JANUARY 07 NEWS FROM LAKE WOBEGON
NOVEMBER 06 STEVE EARLE RADIO / A FAN'S PATTER
bringing our tornado to Texas. Recent bookings include Celtic Connections
in Scotland (Jan), and The Annual Horseshoe Class in Benton Hot Springs
(Sept), ahhh....Here's some of the latest.
OCTOBER 06 EVIE'S SUMMER UPDATE! HARDLY STRICTLY / BOTMC+RAMBLERS / NYC, LINCOLN CENTER and more...
I don't know if you know this, but the Stairwell Sisters are purely a DIY operation. We are our agent, publicist, manager, graphic designers and all else. We like it this way, since we have total control over our time and money, and it doesn't seem to have hurt us any. This makes it ever more satisfying to be reaching national festivals and audiences.
Two weeks ago we had the immense honor of opening for the New Lost City Ramblers as part of the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention. The sold-out evening was a highlight of my life - watching the Ramblers together and knowing how many people there they had brought to traditional music, myself included. The entire weekend of concerts, square dance and cabaret was a like a homecoming - everyone I have met on the West Coast seemed to be here do-si-doing and picking all night long. Every night's party saw dawn. And you know the Sisters, as the Good Ole Village Persons, donned wigs and attitude to belt out BOTMC, letting our freak flags fly.
Taking it all the way back, we're remiss in not writing about our trip to New York City and points North. Lincoln Center kicked it off - free, out-of-doors, and we're grateful the rain didn't start till after we were done. Sorry to Robin & Linda Williams who followed us! We also would have like to stay to hear Percy Sledge, but it had been a very long day. After resting a bit, we headed back out at midnight (keeping on California time), to a bar in Red Hook, Brooklyn when they didn't mind if we crowded round the entrance and played till 4am. Thanks to Thomas Bailey for scouting us a place, Joe Bass for coming out at 2, all ready to fly to the UK next day, and our homegirl Sabra, joining us from her road trip.
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09.18.06 GOOD OLD VILLAGE PERSONS do B.O.TMC + "Wish I Was"
AND, Sue's song "Wish I Was" was just nominated for song of the year in the bluegrass category - Just Plain Folks Awards!
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06.06 STAIRWELL SISTERS NOW AVAILABLE from & FEATURED on MILES OF MUSIC home page. "It's a Cracker - 100% Guaranteed"
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05.07.06 JUNE : STRAWBERRY + YREKA + CO + GRASS VALLEY
Summer/June - slam packed. Us crazies somehow got the idea we wanted to be away every week/weekend in June - and so it was.
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04.21.06 OK PEOPLE, STEPHER IS BACK! + EVIE'S ENDORSES GHS STRINGS!
Look for plenty of shows with that gal. No rest for the weary!!
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04.17.06 OUR MIDWEST TOUR with BILL FOSS
First a heartfelt thanks to all those that were so kind to us on our little tour through the midwest! We all converged in Chicago (Evie, Martha, Bill & son Danny all drove up from Indiana after their visits there). It began for some of us with a Vienna beef hot dog (tofu for Marth). It was a joy for Lisa to hang in Wicker Park where here Grandpa's hot dog stand used to be located. Next, a little picking to get up to speed with Bill Foss who learned all our songs and tunes for one tour in a very short period of time - and absolutely wow'd us all. He even had a cold and could hardly talk - but made us all belly laugh everytime he yelled out "Fiddler A Dram" in the most inadvertantly drunken sounding shout from the back of the stage. How can we possibly thank him enough?! Next was a peek through Fitzgerald's history - from their beautiful commemorative book to their signed accordion-adorned walls. We were honored to have so many of our friends, comrades, and family in the audience! Big ups to Sue's friends Elizabeth, Donny, and Alan for putting us up. And there were so many more of you! It was a pleasure to meet Jeffrey Mankin of the Steampowered Preservation Society who recorded our show (man, those SPPS folks are everywhere!). Lisa checked out to the Old-town School of Folk Music and was pretty floored - what an inspiring place. We're honored that they've expressed interest in us playing there next time we make it out to Chicago. Thanks also to Old Town School dobro teacher Rob Anderlik for his support and suggestions.
The Creole Gallery in Lansing was pure joy. A wonderful audience and Robert and Meegan were such gracious hosts (plus Robert is an amazing artist). Hanno did an amazing job on the sound. Lisa noticed a big plant intentionally placed in front of Meegan's front entryway window - an hommage to Tom Lucas who almost joined the ranks of headless Pearl Bryan as he walked through the glass last time The Crooked Jades played there. Dan Lynn (Jades' first bass player), John Hatton (of Cleff'd Ear Music), and Jeremy Baldwin (WEMU DJ) all made it out, plus some of Martha's relatives (who she met there for the 1st time). An old friend of Evie's, phenomenal young dancer/musician Nick from Mt. Pleasant, MI got up on stage with us and thoroughly wow'd the crowd (and us)! A host of wonderful djs and local old-time musicans came out for the show, including Monica Ionescu from Dreamboat Radio (WRUW in Cleveland) who brought us her zine which has an article on women in bluegrass & old-time including us gals. And the next morning we went to heaven...Elderly Instruments is truly the candy store for musicians (hello sugar daddies?). Lisa about traded in her Scheerhorn for a beautiful Martin slide from the 30s, a gourd banjo, a charango for Sue, (durn, Sue missed the Martin tiple sale by 1 day!), a dobro for Danny (Martha and Bill's son) - go Danny!, and much more. Libby had been so sweet to us when we played the Elderly showcase at Folk Alliance and made us glow inside with all she had to say. We were so honored that such a highly respected place such as Elderly was so welcoming and supportive (see Libby's comments on our quote page). At one point we felt like we were in Switzerland when more of Martha's relatives showed up and surrounded her - nothing much cuter than this sight. Martha appreciated the fact that all the women were the same height as her. It was really cool to meet "Nobody's Darlin'" another all-gal old-time band in person as we'd only met them on myspace previously.
Our final night brought us out to the Acorn Folk-Lore Center in Warrenville, IL - where Donna and Dan help keep the folk tradition alive and well - the crowd was lovely! Jeffrery Mankin came out again to grace us. We also met "Boy Evie"! Wow! Evie had been telling us about her cousin, Brian. He really is "Boy Evie!" We couldn't stop looking at him! Thanks so very much to Donna and Dan for hosting us. We were honored to have Juel Ulven there who asked us to play his almost 30-year running "Fox Valley Folk Music Festival. Evie's Poppa Jay drove up from Indiana with "baby" Clay (we had missed our little travelling buddy) and is always such a wonderful addition to our tours and such a great support. 3 cheers for Poppa Jay and Clay.
Overall, we had a swell time! We just didn't get to eat enough hot dogs! There's always next time. (We did try our first "Butter Burger" and frozen custard. Delish!). And again, thank you Bill Foss!!
OX, the Gals
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04.16.06 "COME ALONG JODY" - from the SOURCE (literally)
>>Subject: Come Along Jody
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04.14.06 STEPH'S LAST TANZANIAN POST - BDAY DREAM COMES TRUE!
We're all so happy for (and envious of) Steph! See excerpts from her post below -
...one (dream) was to go to the office of Radio Tanzania, the national radio station, which has a large collection (157) of field recordings of tribal music, which they sell on dubbed cassettes (poor quality, sadly) for $1.00 each. I got 12.
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04.05.06 ENORMOUS THANKS go to ELISE ENGELBERG & BILL FOSS!
We're ever so grateful to Elise Engelberg (of The Mercury Dimes) for all the time and talent she put in to help us Stairwell Sisters out while Steph has been gone. We enjoyed playing with her so much and were amazed at how quickly she learned everything (and how fast she could play those tunes). We look forward to playing with her again in Colorado in June for a little tour that Steph can't make. Of course, we are sure looking forward to the return of Steph around April 20th!! Before her return we have one more tour - to the midwest (Chicago & Michigan) where we'll have the honor of playing with yet another amazing fiddler, Bill Foss!! Please send your friends and family out there our way. And we sure look forward to meeting all our new friends that we've made on myspace!
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03.31.06 BENEFIT for our DEAR UNCLE BRUCE!
Thats right, we're leaving the Marshall stacks at home this time to play a couple of unplugged, upclose & personal sets to raise a little money for a friend in need. Our dear Uncle Bruce got hurt at work last week, and a bunch of his pals are doing what they can to help out while he's on the mend. Bruce has been one of our most loyal fans & biggest supporters over the years (you may have seen him dancing in the back row of our concerts, wearing his Stairwell Sisters T-shirt!), so we're happy to return the favor!
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02.17.06 myspace.com + big ugly review + etc.
hi folks. after wondering what it all means and do we really need to join the oh so many others on myspace.com (?), we carved out our own little page : www.myspace.com/thestairwellsisters.
on another note, sue's song "wish i was" was chosen to be included in the "big ugly review." check it out, lyrics and all : www.biguglyreview.com/music/stairwell.htm
and lastly, we seem to have channeled the weavers : www.stairwellsisters.com/miscphotos.html
oh and lastly, really - you can now find us thousands of feet up in the air on lufthansa airlines inflight country program! www.radiogoethe.org/conpresso/playlists_lh/detail.php?nr=2755&kategorie=playlists_lh
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02.06 Steph (Mama Afrika) finally pulls out her fiddle - and tries on a new one (a zeze).
fiddle face isn't exclusive to appalachian fiddling, apparently.
02.06 Steph does the Masai jumping dance
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12.07.05 Benefit a success!
We were very honored to be part of the Freight & Salvage benefit show (with Wake the Dead, Eric & Suzy Thompson, and Keith Terry). All proceeds went to earthquake victims in Pakistan and to the Jazz Foundation of America which helps musicians affected by Katrina. Together we raised some $2600, and being inspired by the Freight show benefit, the Hellman Family Foundation (that's Warren of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass) donated $10,000 to the Jazz Foundation. (See our posting on Nov. 13, below, for info on the benefit compilation CD we're part of.)
THANKS for your support!
P.S. Does anyone have a video of Evie and Keith in their crazy wigged out mumu duo number "Tea for Two" that night?! We were rolling on the floor!
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Besides playing fiddle and singing with my Sisters, I am committed to protecting and preserving health and environment. After two and a half years of unemployment/underemployment and some soul-searching, I decided to look forward to traveling to a foreign (poor) country and contributing what I can towards health and environment, rather than to dread another bout of job-hunting after my bio-tech position ends in November, 2005.
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We're proud to be part of a new compilation CD dedicated to assisting hurricane disaster efforts -
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11.06.05 Keith Terry beat our socks off!
We enjoyed our Noe Valley Ministry set with Keith so much! Had a rocking full, polyrhythmic, percussive sound with Keith's African bells, cajons and vintage clanggy toys on a bunch of new material. Can't wait to do it again. In the meantime, catch Keith in one of his many amazing projects and/or classes in body music. www.crosspulse.com
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11.01.05 IBMA + Grammy Pre-Nomination!
We're still reeling from the IBMA in Nashville!! We met so many incredible folks from all over the world, and got to see dear family members and so many dear friends. There were so many highlights...and so little sleep.
Lisa and Sue did a little "speed dating" at the "gig fair" the first part of the week. 7 minutes each with 10 festival promoters...way too early in the morning. Thanks to all the folks that took the time to meet with us. Our "church" fans made it into the hands of plenty of hot folks (especially handy for verklempt "power surging" women) walking the long distances between the conference center and the hotel's 18th floor ("California" that is). The new longer distances between activities were actually welcome as a fine way to burn off large amounts of delicious calories inhaled at Jack's Barbeque and Waffle House.
Our two official showcases were received with a lot of excitement! We were asked to do a third one at the Wisconson Suite as well. Big thanks go to Claire & Kitsy who led up the "Roots & Branches" stage, Larry Kuhn & The CBA folks, Carl and Corbin Pagter and Tracy who were over-the-top hospitable toward us gals, The Wisconson folks, Abby Ladin and Patty Garber (for lending Martha 2 basses), and to the incredibly supportive Keith Terry. And hail Darby "den mother" Brandli who is now the new president of the CBA! We're so proud of her (and she wears red cowboy boots)! We can't possibly thank all these folks (and many others) enough!
One especially crazy night, we had an impromptu old-time square dance up by the bar in the hotel...darling Corbin at the wheel. It was a raucous time with the Uncle Earl gals, the fire-eating Sidewinders, Matt Kinman & the Old-Time Sereneders, many other old-time players from all over, and David Rawlings! The intoxicating old-time presence is definately growing every year at IBMA-the bluegrassers can't seem to help themselves. (...IBOTMA) It was also great to meet the fellas from the Ebony Hillbillies of New York, song swap with Mark Simos, and see showcases by Foghorn, The Wilders, The Earl Brothers, The Lonesome Sisters, and Jackstraw. We adored meeting and jamming with the Blue Mountain guys from Sevilla, Spain. Old-time and bluegrass in Spanish - we can't wait to go there! Another huge highlight for us was playing and singing with Hazel Dickens and friends til 5:00am one fine morning! At this point, we about died and went to heaven. We were so honored that Hazel sat down and listened to part of our showcase as well. She has been such an enormous influence on every one of us. We're grateful.
Sue and Lisa also had the honor of meeting the wonderful & wacky DJ Zeke Buttons (WRFL's "Blue Yodel #9") from Kentucky at Waffle House! Quite a character. He gave us bumper stickers: "Stop Willy Before He Kills Again! Remember Pretty Polly." Entertaining conversation with Zeke was peppered with continual joke-telling by our waiter William 9 (who physically fit the name), complete with teasing, chiding sneers, and rolling eyes from his fellow waitstaff that know him oh too well. This man could tell jokes for a month straight. Maybe longer.
Lastly, we came home to some great news from Tom Diamant at Arhoolie Records who passed along the preliminary Grammy nominations list which is being voted on now. And we're on it!! If anyone who is reading this is a Grammy voter we sure hope you'll consider voting for us - Traditional Folk #035. Since you can vote for up to five at this stage, we hope you'll vote for Arhoolie’s Suzy Thompson CD as well #038!
Thanks! We're grateful to you all!
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We've been asked (and agreed) to add a track to a compilation CD titled “Musicians Assisting Disaster Efforts, A Conscious Alliance of Voices” (got that?) The other bands involved are: Umphreys McGee, The Gourds, Split Lip Rayfield, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, Jefferson Hamer, Slipstream, Zen, Cornmeal, Steppin’ In It, Toni Brown Band, the Tallboys, and the Deep Fried Pickle Project (of whom the organizer of this wonderful project is a member of). Proceeds will benefit the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund, a foundation created by Ben and Sarah Jaffe of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band - to help musicians get “back on their feet” after the ravages of the storm. We'll keep you posted when the CD is available.
It was such a treat to have so many folks from our Bay Area old-time community and many of our Portland pals at the Berkeley Old-Time Music Convention. For those of you that weren't able to make the BOTMC, we're sorry you missed a good ol' crazy time, including our freaky banjo orchestra "Twisted Mister" doing a rendition of "The Women Wear No Clothes At All" (oh my) at the Caberet. Ideas for next year already rolling rampant...beware. We also had the honor of having the raucous Road Oilers, our amazing local inspirations Suzy & Eric Thompson, and even the venerable Mike Seeger join us on stage during our Freight set! Mike decided to take up the 10-stringed tiple for the first time on the spot. Now that's somethin!
Thanks, as always, for all of your support.
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We just rolled back from an amazing time in Colorado! A huge thanks to Sheila (Evie's Aunt) for putting us up and feeding us way too much delicious food. (And 3 cheers for Sue who hand-carried a plastic trough of coffee for blocks to wake the altitude-impaired). Thanks to G'Earl KC and folks for spreading the word. It was a joy to play for Evie's Mom and family, and wonderful to have Evie and Keith's boy Clay along - that is, the "little heckler that kept following us around" (as Sue dubbed him). The folks at D Note, KRFC's "Live at Lunch", Avogadro's Number, and KGNU (Joan Wernick) were extremely kind to us. The folks in Salina (and their cute Suzuki trained fiddle kids) were especially good to us. They have a terrific series going at "Little Church in the Pines" way up in the mountains. Beautiful! "Stranger Stop & Cast An Eye" was especially spooky with the thunder and lightening!
We enjoyed Chataqua park in Boulder-a nice sunny day, blankets and picnic spread with more of Evie's wonderful family. A crazy wind came up out of nowhere in the blink of an eye...Clay's stroller, deli delights, song sheets and all, blowing away. We took cover and it stopped about as fast as it started. The next day while busking on Boulder's Mall, another wind picked up...all quite exciting for us wimpy California folks. We were thrilled to meet Lloyd Maines and Terri Hendrix while busking. Been a big fan of Lloyd's for a long time. I (Lisa) was so happy to hang out with my dear friend and inspiration, Sally Van Meter, and the lovely Amy (Open Road Caleb's sweety).
Simply can't wait for our big trek across Alaska at the end of the month! Please tell us of any "must-sees", and wish us well in surviving Sue's "dancing" Uncles & family who are coming along to re-live their old Alaska haunts!
– Lisa/The Stairwell Sisters
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While our Winter was primarily devoted to digging in and lighting a fire under our new material, Spring has seen us back on the road, celebrating with our fans, both old and new. We had a dynamite first CD Release party at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, and are following up with shows all around the Bay and beyond. We're getting especially wonderful feedback from our solid standing of original material, adding an edge to the rowdy tunes and traditional chestnuts that have our particular Sister spin.
The Sisters kicked off the Summer with a slam-bang round of shows at the first annual Golden Old Time Festival in Yreka, CA. This new festival is destined to become an annual meeting ground for the West Coast Old-Time Scene. Purposefully equidistant from LA and Seattle, the site is lovely, the light through the trees divine, and the bathrooms ideal for late night picking in freezing temperatures. We had a wonderful outdoor living room, with music all day and night, and entertainment from one very happy two-year-old naked tap dancer. We could feel the Mt. Airy vibe from so far away.
Lots of travel and shows coming up through the summer.We're excited to be spending so much time with each other, and hope to spend some of it with you.Check our calendar for a show near you!
– Evie/The Stairwell Sisters
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Onward with the old-time music. Life is better because of it. See you soon.