Americana/folk singer Amy Speace is set to play Northern Indiana this weekend. Touring in support of her most recent album, “How to Sleep in a Stormy Boat,” Speace will appear at the Cerulean Garden in Winona Lake on Friday, Aug. 9, and Ignition Garage in Goshen on Saturday, Aug. 10.
“It’s been a big year of changes,” says the singer/songwriter. “Heartbreak, loss – the typical stuff.” Plus, Speace had a bout with laryngitis last year and was temporarily unable to sing. “I woke up one day and didn’t have a voice.”
After visiting with a doctor, and making some lifestyle changes, Speace recovered. “My voice came back, and it came back strong,” she says. She could sing again, and she’d begun to put together material for what would be her latest album, “How to Sleep in a Stormy Boat.”
While assembling the songs she says she noticed a “narrative thread that reminded me of the plays of Shakespeare.” Some might see this as an unusual connection, but Speace has a special bond with the Bard.
You see, Speace, 45, has only been a professional musician for the last 10 years or so. Before taking up the guitar and writing songs, she spent her 20s acting and directing theater in New York with the Shakespeare repertory companies.
Armed with themes of love, lust, betrayal, sorrow and longing from the famous playwright and with her voice back and stronger than ever, Speace headed to a Nashville studio to make “How to Sleep in a Stormy Boat.”
“I wanted to make a really intimate record,” she says. Speace and producer Neilson Hubbard (The Apache Relay, Jill Andrews) opted for stripped-down arrangements showcasing Speace’s restored voice and minimalist acoustic guitar playing. Several songs feature Speace’s friends augmenting her arrangements.
Mary Gauthier helped write “Left me Hanging” and sang background vocals on the song. Ben Sollee added cello to a few tracks. Grammy-nominee John Fullbright – “He’s amazing,” she says – duets with Speace on “The Sea and The Shore,” one of the album’s standout tracks.
“I’m influenced by my peers, like John Fullbright,” she says. “It’s really cool when people you know are making music that inspires you. I’m happy we’re able to continue to do this and stay in each others’ lives.”
She also cites classic artist such as Patty Griffin, Dolly Parton, Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams. “[Williams] is one of my favorite songwriters,” says Speace, who also draws comparisons to Judy Collins. “She has one of those voices,” Speace says of Collins.
Collins is actually a key figure in the development of Speace’s musical career. After hearing her music, Collins signed Speace to her label, Wildflower Records, in 2006. Wildflower put out three of her albums. On her 2010 album, “Paradise,” Collins even recorded Speace’s song, “Weight of the World.”
Yes, Grammy-winner Judy Collins covered Speace’s song. This is a testament to her songwriting prowess. Don’t miss an opportunity to see her locally before she jets off to Europe in the fall.
Speace’s concerts this weekend are part of a summer concert series partnership between Ceruleans and Ignition Garage. Steve Martin, founder of Ignition, started his business a year and a half ago with hopes of bringing more live music to the local community. When Cerulean founder Caleb France attended The Vespers show at Ignition last year, he decided to follow Martin’s lead. The result is an influx of quality live music to the area.
“We realized that we both could benefit from collaboration and cross promotion,” says France.
Catch Amy Speace at Ceruleans at 8 p.m. on Friday, or at Ignition Garage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Ignition Garage show costs $15 in advance, $18 at the door. Visit amyspeace.com for more information.