Reviews, Interviews and More

June 2018 Press Release 


CONTACT: Karen Leipziger/KL Productions 


Minneapolis-based Soul Blues singer/songwriter JOYANN PARKER Nominated for BluesBlast's "Sean Costello Rising Star" Award! 

Minneapolis-based soul blues singer/songwriter/guitar-keyboard player JOYANN PARKER has been nominated for Blues Blast Music Awards "Sean Costello Rising Star" Award. The Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies will be held on September 29th, 2018 at the Tebala Event Center in Rockford, IL.  

"There’s some serious singing and musicianship afoot here…simmering...She’s got the pipes and comes across honestly and passionately. ... smoldering, slow-burning Stax-like ballads." (Jim Hynes/Elmore) 

"the next great Twin Cities blues singer...Imagine a sober Janis Joplin. And that's a good thing. Imagine a taller Shemekia Copeland...And that's a really good thing. There's pain in Parker's heart — and in just about every song she writes and sings. And, onstage, the grimace on her face, the clenched fists and the ache in her roar let listeners know that she knows hurt...Whatever she plays, Parker owns it." (Jon Bream/Minneapolis Star-Tribune) 

"some of the smokiest, smokingest green eyed soul you are going to encounter...Killer stuff throughout." (Chris Spector/Midwest Record) 


Produced by Parker with guitarist Mark Lamoine and bass player Michael Carvale, "HARD TO LOVE" features 13 songs co-written by Parker & Lamoine. Joining Joyann Parker (vocals/guitar/piano/trumpet in the studio are Mark Lamoine (guitar/bgv), Tim Wick (piano/organ), Michael Carvale (bass), Alec Tackmann (drums/percussion) and Gunhild Carling (horns on "Who, What, When, Where, Why"). 

On "HARD TO LOVE", Parker travels from the Memphis-style soul of “Envy” to the New Orleans-flavored “Ray.” The eminently danceable “Dizzy” inspires images of Motown’s Temptations and Four Tops dancing their signature choreography. The darkly simmering soul-blues ballad “Jigsaw Heart” finds Parker pondering where a rocky relationship is going. Singing with ever-present conviction, Parker asks more tough questions in "Who, What, When, Where, Why". Despite being an ultimatum to a lover, the Stax-meets-Motown throw-down is another of the album’s infectious dance tunes. Parker hits more targets with the primal, Robert Johnson-based “Take My Heart and Run” and Chuck Berry-inspired rock and roll of “What Happened to Me.” More revelations appear in the album’s title song, “Hard to Love.” Turning from roots music, Parker exploits her voice’s beauty and range most of all in the piano-accompanied title track -- a song in the melodic vein of the great American songbook. No matter what she's singing -- Joyann Parker's songs have an emotional honesty.  

A classically trained pianist with a degree in music from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, Parker sang in church and with a wedding band, until the blues/soul music 'discovered' her. Parker loves the music’s heartfelt honesty.  “I didn’t know anything about blues until about four years ago,” the Minneapolis-based singer, songwriter, band leader and multi-instrumentalist says. “But then it just clicked. I said, ‘This is what I am supposed to do.’ ” 

The door to blues and soul music opened almost accidentally. After singing Aretha Franklin’s soul classic, “Chain of Fools,” at a contest, Parker received an invitation to join a blues band. Accustomed to studying music formally, Parker immersed herself in the blues. “I started going to the blues jams in town, trying to figure out what it’s all about,” she says. “And that was it. It just clicked for me.” 

The following year, the band -- JOYANN PARKER & Sweet Tea -- won the Minnesota Blues Society's band competition and in 2015 went  to Memphis to represent the blues society and compete in the International Blues Challenge. That experience inspired her to write the songs that appear on "HARD TO LOVE". 

“After I went to the Stax Museum in Memphis, it was like somebody lit a fire under me,” she says. “I thought, ‘I love this music. I want to write it.’ I went home and wrote the songs.  

Every song Parker writes comes from the heart.  

“But they’re not all about me by any means. I believe part of being a songwriter is taking your story and weaving it with other people’s stories. Together, they make a good story. And I don’t write ‘Oh, baby, oh, baby’ lyrics. I can’t do that. I write songs that somebody, somewhere may hear and then say, ‘Oh. How does she know me?’ People always come see me after a show. I love that. When a song I wrote affects people’s lives, that’s great for the songwriter in me.” 

Parker is passionate about turning people on to the blues -- to experience the indigenous American music that’s been so influential on so much of the world’s music.  
“I’ve been performing for some younger crowds,” she says. “They say they don’t like blues. People in general say that. I tell them, ‘I think you do.’ And after I perform something for them, they say, ‘Oh. I love that song.’ I say, ‘That’s blues.’ Every kind of music they like comes from blues. The music in a restaurant, in a movie or TV soundtrack, there’s always a blues tune.” 

In addition, Parker and Lamoine recently launched a new show, The Music of Patsy Cline. She’d already been featuring songs by the classic country artist in the band’s shows. 

“Old-school country and blues are very close,” Parker says. “But when I listen to Patsy Cline, I hear a blues singer. She’s singing from her soul. Patsy said, ‘Hoss, if you can’t do it with feeling -- don’t.’ That’s how I feel." 

"sublime, passionate, sensual, gutteral, powerful, breathtaking, mesmerizing." (Peter Merritt, PBS 106.7) 


FRI., JUNE 15, 2018 FLOYD'S BAR, Victoria, MN 
FRI., JUNE 22, 2018 AL'S CENTER SALOON, Center City, MN 
SAT., JUNE 23, 2018 TALLY'S DOCKSIDE, White Bear Lake, MN 
FRI., AUG. 17, 2018 SAINT PAUL SAINTS - Pre-Game Party and National Anthem, St. Paul, MN 
TUES., AUG. 21, 2018 TUESDAY NIGHT BLUES, Eau Claire, WI

Fervor Coulee Review of "Hard To Love"

When I reflect on the joys writing about roots music bring me, I can itemize many elements that inject pleasure in my life. Among them, and perhaps in the Top 3, is that in writing about music in the way I do—off the mainstream grid, without the day-to-day constrictions more widely read writers must traverse—I am exposed to musicians doing their thing within similar circumstances. 

In this way and over the last two decades I have been exposed to ‘local heroes’ I might never have heard otherwise, be they John Paul Keith, Jay Clark, Brigitte DeMeyer, Jeffrey Halford, James Reams, Murder Murder, Diana Jones, and too many more to mention. Along the way, my definition of roots music has expanded to include more than ‘fools on stools,’ roots rock, and bluegrass. 

So after a few hundred newspaper columns, dozens of bluegrass radio broadcasts, and likely a thousand or so reviews and posted ramblings, Joyann Parker comes to my attention. 

The immense, propulsive bass notes that open the album are the first hint that we are in for a treat with Hard To Love, the Minneapolis singer’s second album. Promising that, “By the time I get to Memphis, you’ll be gone,” Parker (producer, guitar, piano, and trumpet) wastes no time establishing her power as a vocalist and bandleader. Her blend of blues and roots includes plenty of Memphis-Muscle Shoals spirited soul, and with just a hint of country in her voice, Joyann Parker is perfect for those of us who have come to appreciate music originating from the south. “I got to keep on rolling on down,” she sing as a bridge to the album’s opening track, “Memphis” and for the next forty-five minutes, she doesn’t let up. 

If that wasn’t enough, she next slides into “Envy,” a slick and sassy Dusty Springfield/Marlena Shaw styled workout: Parker is taking no prisoners. Buoyed by a killer-tight band—Mark Lamoine (co-producer, guitar, and background vox), Tim Wick (piano and organ), Michael Carvale (co-producer and bass), and Alec Tackmann (drums and percussion), Parker asks the eternal question: “Do you love her like you love me?” One gets the sense the answer isn’t going to much matter: she is moving on! 

Like the best soul-enriched blues, Hard To Love contains tales of trouble, misplaced devotion, and broken vows and shattered hearts. Some songs simmer with desire (“Jigsaw Heart” and “Home”) while other songs shade their passions behind a danceable beat that few this side the late Sharon Jones can manage (“Dizzy”,for example). Like the best of songwriters, Parker takes her experiences and threads them through those of others, creating relatable songs containing universal truths. 

And, you can dance to it! Without attempting to sound retro, Parker brings to mind rarely encountered Stax artists including Barbara Stephens and Linda Lyndell on groovers such as “Who What When Where Why” and “What Happened To Me,” while “Bluer Than You,” “Hard To Love,” and “Evil Hearted” take more subtle tracts. New Orleans sounds are explored in the free-spirted “Ray” and the lively “Your Mama.” 

Alongside other ‘big voices’ such as Ann Vriend, Erin Costelo, and Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar (speaking of local heroes) Joyann Parker has become an immediate Fervor Coulee favourite. Love it! 


Cashbox Music Reviews - "Hard To Love"

Joyann Parker has the look of a blues singer who would thrive in a smoky lounge late at night. Looks can be deceiving as her voice has a soulful quality that fuses the two styles together. She brings that duality to her new album titled Hard To Love. 

Parker keeps it fairly simple and her approach is more emotional than flashy. She is backed by a basic foursome of guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums with some horns on one of the tracks. 

She has an advantage over many of her contemporaries in that she writes her own material with guitarist/producer Mark Lamoine. Songs such as “Bluer That You,” “Evil Hearted,” “What Happened To Me,” and “Take My Heart And Run” tell personal stories that resonate with the world around her.

Blues Magazine Review of "Hard To Love"

Sometimes a career is completely different than you expected. Take that of singer Joyann Parker from Minneapolis. She is a classically trained pianist, but after her ears came into contact with the soul sounds of the famous Stax label and later also added blues, she decided to invest in a career as a soul singer. And I dare to be cheeky to predict that we are dealing with a future big star here. In terms of sound I hear the rawness of a female singer like Elkie Brooks and the soul of female vocalists like Joss Stone and Dusty Springfield in her vocals. 

On her new album she is assisted by a number of class musicians such as guitarist Mark Lamoine, bassist Michael Carvale, pianist and organist Tim Wick, drummer Alec Tackmann and Gunhild Carling on various wind instruments. The album is like a house! A very soulful home! 

Opener Memphis is a bluesy song in which some country influences can also be heard. The filthy slide work by Mark Lamoine also gives the song a Southern rock sauce. After a bluesy guitar intro Envy continues as a loom grooming soul song in a style that would fit Joss Stone. So with echoes from the past of Ann Peebles or Betty Wright. Mark Lamoine excels again with his Steve Cropper-like game. Home is a soul ballad in the best Otis Redding ( I've Got Dreams To Remember ) style with Joyann's warm bluesy voice as the cornerstone. Dizzy has a cheerful Motown soul rhythm that is sustained by the driving bass. In the intimate ballad Jigsaw Heartsoul and blues are mixed well.  

Who What When Where Why is a light-hearted funky soul song with an angular Stax rhythm. The horns give the song a New Orleans feeling. After the polished soul of Bluer Than You , we march into New Orleans on an angular drum rhythm and continue to frolic around funky. Evil Hearted is a softly floating jazzy soul song in which the organ waves and the bluesy guitar and vocals go well together. Take My Heart And Run draws more towards country blues, partly due to the rusty slide sounds.  Chuck Berry influences in the intro of What Happened To Me, a nice frivolous pumping rocker with constantly popping up Chuck Berry licks. 

This impressive soul album is very stylishly finished with the jazzy piano ballad Hard To Love.