Archive - Apr 15, 2012
Rebecca stood in front of an old brick wall covered by paintings made by animals from the Beardsley Zoo. She quietly plucked a few notes on the strings her banjo, as if trying to remember a long forgotten tune. Facing her were a couple dozen fans of the band Harpeth Rising who had come to The Buttonwood Tree in Middletown, CT to hear them perform. They leaned forward waiting for the tune to emerge.
The melody emerged. It was then picked up by Maria on the cello. Chris added the rhythm and Jordana took up the melody as others moved to the counterpoint. It was almost as if Bach wrote bluegrass for the banjo.
The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival has interpreters signing the lyrics of songs in American Sign Language and I've often wondered what it is like for hearing impaired to experience the performance of musicians. The lyrics are but a part of the performance. Yet, with Harpeth Rising, I could see a beauty in the performance that those just listening often miss. It was as if Maria was dancing with her cello as she leaned into her music and her arm and bow moved perpendicular to the strings. The dance was mirrored by Jordana, Rebecca and Chris. The four of them, with their musical instrument partners were performing an intricate dance, something between a quadrille and a square dance, with the only caller being the smiles and glances they exchanged amongst themselves, as one followed another's lead.
I thought back to Falcon Ridge. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the weekend is Friday afternoon when the emerging artists perform on the Mainstage. Each performer is given ten minutes and those who get the most votes from the audience are invited back as part of the 'most wanted' for the following year.
This year, it seemed like many of the performers sounded the same; young female singer songwriters, who I noted in the bulletin as GFV, generic female vocalist. Perhaps that was unfair, because each of them had their strengths and weaknesses. Each of them had their idiosyncrasies which made them interesting and stand out.
Harpeth Rising launched into one of the songs written by Jordana's father, with tight vocal harmonies. I don't have a category that I can easily lump them into, but the way their voices worked together made me think of Red Molly, an "Americana/Roots Female Trio" that formed at Falcon Ridge that also has tight vocal harmonies.
Other than going to Falcon Ridge, and a few local venues, we rarely make it out to hear live music, but Harpeth Rising, like Red Molly, are two bands that are well worth the trip and we try to hear whenever they are in the area.