Natalie Maines’ new “Mother” socks (the title track) and soars (“Free Life”) with striking immediacy. The Los Angeles resident and collaborator Ben Harper support her solo debut Thursday at KLRU’s All-Star Celebration and tribute to Lloyd Maines.
“My dad’s played on ‘Austin City Limits’ more than any other musician in the history” of the program, Natalie Maines says. “He’ll be playing with all of us. Then the (Dixie) Chicks and Ben and I are going to do two or three songs with him as well.”
American-Statesman: Explain how your solo album came together.
Natalie Maines: Ben and I have known each other for a while. We always threatened to write something, but Ben lives a very opposite life. He lives the musician’s nightlife, and I’m farmer’s hours. So, when he got a studio over here on the west side of Los Angeles, it created the right atmosphere.
Describe working with Ben.
Ben is so free with his emotions. He wears his heart on his sleeve and does not hide excitement. He’s not set in his ways, and he’s not a know-it-all. That’s left to me (laughs). It was definitely different from how he’s used to making records. Ben’s quicker, and he’s a very prolific and fast songwriter. I am slow and methodical.
What drew you to (Pink Floyd’s) ‘Mother’?
I went and saw Roger Waters perform “Mother,” which I’d seen before, but for some reason it just struck me over the head that I needed to record (the song).
Have you been writing new material the past few years?
No (laughs). That’s like homework. No, I really have a very humdrum, scheduled life that I’m fine with. I’m very comfortable doing my daily hikes and the morning and evening routines with the kids. This time around I was more into singing and creating the music and the sound. I’m kind of surprised that I even have a hand in four songs that are on there. I wasn’t feeling like writing at all.
You said you were apprehensive working without the Chicks. Explain.
Well, that’s the only thing I’ve known as far as professional music. There was safety and security in doing it with two other people. If three people agree on something, it feels like, OK, that’s a good decision. We’ll do that. It must be good. I was a little nervous for everything to be on me, but I got used to it and started liking it.
How did your South by Southwest shows go?
They were good. They’re behind me and that’s good. I was nervous about knowing all my music and my guitar chords and being onstage.
What was it like playing onstage with your dad and Ben?
It was awesome! Growing up with my dad’s instruments, I love the dobro and the lap steel and the pedal steel. What Ben does is a different style but still so rocking. I loved listening to them go back and forth, and it would go for three to five minutes.
It was called a duel between them. Who won?
Interesting. I don’t think I can answer that. It wouldn’t serve me in any way to answer that! (She laughs.) After that first night in Austin, I read a tweet that somebody had live tweeted during the show and said, “Robert Randolph and some other steel guitar player are having a duel!” My dad told Ben, “I’m Robert Randolph. You’re the other guy.”
KLRU All-Star Celebration and tribute to Lloyd Maines
With: The Dixie Chicks, Court Yard Hounds, Natalie Maines and Ben Harper, and others
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16
Where: ACL Live, 310 W. Second St.
Information: 457-5550; acl-live.com