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Pamela Means

Country of origin:


Type of music generally:

Contemporary folk, folk/rock


Most recent release, Plainfield (2016)

See also:

Pamela Means' website

Pamela Means' Bandcamp site

Pamela Means' CDBaby page


The guitar energy, especially, is like Ani Difranco

Covers/own material:

Mostly own, occasional covers

General comments:

An interesting girl-mit-guitar who has been a perfect opener for Ani Difranco, Pamela Means is indeed quite nifty. I'd say that if you like Ani Difranco, you'll like her—she has a similar sounding voice, and does really neat things on the guitar too, though she doesn't fool around with tunings as much as Ani does. She's a genuinely nice person who deserves to be a lot bigger than she is right now. Pamela Means simply rocks. As Ani Difranco said of her, she's "got such a deep groove, I can't get out. And I wouldn't want to." (

pamela means is a nifty guitarist and a nifty singer too. she's one of those solo acoustics that don't get the official woj frown of boredom. if you get a chance, check her out. if you don't like her, i'll refund the cover charge. ;) (

I'm not a big folk or folkrock fan, but I downloaded one of Pamela Means' sample songs and really liked it, so I bought her two cds. I need more time for them to grow on me and I think I'd like to see her live. I definitely like the way she sings and attacks her guitar á la Ani Difranco, but I'm not so sure about her songwriting—it's just not my kind of thing. (Neile)

She's *fabulous*...I have her album Cobblestones and actually, I was obsessing over it all afternoon even though I've had it for ages...she's a sort of folk-soul hybrid, but furious; she can make one acoustic guitar sound like a full orchestra, and NOT in theAni Difranco way...Ani's guitar work is a sophisticated groovy backdrop for her voice and words, and Pamela's guitar work is its own voice entirely...not to say that her lyrics don't pack a punch, because they most definitely do, but she speaks directly THROUGH the instrument as powerfully as she does through her vocal chords, and it's so beautifully nuanced...Ani gets a groove and goes...Pamela so rarely relies on things like hooks...every few bars, she introduces a completely new musical motif, and her songs tend to be less wordy than Ani's...she's also got this WILD African-woman hair, which RAWKS...I recommend the hell out of her. (John.Drummond)

Comments about live performance:

Pamela Means did a 5-song opening set, which was so well received she came back and did a one-song encore. It was clear that we weren't the only ones there mainly to see her, which was good. Her set was more understated than usual—she didn't even wail on "Uncle" as much as she usually does, but it was still a good set. (4/99)
     Yesterday evening I went down to the Acoustic Cafe to see Pamela Means. Pamela did two sets, which made it the longest show of hers I've seen. She gave her usual high-energy, intense performance, and hit all of my favorite songs of hers from Bone Spurs and Cobblestones. She also did a few new ones, which were really good. She ended the show with a scorching rendition of "Maybe You Should" that broke two strings. :> She was called back for an encore and had to improvise a three-string accompaniment that still sounded really good.
     She made quite a few new fans last night, though—I know a lot of people who came through that door had no clue who she was or what sort of music she played. She sold a lot of CDs that I could see. (11/99)
     She had a drummer with her, Jason Graham, and she had her electric guitar and she ROCKED. The comparisons to Ani Difranco have always been inevitable, particularly when she's got a drummer who not only had a kit like Andy Stochansky's, but plays "asymmetrically", as woj calls it, like Stochansky does. But I don't recall Ani ever breaking five strings in one 40-minute set. :) If Pamela didn't have a legion of screaming fans before she played yesterday, she had one when she was done. People around me were going, "wow". (She also had Edie Carey and Sam Shaber singing lovely backup for her on one song. Yummy.) (c. 2000)
     Pamela rocked, as usual. She played a very long, satisfying set, during which she broke her G, D, and A strings, in that order (but not on the same song). A three-string show is pretty average for her. ;) There were a few people there who hadn't seen her before, and they left as new fans. (11/00,

Pamela is one of my favorite live performers...I once took the Greyhound bus 14 hours *each way* to see two Pamela-shows in another state. She is even better live than on album, simply breathtaking!
     Very unusual left-hand and right-hand technique...for example, she one of the few guitarists who finger-picks and flat-picks simultaneously (another who does this is Nancy Wilson). (7/00,

Should you go see Pamela Means? Should you breath? Should you eat? Should you Love? The answers are of course, yes, yes, yes, and yes, respectively, and in that order of importance.... yes I exaggerate a little.
     John Miller has recommended Pamela for so long and with such urgency that when she came to the bay area I had no choice but to go see her. THE most dynamic woman w/guitar I've seen in a long time (a quote I recently read, but can't recall where—probably on John's web site).
     "The most dynamic" is not hyperbole—I measured it objectively—it's true. Emotionally charged occasionally political lyrics, vocals ranging from muttered whispers to volumnous screams, guitar delicately picked to thunderously strummed. Obvious comparisons will come to mind.
     (In my opinion.) (9/00,

Recommended first album:

Pearl—she really is best experienced live, and this most closely approximates that experience.


  • Seven Romans (cassette-only release, c. 1993)
  • Bone Spurs (1995)
  • Cobblestones (1998)
  • Pearls (live, 2000)
  • Single Bullet Theory (2003)
  • Jazz Project (2006)
  • Precedent (2009)
  • Plainfield (2016)


Release info:

1998—phylorra music, wirl records, p.o. box 913, cambridge, ma 02140, u.s.a.—WIRL 1003-D


See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for folkrock fans

Group members:

Pamela Means—vocals, acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Dave Kemper—bass
Scott Stevenson—hammond organ
Larry Beers—drums
Tim Mulvenna—talking drum, djembe, shakers

Produced by:

Pamela Means, 2 tracks by David J. Kemper


Amazing. (


Release info:

2000—phylorra music/wirl records, p.o. box 400913, cambridge, ma 02140, u.s.a.—WIRL 1004-D


See website for availability

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for folkrock fans

Group members:

pamela means—acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

jason gardner—drums on 2 tracks
david "goody" goodrich—electric guitar in 2 tracks
kris delmhorst—vocal on 1 track
edie carey—vocal on 1 track
sam shaber—vocal on 1 track
alastair moock—acoustic guitar, vocal on 1 track
tim kelly—slide guitar on 1 track
bob paluccio—drums on 1 track
mcgregor mcgehee—bass on 1 track
chandler travis—harmonica on 1 track

Produced by:

Pamela means


Pearls is a collection of live performances collected from audience and soundboard recordings. It's a nice representation of a typical Pamela Means show, and the full-band rendition of "Maybe You Should" kicks major ass. (11/00,

Further info:

Pamela Means also appears on these compilation cds: rose street raw, can you read this boston?, respond, and the ovarian cancer research fund album.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2017-11-27 21:13:11.
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