About Michael O'Neill

Showcasing a new collection with a previously un-released Townes Van Zandt song as the title track, this singer/songwriter with a “roots-rock” history and a soulful ease carries his listener into a time and place reminiscent of steel strings, guitar heroes, and great story-tellers like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. One of 13 children, he got started in music early. At the age of 24, he cut his teeth opening his first tour for a then-unknown band called U2.

By the time the tour ended in Los Angeles, O'Neill found himself signed with legendary manager Don Arden, (father of Sharon Osbourne). O'Neill put together a band that featured a young John Shanks, (now superstar producer of Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morrisette, Vertical Horizon, etc.), Kenny Gradney (Little Feat), and jazz saxophonist, Boney James.

He spent the better part of the next ten years touring with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and penning songs with Bob Weir, Steve Cropper (Booker T. and The MG's), and Jason Scheff (Chicago).

Part country crooner, part haggard storyteller, O'Neill makes a noise that is refreshingly classic.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pearl Hart

Born in Ontario in 1871, Pearl Hart was known for her beauty and brilliance. She left an abussive marriage at 22, ultimately winding up in Phoenix, Arizona. Her husband followed her there and the pair briefly reconciled but their problems resurfaced. He left for the Spanish American War and Pearl, living as a prostitute, became depressed and attempted suicide a number of times or came close to doing so. Friends interfered, thankfully, each time.

She teamed up with a miner named Joe Boot and the pair moved to Globe, Arizona, where they unsuccessfully worked on a claim. In part due to this and in part because she received word from Canada that her mother was dying, the pair turned outlaw. They first robbed men who thought they were soliciting sex from Pearl but instead found they'd solicited a heavy blow to the head by Boot & empty pockets upon waking. They soon turned to the more lucrative prospect of robbing stagecoaches.

Though she cut her hair and dressed like a man, Pearl was too good looking for the disguise to be but so convincing. Pearl, feeling somewhat bad, returned a dollar to each, "to eat on...". They got lost during their escape and a Sheriff's posse soon found them.

Pearl was released by a jury who believed her tale of desperately needing the money to see her dying mother. The case received a huge ammount of attention in the press and she was particularly lauded for her statement that, "She would never consent to be tried under a law she or her sex had no voice in making, or to which a woman had no power under the law to give her consent."

She escaped once, with help from a fellow inmate who had fallen in love with her. The pair fled to New Mexico but were ultimately aprehended by a U.S. Marshall. She was sentanced to 5 years in Yuma Territorial Prison. The press continued to focus a great deal of attention on her case.

She was the only woman ever sent there and soon became pregnant. She may have, as many female convicts in England did, done this on purpose to get out of prison. It achieved the result, intentional or no and she was released early, pardoned and told to leave the state. (Probably helped her situation that the only two men who had been alone with her were a preacher and the Governor of Arizona at the time.)

After a brief time travelling and committing petty crimes, she joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show for a little while. Ultimately, she is believed to have returned to Arizona, married a rancher and lived to be 90.

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