Bio : Ace of Cups
THE ACE OF CUPS - THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
“Ace of Cups is course-correcting rock history.” —The Guardian
Sing Your Dreams, the new album by pioneering all-women combo the Ace of Cups arrives hot on the heels of their warmly-received eponymous 2018 debut – fifty years in the making! – this new collection of songs and stories is not so much a sequel, as a welcome second dip into the Ace’s overflowing vessel of melody, harmony, poetry and good vibrations.
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 – no less than Jimi Hendrix was a fan – sterling songcraft, and a reputation for enchanting harmonies that saw the women contribute to albums by Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Despite this prime visibility, when the band eventually split in 1972, they left behind no records of their own.
Yet, the legend of these young women persisted, and in 2003 an anthology of vintage Ace of Cups’ live and demo recordings helped remind the music world of what it had missed. Having all remained friends, the women of the Ace of Cups took time from the paths that each of their lives had subsequently taken to regroup and in essence, pick up where they had left off. Starting in 2011, informal musical get-togethers would lead to rapturously-received reunion shows, along with the inevitable suggestion that these seasoned, yet never jaded, musicians should make the record they were destined to back in the day.
Ace of Cups was the result of many months work in the studio with respected producer Dan Shea. Upon its release in 2018, this delightful and heartwarming suite of songs touched many with its unexpected vibrancy, proving that there are no boundaries to age, race or gender when making music that matters. Major media coverage for the album event led to accolades from the press, while touring and TV appearances helped introduce a new generation of fans to the Ace of Cups.
The group’s unique brand of creativity and humanity continues to flow unabated on Sing Your Dreams. We once more hear that same easy-riding bedrock of blues and soul, infused with folk and world music rhythm, and an innate understanding of the power of song, no matter how it might be presented. There’s the soft-shoe shuffle of ‘I’m On Your Side,’ and the plaintive ode to togetherness that is ‘Sister Ruth.’ The band reach back to their Haight-Ashbury heyday for the psych-tinged ‘Gemini’ and a deliciously sarcastic ‘Waller Street Blues.’ Lest we forget, these ladies can also rock as hard as any, as we hear upon their punchy take on Keb Mo’s ‘Put A Woman In Charge’ - a telling choice for our times – and an effervescent reprise of Denise Kaufman’s own girl garage nugget, ‘Boy, What’ll You Do Then.’
But most importantly, the maxim of love and togetherness that is core to Ace of Cups remains equally strong on this new record. These women are part of a generation for whom social justice was and is a major concern, and in the light of recent events, we could all benefit from their positivity. Hence the first excerpt from the sessions for Sing Your Dreams in ‘Made For Love,’ a message of 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 the Ace of Cups’ collaboration with counterculture guru Wavy Gravy, ‘Basic Human Needs’; equal parts wit and compassion, set to a catchy, internationally-aware gospel groove. Sing Your Dreams also features other friends of the Ace, such as Jackson Browne (who duets on album closer ‘Slowest River’), Sheila E, Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna), David Freiberg (Quicksilver / Starship), and others. As before, production duties are capably handled by Dan Shea.
The release of Sing Your Dreams coincides with the hundredth anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment (giving women the right to vote). Yes, we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Let the music of The Ace of Cups be both our soundtrack and our guide, as we continue the journey.
The ACE OF CUPS:
Mary Ellen Simpson
“The Ace of Cups really have that kind of blood harmony thing that usually only happens with people who grew up in families and sang together…get their new album!” – Jorma Kaukonen, Fur Peace Ranch, May 30, 2020