Run Boy Run
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Run Boy Run

Nogales, Arizona, United States | SELF

Nogales, Arizona, United States | SELF
Band Folk Bluegrass

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Run Boy Run was the only band on Friday's lineup proudly billed as bluegrass, the noble forefather of country. The quintet - siblings Matt and Grace Rolland, sisters Bekah and Jen Sandoval, and Jesse Allen - performed what will likely go down as the most musical show of the four-day festival. Their instrumental arsenal included twin fiddles, stand-up bass, mandolin, guitar and cello, and several of them double-dipped on more than one instrument. - Arizona Daily Star


Run Boy Run was the only band on Friday's lineup proudly billed as bluegrass, the noble forefather of country. The quintet - siblings Matt and Grace Rolland, sisters Bekah and Jen Sandoval, and Jesse Allen - performed what will likely go down as the most musical show of the four-day festival. Their instrumental arsenal included twin fiddles, stand-up bass, mandolin, guitar and cello, and several of them double-dipped on more than one instrument. - Arizona Daily Star


It is an affirmation of the quality of the band’s musical aptitude, plus its dedication and hard work – the same qualities that shine through on RBR’s first full length “So Sang the Whippoorwill.” Front and center are soaring honeyed harmonies by the gals – Grace, Jen and Bekah – surrounded by a beautiful coalescence of bass, fiddles, mandolin and cello. - Zocalo Magazine


t's been an exciting year already for this young, bluegrass-oriented quintet, whose members are split between the Phoenix and Tucson areas. The group has appeared on the popular radio show A Prairie Home Companion twice and counts its host, Garrison Keillor, among its fans. Now comes the release of the band's refreshing and satisfying new album. - Tucson Weekly


There was a buzz surrounding the folk band Run Boy Run after they won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Contest in 2011, especially since they hadn’t been together for very long, but when they came back a year later they were ready to take the whole place down. - College Times


Only 40 percent of one of Tucson's hottest young musical acts actually resides in the Old Pueblo.

With three members living in the Phoenix area, and two in Tucson, the acoustic-bluegrass band Run Boy Run faces obvious logistical challenges whenever the members play, rehearse or record. But it's worth it, they say.

"It's a challenge making sure we all get together, that's for sure. I go back and forth to Tucson a lot," says fiddler Matt Rolland, who lives in the Phoenix area.

"But it's also good, in a way. I think the distance makes us really take advantage of the time we do have together, and we appreciate more the time when we are practicing and performing. Maybe that's what helps us understand this is worthwhile."

Mandolin-player Jen Sandoval, who lives in Tucson, expects to be driving back and forth to Phoenix each weekend in November. "We've set aside the whole month of November to record our new full-length album," she says. The recording is expected to be released in early 2013.

So far, Run Boy Run has released a five-song EP and a two-song digital single—both available on Bandcamp.

The group's sound revolves around the luminous three-part harmonies of Sandoval; her fiddle- and guitar-playing sister, Bekah Sandoval; and cellist Grace Rolland. The band's XY chromosomes are represented by upright-bassist Jesse Allen and Matt Rolland (Grace's brother), a two-time Arizona state fiddle contest winner.

All in their 20s, the members of Run Boy Run still consider themselves a Tucson band, because they began playing together here in 2009, when the five were students at the University of Arizona. "This is where we got our start, playing open-mics and wherever we could three years ago," Jen Sandoval says.

Four of the players in Run Boy Run have since moved on to post-college careers, while Jen Sandoval is beginning her final semester and anticipates graduating in December.

Most of them grew up in musical families. The Sandovals grew up in Payson; their grandfather is bluegrass-festival-promoter Ben Sandoval. The Rollands were born in Mesa; their father, fiddler Pete Rolland, is from Tucson and played in the legendary bluegrass group Summerdog.

The Rollands and Sandovals were brought up on the music of Bill Monroe, the Carter family and Alison Krauss. And Run Boy Run continues to play a balance of original compositions, cover songs and traditional tunes attributed to the public domain, Matt Rolland says.

He acknowledges that Run Boy Run—like anyone who plays traditional or old-time music—is familiar with morbid topics and emotionally wrenching subject matter.

"We probably do too many murder ballads, but we do really like the dark and melancholy; there's something that meshes well with the swelling of the stringed instruments," Rolland says. "We've had some late-night discussions about this, and I think there's so much darkness in old-time music because it's part of an emotional catharsis that helps you overcome adversity in life."

Although the band frequents folk and bluegrass festivals in the region, Run Boy Run doesn't get to perform in Tucson as often as its members would like. A performance at the Tucson Folk Festival in May, however, brought the group considerable attention.

This fall will see the group play a few gigs in its hometown. There's a Friday, Sept. 7, gig at Plush with the Silver Thread Trio, as well as Melody Walker and Jacob Groopman. And the band will perform Oct. 20 as part of a new music series at Harlow Gardens nursery.

But first, Run Boy Run will join numerous other local acts on stage this Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Rialto Theatre. The band will be part of the KXCI Celebrates 1972 concert, a fundraiser for community radio station KXCI FM 91.3. The concept calls for each local artist to play a brief set, covering songs from a classic album released exactly 40 years ago.

This is the fourth year the station has mounted such a show, and it's become a much-anticipated tradition. The first was a 2009 tribute to 1969's Woodstock festival, and editions in the years since feted the music of 1970 and 1971. (Full disclosure: I am a volunteer DJ at the station.)

The other Tucson artists on the bill include Logan Greene Electric (covering Big Star's #1 Record), Kevin and Tanishia Hamilton (Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway), Crosscut Saw (the Allman Brothers Band's Eat a Peach), Mik Garrison (Stevie Wonder's Talking Book), Chris Holiman and the Downtown Saints (Neil Young's Harvest), Boreas (Randy Newman's Sail Away) and Roll Acosta (Al Green's Let's Stay Together).

Run Boy Run will play a handful of tunes from the acclaimed Rock of Ages by The Band, the pioneering act that was among the first and most-significant groups to infuse rock 'n' roll with elements of Americana and roots music.

Because Rock of Ages is a double-live album, Run Boy Run's choice allows it to play a mixture of songs from across the Band's influential catalog. They'll do "The - Tucson Weekly


For the Saturday morning opening act of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, the path to the Main Stage begins wherever a band calls home. Ten fresh, talented bands converge on Telluride with hopes of winning the contest and securing a Main Stage slot the following year. They carry with them the hopes of their fans from wherever they hail, be it Oregon, Texas, Ohio or Tennessee.

From last year’s competition, Arizona’s Run Boy Run reigned supreme and will take the Fred Shellman Memorial Stage on Saturday at 11:30 a.m., right after this year’s band contest finals.This captivating group won last year’s judges’ hearts with their rich three-part female harmonies.
Run Boy Run is Bekah Sandoval, vocals, guitar, fiddle; Grace Rolland, vocals, cello; and Jen Sandoval, vocals, mandolin, highlighted by the incendiary fiddle playing of two-time Arizona State fiddle champ Matt Rolland. Jesse Allen keeps it all locked down on bass.

Like good parents raising children, Run Boy Run gives their music roots and wings. They carry a deep regard for Appalachian song forms, Bill Monroe’s high lonesome and the country blues of Townes Van Zandt. What makes them unique is how they meld those deep roots with contemporary folk, jazz and even classical influences, to give their original compositions wings.

Jen Sandoval, in a recent blog post on the band’s website, spoke of how Run Boy Run loves delving into gospel, and wrote that one of the band’s favorite things about traditional music is the “poignant lyrics and sweet harmonies.”

Each of the musicians in Run Boy Run is solidly talented. Their ensemble work is a joy to behold, as evidenced in this video from the preliminary round of last year’s band contest. See the little tow-headed children dancing in front of the stage? That will be you this year. - Telluride Inside


This fresh Americana bluegrass outfit recently won an award at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and is becoming a prevalent force in the desert music scene. The mix of old-time sounds of the Appalachia offers riveting harmonies and melodies complete with mandolins and fiddles. - Paste Magazine


This fresh Americana bluegrass outfit recently won an award at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and is becoming a prevalent force in the desert music scene. The mix of old-time sounds of the Appalachia offers riveting harmonies and melodies complete with mandolins and fiddles. - Paste Magazine


Discography

So Sang the Whippoorwill [LP] -- March 2013
1. So Sang the Whippoorwill
2. Get Up Jake
3. Silver Dagger
4. Red Rocking Chair
5. Cora Belle
6. Roving Davey
7. Little Girl
8. Two Brothers
9. Hoot Owl
10. Down in the Willow Garden
11. Lucinda Jones / Cherokee Trail
12. In the Tea Garden

Burgundy Wine [Digital Single] -- June 2012
1. Willow Garden -- featuring Grace Rolland
2. Silver Dagger -- featuring Bekah Sandoval

Run Boy Run [EP] -- September 2011
1. Waterbound by Dirk Powell -- featuring Jen Sandoval
2. Lazy John -- featuring Bekah Sandoval
3. Train on the Island -- featuring Grace Rolland
4. Lady Margaret -- featuring Jen Sandoval
5. Liza Jane

Photos

Bio

The unique sound of Run Boy Run is rooted in the traditional music of the Appalachian South. In recent years, bands like Nickel Creek, Crooked Still, and others have revived a sense of innovation in traditional American music. Run Boy Run continues this journey into music that is dynamic, orchestral, and overflowing with beauty. Run Boy Run exists in the tension between tradition and frontier. Three strong female voices weave a spectacular tapestry of sound. Award-winning fiddle cuts a path for a tightly formed rhythmic front. Every arrangement is at its core beautiful.

From winning the band contest at Pickin in the Pines in the first weeks of forming in 2009 to playing on stage at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival as band contest winners in 2012 to making a second appearance on A Prairie Home Companion in St. Paul in 2013, Run Boy Run is spreading this special brand of music to all who would hear. With the release of the full length album So Sang the Whippoorwill in March of 2013, Run Boy Run is making more people dance, cry, and sing than ever.

Brother and sister, Matt (fiddle, guitar) and Grace Rolland (cello, vocals), have fiddle music running through their blood. Raised with bow and rosin on every bedside table, Run Boy Run was a natural fit. Sisters, Bekah (fiddle, vocals, guitar) and Jen Sandoval (mandolin, vocals), grew up deeply rooted in the Bluegrass festivals of Arizona, so they too found a home in Run Boy Run. Jesse Allen (bass) was brought up on opera and western swing, and grew to love the natural fusion inherent in American music. The whole truly exceeds the sum of the parts as touches of classical, jazz, and folk express themselves through the old-time core of Run Boy Runs unique sound.

Band Members