Pegi Young & The Survivors Kick Off "Raw" Tour at Dan's Silverleaf
This Saturday, five renowned, world-traveled musicians will grace the stage of Dan's Silverleaf. Pegi Young & The Survivors are kicking off their 11-date tour to support the February release of their newest album, Raw.
Young’s band is comprised of four incredible musicians, including Spooner Oldham (Drive By Truckers), Kelvin Holly (Little Richard, Bobby Blue land, Klaus Voorman), Phil Jones (Tom Petty, Bob Dylan) and their newest member Shauna Tucker (Drive By Truckers), replacing the late Rick Rosas on bass.
Young says she’s never been to Denton, as far as she knows, although she has been to Dallas a couple of times. After talking about the incredible size of the State of Texas, Young lamented Houston since Hurricane Harvey's destruction. “My heart goes out to all of the people [in Houston].”
The Young-er Days
Young spent a lot of time doing photography in the early days before she began her music career. “I've had a camera and a guitar, a pen and paper with me since the time I was a teenager," Young told The Dentonite. “I started out on piano as a younger kid.”
"My first public debut was at the  Academy Awards doing background vocals on a song called 'Philadelphia'," Young said. The song was written by her ex-husband, Neil Young, and was featured in the movie that is also called "Philadelphia" by Jonathan Demme.
The Pinkettes, made up of band girlfriends and wives, was formed in the 80's and would go on tour with Neil Young. "The Pinkettes were groupie fans of Neil's alter ego band, Neil and the Shocking Pinks," Young said. “Neil always seemed to have an element of theatrics."
“I was on the road for years and years and years before then.”
Early writing came out on her first record, self-titled Pegi Young. She says some of the words she wrote in her 20’s still resonate with her today. “I had a lot more years of experience and life.”
Hitchhiking in the 70's
She was 20 years old and had wanderlust. "Actually, to this day I still do," Young said. "I'd had a broken heart, I was madly in love with a boyfriend at the time who was no longer in love with me and I thought, 'I think I'll just go away now.'"
So, in an attempt to visit her brother in Vermont, she took a much more scenic route and ended up in Canada for a bit. She went with her dog, starting the journey with a friend. They got as far as Vancouver before he left.
"I didn’t have a timeline," Young said. "Took 4 months across Canada, hopped a freight train at one point with my dog, eventually made my way to Vermont and spent time with my brother. Got a ride across the US back to California and got as far as Lake Tahoe and hitchhiked the rest of the way home."
Young swore at one point she would never pass up a hitchhiker, but she says she never picks them up now. "Do not hitchhike, it's not safe," she said. "There were a couple of times when it didn’t feel right and I had to get out of the car, but for the most part it was pretty good."
"There were a lot of people who have gone before me that have paved the way," Young said. "It is interesting to have resurrected my music career later in life."
Young says she was incredibly shy about trying to carve out a music career and notes not having the drive. She has always loved to sing, so she sang along.
Memories of dancing with her brother and sister to the sounds of Motown come to mind. Young says she loves the beat, the harmonies, and the feel of the music of girl groups and female musicians. Billie Holiday and other sultry jazz and blues singers were among some of her early female music influences. Joni Mitchell made a huge impression on Young, not awestruck by too many people. “I so admired her,” Young said.
Janis Joplin, Laure Nyro, Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams, and Eva Cassidy are some more women Young admired as a young girl.
"A lot of the early women artists did pave the way for people like me," Young said. "It is interesting to me now getting out there and playing my music. Music is a timeless and ageless thing. Everything happens in its time and everything happens for a reason."
The Bridge School
The Bridge School, a non-profit organization for children with severe physical and speech impairments, was founded in 1986 by Pegi Young, Jim Forderer, and Dr. Marilyn Buzolich and opened the next year.
"I had to take care of some things that took precedence over my music career,” Young said. - Those things included getting the Bridge School started and taking care of her son Ben who has cerebral palsy.
Young and Forderer dreamed this idea up while they were both in the hospital while their children were having surgeries. The first concert was in 1986 to raise funds to get the school going. Last year was the school's 30th anniversary.
"[I am] quite proud of the work we’ve been able to do there," Young said. "Kudos go to the staff, the people that are doing that day-in, day-out work." The crew is taking this year off to regroup while figuring out their plan to raise funds for the operation going forward, as well as securing funds for the endowment.
"As the board gets older, we wanted to make sure to leave the school in a good, solid financial position so they can work long after the founders are no longer on the planet," Young said.
“Ben gave me a purpose in life that I didn’t have before; I feel grateful for having him come into my life.”
You can catch Pegi Young & The Survivors at Dan’s Silverleaf on Saturday, September 16. Denton’s own Kelly Upshaw will be opening with an acoustic set. Tickets are $20 and doors open at 7PM.
Image courtesy of Pegi Young
Header image design by Sara Button