It's a special treat when Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin, who normally tour separately and solo, get to share the stage together. If the chemistry seems especially sparkful, they come by it honestly, as they are a rare breed: a romantic partnership in real life, not just musical life. And the two together on stage makes for a classic case of the whole being great...er than the sum of its parts.
Danny Schmidt is best known for his riveting poetic lyrics, which have drawn favorable comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt for their depth and complexity. And gypsy spirit Carrie Elkin is best known for her incredibly soulful and dynamic vocals, which have drawn favorable comparisons to Patty Griffin at her most powerful, and Nanci Griffith at her most intimate.
Together, the respective strengths they each bring, individually, merge into a much greater whole . . . a performance of great energy and spirit . . . and one that audiences seem to be able to connect with on a multitude of levels, at once: Emotionally, Spiritually, and Intellectually.
Named to the Chicago Tribune's 50 Most Significant Songwriters in the Last 50 Years, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Danny Schmidt has been rapidly ascending from underground cult hero status to being broadly recognized as an artist of generational significance. Danny is considered a preeminent writer, an artist whose earthy poetry manages to somehow conjure magic from the mundane, leading Sing Out Magazine to tag him: "Perhaps the best new songwriter we've heard in the last 15 years."
With her Red House Records release, Call it my Garden, Carrie Elkin has emerged as one of the defining new voices in the world of Texas singer-songwriters, being celebrated by Texas Music Magazine as one of their artists of the year. The voice, the stories, the images, the grace, it's the complete package. But it's the power of her live performances that really have been creating an incredible buzz around this young artist. Maverick Magazine said it best, after a recent festival performance: "I have never seen a performer so in love with the act of singing. That's the gospel truth. Onstage, Elkin was simply a force of nature."
Don't miss these two great artists in a rare split-bill performance, sharing songs back and forth, lending their voices to each other's tunes, in harmony. And lending commentary to each other's tunes, in the form of smart-ass between-song banter.
In 2011 Hardy released Nowhere (Magnolia Recording Co). This album is his most organic release to date, with siren-like harmonies on tracks like “Nowhere” (featuring Brianna Lane) and “Yesterday” with Chris Cunningham (Storyhill); as well as double bass, fiddle, accordion, and more on most tracks. The first six songs were written, recorded, and selected for this album with care, every word soaked with meaning and intimacy paralleled by very few artists. The seventh track, a live cover of Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, was added after production and is a perfect complement to the bare-bones nature of the rest of the album.
“I wanted to record something acoustic and honest; without frills or pretension and with minimal production. , says Harty of Nowhere. Harty is set to release a new duo album, "12 August", recorded with his friend John Statz coming out this month. And will be in the studio in April recording a new solo album.
Music fans and critics across the globe are recognizing Josh’s technical skill as well, which he has gained through nearly three decades on guitar (he started playing in nursing homes with his father at age five and was first featured on two albums shortly thereafter).
The Atlanta Music Guide described Harty as having “fingers that seem to catch fire,”
which is validated throughout Nowhere, especially on the last track.
Skyflight Productions presents an evening with Wild Ponies at The Willow Tree Coffeehouse and Music Room in Johnson City, TN on Friday May 30, 2014. Wild Ponies - The dead right, honest songwriting of Doug and Telisha Williams blended with a kick-ass band. Touring in support of their brand new release on Ditch Dog Records, "Things That Used To Shine", Wild Ponies - Doug, Telisha and drummer Jake Winebrenner - bring energy and charisma along as they perform brilliant new songs as well as some of the old Doug & Telisha favorites. Written during a busy year on the road, "Things That Used To Shine" is an album about leaving some things behind ... and meeting others head-on. Released by the newly formed independent label, DitchDog Records, the album finds Telisha opening up about the skeletons that have haunted her closet for years. Grammy-winning producer Ray Kennedy (Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams) recorded the 12 songs in three days, running the band's harmonies through the same pre-amps once used by the Beatles. "It's a terrific, raw, robust sound these guys have going on" said Kim Ruelhl in "No Depression".
Our parents Mark and Sherry Taylor were told they were having one baby. That was good news to them and our four-year old brother at the time M...ark Jr. A week later the news changed quite a bit after the doctor saw one more baby in the ultrasound. Now, instead of one there were two. Another week passed by, and our parents made another visit to the doctor. After performing an ultrasound, they saw a big difference in what they had seen before, three babies! Around seven months later, three very-healthy triplet girls were born.
Having Christian parents first helped develop our Red Roots. It seemed that we were always in church, and my parents instilled in us Christian morals and principles. At church we were introduced to music, so we were involved in the children’s choir. Around the age of four and five, we began our singing debut in a choir musical singing “Be Near Me Lord Jesus.” At that same time, we began asking our parents to play instruments. Nika started first on the guitar after challenging our brother Mark Jr. to a “Yankee Doodle” duel. It was her favorite song and only song she knew, so my brother didn’t stand a chance. Natalie’s piano lessons soon followed at the age of nine. Her friends were also taking, so she was accused of taking lessons because of them. Maybe a year later, Nicole started asking my parents for drum lessons. My mom said that she tried to discourage her by saying that only boys played the drums. Negative comments were also spoken to her by the band director when he said she had no rhythm. If either of them actually did discourage her, we couldn’t tell. My mom caved in for local drum lessons, but the teacher didn’t have a spot. Long story made short, mom prayed for God to open the door if it was His will, and a spot became available at the exact time she wanted. Our band was formed. We all three would set up in our playroom and attempt to play the same song together. It was a lot harder than we thought, especially since we started out playing “Shout to the Lord.” Unknowingly to us, my mom was praying, “Anoint them to sing for your glory, Lord.” This prayer marked the beginning of our Red Roots.
God opened many doors for us as we first started out. Our pastor Bro. Bill Barton had started an alcohol rehabilitation center called the Home of Grace, so he asked us to play there monthly. We were paired with a former addict named Rodney Williams who would preach after we sang. The men always would scream and clap no matter how many clunkers Natalie hit on the keyboard, beats Nicole would be off on the drums, or chords missed on the guitar by Nika. They truly worshipped God there and encouraged us each month we came. Bro. Rodney and we made a great team because both of us were just starting out. He would also invite us to play at schools and churches where he would give his testimony, which he later wrote in a book titled, Club Meth to Christ. We both shared the common message of the Red Roots of Christ.
We eventually started playing other instruments. At thirteen years old, Nicole played the drums, banjo, and bass. Nika added playing the mandolin along with the guitar. Natalie picked up the violin, bass, and accordion to go along with her keyboard. Our style of music at the time consisted of a mixture of Christian contemporary and bluegrass. Little by little, we would get calls from churches and others wanting us to play. This was so important to us because it gave us a reason and a desire to keep practicing. My parents said that if we were invited to play three places in a month then we could get a trailer to haul our equipment in. No more than a month passed by, and we had our trailer. Now all we needed was a group name. One day, our aunt called my mom saying that we should name our group “Red Roots.” We had a few to choose from, but this suited us best. After all, we did have red hair. As we grew older, our eyes and hearts were opened. As teenagers, God revealed to us that being involved in church or in a Christian band would not save us. We felt a need for His forgiveness and His presence in our lives. Even though we had a Christian band before, it became personal from that point on. God put a deep desire in our hearts to serve Him through music. He showed us that all of our circumstances were not coincidental. God had a purpose for us in our lives, and He began to give us a passion for His purpose. Now we truly did have Red Roots, not only on the outside, but also on inside.
During our senior year, we bought our mom tickets to an Isaacs’s concert for her birthday. We noticed, while purchasing the tickets, there was also a talent contest that night. Winning the contest was exciting, but playing with the Isaacs was even more exciting! Later, Ben Isaacs became the producer of our first single. This caught the attention of Rick Schweinsberg of Daywind Recording Studios, and we were signed to their Red Hen Label. Rick Schweinsberg produced the rest of the songs on our album and currently develops our group. Our mom wasn’t the only one who got a present that night!
The Red Roots CD was finally released on Jan. 24th, 2011. The CD features our first radio single "Red Roots." Yes. Red Roots is also our group name. Both our group name and song represent the core message and focus of our group that we are rooted in the blood of Christ. His sacrifice on the cross gave our lives meaning and hope. The song “Red Roots” tells a story of a dad and his daughter going on a hunting trip looking for Sassafras trees. They need the red roots of the Sassafras trees to make red tea with. The dad uses the hunting trip to show his daughter how the red roots of the sassafras tree compare to the red roots of Jesus Christ.
Dolly Parton credits Claire with "one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today." Claire's harmonies have graced the recordings of many stellar musicians. Equally gifted as a songwriter, her songs have been recorded by The Seldom Scene, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, Cherryholmes, The Whites and others.
Blazing her own trail in the mid 70's when there were few role models for a young woman in the genre, Claire Lynch made history when she led the Front Porch String Band, which evolved in the 80’s and 90’s into “one of the sharpest and most exciting post-modern bluegrass bands on the circuit.” She formed her own Claire Lynch Band in 2005 and has since consistently been a top pick of prestigious publications, critics and audiences across the U.S. and beyond.
Claire grew up in Kingston, N.Y. until the age of 12, when the family moved to Huntsville, Alabama. There she began her education in country music and got caught up in the bluegrass revival of the 1970's, joining a band called Hickory Wind. Later, the band changed its name to the Front Porch String Band with Claire’s vocals as its centerpiece.
In 1981, after their first nationally-released recording, the group retired from the road, and Claire pursued dual careers in addition to raising a family. As a songwriter, her tunes have been recorded by such luminaries as Patty Loveless, The Seldom Scene, Cherryholmes, Kathy Mattea, The Whites and Stephanie Davis. At the same time, she became a much sought-after session vocalist.
In 1991, the Front Porch String Band was resurrected with the album, “Lines and Traces”, a move that ultimately led to the launching of Claire’s solo career in earnest. Friends for a Lifetime was released in 1993 followed by Moonlighter in 1995 (Claire’s first GRAMMY nomination) and Silver and Gold in 1997 (also nominated for GRAMMY glory). She was named the IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year in 1997 and enjoyed many chart successes. The band wrapped up the 20th century with the album “Love Light,” in 2000. At that time Claire took what she thought would be a full-fledged break from music, stepping away from the grind of daily touring. She wasn't sure when–or if–she would return. “I hadn’t planned to come back. Then one day I opened my catalog of songs and realized that I'd written my life,” she said.
Little by little, the lure of music worked its way back. She sang harmony on “The Grass is Blue” and “Little Sparrow” which led to promotional touring as backup vocalist for Dolly Parton. She graced albums by other artists with her background vocals including Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Pam Tillis, Alison Brown, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea and Ralph Stanley. Today, the impressive list of other guest appearances continues including spots on albums by Donna the Buffalo, Sara Watkins, the Gibson Brothers, Jonathan Edwards and Jesse Winchester.
In 2005, Lynch struck out on her own, forming the Claire Lynch Band and releasing the aptly named “New Day” CD. It was a hit on the bluegrass charts and earned her IBMA nominations for “Song of the Year” and “Female Vocalist of the Year.” In 2007, Rounder Records featured a brilliant catalog of music from her previous five albums on their label and titled the anthology collection, “Crowd Favorites”. More IBMA nominations followed as well as an induction into the Alabama Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.
“Whatcha Gonna Do,” Claire’s next release (2009), was called “a stripped-down production with sumptuous acoustic atmospheres” showcasing…the instrumental brilliance of her four-piece band “ After a busy touring schedule in 2010, she received three IBMA nominations including “Song of the Year” and “Recorded Event of the Year,” winning the 2010 trophy for Female Vocalist of the Year.
Ms. Lynch’s USA Walker Fellowship Award ($50,000.) was one of 50 salutes given from United States Artists (USA) for 2012. The USA Fellows represent the most innovative and influential artists in their fields - including cutting-edge thinkers and traditional practitioners from the fields of architecture and design, crafts and traditional arts, dance, literature, media, music, theater arts, and visual arts.
In January 2013, after a long, successful stint with Rounder Records, Claire signed a new recording deal with esteemed Nashville roots label Compass Records, called by Billboard Magazine, “...one of the greatest independent labels of the last decade.” With their co-founder Garry West producing, she released the ninth solo recording of her career titled “Dear Sister”. By Summer, the album had reached the #1 position on the Roots Music Reports Top 50 Bluegrass Chart seven times and was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2013 IBMA Awards.
The current Claire Lynch Band is a powerful juggernaut, a quartet that has the innate ability to perfectly interpret the beauty, subtlety, and genre-defying sophistication of Claire’s music. The Claire Lynch Band features like-minded musicians blending tradition and innovation - two-time IBMA-winning bassist-clawhammer banjo player-dancer-percussionist Mark Schatz, soulful mandolinist-guitarist Matt Wingate young string wizard Bryan McDowell, who at 18, won an unprecedented triple win at the Winfield, Kansas National Flatpicking Championship.
Touring behind Dear Sister provides the band the opportunity to present fresh, timeless material, including the title track – a tear-inducing masterpiece co-written by Claire with Southerner Louisa Branscomb. It’s an intimate farewell letter shared between a brother and sister, their lives ravaged by the destruction of the Civil War and delivered with all the tenderness Lynch is known for.
As one observer writes, “Listening to Claire Lynch sing is not something to be undertaken casually. Her songs and stage presence demand the listener’s rapt attention. She’s an intensely soulful singer, whose distinctive voice resonates with power and strength, yet retains an engaging innocence and crystalline purity. She’s also a songwriter of extraordinary ability who can bring listeners to their feet with her buoyant rhythms or to their knees with her sometimes almost unbearably poignant and insightful lyrics.” (Dave Higgs-WPLN Nashville, -WAMU Washington DC)
The Band includes Zack Pozebanchuck on Upright Bass, Lyon Graulty on Clarinet, Lead Guitar and Vocal Harmonies, Mike Gray on Drums, and Woody on Guitar, Harmonica and Vocals. They create a Rock-a-billy, Halloween hootenanny that could have come straight out of a time traveling vaudeville show. Their song “Counting Alligators” puts listeners straight into the backseat of a convertible with Doctor John and Professor Longhair, whipping around the back roads of the Delta on a crisp, autumn night. Several other songs by the band, such as “Nashville” and “Delta Bound”, evoke thoughts of a Southern gossip or a post-Civil War America where the blues weren’t just a style of music, but a way of life. “We pick and choose the best sounding music in the world,” says Pines, “and sing our own words and put our hearts and souls into that backdrop,” thus creating a truly unique, and infectious style, never heard before…
The sparseness and beauty of the Dewdrops’ playing is matched by the integrity of their songwriting. Take for example “One Kind Word” the first track off Silver Lining which like all great songs is both specific and general and powerful enough to be both: “My head is cold like my hands and feet / I’m looking around for something to eat / I’ve got time got nowhere to go / Broke down here close to the bone / I don’t want everything I see / I just want the little bit you promised me.” Earnestness is the chief quality of the Dewdrops’ songwriting. In “One Kind Word” we are thrust into the shoes of someone inhabiting the edge of comfortable life with no direction home. Where is the Promised Land here? Where is the abundance that could overwhelm the dust storm? It has all gone to “promissory notes and worthless things.” And yet he must endure and his endurance is founded upon a realization we all struggle our whole lives to ascertain: “I don’t want for what I need / A heart that beats and lungs to breathe / Ear to the ground all the time / For one kind word that’s mine all mine.” This incredible duo has their ear to the ground and if we are lucky we get to listen along with them.
Step into any coffeehouse like Eddie’s Attic in Decatur or Club Passim in Boston to main stages as far away as Seattle and Winnipeg, and you will hear the work the Dewdrops have undertaken over the past few years to achieve the raw simplicity of their art. Using a handful of acoustic instruments and two voices, Laura and Kagey strive for clarity over effects and ornamentation. It’s what you have left when you strip everything back down to zero. It rocks, it reels, and then it consoles you when you come back down.
The past year has seen a flurry of tours, workshops, house concerts, and festivals for the duo and the momentum has become a way of life. The accolades keep coming in but like real artists, they will never truly define them. For Kagey and Laura it is wherever they hang their hat that is home. The art of the road for them is about making every stop count, never leaving, always arriving.