For more than two decades, Indigo Girls Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have presented
some of their best music in front of cheering crowds-sometimes in the cramped confines of a
small club, sometimes in a vast arena packed with thousands.
The Grammy-winning singer-songwriters celebrate their longstanding passion for live
performances on the recently released Staring Down the Brilliant Dream. The
two-disc set features 31 songs, each hand-selected by the duo to capture the most memorable
moments of their 2006-2009 shows. Documenting a three-year run of concerts, it reminds both
their longtime fans and casual followers that the Indigos still consider live shows "the
most vibrant part of what we do," Ray says.
They captured that vibrancy with the help of soundman Brian Speiser, who listened to
hundreds of recorded shows from across the country. "Brian helped us vet certain songs that
he had a good feeling about," Saliers says. "We wanted to include not just new songs, but
tracks that covered our whole discography and a few of the more obscure tracks."
Knowing that some live CDs can be rough around the edges, Saliers and Ray made certain
each track they included reflected them at their musical best. It may have been a great
night full of energy and enthusiasm, but if the performance wasn't up to par, it didn't
make the cut. "I didn't want people to take home a recording with glitches and forgotten
choruses," Saliers admits. "Some fans might find that charming, but I like giving them the
best of what we could present. So when we got a good recording, it was exciting."
When they nailed a technically difficult song such as "I Believe in Love," and then
discovered the performance also packed the emotional wallop they were looking for, "We
turned to each other and said, 'Whoa, how did that happen?' because it was this little
nugget that was so great to find," Ray says.
"The tracks that are special were attached to special nights," Saliers says. "It's usually
dictated by the crowd. Sometimes the energy is so tremendous and the crowds are so rowdy,
but then you can suddenly hear a pin drop during the ballads. You recognize that as a
performer, and you can tell that the crowd is with you. And it's reciprocal-we feed them
and they feed us."
Staring Down the Brilliant Dream also comes packaged with personal notes penned by
Saliers and Ray that describe how they wrote each song, what they remember about that
specific show, and why-among the thousands to choose from-they value those particular
performances so much. Those detailed memories prove that after years of performing, they
remain as engaged and present onstage as ever.
Now, more than two decades into their career, the Grammy-winning duo has released its
first holiday record, specially packaged in holiday wrapping (including three surprise
ornaments packed inside). Holly Happy Days is a 12-song collection that mixes
beloved Christmas classics with contemporary holiday songs and three new originals. Sacred
and secular, traditional and original, the tracks reflect the universal spirit of the duo's
diverse fan base.