Acclaimed folk duo The Milk Carton Kids bring a full band and their heartfelt melodies to headline Caramoor’s 9th annual American Roots Music Festival. Tennessee-based multi-instrumentalist Amythyst Kiah is a quickly rising star with a raw, hypnotic old-time sound steeped in African-American roots music. Many more artists add an exciting array of folk, country, bluegrass, gospel, blues, Old Time, and intriguing folk fusion performances to this daylong celebration of our musical heritage. Enjoy the best of the summer with great food, friends, and foot-tapping fun.
“The Milk Carton Kids’ Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale have long drawn influence from the rich vocal harmonies of Simon & Garfunkel, the intricately twinned acoustic guitars of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and, in concert, the deadpan/goofy banter of The Smothers Brothers.” — NPR Music
Evening Artists 7:30pm
The Milk Carton Kids
Daytime Artists beginning at noon
Youth in a Roman Field
Oliver the Crow
Damn Tall Buildings
Porch Stomp Revue
Bethlehem and Sad Patrick
Square Dance! With Porch Stomp Revue
Waltzing into disaster and its aftermath, The Milk Carton Kids’ All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do is available now on ANTI- Records.
The new project marks the first time that acoustic duo Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale have brought a band into the studio with them. “We wanted to do something new,” Pattengale says. “We had been going around the country yet another time to do the duo show, going to the places we’d been before. There arose some sort of need for change.”
“Musically we knew we were going to make the record with a bigger sonic palette,” says Ryan. “It was liberating to know we wouldn’t have to be able to carry every song with just our two guitars.”
Since their last studio album, Monterey (ANTI- 2015), life has changed dramatically for The Milk Carton Kids. Pattengale has moved to, and is now producing records in Nashville. Ryan is now the father of two children and works as a producer on “Live from Here with Chris Thile,” the reboot of “A Prairie Home Companion.” A break from years of non-stop touring, Ryan says, has yielded “space outside of the band that gives us perspective on what the band is.”
But it’s not just the addition of the band here that creates something new. National politics left Ryan feeling disoriented and mournful. Pattengale’s relationship of seven years ended, and he found himself unexpectedly needing surgery for cancer. (He is cancer-free now, and accidentally broke his cigarette habit in the process.)
Though they didn’t approach the new album conceptually, a theme of shattered realities began to emerge out of the songs that sparked to life. Recent events provided a bruising background for the record, yet the project is somehow bigger than any personal grief. Two-part harmonies ride acoustic guitars high above the haunting landscape created by the presence of the band, as if Americana went searching for a lost America.
Produced by Joe Henry and engineered by Ryan Freeland, All the Things That I Did and All The Things That I Didn’t Do was recorded in October 2017 in the Sun Room at House of Blues Studio in Nashville. Musicians who joined them there included Brittany Haas on violin and mandolin, Paul Kowert and Dennis Crouch on bass, Jay Bellerose on drums, Levon Henry on clarinet and saxophone, Nat Smith on cello, Pat Sansone on piano, mellotron, and Hammond organ, Russ Pahl on pedal steel and other guitars and Lindsay Lou and Logan Ledger as additional singers. Mixed by Pattengale, the album was mastered by Kim Rosen.
A professed Southern Gothic, alt-country blues singer/songwriter based in Johnson City, TN, Amythyst Kiah’s commanding stage presence is only matched by her raw and powerful vocals — a deeply moving, hypnotic sound that stirs echoes of a distant and restless past.
Accoutered interchangeably with banjo, acoustic guitar, or a full band (Her Chest of Glass), Amythyst’s toolbox is augmented by her scholarship of African-American roots music. Her eclectic influences span decades, drawing heavily on old time music (Mississippi Sheiks, Son House, Jimmie Rodgers, Olla Belle Reed, Carter Family), inspired by strong R&B and country music vocalists from the ’50s-’70s (Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn) and influenced by contemporary artists with powerful vocal integrity (Adele, Florence and the Machine, Megan Jean and the KFB, Janelle Monae).
Recent tours in Scotland and the U.K. have seen Amythyst performing for audiences at the Americana Music Association UK Showcase, the Southern Fried Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, and SummerTyne Americana Festival. She is a crowd favorite at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in the U.S., has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival.
Provocative and coolly fierce, Amythyst Kiah’s ability to cross the boundaries of blues and old-time through reinterpretation is groundbreaking and simply unforgettable.
Born with blues in her blood, Deva Mahal is a genre-defying artist, powerhouse vocalist, and astute songwriter. Allowing her blues roots to blossom from the fertile soil of modern R&B, indie-pop, soul, rock, and gospel, her undeniable vocal talent never ceases to blow audiences away.
Her star continues to rise with Run Deep, her aptly-named debut album, produced by Scott Jacoby. The New York Times calls her music “hand-clapping, piano-pounding, call-and-response buildup.” Her energy and enthusiasm breathe wild life into her songs with a knockout voice that combines pulse pounding soul with a decidedly modern edge. She has had the pleasure of collaborating with Jaleel Bunton of TV on the Radio, Binky Griptite of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Living Color, and the New York Pops Orchestra, and has performed onstage alongside such legends as Etta James, Dianne Reeves, Maceo Parker, Bettye Lavette, The Roots, and Cyndi Lauper.
Bumper Jacksons are hot and sweet, painting America’s story from the streets of New Orleans to Appalachian hollers. Unafraid to scrap together new sounds from forgotten 78’s, the Bumper Jacksons elegantly balance paying homage to the traditions while fashioning their own unique, playful style. The group began as a duo, a city-meets-country experiment between songstress Jess Eliot Myhre and banjo player Chris Ousley. They hopped on bicycles, touring the country, instruments on their backs, seeking to reimagine roots music. In five short years, Bumper Jacksons grew to a brassy six-piece, with horns and pedal steel.
They’ve been honored multiple times as the Mid-Atlantic’s “Artist of the Year” & “Best Traditional Band” at the Washington Area Music Awards. Bursting at the seams with some of the richest threads of old America, Bumper Jacksons bring you into the center of a party where everyone’s invited and the dance floor never sleeps.
Rainbow Girls are an eclectic folk trio hailing from the golden countryside just north of California’s Bay Area. Vanessa May, Erin Chapin, and Caitlin Gowdey seamlessly combine soul-touching harmonies, vari-textured instrumentals, and poignant lyrical content into a beautiful sonic tapestry. Throughout their performance, voices are paired with an ever-changing amalgamation of acoustic and slide guitar, keys, upright bass, harmonica, and an array of vocal techniques creating an engaging and often emotionally moving live show.
Their music delves deeply into themes of the human experience: hopeful love, honest self-reflection, and pursuits of social justice. Their latest album, American Dream, crystallizes these ideas in acoustic amber, encapsulating a beautiful new direction for their ever evolving sound.
Originally formed in Santa Barbara, CA in 2010, the Rainbow Girls have spread their musical wings both internationally and domestically, from busking on the streets of Europe to playing pubs and theaters in the UK, to house concerts, festivals, and shows in the US.
Youth in a Roman Field wants to help you break the rules. The bastardized string quartet meets folk band meets jazz combo from singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Claire Wellin incorporates sounds of “Appalachia, cayenne pepper, & ghosts.” The band includes collaborators Tiffany Topol, Scott Stangland, Cassidy Stirtz, Katrina Lenk, and Jamie Mohamdein. Their debut LP, ‘Of Grit and Grace,’ was released in May of 2012, and the EP ‘Suits for Children’ in October 2014. Originally out of Chicago, the band now resides in New York City and released their second full-length album, ‘Storm Conductor,’ produced with the legendary Stewart Lerman, on April 20.
“Within a week of meeting each other, we began mapping musical ideas and plans to record an EP,” cellist Kaitlyn Raitz says of her first encounter with fiddler Ben Plotnick, before they even lived in the same city.
The term mapping is spot on. Each of the ten original songs on Kaitlyn and Ben’s first full-length offering unlocks a different musical world. Oliver the Crow navigates effortlessly between the gravitas of chamber composition, the longing of folk music, the near dreamlike quality of atmospheric sound art, and above all, pop music’s candy-sweet escape. It’s no wonder NPR Music has named their duo “an inspired collaboration.”
Kaitlyn and Ben’s chameleon-like ability to skip between genres stems from their roots as classically-trained performers (Kaitlyn has a masters degree in classical cello from McGill University and Ben has performed as a soloist with the Calgary Philharmonic) but also from their love of bluegrass, gypsy jazz, everything from Hank Williams to Prince. Raitz is a founding member of folk duo Bride & Groom, tours with The Bombadils, and has performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the Station Inn. Ben is a primary member of the JUNO award-winning folk string quartet, The Fretless, and has contributed to hundreds of recordings as one of North America’s elite fiddle players.
One thing is certain: Oliver the Crow cannot be defined by genre, and yet is timeless, indelible. Kaitlyn and Ben have mastered the art of anchoring a folk song in epic pop sensibility, and it is so fun to hear them smash all the rules.
Oliver the Crow’s debut record was released in June 2018.
In their early days, Damn Tall Buildings didn’t rehearse — they busked. Now, whether live or on record, the band still radiates the energy of a ragtag crew of music students playing bluegrass on the street. But anchoring that energy is their instrumental chops, their strong songwriting, and their varied influences that stretch beyond bluegrass, even beyond American roots music altogether.
Whether sharing lead vocals and instrumental solos or blending their voices into loose, joyous harmony, the four members of Damn Tall Buildings (guitarist/lead vocalist Max Capistran, bassist/lead vocalist Sasha Dubyk, fiddler/vocalist Avery Ballotta, and banjoist/vocalist Jordan Alleman) blend elements of bluegrass, blues, roots-rock and vintage swing to create a captivating, high-energy sound. Since their busking days, they’ve made three albums: 2014’s Cure-All, 2015’s self-titled, and their forthcoming third album, Don’t Look Down.
The band relocated to Brooklyn, NY and tours widely, sharing stages with Sierra Hull and the California Honeydrops and appearing at festivals like Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival, and Freshgrass Festival, where they took second place in the 2016 band competition. Their lyrics find beauty and glory in the mundane, workaday struggle of everyday life: time keeps passing, you don’t like your job, you drink too much, you laugh with your friends, you search for a home, and you dream about what else might be out there. You carry on. This is what Damn Tall Buildings sings about, what they seek to share with their audience.
Our Band will win your heart. Steeped in the tradition of great male and female duets such as Johnny Cash and June Carter, and Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, Sasha Papernik and Justin Poindexter bring their own effervescent energy, gorgeous songwriting, and intimate harmonies to a rich Americana soundscape. Their expansive palette pulls great songs from every decade and every corner of the globe, weaving them into a cohesive tapestry. Together, they have performed for audiences in some of the world’s greatest venues, from Carnegie Hall to Lincoln Center to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. In 2018-19 they toured Poland, Germany, and Estonia as ambassadors of American music for U.S. State Department. Their new album, featuring American music legend David Amram, will be released in 2019.
Vocalist and pianist/accordionist Sasha Papernik is a classically trained pianist and first generation Russian-American. The Washington Post calls her “uncommonly attractive and entertaining … managing a comfortable balance of the formal and the casual.” Drawing on her dual heritage, she uses her wide range of talents to present concerts spanning genres and continents. Her self-released bilingual album, Victory, has been hailed by reviewers as “unparalleled in its aesthetics and musical elegance” (Indiemunity). Her bilingual concert, “I Speak Music,” has toured New York City schools for The Center For Arts Education, Lincoln Center Education, and Carnegie Hall. Sasha is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Manhattan School of Music.
Guitarist and vocalist Justin Poindexter was raised in North Carolina, the son of a country singer and a schoolteacher. Specializing in American Roots music, including folk, blues, country, and traditional jazz, his 2014 album with the Amigos, Diner in the Sky, won Americana Album of Year from the Independent Music Awards. Justin has performed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, David Amram, Ken Peplowski, Bria Skonberg, Ranger Doug, Nellie McKay, Catherine Russell, and Jon Batiste among many others, and has travelled extensively overseas for the American Music Abroad program, He designed and oversees Jazz at Lincoln Center’s global outreach concert initiative, “Let Freedom Swing,” which receives 600 performances annually. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Oshima Brothers’ magnetic sibling sound and contagious joy result from a lifetime of making music together. Raised in a musical family in rural Maine, the brothers have honed a harmony-rich blend of contemporary folk and acoustic pop. On stage, Sean and Jamie create a surprisingly full sound with dynamic vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, octave bass, loops, and percussion. Their debut album, Oshima Brothers, released in 2016, is a collection of 11 original songs written by Sean, and arranged and recorded by Jamie. The brothers live in Maine but are often on the road performing, producing music videos, and dancing.
Bethlehem and Sad Patrick combine soaring vocals, sparse guitar, and driving percussion deliver powerful songs on universal themes. Our musical performances dig deep, into love (good, bad, and better off gone), life in the city, struggling, and living on the margins. Sad Patrick’s blend of folk, blues, and jazz guitar mixes with Bethlehem’s powerful, immersive singing, and nuanced melodies, and it all rides atop her unique Tarima percussion to deliver a one-of-a-kind listening experience.
Since forming in 2012, the duo have gone from playing street corners and backyards to spotlights at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Ladybug Music Festival, Northeast Regional Folk Alliance, and the State Street Blues Stroll.
Thank you for supporting American Roots music at Caramoor!