Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass

Exile and Juice Newton to perform at High Point Theatre on Friday, July 25

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It’s not 1982, but if you want to relive the music of that era, then Friday night’s show at the High Point Theatre is for you. The country-rock crossover band Exile and Grammy- winning singer-songwriter Juice Newton are scheduled to hit the stage at 8 p.m. With 16 No. 1 hits between them, the event is part of “The Lovin’ It” tour and it even has its own Facebook page. Tickets are $30-$35 and can be purchased here.

Here’s an interview I did for the Danville Register and Bee with Juice Newton in May 2011 for a previous appearance at the High Point Theatre.

Juice Newton makes music she loves

Juice Newton sings songs that she loves. Perhaps that’s just one reason she’s been compared to country sensation Taylor Swift, a comparison that Newton is flattered by.

The Grammy- winning singer-songwriter has sung hits including “Angel of the Morning,” “Break it to Me Gently,” “The Sweetest Thing,” “The Queen of Hearts” and “Love’s Been a Little Bit Hard on Me.” Over the past three decades, Newton charted 14 Top-10 hits across the Billboard Country, Adult Contemporary, and Hot 100 charts, with many of the recordings achieving crossover success and six of the songs hitting the No. 1 position.

Juice Newton

Juice Newton

Unlike Swift, Newton transitioned from being a pop sensation in the ‘80s to an adult contemporary artist to a country star in the ‘90s.

That might not be the case today because radio has changed, according to Newton.

“The Eagles are now country,” she said with a laugh. “I specifically do songs that I love. That comparison to Taylor Swift  is because I helped make a crossover to country radio, which needed to open up because their fan base was truly shrinking at the time. And part of it was just luck.”

Newton added that Swift doesn’t write country music but that fan base has embraced her all the same because she is a great singer and songwriter. “She’s a lovely young woman and I hope she can walk that line,” she added.

 Artists have to do songs that really move them to be successful, Newton continued. “If a handler says this is a good song but it’s not something that really makes your gut flip over you probably shouldn’t do it,” she offered. “And it doesn’t matter if you write the song or not. I’ve written songs I didn’t like. Artists need to pick songs that make you want to sing them over and over. If they make me happy or emotional I suspect they are going to make other folks feel the same way. Great songs cross social and age boundaries.”

Newton promised in a recent phone interview from her home on the beach near San Diego, that fans won’t be disappointed by Saturday’s show at the High Point Theatre.

“We’ll do the hits and a couple of others,” she said. “It’s a real neat venue and it should be a fun time. We’re looking forward to being there.”

A native of New Jersey, Newton grew up on the opposite coast in Virginia Beach. “I got really tired of that kind of heat and I didn’t want to move to Nashville. At the same time I like California.”

Still reeling from the loss of her longtime musical partner Otha Young, who died in August 2009 of cancer, Newton is finding her way without him.

“It’s hard,” she said. “We talked on the phone every day like old people. I miss him dearly.”

Newton says she and her band, which has been together for several years, have been going out on the road an average of two or three times a month. “This is what we do,” she said.

Her drummer, Rick Latham calls North Carolina home, and “we have a player who has been stepping in for Otha,” she said.

Her most recent recordings include a Christmas album and a compilation of duets ranging from Melissa Manchester to Willie Nelson , released in 2010.

 “We also recorded a track before Dan Seals passed that’s very cool,” she said. “We’ll go back in and start a new one in the summer. New album more of Americana I have another swing song “after midnight” I have another swing song.”

Newton has three dogs and two grown children in their 20s. Her fans might be surprised to know that favorite artists in her iPod include Pink, Gwen Stefani and Eminem.

“I like Pink’s writing,” she said. “It’s edgy. She writes from the gut and heart. I also like Eminem because he tells great stories. He’s an angry writer. Recently my son downloaded a song where he asks questions like do I want to do this any longer and is rap my only outlet. It’s very telling and I respect that.”

And here’s another story I interviewed Juice Newton for when I was with The Associated Press in Las Vegas:

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