Bryan John Appleby comes from Seattle’s new folk scene. A scene whose vibrancy can be easily seen by the meteoric rise of Appleby’s friends The Head and the Heart. But Appleby stands on his own as a shockingly powerful songwriter and a masterful band leader, and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the nation discovers this. His debut album, Fire on the Vine, has the eerie soul of a late-night camp meeting in the deep South. Biblical characters and humble men and women collide in his lyrics, and his music is drenched in stunning harmony and melody like sweat rolling off the religious faithful. Love is there too, but not the mooney-eyed teenage love so rampant in popular song. This love is darker and sadder; a love tinged with the regrets of a long life. Appleby’s music has the kind of depth that we forgot popular songs used to have. The kind of depth and universality of a fairy tale, or an ancient ballad.
Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin are household names to anyone who loves old-time music. Their prowess on the fiddle, banjo and guitar and Riley’s vocals put them high on everyone’s top ten list. Both have toured extensively– east coast-to west coast, up to Alaska and overseas. Sadly the occasions where just the two of them play
together are few and far between, especially since their history goes way back– they first met on a grade school bus. That started a life-long friendship built around their love of and respect for old-time music.
Today they live as neighbors in North Carolina in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and still go out roaming for tunes together. Having learned at the feet of the Mountains’ grandmasters, they’re carrying on this tradition today. In fact, Riley Baugus has become one of the best known voices of Appalachian music, acclaimed for his extensive work with T-Bone Burnett (he appeared on the new Willie Nelson album and the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration) and for his singing and banjo playing that defined the movie Cold Mountain. To hear Riley & Kirk play and sing together is to hear the true voices of the Appalachian Mountains.
"Cool of the Day" — Riley Baugus
"Wild Bill Jones" — Riley Baugus & Kirk Sutphin
Frank Solivan is a multi-instrumentalist who sings with power and passion, writes articulate songs that go straight to the heart, and combines the pure, hard drive of classic bluegrass with contemporary twenty-first century acoustic music. He’s also an excellent band leader, coaxing amazing performances out of the members of Dirty Kitchen, each of whom are master musicians. Banjoist Mike Munford’s impeccable timing, exquisite tone and jaw-dropping technique has found him on stage with Peter Rowan, the Rice Brothers, Lynn Morris and Tony Trischka. With influences from such greats as Doc Watson, Tony Rice and Norman Blake, guitarist Lincoln Meyers has synthesized a style all his own, defined by flat out good taste, landing him on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar last winter. Together, Dirty Kitchen unites the best in bluegrass with Solivan’s beautifully written Americana songs.
"Tarred and Feathered" — Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle are two young master musicians living in Virginia. Together they perform the music of the Appalachian, from the ancient ballads to the barn-burning fiddle and banjo tunes. They’ve also developed a marvelous art form they call “Crankies.” These are hand-sewn rolls of felt that tell a story through shadows and sewn as they are unrolled. Much like an old-fashioned movie, Anna & Elizabeth sing, play and tell the story of each Crankie as it unfurls. These handmade works of art transport the viewers back to an earlier time.
Raised in Rural Retreat, Virginia, Elizabeth LaPrelle grew up in a home where there was always music and a community with many fine old-time musicians. She developed her song repertoire from neighbors like Jim Lloyd, under the tutelage of Ginny Hawker and Sheila Kay Adams, and from a wealth of field recordings of legendary singers from the mountains. Today she is one of the best interpreters of traditional Appalachian ballads, able to communicate the stark eerie justice of the old songs in the high, lonesome singing that makes the region so famous. As she says, “By the time they were recorded, most folks singing the old songs in the traditional way were very old, and the voices that could reputedly sing to be heard from ridge to ridge had lost some of their power. I try to sing ballads the way these folks and their ancestors might have sung when they were my age. I also try to sing with the emotion that I feel when I listen to the stories and poetry in the songs.”
Anna Roberts-Gevalt is a fiery young fiddler who moved from Vermont to Virginia to be closer to the music she’s grown to love. In a short five years she’s grown to be one of the best of a new generation of Southern fiddlers, learning from Paul David Smith, John Harrod and Brett Ratliff. Anna’s played in the Blind Tiger Stringband and Old Sledge, and was recently featured in the Americana Women project. She taught recently at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and led many a great session there. She lives in Floyd, Virginia, not far from Elizabeth and tours and teaches.
"The Bird's Courting Song" — Elizabeth LaPrelle
Laura Love’s career has taken her from the far fringes of folk, where the border runs into funk, and straight on back to her roots. The media and even her own record labels have struggled to define her colorful musical taste, which embraces bits of the blues, bluegrass, jazz, folk, gospel, reggae, and country. But regardless of how she is described, Laura has an indisputable and uncanny knack for enthralling audiences from all walks of life, from octogenarians who line up to hear straight-ahead bluegrass to the pierced-and-tattooed set to middle-aged parents. The New York Times proclaimed, “Her music is exuberant. … She conveyed the fervor of someone reaching out with an almost frenzied joy to seize the strands of a confusing life and weave them into a coherent, life-affirming vision.” Simple and yet revolutionary, Love has been called “startlingly original” by Billboard magazine. “Her music is spare, yet striking. Her voice is ripe, supple, strong, and impossible to ignore.” A rare recording artist who is authentic and deeply rooted, Love exhibits timeless and diverse appeal.
Recently, Laura’s been touring with the master of country blues guitar, Orville Johnson. Johnson, a well respected Seattle based multi-instrumentalist, has had a long career playing solo and with a variety of great performance and recording partners such as Mark Graham, John Cephas, Woody Mann, Mike Auldridge, Stacy Philips, John Miller and Grant Dermody.
Laura Love & Orville Johnson’s new album, The Sweeter The Juice, is the fruit of their long careers in American roots music. They cover classic songs like “Working on a Building” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” but add additional lyrics and connect the songs to today’s world of civil rights. It’s bold new folk music for a bold new world, the kind of music that shines a mirror on our progress over the last half-century.
"Passin'" — Laura Love & Orville Johnson
The Moondoggies are today’s poster children of Pacific Northwest bearded folk. And for good reason. You can’t listen to their songs without thinking of misty winters and rain-drenched, old growth forests. And that’s thanks to the songwriting of Kevin Murphy, lead singer and writer. Inspired by his home in Seattle and time spent in the forbidding wilderness of Alaska, Murphy’s songs bolt together fragments of early Americana (think the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music) with nuggets of California psych-folk. Sweating away in front of a red-hot fire, Murphy hammers his songs into some kind of hard musical metal. These are the kind of jagged-edge songs that seem to cut as easily as they reflect the light of the forge. Think Neil Young as sung by a sanctified gospel quartet, or The Birds echoing through slashed speakers and a garage rock microphone. Like another famous Northwest son (Cobain), Murphy knows how to write a hook that’s at once hummable and deeply unsettling.
For the Seattle Folk Festival, Kevin Murphy will be performing solo, drawing from the many songs he’s written for the Moondoggies and other inspirations. We got the idea to invite him after watching some beautiful YouTube videos of his solo set at KEXP’s Caffe Vita stage.
Sons of Warren Oates were conceived as a more traditional acoustic outlet for the prolific songwriting of Maldives' Jason Dodson. While Kevin Barrans and Seth Warren complete the core of the group, an intended function of the Sons is to provide an ongoing platform for collaboration with some of the amazingly talented musicians The Maldives have shared stages with.
It’s clear that Sons of Warren Oates are having a great year so far. With key spots at MagmaFest, Reverbfest and CityArts, they’ve generated great buzz with their country-fried indie sound. And it’s also clear that they’re having fun. Jason Dodson’s songs in Sons of Warren Oates have an ease to them that is born from his love of classic country singers like Waylon Jennings, Woody Guthrie, Bob Wills, Earnest Tubbs, The Stanley Brothers and many more. With Kevin Barrans on banjo and Seth Warren on fiddle, this trio of indie roots musicians have a solid background in American folk music, but the vision to transform that music into an entirely new sound.
The best way to get to know Sons of Warren Oates is this video of three songs from the 2011 Magma Festival:
The shiny kids in Youth Rescue Mission make a pretty good case for homeschooling. Growing up in a tight-knit family, music was a natural way to be together. They’ve kept that closeness both in the band’s sound (interwoven harmonies, rhythms reminiscent of a campfire singalong, hummable melodies) and the band’s aesthetic (their debut CD includes paper and instructions to make a paper airplane). A band made up of four siblings: Hannah, Daniel, Luke, and Jesse Williams, Youth Rescue Mission also feature mom and dad and even an archival recording of their grandma on their debut CD. They’ve also got some great string arrangements, a whole lot of tambourine, and songs that are like a warm embrace on a cold, rainy NW day.
The opening track, “Problem Solver”, is a great intro to the band. With lines like “It’s time we found our own way” and "Hold your hope, and put your heart into it", this is a band focused on the inner struggle of youth, a band working to find itself. As the kids in Youth Rescue Mission sing, “It goes into your soul”. And that's a nice way to describe the music coming out of our friendly, bearded folk community in these deep, dark Northwest woods.
"Problem Solvers" — Youth Rescue Mission
Pharis and Jason Romero live in a small cabin deep in the Northern woods of British Columbia. Surrounded by dense forest and rivers, they spend their days building some of the finest banjos in North America and singing and playing the old-time and early country music they love. This is music not made for profit or for product, but music made by hand, the old-fashioned way. Music made from a true love of the tradition and informed by an insatiable need to find or write the most beautiful songs. On their debut release as a duo, this husband-and-wife team showcase harmonies so tight they could only come from marriage, and deeply powerful picking techniques. Jason’s one of the most powerful banjo players around, and he made all the banjos he plays on the album by hand. Pharis has a golden voice, bringing a beautiful lightness with strength from a lifetime of singing. Floating over the roiling waters of Jason’s guitar and banjo riffs, it melds as one with Jason’s smooth baritone vocals. This is the kind of music that can only be made by two people who live so closely together that they share the same thoughts. And the songs are beautiful, lovingly sourced from old recordings or written by Pharis’ hand. An acclaimed songwriter, Pharis writes songs that fit into the old-time and roots country traditions, but have enough jagged edges that they feel thoroughly modern as well. This is music to be shared and enjoyed by all.
"Where Is the Gamblin' Man?" — Pharis and Jason Romero
The muddy Willamette River that runs through Portland, Oregon, may not be as famous as the mighty Mississippi, but it forms the border of a new form of American roots music, informed both by the traditions of the American South and the rainy woods of the Northwest. Portland bluegrass band Jackstraw have been the flagship of this movement since they formed in 1997. They know their bluegrass history and don’t hesitate to pay homage to their heroes, like the Stanley Brothers, but this ain’t your standard bluegrass band. These boys have a cutting edge take on bluegrass picking that they’ve developed over years of touring the United States and their original songs can sound as much country as old-timey. This is bluegrass that belongs in a dusty honky-tonk, country twang as rooted in Bill Monroe as George Jones, an old-timey sound for a new age.
Jackstraw formed in 1997 when rhythm guitarist Darrin Craig and lead player Jon Neufeld met mandolin picker David Pugh and bassist Jesse Withers at Artichoke Music, a Portland guitar store. Five records and 15 years later, the band has toured throughout the United States, playing roadhouses, clubs, listening rooms and festivals. Along the way, they’ve shared bills with bluegrass greats such as Del McCoury and Tim O’Brien and welcomed legends like Danny Barnes and Tony Furtado as temporary band mates. The band’s devoted following includes bluegrass purists, alt-country fans, kids looking to dance, and people who know a good tune when they hear one. They’ve picked up a reputation over the years for their impeccable musicianship and hard-driving original songs, and each band member is an in-demand member of the Portland scene. With their sixth album set for release in late 2011, Jackstraw’s been playing major festivals and touring up a storm.
"Talk To Your Heart" — Jackstraw
Based in Seattle, Washington, The Tallboys are a four piece old time string band well-versed in traditional fiddle tunes and mountain songs. They stay honest to their traditional inspirations, yet charge up their sound with a raw edge of gritty enthusiasm conjured from their years of street performing. The Tallboys consistently deliver exciting stage performances and hard-driving dance tunes.
Talented vocalists, The Tallboys all share the singing, and their harmonies create a beautifully authentic old time sound. The instrumental line-up begins with Joe Fulton, from Iowa, who has been playing since boyhood. His impressive fiddling leads the melody. Charlie Beck, from Indiana, plays both clawhammer and three-finger style banjo and brings over a decade of musical experience to the band. He is also a talented songwriter, creating several original compositions. Longtime musician John Hurd, from Oregon, lays down that driving bass foundation essential to The Tallboys’ rhythm. Charmaine Slaven, from Montana, fills out the sound with solid rhythm guitar and is one of the finest buckdancers on the west coast. She also has the unique ability to dance and play guitar simultaneously. Together, they blend the attributes of each instrument and vocalist, creating a cohesive sound.
"Cindy" — The Tallboys
Northern Departure use the same time-honored tools of the bluegrass trade - guitar, upright bass, banjo, mandolin and fiddle coupled with flawless picking, earnest harmonies, and an unsullied Northwest perspective. These four "old souls" are igniting sparks in the bluegrass tradition with their fierce and infectious musical stylin's. Even the most reserved hipster will be looking to head down to Appalachia. The band formed in October 2008, and has not looked back since. Highly requested in the Northwest music scene, this young band has already graced the stages of Seattle's Moore and Paramount Theatre's, and has played several well-known bluegrass festivals on the west coast. Playing a mix of Original, Contemporary, and Bluegrass favorites, a live show is bound to leave you both exhausted and energized!
"Take Off" — Northern Departure
Brother Bear is an ambitious undertaking that marries Victorian literature with Tom Waits cabaret, 70s pyschedelia with bowler hats, and 19th century chapbooks with modern indie pop. It's a crazy concept, but they've got what it takes to pull it off. From Seattle, WA, Brother Bear is Barry Uhl (lead vocals, piano, banjo), Tim Muchira (drums), Jeremy Wingfield (guitar,keys, background vocals), Garrett Parker (bass) and Joshua Rule (guitar, keys, background vocals).
Influenced by equal parts Pop Psych, Early Jazz and Ragtime, as well as the stories of Edward Gorey and the theatrical stylings of Kurt Weill, the songs are an extension of stories Barry writes before even considering the music. Once a group of stories is written, (generally 7 -10) and the concept fleshed out, Barry then writes the songs. Augmenting the story telling with first person perspectives and events only hinted at in the over all arc of the story line. It seems like our age of irony has done away with the gloriously quirky concept albums of past decades, replacing them with dense, inscrutable epic albums that hardly anyone can understand. Looks like Brother Bear is here to put the fun back into the old acts.
"Lowell the Lamp Lighter" — Brother Bear
If Simon and Garfunkel grew up riding their bikes through the rainy streets of Portland, Oregon in the early dawn of a new century, they’d sound just like Sean Flinn & The Royal We. And that’s not to say that Flinn’s copying their classic sound, but that he’s makes the same kind of music they do: music where the melody and lyrics are so beautifully intertwined that you can’t possible imagine another band covering that song. The kind of music that belongs in both a rainy-day mixtape from your high school days and a road-trip tape from early college. The kind of music that reminds you why you started buying albums in the first place.
Flinn’s debut album, Write Me a Novel, is impossibly self-assured. His songs are carefully built, and supported by a huge cast of characters, singing, strumming, picking, and uplifting his songs to a higher place. And most importantly, his songs sound different. There are so many indie bands in the world now that to hear songs that sound genuinely original… It’s enough to make a reviewer drop everything and rush to their twitter feed to spread the news. This kind of talent isn’t something you should squander in small bars and coffeeshops, this needs to be shouted from the rooftops.
"Patient Heart" — Sean Flinn & The Royal We
Double up with laughter when these identical twin musicians take the stage. With fiddle, banjo, ukuleles and genetically matched voices, Greg and Jere Canote bring back fun, vintage American music – including forgotten fiddle tunes, swing classics and quirky novelty songs. National Public Radio fans may remember the Canote Brothers as the affable side-kicks on Sandy Bradley's Potluck for 13 years. They’re a beloved duo in the Northwest, not only for their ridiculously fun stage show, but also for their huge cache of rare and beautiful fiddle tunes and funky old songs.
NOTE: On Sunday, December 11, the Canotes will present a rare kids’ show. Their family songs are kid tested and kid approved and just a huge amount of fun!
"Walking Back to Texas" — The Canote Brothers
“19-year-old Ben Fisher has the lyrical talent of someone that could easily be his parents’ age. While you might partially expect songs about heartache, lost loves and the pains of growing up Fisher sings about a variety of subjects like living life to the fullest, fishing, heck even a song titled after Hiriam M. Chittenden (the real name of the Ballard Locks.)
The UW student has the soft and low vocals that remind the listener of earlier Dylan (whom he cites as an influence, along with Josh Ritter, Townes Van Zant, Justin Townes Earle) complete with a folk twang that shines with his banjo and guitar skills. His latest release Heavy Boots & Underwoods is available via his bandcamp page.” --SSGMusic
"For Hiram M. Chittenden" — Ben Fisher
“The central theme in their music is a search — for place, love and especially understanding. Both lyrically and sonically, the songs on Goldfinch are explorations, journeys through the woods at night. Stevens and Sullivan don’t sing so much as yearn, and arrangements are restrained, even tentative, like uncertain steps in the dark: the piano wanders, the guitar balks, drums limp. Characters in the songs come and go and seldom linger, incapable or unworthy of finding what they seek. On Goldfinch, and especially onstage, Stevens and Sullivan seem amazed, like two mutes suddenly cured. It’s not an act; it’s Goldfinch. No artifice divides them from their growing audience. No armor protects them.” -Mark Thomas Deming, CITY ARTS MAGAZINE
The streets of Pike Place Market are a rough proving ground for street musicians. Competing musicians queue up for long waits, and crowds teem past searching for the first Starbucks or the tossed fish. It takes a special kind of talent to push through the noise, and it’s all the more impressive coming from a quiet guy like Gregory Paul. His austere visions of traditional music strip away all the trappings of the urban folk revival, dropping the bones of the song to the ground like so many crow-scavenged bits. His original songs are stark reminders of the power of playing a little bit quieter, singing a little bit softer.
Together, fellow Pike Place buskers Gregory Paul and Annie Ford marry the banjo and fiddle of Appalachian music to old country blues and hillbilly songs. But they’ve got a rough-hewn edge to the music that brings out its deep rural roots. You can almost smell the sawdust coming off their songs, and they’ve honed their versions of old chestnuts like “Willow Garden” or “Rain and Snow” like an axe blade. Ford’s fiddling is well known in the Northwest through her old band Slimpickins, and her up-and-coming new Annie Ford Band. With Paul, she bends and swirls through the tricky labyrinth of country blues fiddling, tapping into the hidden notes of the blues. This talented busking duo are well known for their inspired sets in front of the original Starbucks, but it’s high time the rest of Seattle’s ‘musicerati’ discovered them.
Listen to "Rain and Snow" by Gregory Paul & Annie Ford"
Raised in the forests of Northern California, Alina Hardin comes from the same music community that brought us Alela Diane, Mariee Sioux and Joanna Newsome. In fact, she's best know for her work with Alela Diane, and especially their EP together, Alela & Alina. This Ep is beautiful mix of traditional ballads and originals, and was digitally released in 2009. Alina shares the same thoughtful, beautiful lyrics and deep connection to a natural environment that's made the Nevada City Collective so famous. Ponderosa pines, manzanita forests, and the rock formations of the Yuba River echo in her music. Alina’s songs are folkloric, storytelling, sometimes dreamy and dark, and other times poetic and reminiscent of childhood. She grew up singing songs with her mother and sister out of Alan Lomax’s book of American folk songs. Her voice is completely captivating and entrancing, and her complex song structures seem effortless and natural.
Now living in Portland, OR, Alina has struck out on her own with an upcoming debut album that is bound to be well received among the Northwest's indie folk community. In fact, it could be that the Seattle Folk Festival is her first performance in Seattle! If so, let's make her welcome and pull up a chair to discover a promising young talent in indie roots music.
"Matty Groves (w/Alela Diane)" — Alina Hardin
"Lowlands"—Alina Hardin *SPECIAL ADVANCE TRACK!! MUST LISTEN!!!*