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Made for music 

Amy LaVere also finds time for Hollywood, Sun Studios

Music runs through Amy LaVere's veins. You can hear the passion she has for it in her voice. She even finds time when she's not performing to give tours at Sun Studios in Memphis -- for the money, but also for the enjoyment.

Acting? Sure, why not throw that into the mix, as well. "I love acting, but I started playing in my first band when I was 14 and fell in love with that type of performance," she says by phone from a Vietnamese restaurant in Memphis. "I've done a couple of bit parts that will turn up at film festivals this year, but I haven't really had time to really pursue acting."

The roles she has taken so far -- small parts in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line and the Samuel L. Jackson/Christina Ricci movie Black Snake Moan included -- have found her while her focus remains music. "Either of those professions takes so much energy, you have to choose one," she says. "I enjoy both a lot and I wouldn't turn down a great part, but as far as searching for an agent and jockeying for a great role -- I don't have the energy to put into that."

She says it's not a stretch to think of doing both because she views each as a form of artistic expression. When you look at the Hollywood list of those in both fields, it can take a while to find them all -- Billy Bob Thornton, Jared Leto, Juliette Lewis, Keanu Reeves, Jack Black, Kevin Bacon, Jada Pinkett Smith, Russell Crowe, Jamie Foxx and the list goes on ...

"I'm not an actor, but I act like I am/ I really am awful, but I act like I'm not," she sings on "Pointless Drinking." Though the song is actually written by her drummer, Paul Taylor, LaVere says she relates to the lyrics. "I begged and begged to record that song because I related to it so well," she says.

LaVere's second album, last year's Anchors & Anvils, showcases her sweet, high-pitched vocals over a mix of music that lies somewhere in the middle of jazz, country and swing. While the album has a few guest spots taken up by Jimbo Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and legendary producer Jim Dickinson, her touring band remains a trio.

"When we scale down to a three piece -- which is how I've always played live -- it has a lot more energy and punch," LaVere says. "The three-piece becomes a little bit more aggressive."

It's hard to imagine that the soft vocal stylings of LaVere were initially honed in the punk outfit Last Minute. "I fronted a band and flailed my arms and screamed," she says. "It was probably more of a teen angst band instead of what people think of when you hear punk band. It was definitely some sort of strange."

While she doesn't like to limit herself by a particular genre, she says that the music records is the right fit for the moment. "I'm not as angry as I was when I was 15 years old," LaVere says, "but I'm also not as content and relaxed as I was when I recorded Anchors & Anvils."

Her first album, '06s This World is Not My Home, is looked at as a good representation of her at that time and she says she doesn't like or dislike it when compared to her more recent effort. The only thing that has changed is the energy that comes forth when performing those songs when compared to the energy you have to find when creating music in a studio.

She's tried to tour consistently over the last year and recently made their first trip to London. With any luck, she'll wrap up a third album this year and release it early in 2009.

"I'm moving in a more aggressive direction," LaVere says. "I'm obsessed with (working on it). If you asked me last month, I would have said it's going to be a band record as a three-piece to represent what we're doing live. This week, I'm thinking more about a random instrument that I'd like to hear on a given song and would encompass more than a three-piece. I'm still developing it in my mind, I suppose."

Amy LaVere will perform at The Milestone on March 6 with The Bittersweets and Andy the Doorbum. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 on the day of the show.

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