Killer banjo, bass, box, bells & SONGS, with the kinetic thrill of percussive dance - Evie Ladin & Keith Terry’s DUO show is an unusually moving and entertaining mix of traditional and original music/dance that has audiences around the world saying repeatedly “I had no idea...this is Badass!”
"You don't often hear words like "traditional," and "authentic" paired with "innovative" and "unique," but Evie Ladin has brought them together brilliantly in the self-titled, debut album of the Evie Ladin Band, and the result is truly a high point in new old-time music." --FOLKWORKS
"Her rich and smoky voice resembles Natalie Merchant's, and her songs are as fetching as Nancy Griffith's...they're all catchy, with mature lyrics and skilled phrasing." --OLD-TIME HERALD
The polyrhythmic heat of Evie Ladin’s clawhammer banjo, resonant voice, real stories and rhythmic dance have been heard from A Prairie Home Companion to Celtic Connections, Lincoln Center to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Known as a driving force behind San Francisco's Stairwell Sisters, Evie’s second solo release Evie Ladin Band (2012) debuted at #12 on the Folk-DJ Chart. Keith Terry is a renowned percussionist/rhythm dancer and the founder of the International Body Music Festival. A pioneer in contemporary Body Music, Keith is the Artistic Director of Crosspulse, producing large-scale intercultural collaborations, educational outreach and more.
"Using any surface for it's rhythmic possibilities, Terry claps his hands, rubs his palms, finger-pops, stamps his feet, brushes his soles, slaps his butt and belly, pops his cheek, whomps his chest, skips and slides, sings and babbles and coughs, building his music out of a surprisingly varied register of sounds and clever rhythmic variations." --VILLAGE VOICE
"Ladin's voice is a revelation. Clear, strong, delicate and emotive all at the same time...her exemplary examples of adult love songs deal with complicated subject matter, yet never lose their swing or get bogged down by maudlin sentimentality. In fact, the music is gorgeous."--NO DEPRESSION
The EVIE LADIN BAND is a quartet of remarkably talented and quirky interpreters who tease out gorgeous beds of new trad music. Keith Terry (bass, Body Music) is a renowned percussionist/rhythm dancer and the founder of the International Body Music Festival; Dina Maccabee (violin) combines mastery on the violin with voice and body percussion in Real Vocal String Quartet and others; Erik Pearson (guitar, banjo) is a musician's musician, and plays with the Crooked Jades and Mushroom. In live performance, the Evie Ladin Band is a demonstrative, delightfully gorgeous storm.
PRESS RELEASE FOR FLOAT DOWNSTREAM (2010)
This is a girl who grew up falling asleep on a pile of coats in the corner of the music party or square dance; her childhood home in Northern New Jersey had an open door to folk musicians playing anywhere near. This is a girl who ran barefoot through muddy festivals, soaking up traditional American music and dance —in the rhythm of her step, in her sleep, as the backbone of life.
This is also a girl, a teenager in inner-city Baltimore, with the pulsing roll of early hip hop high school cafeteria, a girl drawn to Africa as a place where music and dance are social communication, the way she grew up. In Nigeria she showed people her clogging and body percussion, and it opened doors to myriad creative collaborations. Years later, she is synthesizing these deep, sometimes disparate influences into her own music - grounded in tradition, emboldened by experience, flying freeform in the modern world.
This becomes obvious in the first moment of the album. “I Love My Honey,” exhilarates the listener with soaring harmonies above a mesmerizing trance-inducing banjo, all of it anchored by a funky half-time rhythm on the cajón (wooden percussion box). Evie got the song off a recording of fiddler Santford Kelly released by The Field Recorder’s Collective. In Kelly’s original, he strums his fiddle, pizzicato style, inspiring Evie’s approach. His whoops and hollers in the name of love were the selling point, and Evie gives it all she’s got.
“I have a very strong old-timey aesthetic, I know what good stringband music sounds like, but I also listen to a lot of world music, old and new country, indie rock, soul – music scenes that often don’t overlap that much. I like a lot of interesting new treatments of Americana and traditional music; well-played, well-phrased music is just good. In making the album, the music that was old-time had to be real old-time, but I also needed to let songs stretch toward a pop aesthetic, a more contemporary aesthetic. The mix of the two can be very exciting.”
The songs themselves can be energetic, poignant, or downright sad like the title track. “I had been away from the Eastern woods for a long time,” Evie recalled. “I was teaching at a camp in Tennessee and went walking in the trees. There was something so familiar about the way the sunlight came through the leaves, spilling on the forest floor, that made me feel like I was floating. It was so beautiful it was heartbreaking. The first verse of the song fell into me on that walk, and then it took me a year to figure out the rest of what happened in the story.” Evie is playing a fairly traditional clawhammer banjo style here, with Mark Summer’s cello swimming underneath and contemporary lyrics floating along the surface.
For Evie, who started her career as a percussive dancer and choreographer until moving to Oakland and hooking up with the Stairwell Sisters, the all-gal old-time band with whom she still tours, writing music is a full-body experience. “I write a lot of songs riding my bike,” she explained. “Sometimes I feel like the world is just feeding me music. A lick or a line will get stuck in my head and I’ll keep singing it until the story comes.” Her performances are also full-body experiences. Evie sets rhythms with her feet to support her banjo melodies, layering her voice on top, sometimes switching it up for her feet to solo while her instrument or voice holds a steady groove.
Producers Mike Marshall and Keith Terry brought different but equally adventurous musical brilliance to the record. They are no strangers to pushing boundaries, making odd musical bedfellows seem natural together. They worked with Evie to flesh out the musical arrangements and textures that would give her stories wings. “Mike and Keith both have amazing, creative ears. They added colors and shape to my music that made the stories in each song more real; gave them a deeper bed to lie in,” she recalls.
Mike Marshall is a renowned mandolinist equally versed in classical, bluegrass, and world music. Mike worked with Evie to create the more contemporary sound she wanted to explore, sonic collaborations with organ, cello, various guitars, while still maintaining her roots sound. When Evie felt that “How Did You Know” had great words, but was sagging as a country ditty, Marshall suggested they play it calypso, and they got a real laugh. He next suggested a ballad, and led it on guitar. When Evie laid the song in, they all got the chills. It was like a secret unearthed.
Keith Terry is a jazz and world music drummer who developed a singular style of Body Music, percussion that is music you can see, dance you can hear. Keith and Evie are married, and they work together often on international cross-cultural projects that combine music, dance, and song in integrated performance. Keith brought a variety of rhythmic timbres to the tracks – from the Balinese bells evoking a far-off, wistful feeling on the title track, to bone-rattling bass harmonica and struck metal silverware, the perfect support for Dock Boggs’ “Mistreated Mama.” Keith and Evie have long explored the banjo in unusual combinations – bells being among the most satisfying.
In a rare autobiographical moment, “Dance Me” sings of something Evie always wanted, and has found: “just such a man, who can dance me the way that my baby can.” Evie claims that that is the only autobiographical note in the song. The story came to focus on the struggle between falling in love and staying in love. “I think it’s very difficult to not let the stresses and details of life take you too far you from the love you started with; if you could just dance together, maybe you could remember the sweetness, and bring it back.” The track was recorded with a swinging jazz waltz in the drum set, a part that Terry later removed; a more rootsy feel, but with that swing in the music.
New with old, real and ethereal, permeates each song on the album, synthesizing Evie’s mastery of traditional music and her original sense of the world she lives in. Still, the blending of rhythm, texture, and color in her music is seamless and simple. Evie’s resonant voice, the thick timbre of her banjo, the richness of her rhythm and pattern, cannot be classified – it is one of many new old-time musics. She still sleeps best in the middle of that roaring music party.
ON THE RECORD:
Evie Ladin - banjos, vocals
Mike Marshall - guitars, mandolin
Todd Phillips - bass
Keith Terry - drums, percussion, bass harmonica
Abby Ladin - harmony vocals
Amber Hines - harmony vocals
Caleb Klauder - harmony vocals
Chris Webster - harmony vocals
Dina Maccabee - harmony vocals
John R. Burr - organ
Karen Heil - fiddle
Lloyd Maines - dobro
Mark Summer - cello
Matt Knoth - guitar
Mike Rinta - tuba
Suzy Thompson - fiddle, accordion
Evie Ladin - banjo, guitar, vocals, feet, body percussion
Keith Terry - bass, vocals, percussion, body percussion
Dina Maccabee - violin, vocals, feet
Erik Pearson - guitar, slide guitar, banjo, vocals
Buckdancing for Beginners 2: Freestyle DVD 2013
Evie Ladin Band 2012
Float Downstream 2010
with The Stairwell Sisters
Get Off Your Money 2008
Feet All Over the Floor 2005
Stairwell Sisters 2003
Buckdancing for Beginners DVD 2002
I Love My Honey
Dime Store Glasses
Got You On My Mind Live on KRFC
Mistreated Mama/Yew Piney Mountain
Got You On My Mind
Down to the Door/Lost Girl
He's Not Alone
Songbird Blues/Backstep Cindy
Shadow of the Pines
The First Time
Build Me a House/Cypress Shuffle
Sleepy Eyed Joe
Evie Ladin Band
[+ Show ]
You don’t often hear words like “traditional,” and “authentic” paired with “innovative” and “unique,...You don’t often hear words like “traditional,” and “authentic” paired with “innovative” and “unique,” but Evie Ladin has brought them together brilliantly in the self-titled, debut album of the Evie Ladin Band, and the result is truly a high point in new old-time music.
If you are not already familiar with Evie Ladin’s music, don’t let the term “debut” fool you. While the four multi-instrumental band members – Ladin, Keith Terry, Dina Maccabee, and Erik Pearson – have been playing together for three years, they are all seasoned professionals. And the polyrhythmic sound of Ladin’s clawhammer banjo, her clogging, and her beautifully modulated voice, have infused five previous albums with The Stairwell Sisters, as well as the 2010 release of her highly acclaimed solo album, Float Downstream. But in the 13 new old-timey, Appalachian-flavored tracks of Evie Ladin Band, Ladin surpasses herself.
What makes this album SO good? First there are the songs themselves: eight delicious, rootsy and rhythmic originals – six by Ladin, one by Maccabee, and an instrumental by Pearson; and 5 inspired covers (including songs from Lotus Dickey, Walter McNew, Carter Family, Ewan McColl, Dock Boggs, and John Ashby).
Then there is Ladin’s voice, more fluid and versatile than ever, sailing effortlessly on and around beautiful melodies with a seemingly effortless combination of strength and sensitivity. When joined in harmony by the silvery vocals of Dina Maccabee, the result is pure honey.
And then, there is the band itself, each member adding a wealth of talent to the mix: Dina Maccabee on violin and harmony vocals; Erik Pearson on guitar, banjo and harmony vocals; and last but far from least, Keith Terry on bass, cajon, pizza pan, metal toys, Engelhart Gankogui (a type of African bell), bass harmonica, body music (aka, body drumming) and harmony vocals.
A renowned percussionist and rhythm dancer, Terry, in fact, provides one of the most defining elements of this album: an incredibly compelling and often complex rhythm. And for Ladin as well, who started her career as a percussive dancer and choreographer, the rhythm is intrinsic to the sound of Evie Ladin Band (which Ladin produced, and Terry co-produced with Ivan Rosenberg).
Evie Ladin and Keith Terry
The importance of this unique and varied percussion is evident from the very first track, Got You On My Mind (by Lotus Dickey). This catchy tune opens with just Ladin’s voice, which within five words is joined by Terry’s rhythm on metal toys. Only after the first verse of just vocals and percussion does Ladin’s clawhammer banjo join in and augment the rhythm; it is followed, in turn, by harmony vocals, violin and guitar. Like an underground river that surfaces, vanishes, and then resurfaces again, the intricate metallic rhythm appears and disappears, reappearing to play behind the instrumental solos. The result is a simple, lovely melody that builds into something very diverse and exciting.
This skillful building, layering, and counterpoint of voices and instruments is evident throughout the arrangements on this album. For example, in the second track, Come Down To The Door Of My Home, Ladin’s original composition achieves a richly textured sound, with her rhythmic, funky banjo beat answered by the fiddle, and her vocals swelling to 3-part harmony as the song progresses.
At this point, I should probably point out that every song on this CD is a winner. But I do have my favorites, of course, and they are all originals by Ladin. She is, among her many talents, an excellent songwriter, and Track 3 makes that very clear. He’s Not Alone sounds like a classic to me. Sung and played like an old-fashioned country song, with a drag and a catch in the voice, a great slide guitar, and harmony in all the right places, it packs an old-fashioned, true-to-life, emotional punch. Dime Store Glasses is another “classic-in-the-making.” In the country tradition of writing upbeat songs about heartbreak, this song is energized by a wonderful, prominent bass and body music. And for something “entirely different,” there’s Ladin’s quirky novelty song, Coffeeshop, with its interesting rhythms, fun lyrics and contemporary theme.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not call out one more song on this album. It is the song made famous by Roberta Flack – The First Time, by Ewan McColl – now reborn and transformed by the Evie Ladin Band. Whether you have never heard the song, or you have it stored away among your long-time favorites, it will, pardon the pun, be like hearing it for the first time. Roberta Flack’s version was slow and sensual, tinged with melancholy. But not anymore! In Ladin’s wonderful rendition, you will hear – for the first time – the pure joy in this song. It is a celebration of love, a quickening of the senses, that is simply uplifting.
I could go on and on about this gem of an album, but in the last analysis, you must hear Evie Ladin Band for yourself. It’s just that special.
[+ Show ]
She can write, and she can sing, and she pulls back from the saccharine brink with just enough wit -...She can write, and she can sing, and she pulls back from the saccharine brink with just enough wit - a sharp intelligence.
San Francisco Chronicle
[+ Show ]
Whether she's belting out old-time tunes with the Stairwell Sisters, calling a square dance or execu...Whether she's belting out old-time tunes with the Stairwell Sisters, calling a square dance or executing syncopated dance moves with husband and rhythmic partner Keith Terry, Evie Ladin is a natural entertainer with a gift for infusing folk practices with contemporary verve.
[+ Show ]
EVIE LADIN, Float Downstream, (Evil Diane Music). Evie Ladin, banjo player for the Stairwell Siste...EVIE LADIN, Float Downstream, (Evil Diane Music). Evie Ladin, banjo player for
the Stairwell Sisters, steps out here with her first solo album, and it is sweet. “I Love My Honey,” one of several public domain selections, opens the set in sterling old timey fashion. Next “Romeo,” the first of 10 originals here, is more modern, a tale of star-crossed love wafting on John R. Burr’s organ. These two set up a dynamic balancing modern and ancient that’s the album’s hallmark. Solid song craft performed wonderfully end to end; with Mike Marshall co-producing and with Evie playing prominently, you’d expect that. Very strongly recommended. — MT
[+ Show ]
Whew, here’s a high point for contemporary folk/lo-fi! When you have Mike Marshall and Lloyd Maines...Whew, here’s a high point for contemporary folk/lo-fi! When you have Mike Marshall and Lloyd Maines both on your team, this has got to be something special. As you listen to it, you’ll think of a dozen things this reminds you of but strangely, you won’t be able to put your finer on any of them. A sure winner for contemporary folk fans that have an affection for old timey vibes, this is no throwback and this is no desecration. It’s contemporary down home music at the top of it’s game. There’s been a lot of entries in this genre lately, and many have had a lot on the ball, but this one simply hits it out of the park. Well done.
East Bay Express
[+ Show ]
With all the alt-country and folksy fusion bands that are around right now, it's interesting to hear...With all the alt-country and folksy fusion bands that are around right now, it's interesting to hear a straight-up folk album for once. Evie Ladin plays folk in a way that's faithful to tradition — classic storytelling; crisp, clean banjo and folk guitar; and sweet vocals. If you like folk you'll love this, and if you're from the South it'll feel like taking a trip home.
[+ Show ]
Old-Time Herald June-July 2010 -Toni Williams Evie Ladin is likely best known as the energetic b...Old-Time Herald June-July 2010
Evie Ladin is likely best known as the energetic banjo player and flatfooter in the Stairwell Sisters, a California female old-time band. In this newest project she flexes her songwriting muscles and stretches her banjo borders.
This is not an old-time CD, but one that presents her more as a contemporary singer-songwriter with a folksy flair. Her rich and smoky voice resembles Natalie Merchant’s, and her songs are as fetching as Nancy Griffith’s. (She composed all but one of the nontraditional songs.) They’re songs of life and love and loss – some celebratory, some contemplative, and some plaintive. They’re all catchy, with mature lyrics and skilled phrasing. The production is top-notch, with an array of instruments – mandolin, Dobro, organ, drums, fiddle, even tuba on the Mardi Gras song – taking turns adding texture and seasoning with just the right restrained touch. And the vocal harmonies, while used sparingly, are lovely and full.
Evie plays clawhammer on most of the cuts. On one or two the banjo seems almost superfluous, and oddly syncopated, but as a whole it’s surprisingly fitting and successful.
There’s a mighty fine, get-down version of Doc Boggs’ bluesy “Mistreated Mama,” plus a few hoedown tunes that pick up the pace and add variety. I think these traditional cuts attest to Evie’s roots and range, but some listeners may feel they give the album a non-cohesiveness or scattered sense. Maybe the CD doesn’t know what it wants to be, but I know that I like and appreciate just about everything on it. Recommended for fans of the Stairwell Sisters, those who like to see old-time musicians expand into other fields, and those who like female singer-songwriters with full accompaniment.
Set lists are amended for every venue, audience, festival - usually two 40-45 sets for a concert - a mix of traditional and original songs, seamlessly blended with percussive dance:
C I Love My Honey
C Charleston #1
C One Of These Days
Am Got You On My Mind
C Dance Me
C How Did You Know
A Dime Store Glasses →
Dina-Keith duo →
Evie-Erik duo →
D Sleepy Eyed Joe
A Float Downstream
A Precious Days
D Maybe An Angel
D Going Across The Sea
A Home From Airy
A Floating Downstream
C Mardi Gras
Encore: Jump Back