Hope Nunnery

Hope Nunnery

 New York City, New York, USA
BandFolkAmericana

The best way to describe our music is "Son House meets the Carter Family."

Biography

Born in the woods of South Carolina, Hope Nunnery experienced gospel music from an early age. As a little girl, she listened in awe to the Southern Baptist Church music, and was fascinated by the genre’s melodic, melancholy undertones. She has kept this influence tight and close to her heart, adding blues, country, old time and bluegrass to create a cornucopia of pure American roots music.

Hope’s poignant lyrics evoke a determined passion for the expression of what has been lived and felt, leaving little room for double entendres or half words. The result is a constant tapping into far corners of childhood memory to paint haunting images of life, religion, family, and love, like these verses in “Little Pink Radio:”

“Mama got a black eye, she staring out the window
Puffin on a Pell Mell, coffee getting colder, she
Big and fat and pretty, better than a movie star
Mama sweet foot tapping to the sound of the soft guitars.”

Hope’s evocative vocals add credence and seriousness to her lyrics. She sings with an authority that is at times motherly, at times sisterly, infusing the accompanying chords with a sense of urgency that is primal, not hasty.

Steve Tarshis—an accomplished musician who has been involved with American roots music as a player, composer and educator for his entire adult life—has been Hope’s “partner in crime” for many years now. Inspired by the Delta musicians, particularly Son House, Steve complements Hope’s vocals by adding his own voice to the mix, together with an extra dose of melodic, tasty guitar playing.

Steve—a talented player with a penchant for endearing sweet slides on the resonator—has worked with artists ranging from Bo Diddley to the Joffery Ballet, as composer, guitarist and arranger.

The Hope-Steve duo packs a punch together, creating music that, it feels, is relentlessly looking for a passage to freedom, a feeling perhaps better explained by Hope’s own words in “Spare Me a Set of Wings:”

“Just say a little something, just send a little sign,
I’m all racked up with worry, till you ease my mind.
Can you spare me a set of wings when I die?”

This is not your run-of-the-mill, dentist-lounge music, this is, as the title of Hope and Steve’s album says, “Wilderness Lounge” music.

News and Awards:

Number 24 on the WUSB top 30 playlist - July 8 - 15, 2007

2007 Winner Independent Music Awards Vox Populi Americana category "Sweep My Yard Clean"

2007 Honorable mention Independent Music Awards Vox Populi Americana category "Spare Me A Set of Wings"

2007 Finalist Independent Music Awards Americana category "Sweep My Yard Clean"

2007 Finalist Independent Music Awards Gospel category "Spare Me A Set of Wings"

2006 Finalist NewSong Mountain Stage New York Regional River to River Festival "Watch Man"

2006 Honorable mention NewSong Mountain Stage Rock and Blues category "Judgment Day"

Lyrics

Judgment Day

Written By: Hope Nunnery

Born all red and screaming, just an
Ugly little mutt
Torn from Mama’s milky tit, and a
Punch to shut me up
Punch to shut me up

Like my Daddy’s Daddy, and his Daddy before me
Showed me who I am
Slam dunk that youngon, in a
Metal garbage can
Metal garbage can

Chorus:
Who I am?
None can seem to say
Am I monster born? Am I human?
Just wait for Judgment day
Just wait for Judgment day

Look into my eyes
Prepare for your farewell
Meet me in dark bottom, you’ll
Surely welcome hell
Surely welcome hell

Chorus:
Who I am?
None can seem to say
Am I monster born? Am I human?
Just wait for Judgment day
Just wait for Judgment day

Break

Two roads crossed
One leads me out of here, but it’s
Back and back I circle back, to my
Home of raging fear
Home of raging fear

Chorus:
Who I am?
None can seem to say
Am I monster born? Am I human?
Just wait for Judgment day
Just wait for Judgment day

Little Pink Radio

Written By: Hope Nunnery and Steve Tarshis

For Johnny Cash

Daddy car zigzagging up the dirt road
Belly full of liquor, devil got a hold, but he
Brung a pretty present, set it high on the Frigidaire, where the
"Youngon can't touch it, you know she'll just break it, I swear"

Chorus:
Little pink radio
Little pink radio, it
Shoo the devil out the door
Little pink radio

Mama got a black eye, she staring out the window
Puffing on her Pell Mell, coffee getting colder
Big and fat and pretty, better than a movie star
Mama sweet foot tapping to the sounds of the soft guitars

Chorus:

Little pink radio
Little pink radio, it
Shoo the devil out the door
Little pink radio

Daddy got his job back, Captain on the chang gang, he a
Shotgun, bible toting preaching man, he be
Holler at Jesus, holler messing with liquor no more, he holler
"Youngon never, ever touch that radio, but I

Bridge:

Push the chair to the Frigidaire
Shinny up the side like a granddaddy spider, Turn that
Knob full blast with the old fly swatter, on the

Chorus:

Little pink radio
Little pink radio, it
Shoo the devil out the door, My
Little pink radio

Little pink radio
Little pink radio
Shoo the devil out the door, My
Little pink radio

Shoo the devil out the door
Little pink radio

Still Waters

Written By: Hope Nunnery

For Clif Major and Patrick McElmurray

Burning waters called my name out
Fire burnt clean down through my bones
Pretty bottles look so innocent in barrooms
Deceitful beauty, feet press on

I am fearful of that river
Dark and angry roars so deep
Filled with fired, no way ‘round it
Fear so great, faith so weak

Chorus:
Lord, please lead me side still waters
In this valley, help me not to fall
Lord you know I’m fragile ‘round temptation
Help me be still when burning waters call

Break

When I’m still I can remember
There’s a gentle spirit leading me
My grasping hands release and open then
Still waters reveal to me

Chorus:
Lord, please lead me side still waters
In this valley, help me not to fall
Lord you know I’m fragile ‘round temptation
Help me be still when burning waters call
Lord, help me be still when burning waters call

Spare Me A Set of Wings

Written By: Hope Nunnery and Steve Tarshis

For Dr. Ralph Stanley

All my people on the other side, I’m the
Last one standing, an old orphan child
Can you spare me a set of wings when I die?
I’ve heard Jordan River is wide and cold
I fear deep water and I’m growing old
Can you spare me a set of wings when I die?

Lord, can you hear me? I know you’re there
Everybody say you angry and I better beware, but
Can you spare me a set of wings when I die?
Just say a little something, send a little sign, I am
Racked with worry till you ease my mind
Can you spare me a set of wings when I die?

Chorus:
Spare me
Spare me
Spare me a set of wings when I die
I’m afeard of water, I can’t swim
Don’t send no boat, just a set of wings
Lord, spare me a set of wings when I die

Break

I’m just a scared old human, all alone, but my
Faith in you keep boosting me on, but
Can you spare me a set of wings when I die?
The river is rough, muddy and deep
I’m so afeard can’t you send relief?
Can you spare me a set of wings when I die?

Chorus:
Spare me
Spare me
Spare me a set of wings when I die
I’m afeard of water, I can’t swim
Don’t send no boat, just a set of wings
Lord, spare me a set of wings when I die
Lord, spare me a set of wings when I die
Lord, spare me a set of wings when I die

Sweep My Yard Clean

Written By: Hope Nunnery and Steve Tarshis

One baby cooing in the fruit crate
One sleeping in a drawer
An angel kicking in my belly
Jesus please don't send no more, but

Mister Sweet pea standing yonder
Reverend peeking through the crack
Deacon hunkered by the corn crib
Satan crawling up my back

Chorus
Sweep my yard clean
No more tracks 'round my yard
I sure could use some comfort, but I
Keep my broom standing guard

In black dark night of lonesome
A sweet voice called to me
Say "baby my name is Jesus
Let me rock you on my knee"

Never knew my Daddy
Never knew my Daddy name, but
Now I got a Daddy
Sweet, sweet Jesus is His name

Chorus
Sweep my yard clean
No more tracks 'round my yard
I sure could use some comfort, but I
Keep my broom standing guard

Cut a heap of broom straw, it all
Bunched and tied with twine
Gonna whoop that old temptation
I ain't no mans concubine

Chorus
Sweep my yard clean
No more tracks 'round my yard
I sure could use some comfort, but I
Keeps my broom standing guard

Watch Man

Written By: Hope Nunnery

For Dessie Pearl Hatfield and John Jackson

Lamb in the graveyard, lamb alone
Little ear missing, little foot gone
Watching, watching some child’s bones
Lamb don’t know he cold like stone
Lamb don’t know he cold like stone

Chorus:
Watch man watching, He watching you
Watching, watching over you
Watch man watching, He watching you
That is what the watch man do

Rattling, rattling that you hear
Last hard breath is drawing near
Watching, watching one so dear, when they
Lay on down, won’t feel no fear
Lay on down, won’t feel no fear

Chorus:
Watch man watching, He watching you
Watching, watching over you
Watch man watching, He watching you
That is what the watch man do

Callous on his music hands
Gravedigger stands in neck deep sand
Watching, watching shoveling man, you can
Hear his tattered angel band
Hear his tattered angel band

Chorus:
Watch man watching, He watching you
Watching, watching over you
Watch man watching, He watching you
That is what the watch man do
That is what a loving watch man do

Five Dollar Bill

Written By: Hope Nunnery

Come on over here by Mama
Sidle up by Mama side
Somethin’ I need to tell you,
Need to tell you ‘fore I die

Child your Daddy ain’t your Daddy
Your Daddy name is Albert Lee
When you was borned he come to see us
Brung a gift for you and me, he brung a

Five dollar bill
Sack of Juicy Fruit gum
Five dollar bill
Sack of Juicy Fruit gum

He say “take this piece of money
Buy baby powders, brush and comb
Law my baby fat and pretty
So fat she look to have no bone

Spoken:
He say, “baby, they’s a state called sunshine
Let’s you, me and baby go
Get your little things together
You be waitin’ by the door”

Five dollar bill
Sack of Juicy Fruit gum
Five dollar bill
Sack of Juicy Fruit gum

We was waitin’ like he asked us, but he
Never made it back
They found him in his pick-up
Killed by a shotgun blast, oh that

Five dollar bill
Sack of Juicy Fruit gum
Five dollar bill
Sack of Juicy Fruit gum

Flypaper full, needin’ changin’
Law it’s been that way a while
Wouldn’t be in the fix I’m in
If my sweet man hadn’t died

So come on over here by Mama
Sidle up by Mama side
Somethin’ need to tell you
Need to tell you ‘fore I die, about a

Five dollar bill
Sack of Juicy Fruit gum
Five dollar bill
Sack of Juicy Fruit gum

South Carolina Blues

Written By: Hope Nunnery and Steve Tarshis

South Carolina’s where I hail from
I'm a Sand Lapper damnit, not a Tar Heel, hon
My home state is shaped like a sweet slice of pie, but there’s
Bitter with the sweet, and that ain’t no damn lie

South Carolina, South Carolina blue
South Carolina, now child you talking blue

I’m gonna take you to the swamp where I was born
Gonna pick a little cotton, gonna suck a little corn
West Sumter County is a haunted place, where the
Blue root work can be your saving grace

South Carolina, South Carolina blue
South Carolina, now child you talking blue

The ground is soaked with my people's sweat
The old farm is gone now, ain’t nobody left, but the
Chimney’s still standing, but the fire long cold
My people went to Jesus, to get their mansion home

South Carolina, South Carolina blue
South Carolina, now child you talking blue

Get On In This Kitchen Daddy

Written By: Hope Nunnery and Steve Tarshis

Why you standing in the doorway way across the floor? You can
Lean your guitar in the corner right beside the door, but
Get on in this kitchen Daddy set right down with me

Got collard greens, butter beans, and a sweet peach pie
Mama’s in the kitchen cutting fishes up to fry
Get on in this kitchen Daddy set right down with me

[I got your] Neck bones and greasy rice, a mess of turnips to
Got your favorite baby—a spicy cat fish stew
Get on in this kitchen Daddy set right down with me

Get on in this kitchen Daddy set right down with me
Got the table spread and ready, got you plenty good to eat
Got a little something that I want to share with you
Move a little closer you know just what to do

Chocolate cake, lemon pie, jelly cake so fine
Then all we’ll need is one tall jug of good ol’ homemade shine
Get on in this kitchen Daddy set right down with me

Solo

We can put a record on the player you can dance me cross the floor
Oh now Daddy you can dance me, dance me strong and slow, so
Get on in this kitchen Daddy set right down with me

Get on in this kitchen Daddy set right down with me
Got the table spread and ready, got you plenty good to eat
Got a little something that I want to share with you
Move a little closer you know just what to do

Discography

Steve has just produced our first album "Wilderness Lounge" and it's available on iTunes and CD Baby. We had been writing pretty steady and just felt like it was time to put some seed in the ground and see what wanted to take root.

Set List

We can play for a an hour, ninety minutes—or several sets, if called for and the situation is right.

Set List - Originals:
Still Waters
All My People
Little Pink Radio
Judgment Day
Wilderness Lounge
Sweep My Yard Clean
Watch Man
Spare Me A Set of Wings
Sweet Bye and Bye (Traditional, arrangement by Hope Nunnery and Steve Tarshis)
Trouble Is My Rider (Steve Tarshis)
Pass Me Not (Traditional, arranged by Hope Nunnery)
South Carolina Blue

Covers - to name a few:
Folsom Prison Blues
Great High Mountain
Working On A Building
Wallflower
You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond
Rollin' and Tumblin'
Mule Skinner Blues
Give My Love To Rose
I'm on Fire
Cold, Cold Heart
I Saw the Light
I Shall Be Released
By the Mark
John Hardy
No Hiding Place
Supper Time