The Barefoot Movement
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The Barefoot Movement

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Americana Folk


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"Country Weekly Magazine Feature"

If you passed the four members of The Barefoot Movement—Noah Walls, Hasee Ciaccio, Tommy Norris and Alex Conerly—on the sidewalk, you’d probably guess they’re musicians. And you might even wager that they’re a string band. After all, at least one of the fellas sports the requisite bluegrass facial hair, and the two ladies are appropriately hip.

The talented young players with an ear for all things musical (and an apparent aversion to shoes) found their niche by creating their own brand of bluegrass. But it wasn’t intentional—instead, their sound seems to have chosen them.

“I started writing songs and the songs that I wrote kind of fit into this acoustic world better than they would anywhere else,” explains Noah, the group’s fiddle player. “I don’t think my songs would work with bass and drums and electric guitar.” Her solution came when Noah met classical guitarist Tommy Norris in their Granville County, N.C., high school. The two began collaborating and eventually enrolled in East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies program, where they immersed themselves in the bluegrass crowd and culture.

Gradually, they recorded their first album, Footwork, with former bandmate Quentin Acres. Afterward they added the group’s youngest member, tiny doghouse bass player Hasee Ciaccio, and the picture looked complete, at least for Noah. “She added so much,” the petite fiddler says of bringing in Hasee. “She can sing and then I felt like her bass playing kind of made some of my songs make more sense. It felt like she was definitely the missing link.”

The group hit a snag when Quentin departed, but guitar-picker Alex Conerly has stepped in. Yet even back to full four-piece strength, the Barefoot Movement is met with its share of challenges. “There are a lot of festivals that want traditional bluegrass and we still want to be involved in those events, but I’m not sure they want us because they don’t really want anything outside that genre. We’re not modern country the way that it is on the radio, but we’re not pure bluegrass either,” laments Noah, who is nonetheless understanding. “That’s fine—you wouldn’t want us to come play a rap festival either.”

She gives credit to popular string-heavy bands like Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers for breaking down walls. “I really think now is a good time for us,” she says happily. “I didn’t see that when we were first starting out, as far as fitting in somewhere, but it’s working out now.”

The Barefoot Movement’s latest album, Figures of the Year, which they recorded via a fan-funded Kickstarter campaign, features a mix of originals and a few covers, including an impressive take on 1990s alt-rock band Blind Melon’s hit “No Rain.” But the bulk is all Barefoot—and their originals, expertly played and written, feel as timeless as “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” Even Flatt & Scruggs would be proud. - Country Weekly

"Rolling Stone Country Feature"

Their Sound: Acoustic music performed around one microphone, drawing on original material, traditional tunes and sometimes even a creative cover of the Blind Melon pop hit "No Rain."

Big Break: Noah Wall and mandolinist Tommy Norris met as high school seniors with shared musical dreams. Wall moved to Johnson City to enroll in East Tennessee State University's Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program, honing her skills as a fiddler and singer. Upright bass player Hasee Ciaccio joined the lineup at ETSU, followed by guitarist Alex Conerly in 2013. After years of recording their own albums and playing countless festivals, they picked up the Momentum Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in 2014.

Why We're Listening: The Barefoot Movement take their name from a saying Wall often heard growing up in North Carolina: "Take your shoes off and stay a while!" She reasons that by performing barefoot, it's an invitation for the audience to relax. "We ran around barefoot our whole childhood, so of course there's a connection to nature there, but it's mostly about being comfortable," she adds.

Before settling on music, Wall wanted to study acting and journalism in college. That gravitation toward cinematic storytelling is evident in her songwriting. The band's 2013 album, Figures of the Year, brought offers to perform at the famous bluegrass venue Station Inn in Nashville, the Americana Music Festival, and even Burkina Faso in West Africa. (The wife of the U.S. ambassador there is from Kentucky and wanted to book a bluegrass band for a party.) They released The High Road EP with six traditional tunes in 2014 and a live album is arriving this fall.

"You can play anything with acoustic music. And you can play anywhere," Wall observes. "We can go play on a porch or in a library, or in a big theater or a big festival. It's so adaptable."

Favorite Johnson City Music Venue: "Down Home has been around since 1976 and it was created just as a listening room," Wall says. "They are very strict about that – not in a vigilant way but it's definitely a 'silence your cell phones, we're here for the music' type of place. That's always a haven for anybody who's writing their own songs and wants people to listen. It's got such an incredible history, too. All of the bluegrass people from the Seventies and beyond have played there."

Johnson City Scoop: "It is a bit slower paced, but that's the flavor. That's what you go there for," Wall says. "We had our wedding rehearsal dinner at Freiberg's, which is a German restaurant. I adore that place! They have the best beer cheese and they have Sauerbraten that melts in your mouth. And Roan Mountain State Park is near there, and that's a beautiful place. I always go there and see all kinds of wildlife and great views of the mountains. There's a lot of great mountain hiking around there."

Watch for Yourself: The Barefoot Movement filmed some of the scenes for "Second Time Around" in the quaint town square of nearby Jonesborough, Tennessee, the storytelling capital of the state.

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