Alison was born and raised in Petersburg, VA in a working class family that was void of musical talent. Alison is an only child and isn’t aware of any musicians in her family, (she thinks her grandpa looked at a guitar once,)but swears that she has been singing since she learned to talk.
Alison plays a mix of honky tonk and old time country on the guitar. Her influences range from The Louvin Brothers and Kitty Wells to Roger Miller and Bessie Smith. She has a strong stage presence and her lyrics might make you cry, but you’re more than likely to laugh.
Sometime in 2006 Alison decided to buy a ukulele, by the next year she was playing small DIY gigs around Richmond VA and also spending a good amount of time busking on the street for tips.
Alison spent about 10 years based out of Richmond, Virginia where she was described as Richmond’s chanteuse “with a huge voice unlike any other female singer in Richmond” and until the end of her time living in the region (2015), became a well known musician who booked other acts in town, had side projects and toured the US.
Alison traveled west in a ’96 Oldsmobile with no working windows for most of 2015, with a stint in Southwest VA then Nashville TN, until her car broke down outside of Denver. She played some shows and worked for a few months, decided it was time to go and drunkenly bought a $20 plane ticket to Austin TX. Figuring she had nothing to lose she sold her car for $200 and got rid of mostly everything she had carried with her and made the move. She didn’t even take her guitar. Austin was home for Alison for the past two years until she decided to uproot once again and make the move to Portland OR back in October 2018.
Alison was diagnosed with colon cancer in the winter of 2018, went through surgery and chemotherapy and finished all that in June 2019. Alison has been cancer free for almost 2 years.
Traveling and restlessness have been strong themes in Alison’s songs which are influenced strongly by her early 20s spent hitch hiking and hopping a few freight trains here and there. Simply put, Alison writes from lived experiences. Thematically her songs run along the same lines of most honky tonk singers, past and present: working class upbringing, death, trains, bad decisions and too much booze.
Cowboy Coffee 2014
Fall Recordings 2013
Sweet Fern – S/T 2012
GR&TS- “Gas Aint’ Cheap” July 2012
Alison Self- “Live At The Listening Room” February 2011
Alison Self- “Self -Titled” April 2009
Arise Sweet Donkey- “S/T” November 2009
Gail Ruby and The Sheik “I Already Got You” May 2006
-PROJECTS THAT ARE INACTIVE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN BELOW-
Carter family inspired old time country outfit, with Josh Bearman (of The Hot Seats)
“Hokum Jump” ragtime blues powerhouse duo with Brownbird Rudy Relic
In addition to performing Alison also works on other music related projects.
Alison Self partners with caller Grant Hunnicut to help organize semi-regular square dances around town. Voted ‘Best Way To Cure Nostalgia for Grade School Dances’ by Style Weekly.
Alison Self and Josh Bearman handle the details for this free 4th Thursday showcase that happens monthly at Balliceaux since Jan 2012. Sweet Fern opens the night and then the featured band takes the stage.
Festivals played: MacRock (2012), Fall Line Festival (2013), RVA UkeFest (2013)
Alison has shared the stage with notable acts such as: The Two Man Gentleman Band, Curtis Eller, J.P Harris & The Tough Choices, Jason Webley, The Hot Seats, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Blackbird Raum, Larry and His Flask, Paul Baribeau, Spoonboy and more, and loves them all very much <3