She is by far the rockin'est buck-dancing poet in a house dress that we've ever heard. Not to mention her accessories and her hairdo, which are working overtime. Minton Sparks is one of the most important Southern voices going on today. She speaks in the voices of her deceased and elderly family, and increasingly of the southern characters in her mind.
Because we have reviewed the first two CDs of Minton Sparks, Middlin' Sisters and This Dress, there is no shortage of clips of the poet's work to enjoy, so we encourage you to do so. (You'll find previous clips on our Listen pages here and here, and clips from the new CD here.) I'm very proud to call Minton my friend (when not performing, her name is Jill Webb), and, like many others, I've been watching her emergence and then her steady rise with astonished delight.
She's getting well-deserved raves in the national press, has been on NPR, and I feel some very good TV spots are in her imminent future. She's ready, man--she's smoking hot live, she lets it all hang out. It's snowing down south, buckle on her shoe as big as a trucker's belt, somebody in the front row might catch a pointed toe in the head if it comes flying off when she starts buck dancing.
Some incredible musicians have backed her up, it's an integral element of any performance. Originally it was Rob Jackson on guitar and banjo, these days it's John Jackson on guitar, he's a big part of the show. But the cast has included her sometimes-producer Steve Conn on piano and accordion, Darrell Scott, Keb Mo, Chris Thile, Peter Hyrka, and Abigail Washburn, all signature players. Of all the great musical tracks I've heard behind her poetry, my favorite is (Nickel Creek's) Chris Thile improvising on "White Lightning"--that cat is something else entirely. But the chick is rockin out totally on the next number, about drinking and making out with the basketball team on the triumphant ride home,"Back of the Bus." Can't wait to see that one live... Minton is definitely a performance artist, you see, and she's working the crowd while she spins her webs, and her yarns.
And it hits you in the gut, because her backwoods hicks and their old time religion just ain't as different from any of us as we might have thought. Their lies and limitations, their emptiness and possible redemption, hit home.
The new album, Sin Sick, is the best of Minton's three amazing records to date. We have believed from the first that she will indeed become very and deservedly famous. This is also the best sounding record, because it was mixed and engineered (and co-produced) by Gary Paczosa.
You need this, and your friends wanna hear about it. Pick it up and turn them on. Here she comes, Minton Sparks.