Cheyenne Mize
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Cheyenne Mize

Louisville, Kentucky, United States | INDIE

Louisville, Kentucky, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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Cheyenne Mize @ Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum

Knoxville, Kentucky, USA

Knoxville, Kentucky, USA

Cheyenne Mize @ Schuba's

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Cheyenne Mize @ SPACE

Evanston, Illinois, USA

Evanston, Illinois, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



It is easy to forget that the human voice is a remarkable thing. Perhaps we often fail to regard it with the awe that it deserves because it is everywhere; our lives are constantly soundtracked from every angle by songs and voices in such profusion as never known before in history. There was apparently a time before headphones when a whole family would gather round a gramophone, or even sing together for entertainment. Granted those are times that few of us can recall, but Among The Gold lets us glimpse into that golden era without the need for time travel. A gem of a collaboration between Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (aka Will Oldham) and his latest muse Cheyenne Mize – resident fiddle whizz in Louisville acoustic roots collective Arnett Hollow and a member of Oldham’s touring band – it follows on from their first recorded coupling on March’s limited edition Chijimi EP.
While the six songs on Among The Gold possess a similarly dusty aesthetic as the four on Chijimi, their vintage is truly authentic. Originally written between 1873 and 1915, the songs are reinterpreted here by Oldham’s familiar delicate warble mingled with Mize’s plaintive and pure, childlike voice. A bit of research tells us that Mize chose all the songs (hence the top billing), and her dedication to an honest presentation of the material is clear in every note. Among The Gold demands in the sweetest tones that you sit back and listen. The lullaby feel of songs like ‘Only A Dream’ and ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ requires very little other than for you to allow yourself to get comfortable and simply be sung to – far less demanding than previous Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy outings like I See A Darkness, for example.
Some of the songs here may already be familiar to an American audience. ‘Silver Threads Among The Gold’, the EP’s oldest song, is now a popular number for a barbershop quartet. There are no baritone coiffeurs here, of course; the song is stripped down to just Oldham and Mize echoing the sentiment of the slightly maudlin lyrics with light precision, singing to each other as though the life in them and the years are calmly drifting by. What is most striking is that both artists sound completely at home with this material. The spoken word parts sound utterly sincere, as do the duets. Moving in its simplicity, Among The Gold is truly remarkable in that it shrugs off its modernity with consummate skill. As a recording of yesteryear it sounds wholly genuine, and deserves to be viewed as more than just a curio. Tight little nuggets of greatness like this don’t come along often.

Chris Catchpole, May 11, 2009
- Wears the Trousers Magazine, UK

"Old music is a major passion of mine. As I mentioned, I play a little old-time fiddle and have always loved old gospel music. The idea of keeping old music alive is very important to me" - Cheyenne Mize

Considering the substance of Mize’s quote, she couldn’t have found a better partner than Bonnie “Prince” Billy, aka Will Oldham. When Oldham started his musical career as part of the young “alt-country” scene, he defied the constraints of that movement which was too often defined by either straightforward twang-rock or overly reverential tributes to pre-television country music. In the process, he broke the ground that other similarly restless artists like Wilco were to follow later.

Mize’s recording mission for Among The Gold has allowed Oldham to be directly reverential while remaining true to his creative muse. This collaboration of Louisville musicians (Cheyenne Mize is a member of Arnett Hollow) focuses solely on old time songs - real old time songs - since every song in this collection are parlor songs from 1915 or earlier.

Together, Mize and Oldham have created an unaffectedly beautiful presentation of these aural chestnuts. Mize, who attributes her grandmother for being “responsible for my love of old-time gospel and the Carter family,” directs the proceedings allowing “Bonny” to fill the role of creative support.

Mize describes the beginnings of Among the Gold:

I learned a great deal of old songs when I was in school for music therapy to be used with the geriatric population. Several of them had stuck with me over the years and I am really into the idea of preserving old music. I started recording a few of them on my own, but thought it would be really nice to do them as duets. Bonny had a microphone and an empty room to record in and was interested in the project, so we decided to try a few tunes out and see how it went…. I already had most of them picked out, although Bonny helped me to decide on the last couple. He has an encyclopedia in his head of most things musical and pointed me in the direction of a few resources. In the end I picked all the songs.

“A microphone and an empty room” is really most all that you hear with only a bit of guitar and autoharp to augment the touching duet vocals. By presenting the songs in this manner without a “mannered” approach, the original beauty of these songs can be heard again outside of their usual historic trappings.

At the same time, Mize and Oldham have retained the thread that these songs provide showing how the power of songcraft has changed little over the years. Oldham has already shown this dynamic in his covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bob Dylan stripping their songs down and showcasing them within another context.

No longer content to reach back a few decades or so, Mize and Oldham demonstrate the true timelessness of song through centuries past on Among The Gold. One can only hope that there are more recording sessions ahead.

- Jim Markel -

Is Will Oldham having a good laugh at our expense? Does he cackle to himself when critics note every name change or parse every reference to darkness and light? For someone who maintains a steady stream of releases, Oldham remains elusive, impossible to pin down. Take his latest, a live album titled Funtown Comedown, released digitally and on vinyl with little fanfare during the final days of 2009. As the story goes, he recorded it in the "metaphysical community" of Funtown, which lies just outside the Louisville of the mind. One presumes the hamlet appears in the mist annually and exists solely to host Oldham's shows.

If Oldham didn't make good music, we might laugh right back at him. But for nearly 20 years, he has proved not only prolific but indefatigable, always ready with a quick hook and a dark thought on mortality and music. Funtown Comedown pulls from every corner of his rich catalog, spanning his first EP (opener "Ohio River Boat Song") through his recent peaks ("The Glory Goes", from 2008's Lie Down in the Light). This being an Oldham release, these aren't simply run-throughs of familiar songs. He studiously avoids redundancy by constantly reinterpreting and reinventing his songs. Here, he resets them in a string-band context, courtesy of the Picket Line.

Louisville's the Picket Line accompany him with a ramshackle sound and a hootenanny dynamic that fit his ramblin' songs nicely. The spry performances make some of the studio versions sound dour by comparison, as the musicians punctuate the songs with shouts and hollers. They actually howl like junkyard curs on "Wolf Among Wolves", and whoop it up on the clap-along closer "Idle Hands Are the Devil's Playthings". Cheyenne Mize plays Loretta Lynn to Oldham's Conway Twitty, harmonizing sweetly on "We All Us Three Will Ride" and "You Want That Picture". Oldham has duetted with so many female singers over the years, from Scout Niblett to former Frente! frontwoman Angie Hart, but Mize makes a dashing foil for him, with a wry, crystalline tone to counter his grainier, hangdog voice. (They released an under-everybody's-radar EP last year on Karate Body Records.)

The Picket Line kick up the dust on the first set, delivering a stormy take on Ralph Stanley's "Hemlocks and Primroses" complete with raucous call and response, but they quiet down a bit on the second set. Cleetus Redundementia's bass makes a comfy bed for Oldham and Mize's vocals on the soft, subtly sinister "Lay and Love", and Pork Chop's "outta-tune banjo" snakes through the ruminative "Rider" (these are the names listed on their MySpace, so don't blame me). As with most of the current crop of string bands, there's a strong Appalachian feel to these new interpretations, as if the musicians have modeled themselves after the Carter Family. But they shoot these songs full of classic Nashville country flourishes and Kentucky bluegrass filigrees, and their Bakersfield licks light up their cover of Merle Haggard's "Rambling Fever" and "May It Always Be" like fireworks. This is Oldham's flip-side America, where regional distinctions and variations compress into one sound. His idiosyncratic brand of traditional music, wherever he makes it and under whichever guise, has always sounded both otherworldly and earthy, and Funtown Comedown demonstrates how that contradiction energizes his music and enlivens a genre that too often gets bogged down in reverence and gravity.

— Stephen M. Deusner, January 14, 2010 - Pitchfork online


Among the Gold (Karate Body Records 2009), Before Lately (sonaBLAST! 2010), We Don't Need (Yep Roc Records 2012), Among the Grey (Yep Roc Records 2013)



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