Who is Mare Edstrom?
Mare Edstrom’s road to the blues has been long and interesting. While she is primarily classically trained, her formative years were spent playing piano and singing in local rock bands. Her first album, Learning How to Believe, was a combination of finely-crafted original songs and carefully selected cover songs by legends of the singer-songwriter school. She brought a truly new perspective to songs by the likes of Townes van Zandt, Eric Taylor, Greg Brown, and Janis Ian. This amazing work was quickly followed by a second release titled Inside the Blues. This release, a blues tribute, showcases works by Blind Willie McTell, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, and Blind Willie Johnson, as well as works by female artists Memphis Minnie and Little Esther. This highly acclaimed work has found its way onto major radio station playlists throughout Europe and the US. Inside the Blues has had extensive favorable reviews, including key reviews by Blues Revue magazine in the US and Crossroads magazine in France. Mare’s wide vocal range, energy, and vintage brand of roadhouse authenticity have been duly noted by critics again and again. This exciting new take on the blues is still receiving international attention and has established Mare as a major player in the blues style.
In March 2006, Mare’s much anticipated second blues effort, titled Shake ‘em on Down, was released. This release features some new band members as well as an interesting and exciting mix of early blues rarities. Songs by the likes of Scrapper Blackwell, Bukka White, and Bumble Bee Slim are dusted off and shined up for a new outing. This exciting new blues recording has once again been reviewed favorably worldwide, in Blues Revue (USA), Italian II Blues Magazine (Italy), Maverick Magazine (UK), and Rootstime (Denmark), as well as many others. This CD continues to receive praise, attention, and much airplay throughout the world blues scene.
Much to the surprise of her blues fans, Mare released a 10-song singer-songwriter collection in October 2006 titled Keys to the Castle. This recording featured exciting interpretations of songs by Richard Thompson, Tom Waits, John Hiatt, and others, as well as several original songs that have long been favorites in her live show. The CD showcased a top-notch band, as well as guest appearances by fellow Wisconsinites Willy Porter and Tracy Jane Comer. It was named among the Best Albums of 2006 by B-side Records, State Street, Madison.
In 2007, Mare started the year making a guest appearance on her producer/guitarist Kenn Fox’s solo album, Road to Tivoli, playing both guitar and Irish flute. Then in August, Mare charted new territory with her latest blues release, Sugar Sweet, introducing elements of R&B, rockabilly, and soul to the mix. The album features spacious arrangements in a truly vintage format, borrowing production vibe from the warm 1950s sound. As with previous releases, Edstrom has dug deep and uncovered obscure gems from the past by such forgotten masters as Betty Everett, Ma Rainey, Julia Lee, Little Willie John, and Arthur Alexander. The album also gives the listener a taste of Edstrom's signature stripped-down country blues that she currently features in her live duo with producer/guitarist Kenn Fox. This recording is packed full of steaming hot electric, acoustic, and slide guitar, sweet tenor saxophone, nasty blues harmonica, and thick, tasteful backing vocals. The album closes with a masterful rendition of Bukka White's gospel epic, "Fixin' to Die." As with Mare's first two blues albums, the world continues to take note. Sugar Sweet has already received a number of favorable reviews and consistent airplay both in Europe and in the US (click here for playlist info) and was named among the Best Albums of 2007 by B-side Records, State Street, Madison.
Besides her full-time career as a singer, recording artist, and the owner of Spiritone Records, Mare has a thriving
teaching studio at Hartland Music/The Waukesha County Conservatory of
Music, where she teaches piano, voice, and guitar four days a week.