Skillet Licorice is the latest project from San Francisco Bay Area roots-music luminaries Elise Engelberg and Matt Knoth. Whether they’re playing hot fiddle breakdowns, slinky blues, sparkling banjo breaks, ragtime or dreamy waltzes, the band displays an impressive command of styles and techniques that comes from deep study and loving dedication to America’s folk traditions. Skillet Licorice is hot, sweet, and just a bit greasy!
Lone Piñon is an acoustic conjunto from Northern New Mexico whose music celebrates the integrity of their region’s cultural roots. Multi-instrumentalists Noah Martinez and Jordan Wax use the fiddle, bajo quinto, accordions, quinta huapanguera, and bilingual vocals to play a wide spectrum of the traditional music that is at home in New Mexico. Their performances are a celebration of the vibrant landscape of their home, a complex tapestry of styles that reflect the intercultural history of New Mexico and the musical legacy it has produced. Martinez and Wax formed Lone Piñon in 2014 as a way to explore and strengthen the oldest sounds of traditional Northern New Mexico string music, sounds that had all but disappeared from daily life. Far from the image of quaint, isolated village traditions that is often painted of Northern New Mexico, they discovered a network of related styles that cross state, national, and generational borders. The duo’s active repertoire reflects this complexity and includes early conjunto duets, Hispanic Texan fiddle styles, New Mexican swing, contemporary New Mexican rancheras, Tohono O’odham fiddling from Arizona, huapangos from the Huasteca, and several regional styles from Michoacán.
The Horsenecks play hard-hitting and heartfelt Old Time and classic Bluegrass music. Their sound is centered around the pairing of the signature rhythmic Appalachian fiddle style of Oregonian Gabrielle Macrae, (the Macrae Sisters, Hook & Anchor) and the driving yet subtle three-finger banjo playing of Liverpudlian Barry Southern (Tramp Attack, The Loose Moose Stringband.) Gabrielle’s playing style is the result of being raised in the Old Time music hotbed of Portland, OR and being exposed to the fiddle traditions of the Southeast through years of traveling to festivals and learning from some of the greatest players in the genre. Barry’s banjo playing ranges from thrilling and high-octane to moody and captivating. Harmony singing and thoughtful songwriting bring this Old Time band to the stage with an exciting and varied set of upbeat foot-stompers, new takes on old standards, innovative fiddle-banjo compositions and heartfelt harmony singing. When performing in the USA Southern and Macrae are often backed up by the infamous Brian Bagdonas and Kevin Sandri on bass and guitar, who together set the standard for Old Time rhythm sections with their contributions to the original lineup of Foghorn Stringband. When performing in the UK, they are joined by Chris Marshal and Alan Wright on bass and guitar, both influential members of Liverpool’s growing roots music scene. As a four-piece The Horsenecks continue to set a new standard in today’s traditional music scene with appearances at major festivals in the USA and the UK, including the Cornwall Bluegrass Festival, Doolin Folk Festival, The Portland Old Time Gathering, and the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Festival. They received critical acclaim in 2015 for their self-titled debut album. Their second album, Fiddlehead was released in July, 2018.
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Mara Kaye is that rare cross-species phenomenon, a Blues Amphibian. When others “sing the blues” as if offering an unusual small plate at the tapas bar, Mara has so immersed herself in the idiom that she goes down to the bottom and doesn’t need air until the show is over. She’s a modernist rather than a museum piece: her creations can be darkly mournful, savagely vengeful, or gleefully erotic, but they are always leavened with Brooklyn spice. Think 1928 Bessie Smith or 1937 Billie Holiday leavened with street smarts. Her heart is in her music, and there is no pretense, no distance, as audiences from here to Russia, at Joe’s Pub and Brooklyn dives have found out.