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Stairwell Sisters

Stairwell Sisters & VOCO! Double bill

Saturday September 19th, Two shows: 1pm and 4pm

Acoustic Old Timey with Punk-rock Intensity

  • Producer Lloyd Maines recalls hearing The Stairwell Sisters for the first time: “I happened upon this tribe of women musicians, playing old-time string music, with the power and excitement of a great rock band.” Tribe of women indeed. Evie Ladin explains what holds sway with the sisters, themes similarly found in one of their early influences, Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard: “not exactly the sweet and tender ladies, but the stand up for yourself and face the world kind of women.”
  • Which is exactly the kind of women that make up The Stairwell Sisters. Evie, Stephanie Prausnitz. Lisa Berman, Martha Hawthorne, and Sue Sandlin are career women, organizers, activists and mamas; making ends meet working and living in San Francisco. They also happen to crank out acoustic, old-time music with a punk-rock intensity. Somehow, between raising children, working and releasing records, they’ve taken their band to some rather well-regarded places – appearing on A Prairie Home Companion, festival stages from Lincoln Center (NYC) and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (SF) to Celtic Connections (UK), and many points in between.
  • Their third release Get Off Your Money, produced by Maines and out May 12, covers substantial ground as well. There are fiddle tunes crafted decades ago from Alabama to Scotland, and from points unknown. There are old songs of trains, boats and possums. One song is translated from Swahili, an all-too familiar story learned from a street musician in Tanzania. There are new songs too – original songs of trial and work, loss and love, and all-night parties. The women run all of it through the “Sister Mill.” Regardless from which era or continent the songs have traveled, The Stairwell Sisters make such heartfelt and skillfully played music that boundaries dissolve beneath the chugging force of old-time fiddle and banjo, the whomp of bass and guitar, the grit of the slide guitar, and the tight, closely interwoven harmonies
  • The Stairwell Sisters come from varied musical backgrounds, some from acoustic traditions, others through amped-up rock and roll. Sue Sandlin says hearing Flatt and Scruggs brought her back to the country music her family loved, “It was akin to the hair raising excitement I felt the first time I heard The Clash as a teenager.” The Sisters are all about bringing that excitement to the stage. Lauded for infectious shows that combine buckdancing with balladry and sass, these women unfailingly play their instruments hell-bent to drive the music. The driving tune “Kentucky Winder,” leads off the album with a crooked jump in the beat that fiddler Stephanie Prausnitz says, “really wallops the punch.” Stephanie also brought the mischievous title song Get Off Your Money to the group, having found it on a recording of old Alabama Fiddlers. Its whimsical happiness is the essence of what makes playing together so much fun
  • Stephanie Prausnitz, fidler;Lisa, Evie Ladin-banjo, fiddler; Martha

Stairwell Sisters



Moira Smiley & VOCO -Joint concerts with the Stairwell Sisters

Two shows: Saturday Sept 19th at 1pm & 4pm

Balkan to Appalachian Ensemble

  • A new a capella group from Los Angeles, sings vocal symphonies, ballads and improvisations with Balkan, Appalachian and African-American spiritual flavors, entwining lush harmony and crooked rhythm. Energy of street singing combined with the precision of a string quartet
  • By special arrangement, members of Balkan choir, Kitka join VOCO
  • National Winner of 2007 Harmony Sweepstakes A Capella Festival in San Rafael in May.
  • Cello, banjo, accordian, clarinet & body percussion add charm and fullness to the sound
  • Booked at The Getty, Freight & Salvage, and Kate Wolf festival- 2007
  • New CD "blink" with 17 tracks of original and traditional songs
  • Moira Smiley-vocals/banjo/accordion, John Ballinger-banjo/percusion/clarinet, Jess Basta-vocals, Jessica Caltron-cello/electronics, Christine Enns-vocals/body percussion
  • Moira Smiley & VOCO



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