Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer - Arcata Playhouse
Chris Parreira Presents...
Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer ~ (Child Ballads Tour)
with special guest: Frank Fairfield
Sunday, March 17 (St. Patricks Day)
8pm (doors at 7pm)
$15 door, $12 advance
Picture this American scene: two friends rolling down I-40 somewhere outside Nashville,
singing out the open window. The backseat is a jumble of guitars, boots, takeaway plates
from a roadside BBQ, and paperback books. But the song? The song goes like this: "As I
walked out over London Bridge, on a misty morning early" And the books? A five-volume
set of The English and Scottish Popular Balladsthe Child Ballads (For the uninitiated,
these aren't kids' songsthey're a nineteenth century anthology named after their collector,
Sir Francis James Child).
The friends are Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer, two songwriters who co-arranged a
selection of epic old folk songs from across the Atlantic for their current release Child
Ballads (Wilderland 2013). For Mitchell, this recording comes on the heels of 2010's
Hadestown and 2012's Young Man in America. Both albums are big on story; the first is a
folk opera, while the second has been described by the UK's Independent on Sunday as 'an
epic tale of American becoming'. Hamer began his career with the Colorado roots rock band
Great American Taxi, but moved to New York in 2008 to pursue songwriting and a passion
for Irish traditional musiche's a regular player at many of the city's sessions. In 2010 he
began touring with Mitchell, playing guitar and singing harmony (Hamer also appears on
Young Man in America). The two quickly discovered their shared love of Celtic and British
Isles music, especially the classic 70's era folk albums Martin Carthy's Crown of Horn, Nic
Jones' Penguin Eggs, Andy Irvine & Paul Brady, Fairport Convention's Liege and Lief - and
made a plan to arrange and record some of their favorite Child ballads together. But what
began as a whimsical side project evolved into a serious collaborative endeavor spanning
several years, three separate recording attempts, and a whole lot of cutting room floor. "We
just had no idea what we were getting ourselves into," laughs Mitchell.
Listening to Child Ballads, you might not perceive the effort. The seven songs (most
clocking in at around six minutes) were recorded simply and quickly by producer/engineer
Gary Paczosa (Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton) at his Minutia Studio in Nashville. A few of
Paczosa's friends and neighbors stopped by the session to lend their talents: Viktor Krauss
(Lyle Lovett, Jerry Douglas) on bass, Tim Lauer (the Civil Wars) on accordion and pump
organ, and Brittany Haas (Crooked Still) on fiddle. But production is minimal, and the songs
are driven by two-guitar arrangements and the kind of close harmonies that call to mind
Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris or an acoustic Fleetwood Mac.
It sounds straightforward, but the road to Nashville was a long one. "We tried to make this
record twice before," says Mitchell. "First in 2010, at my house in Vermont. We knew we
wanted harmony to be a big part of the soundit was exciting to us, since these long-form
songs are usually sung by a solo voicebut in that first session we had the harmony going
for us, and not much else."
"It was the middle of winter," remembers Hamer. "We took a break from recording, threw a
log on the fire, and listened to Martin Carthy's Crown of Horn from start to finish.
Everything about that music is so deliberate, masterful and deeplyrics, melodies,
arrangements. We realized it would be an injustice to just cover this material. We had to
bring something new to it."
Frank Fairfield is a young man and old time folk musician who plays fiddle,
guitar and banjo while singing and hollering. An unbelievable word of mouth
sensation who channels the spirit of another era in his spellbinding live shows.
From California, USA, Frank sings tunes he has worked hard to collect from
around the world as well as his own well-dusted ditties. His eclectic sets feature
soaring hillbilly ballads, arcane rambling songs and murder ballads delivered in
a reedy tenor with that irresistible American Primitive quality. Still in his twenties
but steeped in the pre-War Americana of Mississippi John Hurt and Dock
Boggs, he cut his teeth as a street performer in LA and has the raw intensity and
quick-fingered technique to make your hairs stand on end. Alternating between
banjo, fiddle and guitar, he performs a different set of traditional songs and
originals each night, drawing on his encyclopaedic knowledge of the American
Arcata Playhouse (View)
1251 9th Street
Arcata, CA 95521
|Kid Friendly: No
|Dog Friendly: No
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!