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Hiss Golden Messenger


Hiss Golden Messenger - MC Taylor and Scott Hirsh

Hiss Golden Messenger - MC Taylor and Scott Hirsh

courtesy Tompkins Square

Description of Hiss Golden Messenger's Music:

Singer-songwrter, Americana, contemporary folk


Hiss Golden Messenger sounds definitively like a lot of the indie folk and roots artists coming out of the Carolina hills. Little-known acts like River Whyless and Now You See Them come to mind, as do well-established Carolina troupes like Band of Horses and the Avett Brothers. Fans of the now-defunct Crooked Still, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Iron and Wine, and the Punch Brothers are all likely to enjoy Hiss Golden Messenger's particularly imaginative approach to indie folk music.

Hiss Golden Messenger Lineup:

MC Taylor (Durham, NC) - singer, songwriter, guitarist
Scott Hirsh (Brooklyn, NY) - multi-instrumentalist
Assorted accompanists, including members of the Black Twig Pickers and other NC-based bands

Recommended CDs:

Country Hai East Cotton (Reap and Sow, 2009) compare prices

Bad Debt (Blackmaps, 2010) purchase/download

Poor Moon (Tompkins Square, 2012) compare prices

Purchase/Download MP3s:

"Pittsboro Farewell (Two Monarchs)" (from Poor Moon)
"A Working Man Can't Make It No Way" (from Poor Moon)
"Watch Out for the Cannon Ball" (from From Country Hai East Cotton)

Hiss Golden Messenger Biography:

Michael Taylor was born and raised in Southern California. His father was a musician and Taylor grew up surrounded by music. He eventually gravitated toward playing guitar and moved to San Francisco during his teen years. Though he began dabbling in songwriting before moving to the Bay Area, Taylor quickly joined a local band as their singer-songwriter-guitarist. That band, the Court & Spark, did quite well for itself.

Formed originally in 1998, named for the Joni Mitchell album of the same name, the band quickly became a mainstay of the San Francisco country music scene, blazing a trail for outlaw and alt-country. Their 2001 debut album Bless You earned them extra cred when it included Flying Burrito Brothers' Gene Parsons. They released three more albums before splitting up in 2007, citing the fact that each of the band's members were energetically pursuing other projects.

After the dissolution of that band, frontman Taylor moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, while multi-instrumentalist Scott Hirsh moved to Brooklyn, NY. Both had their eye on other music projects, but Taylor began performing solo under the name Hiss Golden Messenger, joined occasionally by friends and musical acquaintances. Before long, Hirsh was backing him up and the project became a duo venture built as a vehicle for Taylor's "solo" pursuit.

To support his "solo" venture, Taylor created a label titled Heaven and Earth Magic Recording Company, and began releasing Hiss Golden Messenger recordings on that label. However, he eventually inked an international deal to market his albums in the UK via Black Maps Records.

According to AllMusic, "Taylor has also been a college lecturer specializing in folklore, is responsible for the blog The Old Straight Track, and has helped edit a music education curriculum for Quincy Jones."

In total, Taylor and Hirsh have released four albums under the moniker of Hiss Golden Messenger, but they credit their 20 years making music together as being the key to this newer project's momentum. Indeed, as Hiss Golden Messenger, they've caught the eye (and ears) of folks as variant as NPR (who called them "at once firmly steeped in tradition and immediately accessible") and rock god David Bowie (who has gone on record describing their music as "mystical").

As for Taylor's record label - Heaven and Earth Magic - it has teamed up with Tompkins Square Records to put out Poor Moon (Hiss Golden Messenger's 2012 release). During Spring of 2012, Hiss Golden Messenger is touring the UK with Tompkins Square lablemate Michael Chapman. Visit their website for more information.

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