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July 28th, 2009
Howard brings haunting simplicity to stage

Amy Howard, right, playing with Lindsey James at Wake the Dead. Photo by Sarah Stevens.

By SARAH STEVENS
Scene Reporter

Wake the Dead Coffeehouse has been graced a few times recently with the presence of Amy Howard, one of the finer solo acts in San Marcos.

Howard brings a haunting grace and poetic simplicity to the stage, performing her own songs in an intimate acoustic setting. Most nights, she’s joined on guitar and vocals by long-time friend Lindsey James, and sometimes Jason Wilkinson provides her with a beat. James and Wilkinson are in The Olive Street Band.

“My best friend, Lindsey James, taught me guitar,” Howard said. “I started playing the guitar when I was maybe 13 or 14. I had this old, crappy guitar that didn’t sound good, and I didn’t sound good playing it. I was always really bad at it. My parents were very creative people. They always supported me, musically, and got me a few lessons here and there.”

Howard’s style is suited to the coffee shops she frequents in San Marcos. Her quiet and melodic crooning and skilled guitar work set her apart from the average girl in the coffee shop with a guitar, however, and all her works are original.

Getting started at such a young age has given Howard time to really polish her sound.

“I don’t know any cover songs,” Howard said. “I used to know a few Bob Dylan songs. I’ve been writing music since I was 14, and I was always very into poetry, and I’m an English major, so it came really easy, I guess. I just enjoy writing music, it’s a really good outlet for me to just play.”

Drawing inspiration from her personal experience, Howard described part of her creative process as, “sitting at home by myself just thinking about my day over and over, or something that happened that I just can’t get out of my head. It’s funny, I just don’t think about it that much. It’s hard to force it, it really wouldn’t turn out well.”

Though Howard said she still plays music that she wrote in her mid-teens, she added that her more recent songs go better with her voice.

“It’s interesting to see music that I wrote a few years ago,” she said. “Sometimes, I’ll have a song that’s older and I’ll reconnect with it in a different way. It will mean something different to me later than it did when I wrote it. I like that.”

Interested fans can look forward to a release from Howard soon. She hopes to finish a recording by Christmas.

Like any good musician, plying her trade is what Amy Howard loves to do most. Though she said she will finish her degree in a year, she hopes to keep playing.

“Music is really fun, but it’s hard to get into that field,” Howard said. “So many people are good at playing music. How do you compete in a musician’s world? I’m surrounded by talented people all the time. It’s inspiring to hear them play music and it makes me want to play more.”

Howard will appear around town in various venues this summer, for more information check out www.myspace.com/amyrosalyn.

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