Touring musicians lead hermetically sealed lives. Hotel rooms, vans and stages take up their entire world. So singer Thao Nguyen decided to break that static pattern – in a most dramatic way, no less. During a year away from life on the road with her celebrated indie band, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, Nguyen did volunteer work in a woman’s prison in Chowchilla, Calif. “I wanted to be part of the community,” she says. “And one of my dear friends had been working with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners for years. After my first visit, I could not, not go back.” Naturally, the experience found its way into her music. Nguyen opens her new CD, “We the Common,” with a song dedicated to a woman she befriended in prison — Valerie Bolden. She’s serving a life sentence for fatally stabbing her husband 17 years ago. According to Nguyen, Boldon claims to be the victim of spousal abuse and considers her violent actions self-defense. Oddly, the track has a sprightly tone, with impish rhythms that recall early Edie Brickell, and a vocal that mimics Melanie’s little girl come-on from her 1971 smash “Brand New Key.” “My conversations with… Read full this story
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