NewFound Road brings bluegrass, Celtic country to Skye and Unity
CARTHAGE - New England Celtic Arts will host NewFound Road at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center in South Carthage, Me on Wednesday July 4 for it's 5th annual strawberry shortcake night, and at Unity College Centre for the Performing Arts in Unity, Me on Thursday July 5. Curtain at the Franco Center and Skye is 7:00 pm and 7:30 pm in Unity. Pre-show jam sessions at Skye and Unity start 1 hour prior to curtain.
The music of NewFound Road is marked by a refreshing clarity – a sense of honesty and purpose rarely heard in today’s bluegrass. For with the increased popular interest in bluegrass music has come an increased willingness to sweeten and tamper: maybe a touch of percussion here, a pedal steel there, a little piano on the chorus. Yet with their visceral, road-honed attack and disarming purity of vision, NewFound Road are a vivid reminder of the power inherent in undiluted, stripped-down bluegrass. This unflinching immediacy is bolstered by a wide range of stylistic influences, the presence of three remarkably soulful vocalists, and strong in-house songwriting talent, making NewFound Road among the most dynamic and thrilling contemporary bluegrass bands on today’s thriving scene.
Life in a Song is NewFound Road’s fourth album and their first for Rounder Records. On it, NewFound Road members Rob Baker (mandolin/vocals), Randy Barnes (bass), Tim Shelton (guitar/vocals), and Jr. Williams (banjo/guitar/vocals) resourcefully balance both the timeless and the modern elements of bluegrass, emerging with a sound that is eclectic and yet supremely focused. The album was produced by musician Rob Ickes, a man who, as a member of Blue Highway, is no stranger to cutting-edge contemporary bluegrass, and who also explores a wide range of bluegrass byways on his solo albums. Ickes, who occasionally contributes resonator or slide guitar, and fiddler Jim Van Cleve are the only outside instrumentalists heard on Life in a Song. The core instrumental sound comes entirely from NewFound Road, and is steered by Williams’ haunting, driving banjo and Baker’s fleet mandolin breaks.
“Making this album was a challenge,” Shelton reflects. “We did things completely different than we’ve ever done, and for the better I think. We did pretty much all of the album live with very little overdubbing. We wanted it to sound like us.” Life in a Song begins with bracing three-part, unaccompanied harmonies leading into a storming version of Blue Highway guitarist/songwriter Tim Stafford’s “Cold Blue Day,” which features a riveting, nuanced lead vocal from Shelton. The same intensity is present in the second track, “Douglas Graves,” only this time refashioned from blisteringly up tempo to a slowly smoldering groove. The song, a collaboration between Stafford and Nashville luthier Audey Ratliff, is a stunning contemporary composition written in the tradition of the evocative ballads brought into Appalachia from Ireland, England, and Scotland. The band’s arrangement is expert in its use of dynamics and instrumental subtlety to convey the song’s brooding undercurrent.
Skye Theater is located 3 miles West of East Dixfield village at 2 Highland Drive off Winter Hill Rd and US RT. 2 in South Carthage. UCCPA is at 42 Depot Street in Unity. Ticket price is $15 at the door. For reservations at The Franco Center and at Skye Theatre call (207) 562-4445 or UCCPA at (207) 948-7469. Reservations are strongly suggested at all three venues.
More information is available at: http://www.necelticarts.com