Julie Corbalis chooses folk-rock songs that resonate for "Songs in a Bottle" CD
By Mike Horyczun | Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 8:45 am
The latest CD for singer-guitarist and songwriter Julie Corbalis, who headlines at South Norwalk's Sono Caffeine this weekend, features a selection of choice folk and rock classics that serve as strong compass points for the performer's musical direction. Corbalis plays Sono Caffeine this Friday night, Jan. 17, and her newest disc, called "Songs in a Bottle," finds her covering Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game," the Beatles' "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party," Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee," written by Kris Kristofferson, the Stones' Tumbling Dice," and a few others.
"These are the genres I keep going back to," said Corbalis, in a recent interview. "Playing mostly rock and folk solo-acoustic sometimes has its limitations, but for me, it keeps presenting new opportunities for learning new guitar picking styles, vocal harmonies and fun rhythms to practice. The more covers I learn or try to learn, the more comfortable overall I get playing and singing. Then I apply all the new tricks to trying to write my own songs."
Her earlier CD efforts include "Old Flames & New Names," a ten-track set of soulful, acoustic rock originals, and two successful indie pop-rock albums with the quartet Jules & the Family. The performer, who has an original album in the works that she's been working on since 2012, decided to release a record of covers last year so people surfing the web on YouTube and ITunes for these classic tunes might find their way to her and her original music, and also because "I love playing these particular songs live for an audience at bars, coffeehouses, my living room, wherever," she said. "They are all by artists I admire and personally listen to." The songs on the new disc have resonated with Corbalis throughout her performing career. "With the exception of 'Circle Game' and 'Tumbling Dice,' I have been playing the rest of these songs for years," she said. "They are a part of the permanent gig rotation. I've really got them down pretty good - that is - singing and playing comfortably. People like them. I recorded 'Circle Game' and 'Tumbling Dice' because they are big challenges to me - open tuning, lots of movement. These two are the songs that I Iike to hear myself perform live, because I know how hard I worked to get them smooth and delivered with feeling. Actually, I like 'Bobby McGee' because it is also such an intimidating, challenging song to sing. Janis' vocals were big. When I decided to try 'Bobby,' I had to own it, otherwise the performance would have fallen flat. I'm pretty happy with it."
Julie Corbalis is a favorite at Sono Caffeine. She returns on March 14, after this Friday's show. And the artist likewise gets a good vibe from playing the South Norwalk establishment. "I don't feel any pressure when I play there," she said. "I love when unsuspecting pedestrians stop in the window and contemplate veering off their plotted course to come in for a coffee and some live acoustic music."
The Port Chester, New York, resident, who has a master's degree in history from Hunter College, has kept her day job, too. She has been a teacher for 14 years and continues in that profession, teaching sixth-grade social studies, Ancient Civilizations.
Her music remains a strong part of her resume, though. And she's also fond of artists in the region. "I love the talent of the Hudson Valley and tri-state area," she said. "My favorite local artist is my friend, Bryan Gordon. He's a real storyteller through his lyrics. He's also a great performer, and we share shows from time to time."
And her advice for those just breaking into the circuit? "Buy a Fishman Loudbox Mini -- it's an amp. It's little, light, and loud and has an input for XLR and quarter inch. Play in a band. Learn how to sing harmonies. Never play the same song twice at a gig, especially when requested by someone who missed it the first time because they showed up late." So get there early this weekend. Sono Caffeine is located at 133 Washington Street in South Norwalk. Call (203) 857-4224. Visit www.sonocaffeine.com or www.juliecorbalis.com.