Pack a picnic and join us for our annual romp exploring an eclectic mix of folk, country, bluegrass, gospel, blues, creole, singer/songwriter, string band, old time, and everything in-between. Enjoy memorable tunes, great eats, good friends, comfortable bathrooms, free parking, and 90 acres of historic gardens and architectural treasures ripe for exploration.
This season, the all-ages American Roots Music Festival offers up several riveting headline artists on the verge of stardom. Hurray for the Riff Raff – led by the charismatic Alynda Segarra – hails from New Orleans and mixes doo-wop, blues, and honky-tonk into unforgettable, effortlessly catchy performances garnering praise from the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, NPR, CMT, and elsewhere. Returning fan favorite John Fullbright brings his deeply personal, gripping song writing and playing, joining “the lineage of terse Southwestern songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark … reaching for unassailable clarity.” (New York Times) After a sold out I’m With Her performance here last summer, Sara Watkins (also of Nickel Creek fame) shares her new band and new tunes with us in an early preview.
Hurray for the Riff Raff is Alynda Lee Segarra, a young woman leaving her indelible stamp on the Americana tradition. Segarra, a 28-year-old of Puerto Rican descent whose slight frame belies her commanding voice, grew up in the Bronx. At 17, she hitchhiked her way to the west coast, then roamed the south. The New Yorker says her songs are, “effortlessly catchy, shift beautifully from sorrowful to ebullient, and seamlessly fuse elements of doo-wop, country, blues, honky-tonk, and sixties pop.”
Named “one of the best albums of the year so far,” by Rolling Stone, Paste, NPR, CMT, SPIN, Slate and Esquire, Hurray for the Riff Raff’s latest album, Small Town Heroes (ATO Records) highlights Segarra’s special reverence for New Orleans with lyrics that speak to thoroughly modern concerns. NPR calls her “the voice of the future,” as the album’s second single,”The Body Electric” represents her desire for justice and dream of change. Segarra says, “I hope the song not only speaks to women, but to anyone who has the desire to be free.” As Americana Music Association‘s nominee for Emerging Artist of the Year, 2014 has been an exciting year for Hurray for the Riff Raff.
“What’s so bad about happy?” John Fullbright sings on the opening track of his new album, Songs. It’s a play on the writer’s curse, the notion that new material can only come through heartbreak or depression, that great art is only born from suffering.
“A normal person, if they find themselves in a position of turmoil or grief, they’ll say, ‘I need to get out of this as fast as I can,’” says Fullbright. “A writer will say, ‘How long can I stay in this until I get something good?’ And that’s a bullshit way to look at life,” he laughs.
That plainspoken approach is part of what’s fueled the young Oklahoman’s remarkable rise. It was just two years ago that Fullbright released his debut studio album, From The Ground Up to a swarm of critical acclaim. The LA Times called the record “preternaturally selfassured,” while NPR hailed him as one of the 10 Artists You Should Have Known in 2012, saying “it’s not every day a new artist…earns comparisons to great songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Randy Newman, but Fullbright’s music makes sense in such lofty company.” The Wall Street Journal crowned him as giving one of the year’s 10 best live performances, and the album also earned him the ASCAP Foundation’s Harold Adamson Lyric Award. If there was any doubt that his debut announced the arrival of a songwriting force to be reckoned with, it was put to rest when From The Ground Up was nominated for Best Americana Album at the GRAMMY Awards, which placed Fullbright alongside some of the genre’s most iconic figures, including Bonnie Raitt.
“I never came into this with a whole lot of expectations,” says Fullbright. “I just wanted to write really good songs, and with that outlook, everything else is a perk. The fact that we went to LA and played “Gawd Above” in front of a starstudded audience [at the GRAMMY pre-tel concert], never in my life would I have imagined that.”
But for Fullbright, it hasn’t been all the acclaim that means the most to him, but rather his entrance into a community of songwriters whose work he admires. “When I started out, I was all by myself in a little town in Oklahoma where whatever you wanted, you just made it yourself,” he explains. “I didn’t grow up around musicians or likeminded songwriters, but I grew up around records. One of the most fulfilling things about the last two years is that now I’m surrounded by likeminded people in a community of peers. You don’t feel so alone anymore.”
If there’s a recurring motif that jumps out upon first listen to Songs, it’s the act of writing, which is one Fullbright treats with the utmost respect. “When I discovered Townes Van Zandt, that’s when I went, ‘You know, this is something to be taken pretty damn seriously,’” says Fullbright. “‘This is nothing to do with business, it has to do with art and identity.’ You can write something that’s going to outlast you, and immortality though song is a big draw.”
But just as important to Fullbright as writing is careful editing. “I can write a first verse and a chorus fairly easily, and it’s important just to document it at the time and come back to it later,” he explains. “That’s the labor, when you really get your tools out and figure out how to craft something that’s worthwhile.” Fullbright inhabits his songs’ narrators completely, his old-soul voice fleshing out complex characters and subtle narratives with a gifted sense of understatement. “My songwriting is a lot more economical now,” he explains. “I like to say as much as I can in 2 minutes 50 seconds, and that’s kind of a point of pride for me.”
The arrangements on Songs are stripped down to their cores and free of ornamentation. Fullbright’s guitar and piano anchor the record, while a minimalist rhythm section weaves in and out throughout the album. That’s not to say these are simple songs; Fullbright possesses a keen ear for memorable melody and a unique approach to harmony, moving through chord progressions far outside the expected confines of traditional folk or Americana. The performances are stark and direct, though, a deliberate approach meant to deliver the songs in their purest and most honest form.
“I’m a better performer and writer and musician now, and I wanted a record that would reflect that,” he says. “We tracked a lot of it live, just me and a bass player in a room with a few microphones. The basis is a live performance and everything else supports that. I think you just get as much energy and skill as you can into a take, and then start building from there. And what we found is that you don’t have to add too much to that.”
The songs also reflect how drastically Fullbright’s life has changed since the release of From The Ground Up, which launched him into a rigorous schedule of international touring. “Going Home” finds him appreciating the simple pleasure of heading back to Oklahoma, which he likens to The Odyssey. “When you’re gone for so long, once you know you’re headed in the right direction to your own bed and your own home, that’s one of the greatest feelings you can have,” he says.
“I Didn’t Know” is a song he premiered live at concert hosted by Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, a story he tells still somewhat incredulously, while “When You’re Here” is a somber piano love song, and “The One That Lives Too Far’ is a raw account of the strain that distance can put on a romantic relationship. “All That You Know,” which features just voice and Wurlitzer, implores listeners to appreciate what’s right in front of them, and the fingerpicked “Keeping Hope Alive” is a song of resilience through hard times.
To be sure, Songs has its moments of darkness, tracks born from pain and heartbreak, but for a craftsman like Fullbright, there are few greater joys than carving emotion into music, taking a stab at that lofty goal of immortality through song. It makes him—and his fans—happy, and there’s nothing bad about that.
Sara Watkins concluded her gently self-assured 2009 Nonesuch debut with a wistful, self-penned ballad, “Where Will You Be?,” about the slow fade of a romance. With Watkins standing on the brink of a solo career, the question in the song title took on significance well beyond its lyrics, though: it marked the end of an album and the jumping-off point for a whole new life. Watkins had spent most of her younger years, nearly two decades, as singer and fiddle player for the Grammy Award–winning, bluegrass-folk hybrid Nickel Creek, a trio she’d started performing in when she was a mere eight years old, alongside her guitarist brother Sean and mandolinist Chris Thile. Now, for the first time, she was stepping away from that marquee name, alone. Watkins may have felt trepidatious, but, as old fans and new listeners could attest, the transition felt effortless, natural. As the BBC put it, “Watkins’ time in the spotlight is a triumph with her agile playing and the kind of voice that gives your goose bumps the shivers.”
After two formative years on the road fronting her own band—making stops at such events as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, and Glasgow’s Celtic Connection along the way—Watkins returned to Los Angeles to record her second Nonesuch disc. Produced by guitarist, songwriter, and Simon Dawes co-founder Blake Mills, Sun Midnight Sun offers both sweetness and a certain swagger; it has an appealingly rough-hewn quality. There’s a bracing rawness to her rendition of “When It Pleases You,” a song she nicked from composer Dan Wilson, co-writer of Adele’s recent hits, and an equally fiery back and forth between Watkins and guest vocalist Fiona Apple on a surprisingly dark-around-the-edges reimagining of the Everly Brothers’ staple, “You’re the One I Love.” The album title suggests the daily passage of time or, perhaps more to the point, the transition from light to dark and back again, much like the moods of the disc itself. Watkins brackets the album with two of her most upbeat tunes, opening with “The Foothills,” a fast-paced, Celtic-flavored fiddle number co written with Mills, and closing with her own “Take up Your Spade,” a hopeful, part-sing-along/part prayer that could have been taken from a Carter Family songbook. Homey backing vocals come courtesy of Apple and another old friend, Jackson Browne. At the heart of the disc, though, are affectingly plaintive numbers like “Be There” and the waltz-tempo-ed “Impossible,” in which Watkins’ lovely fiddle line echoes the heartbreak in her voice.
Though Sun Midnight Sun sounds more off the cuff in execution than Watkins’ debut, the production is actually a more traditionally multi-layered effort. On Sara Watkins, producer John Paul Jones, the former Led Zepplin bassist and formidable song arranger, led Watkins and a stellar group of L.A. backing musicians in extensive rehearsals before capturing live-in-the-studio takes of all the material, with very little overdubbing or edits. This time, Watkins built the tracks around a core trio consisting of herself, multi-instrumentalist Mills, and her brother Sean, with whom she has been co-hosting the Watkins Family Hour for the last nine years at L.A.’s eclectic club Largo whenever the pair is in town. It was at Largo, in fact, that keyboardist and frequent Family Hour guest Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers introduced Watkins to Mills, who had previously worked as sideman/muse to such artists as Jenny Lewis, Julian Casablancas, Jeff Bridges, Delta Spirit, and Nora Jones. Says Watkins says of Mills, “He sat in on the Watkins Family Hour and it was really fun to play with him. He added to every scenario. I loved his songwriting and his taste in songs, and he’s especially thoughtful in the way he backs up singers. We were at Largo and, after doing some show in the little room there, I asked him if he would produce a few songs and he agreed. After that I just thought, screw it, let’s do the whole record—and we did.”
It’s been said that High Plains Jamboree is a bluegrass band west of the Mississippi and a country band east of the Mississippi.
The songs of mandolin player Brennen Leigh have been recorded by country stars Sunny Sweeney and Grammy winner Lee Ann Womack. Leigh has a cult following in Scandinavia, and has performed and recorded with Charlie Louvin, Robbie Fulks, and Jim Lauderdale.
Fiddler Beth Chrisman brings her award winning songwriting (Independent Music Awards “Country Song of the Year”) to the band. While a member of the Carper Family, Chrisman performed on Mountain Stage and A Prairie Home Companion. In the past, she has worked with Alice Gerrard, John C Reilly, James Hand, and The Heartless Bastards.
Guitarist Noel McKay was discovered by Guy Clark in 1993 while performing at the Jimmie Rodgers Festival in Kerrville, Texas. Clark and McKay’s co-write “El Coyote” went on to win a Grammy for “Best Folk Album.”
Bassist and old time banjo player Simon Flory performed throughout the mid south with his mentor, bluegrass legend Donny Catron (Tennessee Gentlemen, Jesse McReynolds, Doyle Lawson). He also studied and taught at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music.
While each musician’s resume is impressive in its own right, this new collaboration between long time friends has already gained national and international attention.
“High Plains Jamboree brings to the stage everything that we love about folk and roots music: a beautiful tapestry of homespun lyrics, instrumentation, and high lonesome harmonies.” –Jenni Finlay, Jenni Finlay Promotions, Eight 30 Records
“Breathing new life into a classic art form.” – Ear to the Ground
“Their high energy and harmony is sure to make you want to dance!” – Sierra Hull, Rounder Records recording artist
Philly’s favorite bluegrass band, Man About a Horse brandishes strong ties to the folk music tradition, with a progressive streak that informs their original songwriting. Bridging generational boundaries, Man About a Horse is equally at home picking in concert parking lots and performing on stage at some of the nation’s finest bluegrass festivals.
Man About a Horse was formed in 2014 when two Philadelphia musicians chanced to discover a shared love of bluegrass over beers at a Northern Liberties watering hole. Matt Thomas (bass) and Roy Matthews (guitar and vocals) had played in several successful bands, but longed for the close harmonies and fast picking of bluegrass music.
The band’s roster now includes some of the Northeast’s best pickers, including banjoist Dan Whitener (also of well-known bluegrass/hip hop band Gangstagrass), Justin Stevenson (whose mandolin playing is a fixture in the New Jersey Pinelands bluegrass scene), and Elizabeth Cary, who has toured internationally behind her virtuoso fiddle playing.
Though new on the scene, Man About a Horse has grown in leaps and bounds, releasing a studio recording in 2015 (The EP) that earned national airplay on ‘tastemaker’ radio stations such as WXPN (Philadelphia) and WAMU Bluegrass Country (Washington, DC). The band opened the main stage of the 2015 Philadelphia Folk Festival, and has shared bills with the likes of Shakey Graves, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Steve ‘N’ Seagulls, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, and others at renowned venues around the East Coast. Their music has been featured on blogs such as The Key, the Random Tea Sessions, and Ear to the Ground.
Fingers and bow flying, Dennis Stroughmatt takes listeners on a musical odyssey. This is the story of the French Creoles who founded the Illinois-Missouri Country near the Ozark foothills, more than 300 years ago. Their songs, stories, and language remain largely intact and true to the traditions that have been passed down for generations. L’Esprit Creole’s music bridges the gap between contemporary Canadian and Louisiana Cajun styles.
Originally from southeastern Illinois, Dennis Stroughmatt was taught to play fiddle by Missouri Creole fiddlers Roy Boyer and Charlie Pashia in the tradition of their fathers. He became an adopted son of the French Midwest Creoles who settled near St. Louis, playing at weekly house parties or “bouillons.”
As a result of physical journeys that also included French studies in Louisiana and Quebec, Dennis finds himself in a unique position as one who can speak knowledgeably and play in a variety of French styles. He has an innate sense of what is needed to get an audience on their feet, and keep a band on its toes.
Dennis Stroughmatt et l’Esprit Creole are passionate ambassadors of Creole music and traditions, expanding interest and excitement in a region that has been long ignored by the history books. As they say in the hills, “On est toujours icitte: We are still here!”
The Lowest Pair features the duel banjo picking of Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee. Draped in Kendl’s high lonesome harmonies and Palmer’s Midwest croon, their debut release, 36¢, (Team Love Records) was hailed by In Your Speakers as “the first great release of 2014.” On February 24th, 2015, Team Love will release their sophomore album, The Sacred Heart Sessions.
Arkansas-born and now homesteading in Olympia, Washington, Kendl Winter sprouts alfalfa beans in mason jars in the back of the tour van and spreads her songs across the country Johnny Appleseed-style. Kendl brings to The Lowest Pair her wonderfully weaving poetry of song, old and new, and a voice somewhere between Gillian Welch and Iris DeMent, with a little Olympia twist. Palmer T. Lee, who hails from Minneapolis, was nineteen years old when he inherited a couple of banjos and discovered he could reassemble them into his dream instrument. Former front man for the much loved, high energy bluegrass band The Boys n’ the Barrels, Palmer’s songs are distilled into the warm sweet sounds of his percussive wordplay, and the melodic interludes of his own unique style played on a pieced together banjo.
After nearly a year of traveling the country playing clubs, hotels, house shows, back yards, and street corners, they found their way back up to Minnesota, this time to Duluth where they sat down to record the follow-up to 36¢. Linking up with Tom Fabjance at an old church seemed like the perfect way to expand on their sound without diluting their original magical formula. The Sacred Heart Sessions is an album that allows the listener to enter the space that surrounds its creation. One can virtually feel the walls and vaulted ceiling of the old wooden church rising up, creating a natural reverb and warming the air.
Be it Kendl’s punk roots, her admiration for the traditional American songbook, or the gravitational pull she sensed drawing her to Olympia, it’s her combining these talents and creative impulses with Palmer’s Midwestern charm, the long winters spent listening to a steady diet of Townes Van Zandt and John Hartford and the strange moment of fate that left him with two inherited banjos as a young man; this combination has resulted in a uniquely original sound that is The Lowest Pair.
“This is as close to a musical “Come to Jesus” moment as you’ll get outside the gospel roots of the deep south. Yonkers, NY based Spuyten Duyvil are the real deal when it comes to roots revivalist Americana music. Historians, outstanding songwriters, accomplished musicians and a musical family atmosphere converge to make some of the most outstanding music around today.” – William Hurley,Alternate Root TV.
Seeing a Spuyten Duyvil (pronounced “SPITE-en DIE+vul”) show for the first time is like “throwing a cherry bomb into a lake” (Rich Warren, WFMT). It wakes you up. Their brand of original and traditional American Roots music blends Olde Time, Blues, 2nd Line, Bluegrass, and Folk Rock with a pinch of Punk Rock energy to create a uniquely modern mix. Lead by song-writing couple, Mark Miller and Beth Kaufman, this six piece powerhouse brings barn burning energy to venues throughout the East Coast and Midwest.
It’s an exciting time for the Hudson Valley based band. They have just released their third full length CD, The Social Music Hour Vol 1. A love letter to the Anthology of American Folk Music, the project features lyrically relevant, known but not worn out, open for suggestion songs that thrives with re-interpretation. Familiar, forgotten words find new meaning in this historically informed but thoroughly contemporary treatment. Old wood, plaster, real spaces, vintage guitars, and hot tubes are captured in warm, analog tones by studio designer and engineer Jim Keller (Willie Nelson, Nellie McKay). Recorded by the full band (no click, no net), the tracks burst with life, joy, and vitality.
Since it’s release in March 2015, The Social Music Hour Vol. 1 has received a lot of love on the radio with airplay on over 250 stations worldwide including rotation on SiriusXM’s The Village.
Their 2013 CD, Temptation made it to #7 on the Folk DJ Chart in it’s first full month out. “I’ll Fly Away” grabbed the #2 song spot. Temptation also made it to the top #20 on the Roots Music Report and into the top #30 on the Roots 66 Airplay Chart. Their 2011 release New Amsterdam landed on a dozen DJ Top 10 lists and received a nomination for the Alternate Root TV’s “2011 Top American Roots Album”.
A festival favorite, the band has played featured shows at Citi Field (Formerly Shea Stadium), The Philadelphia Folk Festival, Musikfest, The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, and Clearwater. 2016 finds the band heading to Florida to headline the South Florida Folk Festival, to Israel to headline the Jacob’s Ladder Festival along with a series of shows for the American Embassy, to Vermont for Roots On The River, to New York for Caramoor’s American Roots Music Festival, to Massachusetts for the New Bedford Folk Festival and to Long Island for The Great South Bay Music Festival.
Drop them on a large festival stage and they electrify the crowd. Place them in a listening room and their stripped down acoustic sets connect powerfully. Tireless organizers, they have created, booked and hosted the UrbanH2O concert series in Yonkers, NY and festival workshops (including ‘The Backstage Sessions’ and ‘The Social Music Hour’) encouraging collaboration between artists and the audience at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, The Folk Alliance International Conference, and Caramoor’s American Roots Music Festival.
Silver City Bound is Road Music. Rebel accordion. American wanderlust. It’s the music you blast when you’re driving 1,300 miles from Brooklyn to New Orleans. With soulful harmony and award-winning songs, the band has rock and rolled from sold-out shows at Lincoln Center to concert halls, iconic dive bars and major festivals in twenty-six states and six countries. And they’re just getting started.
Based in New York City, Silver City Bound (formerly The Amigos) was formed in 2011 by accordionist and keyboardist Sam Reider and guitarist Justin Poindexter. Calling themselves The Amigos, the pair got their start busting into college parties like guerrilla mariachis, jumping on top of cheap furniture and singing Hank Williams songs. They quickly became infamous in the New York music scene and a favored opening act for artists like Jon Batiste and Stay Human, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Sam Bush.
The Amigos released their debut album, Diner in The Sky, in February, 2014. Joined by bassist Noah Garabedian, drummer Will Clark, producer Devin Greenwood (Sufjan Stevens, Norah Jones, Sweetback Sisters), saxophonist Eddie Barbash (Late Show with Stephen Colbert), and legendary composer, musician, and beat poet David Amram, the album won Best Americana Music Album from the Independent Music Awards and propelled the band to appearances at CMJ, Folk Alliance International, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Cotati Accordion Festival, the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival, and the Kerrville Folk Festival. They collaborated on stage with Jim Lauderdale, Dom Flemons, David Amram, Ranger Doug (of Riders in the Sky), The Time Jumpers, and Nellie McKay. In 2014 they toured China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, giving over 40 concerts and performing with local and international artists.
In 2015, the band changed their name to Silver City Bound, to better embody the spirit of the American roots musicians to which they are indebted. Their new EP, Take My Picture, is set for release in February 2016, and will feature four original songs and a new take on the classic love song “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.” Soaring accordion, throaty electric guitar and a pulsing rhythm section echo the Flying Burrito Brothers, Tom Petty, Clifton Chenier, and the Band.
Justin Lafayette Poindexter hails from Greensboro, North Carolina. The son of a Nascar-endorsed country singer, Justin studied music composition at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts before moving to New York for a fellowship at Lincoln Center. He’s a self-professed garbage head and can tell you basically anything you want to know about any country, rock or soul band you’ve never heard of.
Sammy “Squeeze” Reider grew up in San Francisco, the official home of the squeeze box. Born into a family of classical musicians, Sam was touring professionally at young age and was featured on NPR’s Piano Jazz when he was 18 years old. He moved to New York to attend Columbia University, where he fell in love with folk music and studied songwriting in the Great Depression. Rumor says he’s a descendent of Gypsy Rose Lee.
Noah Garabedian hails from Berkeley, California, is the son of Armenian-Mexican-Americans, and holds a masters in music from NYU and a undergrad degree in ethnomusicology from UCLA. He’s a local food freak and maintains the band’s touring food blog TheSpicySpecial.com. “Wild” Willie Clark was born in Eugene, Oregon, the heir to a granola empire. Before he was a drummer, he had a whirlwind career as a prodigy juggler at county fairs around the northwest.
“Take me by the hand, oh baby, and lead me to the promise land.”
Web music authority All Music Guide calls him “…an artist to be reckoned with.” A seasoned recording artist, multi-instrumentalist, eternal idealist and compassionate peace loving realist, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York based Matt Turk is a veteran performer who has engaged audiences around the world, both as a rocking bandleader and an acoustic folk troubadour. He has shared the stage with Pete Seeger and opened for Judy Collins, The Doobie Brothers, Fiona Apple, The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart, and more. He has performed throughout the U.S.A., Europe, Israel, and the Caribbean, appearing at festivals and venues including Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival, the Gathering of the Vibes, Atlanta’s Music Midtown, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Beacon Theatre, and Brooklyn Bowl.
No stranger to the east coast music scene, Texas-bred and Cape Cod washashore, Monica Rizzio is emerging as one of the finest singer songwriters that call New England home. For over 10 years she played fiddle and sang with Tripping Lily, a folk acoustic pop band, who toured up and down the east coast. In 2012, Monica left the band to rejuvenate her passion for music and began writing to help cope with the loss of the band and love. At FreshGrass, the following year, while perusing the vendors Rizzio found a 1956 Martin 0-18 guitar that would change her life and her song. She calls it the “moment I found Jesus again.” Drawing on her East Texas roots, Monica and her Martin, brought back the the little girl who loved to barrel race on her horse Bo, and she found her outlaw country sound deep within the folk world. Her debut album, aptly named, Washashore Cowgirl, is completely autobiographical, often times delivered in a fictional approach, sometimes with humor, and sometimes so strikingly honest you can feel the pain in her voice. The album is a testament to the relationships she has forged with many artists over the years and features Mark Erelli, Sierra Hull, Abbie Gardner & Molly Venter of Red Molly, G. Love, Tim Chaisson, Brittany Haas, and Laney Jones. Last December, Monica shared the stage with Tom Rush and Red Molly at his annual show at Symphony Hall in Boston and has supported Dianna Krall, Slaid Cleaves, and Joan Osborne. Washashore Cowgirl will be released in early 2016.
A Lula Wiles show resonates like a whiskey-slap to the heart. Gathered around one microphone, Isa Burke, Ellie Buckland, and Mali Obomsawin pass around instruments and frontwoman duties with style and ease. Their effervescent vocal harmonies, deep musical chemistry, and fresh arrangements create a dynamic and spirited live show.
Lula Wiles are equally at home in a rowdy bar of two-steppers, a sweltering midsummer festival stage, or a quiet candlelit club. They bring diverse influences to original songs that combine tradition with a distinctly modern sensibility. Their repertoire spans from centuries-old Appalachian ballads to classic country to contemporary Americana songwriting.
All the members of Lula Wiles grew up in Maine in musical families, and they began playing music together as kids at Maine Fiddle Camp. One by one, they each found their way to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music. Isa and Ellie (both on vocals, fiddle, and guitar) began performing as a duo in April 2013, and Lula Wiles was born when Mali (bass, vocals) joined the band a year later. Now based in Boston’s thriving and close-knit roots music community, Lula Wiles have performed at premier festivals and clubs throughout the Northeast, including Club Passim, One Longfellow Square, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Ossipee Valley Music Festival, Fresh Grass Festival, and Tweed River Music Festival. Above all else, they value the community spirit of roots music and and they seek to create music that will allow them to connect with their audiences. As songwriters, these young women navigate hope and heartbreak with clever lyrics and fearless honesty.
All proficient multi-instrumentalists, the three women of Lula Wiles are each uniquely powerful in their own right, but combined, they are a force to be reckoned with. Their debut album will be released in Spring 2016.
Raised in rural upstate New York, Eric Lee’s earliest introductions to music were the sounds of his mother’s piano and the songs of John Gorka, Bob Dylan, and Jackson Browne. He began studying classical violin and traditional Irish fiddle at the age of nine, and was soon performing and recording with local artists. After moving to Western Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, he continued playing live and in studios, branching into psychedellic rock and bluegrass, playing in the pit orchestras of musicals, and writing his own songs and compositions.
In 2007, Lee attended the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, where the newly-formed supergroup, The Strangelings (featuring musical legends Pete & Maura Kennedy, Christina Thompson, Rebecca Hall, Ken Anderson, and Cheryl Prashker,) spotted Eric and his fiddle and invited him to join them on an informal campground performance. That Saturday night, after two days into his first music festival, Eric Lee, (then eighteen), was playing on the main stage as the band’s newest member.
With the conclusion of the Strangelings’ two-year run, Eric became a member of the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s House Band, a position formerly held by virtuosic violinists Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) and Jake Armerding, playing alongside some of the most respected and gifted professionals in the folk community, and has since accompanied such iconic artists as John Gorka, Peter Rowan, Vance Gilbert, Dan Navarro, Tom Paxton, The Kennedys, Lucy Kaplansky, The Nields, Tracy Grammer, the Grand Slambovians, Tom Rush, and Eliza Gilkyson, among others. It is these landmark artists along with the works of the revered late song smith Dave Carter that have inspired Lee’s own songwriting.
The music of Eric Lee is a chimera of genres and influences; an ever-evolving world of sonic exploration with stand-alone melodies always at it’s core. His new EP traverses a range of emotion, from the unbridled joy of love in “Miles Above the Ground” to the wrenching pain of Eros in “To Write you a Song”; the unflattering honesty of coping with loss (“Life Without You”) to the cosmic petition to the ancient powers in “Hands of Fortune.”
In addition to performing as a solo artist (occasionally with a backing band), Lee plays regularly with New England-based bluegrass bands the Gather Rounders and The Morning Bugle, and continues to work as a sought-after sideman and session musician. He plans to record and release a full-length album in the near future.
Eliza began performing at the age of twelve when she placed as a finalist in a band competition in her hometown of Ridgefield, Connecticut. In high school she started performing solo at bars, cafes, and fundraising events, playing mostly her original music. Notable venues Eliza has performed at include the BlueBird Café in Nashville, Tennessee, The Bitter End in New York City, and The Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut. She has opened for artists including Andy Grammer, Lyle Lovett, Wilson Phillips, The B52’s, Howie Day, and The Go Go’s. When composing music, she draws her inspiration from a blend of folk, pop, and country artists like The Indigo Girls, Carly Simon, and Taylor Swift.
“I use songwriting as a tool to understand and respond to all the crazy things life throws my way. My goal is to write honest, raw music that fans can relate to and are inspired by.”
Thank you for supporting American Roots music at Caramoor!