Widely considered an ‘American Songster’ for the modern age, Dom Flemons delights with tunes crossing regions, instruments, and centuries. Calling on traditional southern folk riffs, ragtime, blues, jugband music, and a fair dose of humor, Flemons harkens back to a time when ‘roots’ meant wherever one planted his or her feet, and plays with storytelling and traditional musical forms to create new soundscapes suitable for the 21st century American roots listener. As a founding and former member of GRAMMY-winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dom has performed at a variety of festivals and venues such as Newport Folk, Bonnaroo, and the Grand Ole Opry.
The harmony-rich duo Kristin Andreassen & Jefferson Hamer will open for Dom.
“One of the most enjoyable and enlightened concerts of the year.”
–Clive Davis, The Times (UK)
Dom Flemons performing I Can’t Do It Anymore
Dom Flemons performing But They Got It Fixed Right On for Folk Alley Sessions
Dom Flemons demonstrating how to play the bones
Kristin Andreassen performing The New Ground (with Jefferson Hamer on guitar)
Dom Flemons is the “American Songster,” pulling from traditions of old-time folk music to create new sounds. Having performed music professionally since 2005, he has played live for over one million people just within the past three years. As part of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, which he co-founded with Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson, he has played at a variety of festivals spanning from the Newport Folk Festival to Bonnaroo, in addition to renowned venues such as the Grand Ole Opry.
Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Dom’s involvement with music began by playing percussion in his high school band. After picking up the guitar and harmonica as a teenager, he began to play in local coffee houses and became a regular performer on the Arizona folk music scene. Dom wrote his own songs and produced 25 albums of singer-songwriters and slam poets in the Phoenix area, including six albums of his own, during this time. He took a brief break from playing music in order to pursue slam poetry (he majored in English at Northern Arizona University) and performed in two national poetry slams in 2002 and 2003. Aside from exploring slam poetry, he spent his early adulthood listening to records and discovering a love of folk music, blues, jazz, jug band music, country music and ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll. Dom became interested in folk musicians such as Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk and Mike Seeger, as well as musicians such as Mississippi John Hurt, Howlin’ Wolf, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins. After stepping away from the slam poetry scene, he rekindled his interest in music, this time focusing on the old-time blues music of the pre-WWII era.
A multi-instrumentalist, Dom plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare drum and quills, in addition to singing. He says that he incorporates his background in percussion to his banjo playing. Dom’s banjo repertoire includes not only clawhammer but also tenor and three-finger styles of playing. He first picked up the instrument when he borrowed a five-string banjo from a friend who had removed the instrument’s fifth string. As a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African-American string band, Dom was able to explore his interest in bringing traditional music to new audiences. The band won a GRAMMY for its 2011 album Genuine Negro Jig and was nominated for its most recent album, Leaving Eden, in 2012.
Dom says he would like to use the traditional forms of music he has heard and immersed himself in over the years to create new soundscapes that generate interest in old-time folk music. Focusing very much on creating music that is rooted in history but taking a contemporary approach, Dom hopes to reexamine what traditional music can become.
In July 2014, Dom released his third solo record with Music Maker Relief Foundation, and his first since leaving the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Prospect Hill finds Flemons digging deeply into ragtime, Piedmont blues, spirituals, southern folk music, string band music, jug band music, fife and drum music, and ballads idioms with showmanship and humor, reinterpreting the music to suit 21st century audiences. He was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Grossand his new album has received praise from The Boston Globe, Paste Magazine, Living Blues Magazine, and more.
Songwriter Kristin Andreassen toured the world with Rounder Records’ string band Uncle Earl, the “folk noir” singing trio Sometymes Why and the renowned traditional percussive dance ensemble Footworks before embarking on her solo career. Her debut album Kiss Me Hello kicks off with the song John Lennon Song Contest Grand Prize-winning “Crayola Doesn’t Make a Color for Your Eyes,” which made A Prairie Home Companion’s “best of” rebroadcast when she performed on the show. Kristin has recorded albums of original and traditional music with producers John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Dirk Powell (Cold Mountain, Joan Baez) and Mark Schatz (Nickel Creek). Her new solo album Gondoliercomes out this winter.
Jefferson Hamer started out performing as guitarist, singer, and songwriter in the Colorado-based Americana ensembles Great American Taxi and the Single Malt Band. He relocated to New York in 2008 and became immersed in the traditional music scene. His most recent album is Child Ballads, released in 2013 on Wilderland Records. A painstaking, contemporary American reworking of seven of Professor Francis James Child’s venerable 19th century English and Scottish Popular Ballads, this record was arranged and performed in close duo collaboration with acclaimed singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell. The album earned a BBC2 Folk Award in the Best Traditional Track category, and was named one of NPR’s top-ten Folk and Americana releases of 2013 (“their tight harmonies and … lyrical edits turned these centuries-old songs into contemporary gems” -NPR). His other release from 2013, The Murphy Beds, is an acoustic collaboration with Dublin-born musician Eamon O’Leary. Featuring ten American and Celtic-influenced folk songs, sung harmony duet-style, and decorated with intricate guitar and bouzouki accompaniment, The Murphy Beds creates a contemplative space where musical composition and arrangement converge with the deep Irish and American traditions. The Huffington Post said it succinctly: “The resulting album bears repeated listening from start to finish, with ten beautiful, crystalline songs.”