Guitar-Playing Dynamo Ann Klein Releases Tumbleweed Symphony

By: Jun. 06, 2014

Ann Klein, who has played guitar with Joan Osborne, Ani DiFranco and many others, takes control of the mic, with guitar in hand, on Tumbleweed Symphony, released on July 15. The album's release will be celebrated with a full band show at Rockwood Music Hall 2 on Wednesday, July 16 at 7pm.

Klein's journey to Tumbleweed Symphony has been one peppered with guitar-playing gigs for well-known artists, stints on Broadway, tours of Europe and lots and lots of guitar playing and singing. A long respected guitar-player, Ann has played with Joan Osborne, Ani DiFranco and Kate Pierson of the B-52s, to name a few. She has also lent her guitar and mandolin prowess to Broadway shows, most recently Kinky Boots. Her guitar skills have also gotten her included alongside the prestigious company of Sue Foley, Lita Ford, Kaki King, Bibi McGill, Orianthi, Vicki Peterson, Ana Popovic, and Nancy Wilson, in Women's Road To Rock Guitar by Nikki O'Neill, a new book preparing guitarists for playing rhythm and lead guitar in rock bands.

Although Klein never stopped writing after she penned her first song at the age of 7, she wasn't planning to make a new album now. That all changed when she was honored with The Special Artist Grant of the Chengzhong Foundation. The Chengzhong Foundation is run by John CZ Sui who is a former student turned fan of hers. She says, "I had been writing. Always writing. Always practicing. I had also been working on my voice quite a bit and many friends remarked on the improvement. There's always music in my head and hands. I was writing for myself. I didn't have any direction in mind at all. But when the grant was bestowed upon me, I took it as a sign to make this thing."

With the lucky circumstance of having a talented producer/engineer in the family, her husband Tim Hatfield, assisted in pulling talents together to create this new album. Ann called on Rich Mercurio (drums) and Steve Count (bass) and started recording the album she describes as "the Fab Four meets the prairie in a Greenwich Village subway station". The 10 tracks reflect Klein's eclectic musical influences, "I grew up listening to the Beatles and there's no way I could erase that DNA in my musical imprint. No way. I also love blues guitar and in the last few years, I've also been very influenced by country and americana, and picked up the mandolin." One of the album's stand-out tracks, "Tango Wrangler", a co-write with Allison Cornell about a cowboy who likes to dance, was inspired in an indirect way by one of Klein's role models, Dolly Parton. While subbing on the play 9 to 5, the first song required the guitar to go down to C# from the normal E. At home, playing around with this, Klein wrote the main riff and came up with the title because she liked the way the words sounded together. Allison owns a horse and helped with the cowboy lingo and the result is a fun energetic song that inspires foot-tapping.

"Rodents in the Attic" was co-written with Dana Fuchs and Kevin Mackall. Dana emailed the lyrics to Ann and she came up with the music pretty quickly. Dana's label, Ruf Records, loved the song and it ended up on Dana's album Bliss Avenue. Ann loved Dana's version of the song, but had always heard it with more of a western sound which made it a perfect fit for Tumbleweed.

Guitar-player/producer Eric Ambel (the Del-Lords, The Yayhoos) plays the Neil Young style rhythm guitar on "Start A Fire", the song that contains the lyrics "listen to the tumbleweed symphony" that ended up as the title of the album.

Stream Tumbleweed Symphony here.

Ann Klein was the lead guitarist for an all female band run by Mary McBride that was brought by the State Department to Saudi Arabia as cultural diplomats in September 2013. She returned to Europe in April of 2014 for a tour with her European band. While she was there, she recorded a blues EP. She will be returning again to Europe this fall. In the meantime, she'll be playing in New York City, the surrounding Northeast region and the Midwest. Check for tour dates and details.


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