The Whipstitch Sallies
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The Whipstitch Sallies

Bargersville, Indiana, United States | SELF

Bargersville, Indiana, United States | SELF
Band Americana Bluegrass

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"Things We Like: Hometown Heroes"

Breezy Peyton - The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band "We have a 4-piece all girl band from Southern Indiana called The Whipstitch Sallies opening for us on our Shooter Jennings co-bill tour on our hometown show at The Bluebird in Bloomington, IN this September. All are great pickers, sweet girls and total babes. I hope to see them touring regionally/nationally more." - Side One Dummy Record Label


"Things We Like: Hometown Heroes"

Breezy Peyton - The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band "We have a 4-piece all girl band from Southern Indiana called The Whipstitch Sallies opening for us on our Shooter Jennings co-bill tour on our hometown show at The Bluebird in Bloomington, IN this September. All are great pickers, sweet girls and total babes. I hope to see them touring regionally/nationally more." - Side One Dummy Record Label


"The Whipstitch Sallies: Rooted in the past with a blend of new things"

Each member of the Nashville, Indiana-based Americana band The Whipstitch Sallies brings her own musical influence to the group, including punk.
“A few of our songs, we’ve taken to calling ‘old-time punk.’ We’ve heard a few people refer to us at ‘riot bluegrass’ before,” says vocalist and mandolin player Sam Roberts, adding that the influence comes out in the band’s driving rhythms.
The group got its start when Sam and Allie Burbrink, a fellow vocalist who plays the guitar and banjo, performed together as a part of a friend’s music event.
“Our set was pretty well received and people gave us ideas about where we could play locally. It was a fun way to hang out at first, then we realized we could go further with it,” Burbrink says.
Once Katie Burk (fiddle and vocals) and Kat Erickson (bass and vocals) joined the group, it was time to pick a band name. “We wanted a memorable name – a word that people didn’t hear very often. When we thought of ‘Whipstitch,’ we liked how it had the association with homemade, quickly put-together handicrafts. The word ‘Sallies’ just refers to how we are all girls,” says Allie. Today they perform at venues around the area. “Last year, we played about 120 shows. It definitely gets a little crazy since all of us work or are in school full time. Technology is our friend; we couldn’t survive without Google Calendar. We all happen to be very ‘Type A’ people, so we stay pretty organized,” Roberts says.
The bands followers tend to hail from a few different demographics. “Our fans range from middle-aged folks who know their bluegrass but appreciate our take on it to the younger, mid-twenties crowd who see us as part of the indie/folk scene,” says Allie.
The Whipstitch Sallies have their theories as to how twenty-somethings got enamored with old-time music.
“I think a big part of why Americana has resurged was the movie ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ It introduced this music to a new generation and it seems like ever since then the popularity has taken off,” Sam says of the Coen brothers film released in 2000.
Although their sound has things in common with traditional bluegrass music the band members refer to their style as Americana, which is more all-encompassing.
“It’s definitely more of a melting pot genre than just straight Bluegrass, where there are definitely certain rules and certain sounds are expected,” says Burbrink.
“Although it’s rooted in the past, and there’s and appreciation of older-time music, there’s also a lot of encouragement for blending from other genres and creating new things,” she adds.
To date, The Whipstitch Sallies have self-released two CD’s: a five song record they released themselves in 2011, and 2012’s “Live at the Pixy,” a recording of their performance at the Pixy Theater in Edinburgh, Indiana. Decisions surrounding the production of the CDs and regarding the band in general are made in an egalitarian process between all four band members, says Kat.
“There’s no diva archetype in our band. We’re committed to being The Whipstitch Sallies, and I believe we’ve gotten where we are because we work hard to ensure that we all have equal input, both on stage and off,” she says.
All four women have busy lives outside their musical engagements, so getting together to practice can take some coordination. To make time for uninterrupted creative work, they have started a tradition of scheduling songwriting retreats at Roberts’ home out by Lake Lemon a few times a year.
“Generally, one of us has an idea and she brings it to the rest of us who then play with chord progression, grooves, and riffs. Sometimes those things happen in a group, sometimes we exchange our ideas and then go off to work on our own. It’s really interesting to see how each of us interprets things differently,” says Kat.
The Sallies have high hopes for the future of the group. “We have our sights set on playing regional music festivals and opening for larger touring acts. We want to continue to gain ground in the roots and Americana music scene locally, and aim to be players within that community on a national level one day,” says Katie.
“I would love to be on the roap opening up for a national touring act in the next couple years. In my dream world, we are on the road opening up for Trampled By Turtles – my favorite band. But no matter what happens, we are having a blast at the moment, and I can’t complain about that at all,” Sam says.
- IntoArt Magazine


"The Whipstitch Sallies / The Stampede String Band / James and the Drifters—The Vogue Theater—Indianapolis, IN—04/05/2013"

It is a pleasure to see four women make up a band. Then to have these four women be incredibly trained not only in the instruments they play but also in the genres of music they love, I have died and gone to heaven. Allie Burbrink, Katie Burk, Kat Erickson, and Sam Roberts all have their own personality and style on stage, but when their powers combine in The Whipstitch Sallies they are one well-oiled machine. These girls can pair up against any guy groups in their field and hang alongside the best of them. You will definitely want to follow the career of this great band and I encourage you to snag a copy of their work as soon as you can.

From their signature originals to old standard classics, The Whipstitch Sallies put their own unique spin on everything they do. In the few short years The Whipstitch Sallies have been in existence they are building a strong fan base by creating loyal fans everywhere they go. It is like enjoying a warm piece of apple pie listening to them play, and listening to them share their knowledge of the music they love in between songs while they are on stage is a delight. “Got Me a Letter” is a song by The Whipstitch Sallies that I feel sums up their wit and spirit well. I want to thank The Whipstitch Sallies for taking time out of their night to give me an interview; you can check out the interview at www.jamsplus.com/interviews. - Jams Plus Media


"The Whipstitch Sallies / The Stampede String Band / James and the Drifters—The Vogue Theater—Indianapolis, IN—04/05/2013"

It is a pleasure to see four women make up a band. Then to have these four women be incredibly trained not only in the instruments they play but also in the genres of music they love, I have died and gone to heaven. Allie Burbrink, Katie Burk, Kat Erickson, and Sam Roberts all have their own personality and style on stage, but when their powers combine in The Whipstitch Sallies they are one well-oiled machine. These girls can pair up against any guy groups in their field and hang alongside the best of them. You will definitely want to follow the career of this great band and I encourage you to snag a copy of their work as soon as you can.

From their signature originals to old standard classics, The Whipstitch Sallies put their own unique spin on everything they do. In the few short years The Whipstitch Sallies have been in existence they are building a strong fan base by creating loyal fans everywhere they go. It is like enjoying a warm piece of apple pie listening to them play, and listening to them share their knowledge of the music they love in between songs while they are on stage is a delight. “Got Me a Letter” is a song by The Whipstitch Sallies that I feel sums up their wit and spirit well. I want to thank The Whipstitch Sallies for taking time out of their night to give me an interview; you can check out the interview at www.jamsplus.com/interviews. - Jams Plus Media


"Band’s success a pleasant surprise for recent grad"

A funny thing happened while Kat Erickson ’13 was pursuing her master’s degree in sociology at UIndy: she found herself playing upright bass in an old-timey string band that’s making waves on the regional folk circuit and is soon to release its third album.It’s not hard to grasp the appeal of the Whipstitch Sallies, four young women whose instrumental chops fully measure up to the sweetness of their vocal harmonies. Onstage, Erickson (far right) and her bandmates—Allie Burbrink on guitar, Sam Roberts on mandolin, and Katie Burk on fiddle—can gather around a single microphone and kick up an exuberant racket that’s rooted in traditional mountain music but informed by styles from country and jazz to indie rock.As they prepared this summer for a quick tour of Appalachian states, Erickson mused over the Sallies’ unlikely rise, which was not driven by ambition but simply evolved from their established friendship.

“There were no Craigslist ads, ‘Bass player wanted,’” says Erickson, who had never before played the instrument. “Most of the time it just feels like we’re hanging out and having fun.” Erickson and Burbrink met in an undergrad poetry class at Taylor University. Burbrink and Roberts met as guitar-strumming summer camp counselors. In early 2010, they agreed to play a small benefit concert, and one thing led to another.

“We just had so much fun,” Erickson says, “and people kept asking us to play.” So they deliver. In February, they packed the house for an Indy Folk Series concert at the midtown Unitarian Universalist Church. In April, they headlined Broad Ripple’s storied Vogue nightclub. In May, they played the John Hartford Memorial Festival at Bean Blossom’s historic Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park. In June, they rocked the Brown County Playhouse. In July, they toured through Tennessee and North Carolina. In August, they made a return appearance at the annual Folky Fish Fest in Angola.

Whipstitch-Sallies-logoThe Sallies’ basic style and repertoire derive largely from Monroe, the undisputed king of bluegrass. But they often revamp traditional tunes in unorthodox ways, and they’re just as likely to cover songs by more recent musical mavericks like Tom Waits and Gillian Welch. “The four of us pull from different musicians and styles,” Erickson says. “I really like classic country—Patsy Cline, Hank Williams.” The band took a big step this summer with a five-song EP, recorded at Bloomington’s Farm Fresh Studios, on which four of the tunes are original work. They expect their next album, due out late this year, to be all original.

“That’s a little new for us,” says Erickson, whose contributions include a wry, honkytonk-ish number called “Oh, Mercy,” a tale of regret over a brief relapse into a bad relationship. (“There’s a reason I left you,” she sings in the chorus, “so honey, let’s keep it that way.”) Words come easily for Erickson, who hails from Hartford City, north of Muncie. In the Sallies’ do-it-yourself promotional efforts, she is the composer of the news update emails. “Kat’s really good at writing those,” Burbrink says.

Erickson pursued her master’s in applied sociology with a concentration in community leadership and an eye toward writing grant proposals for nonprofit agencies. She interned in the fundraising operation at Bosma Enterprises, an organization that provides job training and employment services to the visually impaired.

So, what drew her to UIndy?

“I just got excited about the program and the classes,” she says. “I really enjoyed working with Dr. (Tim) Maher and Dr. (Jim) Pennell.” And what does the future hold for her now, with degree in hand? A job search, naturally, and a new chapter in life. “Hopefully, balancing grant-writing and nonprofit development with playing music,” she says.

Keep up with Erickson and her band at www.thewhipstitchsallies.com.

—Scott Hall - UIndy Portico


Discography

May 2011 - The Whipstitch Sallies
July 2012 - Live at The Pixy
July 2013 - Hand 'Em Over EP

Photos

Bio

The Whipstitch Sallies began as close friends discovering bluegrass music for the first time. Allie Burbrink (guitar, banjo) and Sam Roberts (mandolin, guitar) met while working as summer camp guitar players in 2007. They were inspired to listen to bluegrass music after running a guitar camp with bluegrass musician Lukas Simpson of Goldmine Pickers. Listening to Goldmine Pickers was new territory. Bluegrass was no longer something that their grandfathers listened to; it was alive and being played by their peers.

Not much came from Allie and Sam's talks of learning to play bluegrass music until Allies six-month medical leave in 2009. She used her time to explore and learn bluegrass style. Sam came over with her new mandolin, and together they learned the old bluegrass standards.

Allie was asked in early 2010 to play for a non-profit organization that serves orphanages in India and Russia. Allie enlisted Sam and another friend, Kat Erickson (bass), to help play. The three girls came up with the name The Whipstitch Sallies and played their first show.
What started as a one-time project morphed something more. Allie, Kat, and Sam got more serious about their instruments (guitar, bass, and mandolin) and started developing their own unique take on the traditional sound. The Whipstitch Sallies booked more local performances and gained a following in central Indiana. In May 2011, they recorded The Whipstitch Sallies, which sold out quickly.

By June 2011 the girls were attending festivals like ROMP in Kentucky, jamming with other musicians and making new friends. It was there they met Katie Burk (fiddle) at a jam circle. Luckily, Katie had just moved back to Indiana from Hawaii. Katie jammed several times with the girls and officially became a Sally in January 2012.

Their sound was complete, and they were ready to take it to the next level. In 2012, they started testing the touring and festival circuit. In July 2012 they released Live at The Pixy, another fan favorite. They quickly gained a rabid fan base in their hometown of Indianapolis.The Whipstitch Sallies are a force of nature. They breezed into their first show for the Indy Folk Series and quickly endeared themselves to all those who weren't already fervid fans. Their harmonies and blend, verve and virtuosity had a record crowd on their feet and asking for a return visit.

The Whipstitch Sallies have had a busy year in 2013. Their electrifying stage presence and musical chops have led them to share the stage with several national touring artists from Wayne The Train Hancock to three opening gigs with The Reverend Peytons Big Damn Band. Breezy Peyton (washboard, vocals) from the Reverend Peytons Big Damn Band says, They are great pickers, sweet girls and total babes. I hope to see them touring regionally/nationally more. With Rev and Breezys encouragement, they headed out for their first tour to the Appalachian south, where they gained new fans who are asking for their return.

In July 2013, the group released 'Hand 'Em Over', an EP of five original songs. The album sold so quickly that they had to reprint just three months after it's initial release.

Executing multiple weekend performances and weekly rehearsal sessions while juggling full-time jobs and school has been challenging, but The Whipstitch Sallies are extremely dedicated to perfecting their sound. The future is bright for these four talented young women as they continue their musical journey together.

Band Members