Ace Of Cups, featuring Bassists Mary Gannon and Denise Kaufman…
Ace of Cups, the pioneering all-women band from the ‘60s San Francisco psychedelic scene, is now streaming their sophomore album Sing Your Dreams early with Grammy.com. The new album is set for release on October 2nd, via High Moon Records and follows their warmly-received eponymous 2018 debut; a record which, in a testament to creative persistence, came out fifty years after their initial incarnation.
Sing Your Dreams is a new collection of 12 songs and stories, produced by Dan Shea (Santana, Mariah Carey, Phil Collins, Bruce Hornsby), and features collaborations with Jackson Browne (who duets on album closer ‘Slowest River’), Sheila E. and the Escovedo Family, Bakithi Kumalo (whose iconic bass-playing was integral to the sound of Paul Simon’s Graceland), jam-band guitar luminary Steve Kimock (Jerry Garcia named him his ‘favorite unknown guitarist’), peace activist and counterculture icon Wavy Gravy, Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna), and David Freiberg (Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane/Starship).
The Ace of Cups’ longstanding attitude of total creative freedom and a fierce commitment to humanity continue to flow unabated on Sing Your Dreams.
Built on a rock-solid foundation of blues and soul, infused with the ageless tendrils of folk melodies and world music rhythms, the new album reveals the group’s innate grasp of the power of song, in whatever forms it might be presented. The band reaches back to its Haight-Ashbury heyday for the propulsive, psych-tinged ‘Gemini’ and a deliciously sarcastic ‘Waller St. Blues.’ There’s the Randy Newman-esque soft-shoe shuffle of ‘I’m On Your Side’ and the tender plea for human goodness that is ‘Sister Ruth.’ Their punchy take on Keb Mo’s ‘Put A Woman In Charge’ reflects the Ace of Cups’ long-standing and unapologetic commitment to gender equity – just in time for the centennial of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote. Garage-rock rave-up ‘Boy, What’ll You Do Then’ (originally written and recorded by Ace of Cups’ Denise Kaufman as a teenager, now one of the most elusive and valuable 45’s in existence) gets a wildly exhilarating and cathartic workout.
The maxim of love and togetherness that is core to Ace of Cups is as strong as ever on this new record. These women are part of a generation for whom social justice was—and still is—a major concern, and in the light of the tension and tumult of recent events, we could all benefit from their courage and positivity. The first song released from Sing Your Dreams was ‘Made For Love,’ a message of compassion and hope to a world in crisis, which Rolling Stone labeled “a tender, timely new song about remaining connected during difficult times.” Another powerful statement is “Basic Human Needs”, the Ace of Cups’ collaboration with counterculture guru Wavy Gravy; a humanist manifesto set to a transcendently cosmic gospel groove. The song is Gravy’s mission statement: that we all need to be kind to—and care for—each other and Mother Earth. Wavy delivers it with deep passion and humor as only the clown saint of the peace movement could.
Originating from within the psychedelic milieu of 60s San Francisco, the original Ace of Cups quintet was a beloved fixture of the scene, delivering memorable performances, sterling songcraft, and a reputation for enchanting harmonies that saw the women contribute to albums by Jefferson Airplane, Michael Bloomfield and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Despite their renown—Jimi Hendrix, Jerry Garcia and Bill Graham were avowed fans—when the band eventually split in 1972, they left behind no records of their own. In 2003 an anthology of vintage Ace of Cups’ live and demo recordings helped remind the music world of what it had missed, infrequent and formal musical get-togethers eventually lead to jubilant reunion shows, and the band was increasingly urged to get to a studio and make the record the world had been waiting 50 years for. Ace of Cups, the band’s 2018 debut studio album, was the product of many months in the studio with producer Dan Shea; going through a massive back catalog of original material, rediscovering forgotten songs on old rehearsal tapes, re-learning guitar riffs, fine-tuning their sublime harmonies, and rising up to meet the new moment they found themselves in. During the sessions old friends—including Bob Weir, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Taj Mahal, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Peter Coyote—came by the studio to offer support and musical contributions, and what started out as a chance to set the record straight turned into a history-making second act.
The album inspired people all over the world with its inspiring backstory of patience and tenacity but its masterful songwriting and musicianship was a wonderful revelation to those who had never heard Ace of Cups, proving yet again that great music transcends boundaries of age and gender. Major media coverage for the album led to overwhelming accolades from the press, while touring and TV appearances helped introduce a new generation of fans to the Ace of Cups, whose live shows were getting tighter and more electrifying with every gig. The Ace of Cups is Mary Gannon, Denise Kaufman, Mary Ellen Simpson, Diane Vitalich, and Dallis Craft.
Visit online at aceofcups.com/