing. Having that kind of support is great.”

She recalled that when she was starting out, it was a great time for songwriters. It was also a time for social activism and protest songs. Reed said she doesn’t know why great protest songs don’t resonate today. “I know songs are being written, but they are not the kind that you join in and sing. When we think about the old folk songs, they were so easy for people to catch on right away and jump in. Times have changed.”

Reed added that her shows are not free of commentary. “I try to do it in a way that sometimes is humorous and sometimes is poignant through my songs,” she noted. She said she has reached an age where she feels free to speak her mind. “Once you have crossed the line of being 60, you don’t care anymore. You just let it go.”

Reed said she recently read an interview with the actress Frances McDormand. “She was talking about being a post-menopausal woman and becoming invisible. I had always thought of that as a negative thing, but her take was that we can become invisible and become very powerful. All bets are off, and there is a great deal of freedom when you get to be an older woman. You have lived long enough and have had all this experience, and it is very freeing.”

When she wrote her songs for her upcoming CD, Reed centered her album around the seasons. “Seasons are so important for me in my life; I feel we live by the seasons,” Reed said her favorite time of year is fall and winter when people are heading toward resting. “This is a time when we are putting the garden to bed, getting ready to nest, and have a nice long rest in winter,” she explained. “Winter is lovely, and then we get ready for spring, a time of renewal. Summer is full of energy, with people awake and active.” She said most of the songs on her new CD pertain to the seasons, except for “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.” “But that song has the energy of summer, so it does relate to the seasons in that way,” she added.

For this CD, Reed put it together a little differently. “Usually I will sit down, write all the songs, then go in the studio and record them. This time I wrote a couple, then recorded them. It took over three years.”

Unlike BB King and his guitar Lucille, Reed has not christened her 12-string guitar with a name. But in December she will have had it for 40 years. She is one of few women who play a 12-string. “12-string is notoriously hard to tune,” she said, “but I have always loved its sound, because of the high strings. There is a very bright and very full sound to it.” Her guitar was made by Charlie Hoffman, who has a shop in the Seward neighborhood.

Reed is at work on another novel. “I might be doing a project with my bass player, Joan Griffith,” she said. “A lot of people have asked us to do a CD of covers or standards.” She will continue with her regular December gig at the Riverview Cafe, monthly sing-alongs, and shows at Zumbrota.

“And I will start writing songs again,” she said. “Because that’s what I do.”

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Music CDs by Ann Reed
Road of The Heart – 1991
Hole in the Day – 1993
Life Gets Real – 1995
Timing Is Everything – 1997
Through the Window – 2000
Not Your Average Holiday – 2001
Gift of Age – 2002
Ann Reed Valentine’s CD – 2003
Telling Stories – 2006
Heroes – 2007
Songs For Minnesota – 2008
Where The Earth Is Round – 2009
Eventually – 2013
Winter Springs, Summer Falls – 2017

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