Etheridge will soar into Indian Ranch on wings of new album
Born in Leavenworth, Kansas in May of 1961, Melissa Etheridge has become one of the most decorated musicians in the industry. She performs at Indian Ranch in Webster on Labor Day.
By Rod Lee
There is a strong likelihood that Melissa Etheridge will perform her raspy and rousing new single “One Way Out” when she takes the stage at Indian Ranch for a 1:00 p.m. Labor Day concert—and probably a few other songs from the album of the same name.
The nine tracks were culled from a collection of material written in the late 1980s and early 1990s and shelved and pretty much forgotten about until 2020 when Ms. Etheridge—“M.E.”—was sorting through old files to share with fans of her “Etheridge TV’s Friday Night Time Machine” show. They offer “a deeper glimpse” into who Ms. Etheridge was then. They include two songs, “You Have No Idea” and “Life Goes On,” recorded live before a raucous crowd at the Roxy in Los Angeles in 2002.
Ms. Etheridge reassembled her first touring band—Kevin McCormick on bass, Fritz Lewak on drums and John Shanks on guitar—for the album, which is due for release on September 17, just a little over two weeks after her appearance at Indian Ranch.
“One Way Out” may be Ms. Etheridge’s most powerful statement yet on her womanhood as a lesbian and gay activist, a breast cancer survivor, a mother and a “spokesperson for environmental causes (“I Need To Wake Up” from her highest-charting album “Your Little Secret” and written for the Al Gore documentary on global warming An Inconvenient Truth won in the “Best Song” category at the Academy Awards in February of 2007).
Reflecting recently on the song One Way Out and the new album, she said “growing up. Yeah. Sometimes growing up involves looking back and getting power from it. Not being pulled down, not regretting. There’s no regrets. There’s not doing anything differently. It’s understanding what I had to do to get where I am now, and loving where I am now and feeling the power I have.”
As of May 2021, One Way Out had earned 51,000 views on You Tube. In the song, Ms. Etheridge sings about how “you can run but you can’t hide, I’d like to see how far I can get if I tried” and “you can scream and you can shout but there’s no way out.”
The songs on the album are said to bristle with energy and emotion. They come from “a tender sort of place that I was reluctant to go to before I came out. It’s really fun to just step forward and fearlessly present these songs and play them. You know, really being set free,” she says.
Of her band, she says, “these guys are monsters.”
With her show at Indian Ranch, Ms. Etheridge will be returning to New England, where in her early days she studied at the Berklee College of Music and worked the club circuit around Boston. The Webster stop is part of an expansive U.S. tour that stretches from May 29 at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in LA to November 10 with a show at the Thrasher-Home Center in Orange Park, Florida.
No newcomer to adversity, she is also no stranger to success. She stormed onto the music scene in 1988 with her critically acclaimed self-titled album, which included such original compositions as “Bring Me Some Water,” “No Souvenirs” and “Ain’t It Heavy” (the latter won a Grammy in 1992). Her fourth album, “Yes I Am” (1993) featured the massive hits “I’m The Only One” and “Come To My Window.”
She has sold over 25 million records in the U.S.
Ms. Etheridge was discovered at Vermie’s, a bar in Pasadena, where some friends she’d made on a women’s soccer team came to see her play. One of them, Karla Leopold, encouraged her husband, Bill Leopold, a manager in the music business, to take in a live show. He was impressed and became a pivotal force in Ms. Etheridge’s career. The connection with Bill Leopold led to a publishing deal with Island Records’ Chris Blackwell.
Throughout her years on stage, Ms. Etheridge has not shied away from taking a stand, whether speaking out against hate or refusing to pay her California state taxes as an act of civil disobedience over passage of Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage.
She is also not afraid to take personal and professional risks. Starting in 2014, she partnered with a California medical marijuana dispensary to make cannabis-infused wine.
No better evidence that Indian Ranch is back in full stride can be found than Melissa Etheridge making an appearance on Gore Road as part of her whirlwind 2021 U.S. tour—in this, the venerable music venue’s 75th-anniversary season.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999