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Sarasota, Florida, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009

Sarasota, Florida, United States
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Folk Americana


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



"Free as a bird: Passerine takes flight while remaining grounded in American roots music"

The Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes and The Decemberists are critically acclaimed, high-profile indie rock acts that expose younger listeners to the rich traditions of American music by using acoustic instruments and homespun vocal harmonies, and by expanding the acceptable palette of alternative rock sounds.

Still, some cringe at the terms “folk music” or “Americana,” bristling at what they view as a preference for tradition over originality. Others simply tune out to any sounds they perceive as belonging to their parents’ — or even their grandparents’ — generation.

For Passerine, a Sarasota-based quartet, Americana encompasses all of this country’s musical traditions without exception. Folk, bluegrass, rock and roll, soul, country and even pop have a place at the table. Rather than limiting what is allowable, Americana embraces every style under the sun.

“You wouldn’t believe the diversity of stuff that falls under that heading,” explains dobro player David Brain during a phone call to Creative Loafing. “What it has in common is some sort of association with roots music, a story or message that’s rooted in American tradition. You could have everything from rock bands playing at the Americana Music Festival [in Nashville], or singer-songwriters who you would say, ‘He’s a folk musician.’ It really covers a huge range of things. I like it as a label because it doesn’t pigeonhole you.”

The quartet rehearses around singer/guitarist Tanya Radtke’s kitchen table with their instruments every Tuesday night. “The dobro, the upright bass, the acoustic guitars and the harmony vocals going in the kitchen, it’s really fun,” Radtke says. “We’ll play in different rooms, and we’ll always end up in the kitchen.”

Fans of the movie A Mighty Wind may chuckle at the thought of an acoustic group jamming beside a Frigidaire, but Passerine’s co-founder Carmela Pedicini (well-known in music circles as Radio-Free Carmela) relishes the intimacy of the kitchen rehearsals.

“Tanya and I both have situations where we have to always fit over a large sound vocally,” she explained. “In this setting we can just hear each other. We can hear all the dynamics of the beautiful instruments. We can just focus on the resonance of our voices and the harmonies. … I really love my other band, and we are working really hard right now. We are doing a lot of big stuff. But this group is just like dessert.”

Brain’s favorite part of rehearsal is listening to Pedicini and Radtke work on their unusual harmonies. “There’s something really well-matched about their voices,” Brain said. “They sound great together. But what they are actually working out, figuring out who is going to sing what, how their voices work together, is musically really fascinating to watch and to listen to. They are very creative about it.”

Brain has jammed with Pedicini weekly since last October, when he first attended her open mic nights at Sarasota’s now-defunct Bungalow. Pedicini loved the sound of Brain’s dobro but longed for the sweet sound of a harmonist. She approached Radtke, with whom she has performed many times over the years. The trio subsequently played their first gig at the Sarasota Olive Oil Company.

At that show, Pedicini asked the crowd if there was anyone present who played upright bass. “I just said it out loud, I said, ‘Isn’t there anyone here that plays upright bass?’ And there’s this guy right in the middle of the room. He’s been there all night … raised his hand. Miles Tweed!”

Tweed didn’t have his upright with him that night, but it didn’t matter. He soon became the fourth member of Passerine.

The group performs original music penned by Pedicini and Radtke, who each released solo CDs in 2008, alongside Neil Young and Bob Dylan covers and arrangements of traditional songs like “The Blackest Crow” and Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More.” While rock bands performing Bon Jovi songs are expected to sound like Bon Jovi, Passerine’s ties to folk music tradition attracts a certain kind of audience, one that comes to listen and embraces free musical interpretations. Encouraged by this, Passerine’s covers often become unrecognizable, forcing listeners to pay attention to musical aspects they’ve previously ignored or overlooked. “You give them your own mood, your own edge,” says Radtke. “And when it’s something that’s really old, now you are giving it context. Who knows what it originally sounded like? Or the meaning?”

“I have total respect for [rock cover bands] because people love their popular rock music,” Pedicini explains. “They love to go to bars and dance and move to it. … Anything that I do an interpretation of or anything that I write, it really has a meaning to me. I guess I don’t write it for that reason, so, you know, I want to have it heard and listened to, and I d - Creative Loafing

"Event Pick: Passerine at Cary St. Cafe."

A passerine is a songbird of perching habits. While more than half of all bird species are classified as passerines, Passerine — the Florida folk group playing Friday, July 1 at Cary Street Cafe — isn’t nearly as common in the human world of acoustic melody-making.

The quartet sets itself apart from the Americana flock on its new release, “Harbingers” Tunes such as “Fireworks,” “Waiting for You” and “Snow Drive” are striking examples of the group’s uncluttered intimacy. Wisely avoiding modern McMansion surroundings, Passerine’s hand-woven nest of guitar, violin, bass and dobro emphasizes the group’s harmonious virtues and team-first arrangements and compositions. - Richmond Style Weekly


"Another Song About a Bird" (2012).
"Nest of Strings" (2013).
"Harbingers" (2016).



Passerine's music is built around vocal harmonies, backed by acoustic guitar, dobro, fiddle, upright bass and occasionally mandolin.  Their music is a mix of original material, as well as a selection of traditional tunes and covers of other artists we love. Although they can do a whole set of traditional folk, or a whole set of original songs, they tend to live in a zone somewhere between modern folk, progressive bluegrass, and what is sometimes called “Americana”, with inspiration that ranges from Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe to Kate Wolf, Dar Williams, Lucinda Williams and Old Crow Medicine Show; from Bob Dylan and Neil Young to Cracker, the Black Keys and Amy Winehouse. By combining diverse musical interests with instrumentation associated with a traditional string band, by focusing on locating the heart of the music in vocal harmonies that sometimes step outside the usual structures, we think the result is a unique sound that has, over the last six years of live performance at festivals, coffee houses, music halls and house concerts, proven its appeal to audiences across generations.
The band was formed in 2009 and have been touring regularly in our region and nationally since releasing their first CD in 2012.   Their 3rd CD was released in June, 2016.  Regionally, they’ve been headliners at the Sarasota Folk Festival, the South Florida Folk Festival, Will McLean Festival, the St. Pete Listening Room Festival, and featured performers at the St Pete Folk Fest, Creekside Music Festival, Florida Folk Festival, and Gamble Rogers Festival. We have also played Riverhawk Music Festival, Tropical Heatwave in Tampa, and the Gulfport Springfest. We’ve played most of these festivals more than twice. They were voted “Band of the Year” at the Deland Original Music Festival in 2012. In addition to festivals, they play regularly in a variety of venues from North Florida to Key West, with little time to play in their own town. Last year, however, they were among three bands voted “Best of Local Bands” by the readers of SRQ Magazine. This seemed like a great honor to us, since we were the only original folk group on a list of mostly blues and rock bands that play the local bars.   In 2016, they were nominated in three categories in Creative Loafing's annual "Best of the Bay" poll: Best Local Band, Best Local Roots Band, Best Local Bluegrass Band.  Over the past five years, They have toured extensively in the southeastern states, all the way up the eastern seaboard to Maine, and up through the Midwest to northern Minnesota.  

In 2014, Carmela and Sara branched out to add a theatre credit to their resumes.  They were cast as musicians, working with singer/songwriter Tim Grimm to provide the music for a major production of Frank Galati’s Tony Award winning play, “The Grapes of Wrath,” at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.  For this production of a play closely based on Steinbeck’s well known novel, Carmela and Sara were given the opportunity to explore the music of that period as characters on stage throughout the show, performing songs by Woody Guthrie and the Carter Family, as well as original compositions in the spirit of those difficult times.  


Band Members