The Bluegrass Standard - November 2021

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OUR CHOICE

42 CONTENT

06 TRAY WELLINGTON 08 ORCHARD CREEK BAND 12 GREG BLAKE 16 TALKING GRASS 20 CHRIS TESKEY 24 THE CARTER FOLD 28 VIDEO CHART 31 MILLIE MEUNIER 34 MISSISSIPPI CHRIS SHARP REVIEW 39 FAMILY ROOT FARMS 42 KRISTINA JACOBSEN 48 FAN PHOTOS 54 OUR STAFF

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Our Staff

Keith Barnacastle • Publisher

The Bluegrass Standard is a life-long dream of Keith Barnacastle, who grew up in Meridian, Mississippi. For three years, Keith brought the Suits, Boots and Bluegrass Festival to Meridian. Now, with the Bluegrass Standard, Keith’s enthusiasm for the music, and his vision of its future, reaches a nationwide audience every month! Keith@TheBluegrassStandard.com

Richelle Putnam • Managing Journalist Editor

Richelle Putnam is a Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) Teaching Artist/Roster Artist (Literary), a Mississippi Humanities Speaker, and a 2014 MAC Literary Arts Fellowship recipient. Her non-fiction books include Lauderdale County, Mississippi; a Brief History, Legendary Locals of Meridian, Mississippi and Mississippi and the Great Depression. Richelle@TheBluegrassStandard.com

Rebekah Speer • Creative Director

Rebekah Speer has nearly twenty years in the music industry in Nashville, TN. She creates a unique “look” for every issue of The Bluegrass Standard, and enjoys learning about each artist. In addition to her creative work with The Bluegrass Standard, Rebekah also provides graphic design and technical support to a variety of clients.

Shelby C. Berry • Journalist

Shelby Campbell is a writer and designer whose heart beats for creativity. A native of rural Livingston, AL, she found her passion in journalism and design at The University of West Alabama, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. Shelby also has her own photography business.

Candace Nelson • Journalist

Candace Nelson is a marketing professional living in Charleston, West Virginia. She is the author of the book “The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll.” In her free time, Nelson travels and blogs about Appalachian food culture at CandaceLately.com. Find her on Twitter at @Candace07 or email CandaceRNelson@gmail.com.

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Susan Marquez • Journalist

Susan Marquez is a freelance writer based in Madison, Mississippi and a Mississippi Arts Commission Roster Artist. After a 20+ year career in advertising and marketing, she began a professional writing career in 2001. Since that time she has written over 2000 articles which have been published in magazines, newspapers, business journals, trade publications.

Stephen Pitalo • Journalist

Stephen Pitalo has been an entertainment journalist for more than 30 years, having interviewed everyone from Joey Ramone to Bill Plympton to John Landis. He is the world’s leading authority on the The Golden Age of Music Video (1976-1993), mining inside stories from interviews 70+ music video directors and countless artists of the pre-internet music era. GoldenAgeOfMusicVideo.com

Kara Martinez Bachman • Journalist

Kara Martinez Bachman is an author, editor and journalist. Her music and culture reporting has appeared in dozens of publications and she’s interviewed many performers over the years, from local musicians to well-known celebrities. She’s a native of New Orleans and lives just outside the city with her husband, two kids, and two silly mutts.

Emerald Butler • Journalist

Emerald Butler is a writer, songwriter, fiddler, and entertainer from Sale Creek, TN. She has worked and performed various occasions with artists such as Rhonda Vincent, Bobby Osborn, Becky Buller, Alison Brown, top 40 radio host Bob Kingsley, and country songwriter Roger Alan Wade. With a bachelor’s degree in Music Business and a minor in Marketing, Emerald uses her creative talent to share the love of music with others. Emerald@TheBluegrassStandard.com

Meghan Holmes • Journalist

Meghan Holmes is an Alabama born, New Orleans based, freelance writer and documentarian. She has a master’s degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and was a fellow at Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Communication. Her work has appeared in print and online publications, including Time Out, Sierra, Art & Design, and Good Grit.

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KARA MARTINEZ BACHMAN

T R AY W E L L I N G T O N H I T T I N G

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A L L

T H E

N O T E S


Trajan “Tray” Wellington might be young, but his accomplishments are already tremendous.

Wellington Band, and is already working on the next record.

This banjo player hailing from Jefferson, North Carolina had already received two recognitions from IBMA even before reaching age 21. Amongst his numerous awards are the 2019 IBMA Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year and the 2019 Momentum Band of the Year, which he earned while playing with Cane Mill Road.

“I have an album coming out next year...it’ll be recorded in the next couple of months,” he said. “Three singles I already have released will be on there. I think it will be a pretty different project in terms of material, and it won’t be a traditional bluegrass album by any means.”

“It was definitely a cool feeling,” he said of the wins. “It was kind of shocking. It was really an encouraging thing and gave me the motivation not to stay stagnant.” It is charming to think of someone so young worrying about becoming “stagnant,” but this approach has gotten Wellington far. After that IBMA win, he thought, “maybe it’s a good thing if I have an album of my own originals.” That idea soon became a release called “Uncaged Thoughts.” The record includes eight tracks, but he classifies the recording as an EP. As someone who prefers to keep moving, he’s touring as much as he can with his whole group, The Tray

Wellington said there would be some covers, such as his take on “Strasbourg St. Denis” by Roy Hargrove. “But the rest will be original; it will be 10 to 12 tracks, with about three covers,” he said. “I’ve been writing instrumentals for four or five years,” he explained. “But when it comes to songwriting, it’s something I got into more during the pandemic.” This banjo talent is honing his writing chops and doing it precisely the right way: He’s seeking advice, input, and critique from those he admires. “I know a lot of really great songwriters, and I hear their input on things,” he said. “Also, I have been able to co-write with some heroes, such as Jon Weisberger. He’s such a great songwriter.” He also mentioned banjopickin’ maestro and songwriter Pete Wernick

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and guitarist, producer, and writer Thomm Jutz. From the looks of it, the banjo is where Wellington plans to put his future. He probably never imagined someday being fully immersed and quickly successful in the bluegrass world back when he got his feet wet with making music. He played trombone in the school band and was learning his first stringed instrument. “I was in middle school and had originally started playing electric guitar,” he reminisced. Then, while enjoying his grandfather’s music collection, Wellington “ran into Doc Watson.” In short order, he’d joined the Mountain Music club at his middle school. A teacher there started playing the banjo for them, and it made an impact. “I got the spark immediately,” Wellington recalled. He’s already accomplished much, so what does he see in his future?

good thing if I have an album of my own originals.” That idea soon became a release called “Uncaged Thoughts.” The record includes eight tracks, but he classifies the recording as an EP. As someone who prefers to keep moving, he’s touring as much as he can with his whole group, The Tray Wellington Band, and is already working on the next record. “I have an album coming out next year...it’ll be recorded in the next couple of months,” he said. “Three singles I already have released will be on there. I think it will be a pretty different project in terms of material, and it won’t be a traditional bluegrass album by any means.” Wellington said there would be some covers, such as his take on “Strasbourg St. Denis” by Roy Hargrove. “But the rest will be original; it will be 10 to 12 tracks, with about three covers,” he said.

“I want to keep playing with my main band, they have really pushed me musically, and I want to play “I’ve been writing instrumentals for four or five with them as long as I can,” Wellington said. years,” he explained. “But when it comes to songwriting, it’s something I got into more during He enjoys and performs country, jazz, blues, and the pandemic.” rock, but for this musician, the sounds and people of bluegrass tug at his heartstrings. This banjo talent is honing his writing chops and doing it precisely the right way: He’s seeking “It draws me in, the realness of it,” he said. “The advice, input, and critique from those he admires. energy of it.” Trajan “Tray” Wellington might be young, but his “I know a lot of really great songwriters, and I hear accomplishments are already tremendous. their input on things,” he said. “Also, I have been able to co-write with some heroes, such as Jon This banjo player hailing from Jefferson, North Weisberger. He’s such a great songwriter.” He also Carolina had already received two recognitions mentioned banjo-pickin’ maestro and songwriter from IBMA even before reaching age 21. Amongst Pete Wernick and guitarist, producer, and writer his numerous awards are the 2019 IBMA Thomm Jutz. Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year and the 2019 Momentum Band of the Year, which he From the looks of it, the banjo is where Wellington earned while playing with Cane Mill Road. plans to put his future. He probably never imagined someday being fully immersed and “It was definitely a cool feeling,” he said of the quickly successful in the bluegrass world back wins. “It was kind of shocking. It was really an when he got his feet wet with making music. He encouraging thing and gave me the motivation not played trombone in the school band and was to stay stagnant.” learning his first stringed instrument. It is charming to think of someone so young worrying about becoming “stagnant,” but this approach has gotten Wellington far. After that IBMA win, he thought, “maybe it’s a 10

“I was in middle school and had originally started playing electric guitar,” he reminisced. Then, while enjoying his grandfather’s music collection, Wellington “ran into Doc Watson.” In short order, he’d joined the Mountain Music club at his middle


school. A teacher there started playing the banjo for them, and it made an impact. “I got the spark immediately,” Wellington recalled. He’s already accomplished much, so what does he see in his future? “I want to keep playing with my main band, they have really pushed me musically, and I want to play with them as long as I can,” Wellington said. He enjoys and performs country, jazz, blues, and rock, but for this musician, the sounds and people of bluegrass tug at his heartstrings. “It draws me in, the realness of it,” he said. “The energy of it.” 11


Shelby C. Berry

ORCHARD CREEK BAND

VIBRANT, DIVERSE & MAKING THEIR MARK 12


Vibrant and diverse like the rest of Colorado’s bluegrass scene, Orchard Creek Band’s powerhouse ensemble emerged by blending the best of traditional bluegrass and contemporary with other genres for a sound all their own. This group of committed Colorado musicians—Dave Richardson on banjo, Keith Murdock on dobro, Jan Springer on guitar, Kevin Slick on mandolin, and Roz Weller on bass—found themselves coming together and enjoying local bluegrass jams in Boulder, Colorado. The Colorado bluegrass jam scene pre-pandemic was the place to be if you are a bluegrass musician. “Any given night of the week, there would be at least two or three jam sessions happening at local coffee shops or other areas,” said Kevin. With all band members having roots in musical hotbed cities such as Nashville, the Appalachians, and Pennsylvania, they come together with a wide and varied background of expertise blending traditional and contemporary with gospel, jazz, and original concepts.

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Persevering through 2020, which Kevin refers to as the band’s ghost year, they are fired up and ready to see what happens next. During this “ghost year,” when performing was all but impossible, the members of Orchard Creek Band spent time writing original music. Out of that, something beautiful happened – they released their debut project earlier this year. Titled Walk in the Woods, this six-track EP includes both original and classic bluegrass music. Jan, Dave, and Keith handled things in the songwriting department, and they shared incredibly personal moments in their lyrics. Keith’s “Dyin’ Town” is a sad

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dedication to his wife’s once beautiful, thriving hometown that descended into deserted storefronts and weeds growing through sidewalk cracks. Much of the Colorado bluegrass scene is different than what you would think of in bluegrass music, with artists bringing a variety of influences from various genres to their sound. Orchard Creek Band is no different - even more so, you’d say. “We are aware of a lot of different types of music,” said Kevin. “We know a wide range of stuff, and we bring things that make our music much richer. Any music that survives over time will diversify.” Instead of focusing on the

traditional sound of Bill Monroe, the band found inspiration in artists like James Taylor and The Carter Family. It then merged folk, Americana, bluegrass, and country into the distinct sound of Orchard Creek. “Jan’s favorite song of ours is Walk in the Woods, and it has no banjo. That’s almost sacrilegious in bluegrass music,” said Kevin. “She uses two different capos for the sound and vibe, and it’s the same sound that comes from artists like James Taylor or John Denver. I love that people are more open to that sort of thing. We’re bringing our own sort of ideas there.” As things in the music industry begin opening back up, the members of Orchard Creek Band are excited to get back to performing live


for the people that enjoy it most, both locally and across the country. While Orchard Creek Band’s sound may stray a bit from traditional bluegrass, the way they perform doesn’t. Standing in a semi-circle facing one another around one microphone, these musicians strip down the bells and whistles to give their fans the performances they love. “It’s a very bluegrass vibe. It made us listen better and listen to what the guy next to you is doing. You’re playing off that. Dave and I engage in a fair amount of mischief this way,” laughed Kevin. Orchard Creek Band plans to continue songwriting and push for originality by becoming more involved in the songwriting portion of IBMA so they will be known for more than music. “I played rock music full time in the ’90s, and now I’m the only one in our band still working. I see this band making its mark in a kinder, gentler way,” said Kevin.

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GREG BLAKE 16

SUSAN MARQUEZ


Greg Blake is living his best life. While singing and playing guitar in several bands, Greg enjoys a successful solo career and stays busy teaching live and via Zoom and conducting workshops and camps for aspiring bluegrass artists. Music is his full-time job and his passion, and Greg thinks it’s “really cool” that what he does can make other people happy.

and we are kind of an Oakridge Boys cover band.” (He says HeartLande will be recording some country stuff for Turnberry. Not much detail from him. Don’t know if you want to include that tidbit or wait until something is released.) Greg sang all the lead vocals on Jesse Brock’s new CD, Streamliner. “Jesse is a magnificent mandolin player – two-time mandolin player of the year at IBMA. A native of West Virginia, Everyone on the project Greg has made his home in agreed to tour when our the Kansas City, Missouri schedules – or the planets area over thirty years ago -- align.” And then there is since his college days. These Greg’s solo career, which days, he is spending less is taking off in a big way. time at home and more on He signed with Turnberry the road with the separate Records and released a new groups he is involved in. album, People, Places, and “Things are starting to open Songs. Featuring Greg’s up and pick up,” he says, and rich baritone voice, the his events calendar reflects album’s title cut was released that, with gigs well into in February and hit the 2022. Greg is the newest Bluegrass Unlimited chart in member of The Special April. “It has been steadily Consensus, a band formed climbing since that time,” in 1975. “I also front two says Greg. “It’s been an bands in Kansas City. One unbelievable experience for is Greg Blake & Hometown, me.” The song is currently and the other is a Gospel number seven on the Top 30 quartet. “I’ve recently gotten chart. back together with three of my buddies I used to sing As a high school student with in college. We have a in West Virginia, Greg says group called HeartLande, he had two buddies who

were “bluegrassers.” Their families subscribed to Bluegrass Unlimited, and Greg loved seeing them on the coffee table. “I always picked up the latest issue in their homes and read the record reviews first. I loved to see what new records were out. The next thing I looked at was the charts. I have to admit, to see my song on that chart was a pretty cool moment for me,” he says, adding that the song is getting good play on XM radio and other outlets. A second single from the People, Places, and Songs LP will soon be released. Written by Wyoming songwriter David Stewart, I’ll Be Loving You is a cheerful love song. “There are no broken hearts in this song,” promises Greg. “It’s a song about a pledge of love and faithfulness.” It’s got great lyrics, and it’s good and grassy.” Stewart is also a new Turnberry artist. “David is a great writer, and he has been around the music business for a long time. He has had several successful songs. I’m proud that he gave me this song to record.” Greg loves a song with 17


great lyrics. “For me, it’s all about the song. In the past ten to twenty years, there have been a lot of virtuosic musicians like Béla Fleck, Tony Rice, Chris Thile, and Jerry Douglas. But good lyrics are just as important.” Coaching the various roles in a bluegrass band is something Greg includes in his workshops. “In addition to teaching guitar lessons 18

live or via Zoom, I also teach bluegrass vocals, and I do band and ensemble coaching. In addition, I teach the roles in bluegrass bands that have to be filled.” Greg doesn’t have much time for anything else between traveling to gigs, booking his local bands, teaching, and spending time with his family. “I’m glad I enjoy what I do. I

enjoy making music for self-satisfaction, as well as to make other people happy. The success I’ve enjoyed is something I never dreamed of for my music career. I am so grateful. Music has so many therapeutic values. If what I do makes people happy, then I think that’s so cool.”


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The Tanglers is one of just a few bluegrass bands based in New Orleans, Louisiana. “New Orleans has such a rich music community,” says bandleader James Hausman. “Bluegrass music is slowly catching on here.” James grew up in New Mexico, where he developed a musical background in Western fiddle. “It has what I call New Mexico fill, which is closer to Cajun music.” When it was time for James to go to college, he chose Loyola University in New Orleans, where he majored in music education. “By my junior year of college, I was playing in five bands.”

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Today James is a full-time music teacher at Lusher Charter School in New Orleans, where he teaches orchestral music to grades kindergarten through five. James plays fiddle with The Tanglers. “I found The Tanglers after Katrina,” says James. “I joined them as a sub at first, and I’ve been playing with them ever since.” The band plays festivals and venues throughout the Gulf states and into Northern Louisiana. In 2019, James’ fiancé (now wife), Jena Hausman, had a special request for the band. “Her favorite movie is True

Stories,” says James. “She wanted us to play the soundtrack of the movie for a party she was organizing.” True Stories is a 1986 musical satirical comedy directed by David Byrne, the band leader of Talking Heads, formed by a group of former art school students in New York in 1975. The band provided most of the music in the film. Despite their avant-garde sensibilities, the band had a very clean-cut look, and their integration of punk, art rock, funk, and world music pioneered new wave music. The members of the Tanglers thought playing


Talking Grass Susan Marquez

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It didn’t take long for people to start dancing and singing along with the popular songs in the 1980s. James led the band on fiddle, as Jacob Tanner played dobro and Craig Alexander played guitar. Joining them was Ian Cunningham playing banjo and Graham Robinson on bass. Dylan Williams plays mandolin with the band but could not attend the show, so Aaron Wilkinson of the Honey Island Swamp Band stepped in on mandolin. All members of the band sing, with different members singing different Talking the music of Talking Heads Brewing Company, a Heads songs during the would be a one-off gig. brewery that presents live show. What they didn’t anticipate entertainment regularly. “Everybody in the band was how much everyone The group was the opening had a liking for Talking would enjoy it. As it turns act for Hendrix Heads & Heads,” says James, who out, Talking Heads songs Tails, a funk tribute to Jimi says that David Byrne, who translate very well to Hendrix featuring Ivan was inducted into the Rock bluegrass instrumentation Neville (Dumpstaphunk), and Roll Hall of Fame with and arrangements. The Luther Dickinson (North Talking Heads in 2002, often Tanglers have created a band Mississippi Allstars), and comes to New Orleans for alter-ego of sorts. “We call other regional musicians. the annual Jazz Fest. “We ourselves Talking Grass When Talking Grass opened have covered other bands when we do our Talking their set with the popular as well, including doing a Heads set,” says James. Talking Heads tune Once Pink Floyd set for a special Talking Grass has been in a Lifetime, the crowd event and, of course, the a popular act in New milling around the brewery’s ubiquitous Grateful Dead.” Orleans. They recently colossal warehouse area It’s a fun departure for performed at the NOLA gravitated toward the stage. the band, which typically 22


plays old-time and original material, primarily written by its dobro player, Jacob Tanner. Look for The Tanglers at The Wild Things Family

Reunion, a music festival scheduled for November 10 through 21 at Gryphon’s Nest Campground in Springfield, Louisiana, just outside New Orleans.

please make sure Tiffany Anderson gets the photo credit, she’s incredible and was very generous in our use of the images. 23


STEPHEN PITALO

CHRIS TESKEY

ON THE AIR, HERE TO STAY 24


To say that Chris Teskey knows bluegrass is like saying Bill Nye knows science, but it stems from a love of exposing friends to great music the way he did when he was young. “When I was a kid, I tried to be the first one in my neighborhood to buy the latest Beatles, Rolling Stones, or Creedence Clearwater Revival single for 67 cents with my paper route money so I could share that music with my friends,” explained Teskey about his love of promoting music. “I asked other radio hosts if they played a similar role when they were young, and many have said they did. So, it’s the joy of discovering and sharing music that you love with others. You know, it’s that ‘You gotta hear this!’ That’s why I do it.” With over 30 years hosting bluegrass programs in Connecticut and Washington DC, Teskey serves as program director for Bluegrass Country Radio, advertised as a station created by listeners for listeners. He can be heard on the air most days during weekday afternoon drive time, easing DC traffic irritation with his conversations about the bluegrass acts he loves, both new bands and old legends. “I have had a program on Bluegrass Country radio since we took over from WAMU in February 2017, so almost five years. I also did

a weekly show at WAMU’s bluegrass country before we went independent from 2011 to 2015. I’m currently digging quite a few bands, and I may get in trouble here, but I really like Bella White, Bill and the Belles, Fireside Collective, and I’ll stop there.” Today, the Bluegrass Country Foundation operates and funds the 50-year-old WAMU in Washington, DC. From hosts to musicians to listeners, Bluegrass Country Radio continues to foster a community of bluegrass fans from everywhere and is currently heard as HD radio at 88.5FM Channel 2 in the Washington area and streaming worldwide on BluegrassCountry.org and via a free smartphone app. A live person hosts every show on BC and selects the music from the station’s incomparable song library or a personal record collection that probably includes songs the listeners would never hear anywhere else. Their mantra is bluegrass, from the pioneers to the present, from traditional to experimental and everything in between; whether its old-time, classic country, folk, rare blues and jazz, zydeco, roots, and modern Americana, or a taste of Grateful Dead, the broadcasts originate in their Washington studio. Teskey’s interest in bluegrass arose from his affinity for jam bands. “I was a fan of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers and became

aware of Old & In the Way,” Teskey said. “I went to the Green Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Vermont on July 4th weekend in 1976 because Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements, and David Grisman were playing, and I knew them from Old & In the Way (O&ITW). When we arrived, a pickup band was playing that called themselves the Good and Old & In the Way Boys, featuring Rowan, Grisman, Vassar, Bill Keith, and Frank Wakefield. It was quite an introduction to the music, but I wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge.” Working as a DJ at a commercial FM radio station in Connecticut in 1977, Teskey came upon a room full of promotional LPs that had no business in albumoriented rock (AOR) rotation. One was the first album by the David Grisman Quintet, and Teskey knew Grisman from O&ITW and Grateful Dead records. He took the record home and loved it; although it was not quite bluegrass, it was a step in the right direction. When he hosted a radio show at WSHU in Fairfield, CT, which concentrated on The Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, The Band, The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, and the like, he got an unexpected phone call that changed the trajectory of his life forever. “A concert promoter who I didn’t know, Doug Tuchman, called me and asked if I had ever heard of The Seldom Scene,” Teskey explained, 25


“who he was presenting at the American Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, CT, along with Don Reno and the Tennessee Cut-Ups. When I told him I had not heard of the Seldom Scene or Don Reno, he kind of giggled, I guess because he knew what he was going to do to me. He sent me all the Seldom Scene albums up to that point - I think the new one was Live at The Cellar Door and my mind was completely blown. I never listened to music in the same way after that. My program became a bluegrass show quickly after that, but I had a steep learning curve. I referred to 26

John Duffey’s tenor as ‘High Lonesome,’ once, and was quickly corrected by another bluegrass radio host who told me to go listen to some Del McCoury records.” Teskey worked for Green Linnet Records in Danbury, CT, from 1986 until 2004, releasing traditional Celtic records. When the label was sold, he took a year off and started Mad River Records in 2005 while simultaneously starting a bluegrass band in Connecticut. Over time, Mad River Records released 26 CDs, the most recent being 10,000 Days Like These by Low Lily. Teskey currently

enjoys playing guitar and singing lead and baritone with a five-piece bluegrass band called Leesburg Pike. He likes to play guitar and sing with other bluegrass musicians in the area in his spare time. Teskey has quite a few stories from his decades of interviews with bluegrass icons, which he enjoys telling on the air and in person. It’s difficult for him to pick any one interview as the highlight of his career, though. “That’s a tough one, but the week Bill Monroe died, I had Del McCoury, Bill Keith, and


Peter Rowan all call in at the same time. I conferenced them in and got out of the way as they discussed Bill’s music and what it was like being a bluegrass boy. That one was hard to top.” Another time David Davis & the Warrior River Boys came to WPKN to play live, and Charlie Cline played the fiddle. A real legend. “I set up two RCA ribbon mics and let them rip. Charlie really knew where the sweet spot was on those microphones, I guess from all those years of using that technology. They went bowling after the show, but I couldn’t go. I had to finish my shift.” Others he recalled include Doc Watson, Tony Rice, Michael Cleveland, Tony Trischka, and interviews with rock musicians like Robert Plant and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and jazz guitarist John McLaughlin. He enjoyed asking them how traditional American music informed their music. He learned that bluegrass and traditional music had touched all of them, feeding his resolve and ‘You gotta hear this!’ commitment to his Bluegrass Country listeners. “The main goal of Bluegrass Country is to continue to provide classic and contemporary traditional American music to the US and the rest of the world and to raise enough money to continue the effort. We are exporting American culture, which seems important.”

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The Carter Fold MEGHAN HOLMES

For nearly 50 years, musicians have performed in rural southwestern Virginia at the Carter Family Fold to honor the memory and musical traditions of the Carter Family. What began as a series of small concerts for primarily local people in A.P. Carter’s general store has become a weekly event bringing hundreds of people from around the world to hear old-time, country, and bluegrass music on Saturday nights. In keeping with the traditions that her mother Janette Carter established when she founded the Fold, current master of ceremonies Rita Forrester encourages a family-friendly atmosphere with mountain music and dancing. “Years ago, when my mother’s father’s health was failing, he said, ‘I want my music to live on beyond me, and I think you might be the child that can do

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that for me. She said, ‘Well, I don’t know how easy that will be; I’ve got three kids.’ And he said, ‘I had three, and I did it, so you can, too.’ Well, she waited until my younger brother graduated high school, and then in ‘74, she started doing shows in a little store my grandad built in the 40s or 50s,” said Rita Forrester. The Carter Fold grew through word of mouth for the first two years, with concert attendees eventually spilling out of the general store and onto the surrounding land. Janette enlisted her brother’s help, and in 1976 they built a building specifically for shows. In 1978, Janette met Howard Klein, music critic, pianist, and Director of Arts of the Rockefeller Foundation. He became one of their biggest supporters and assisted the family in establishing the Carter Family Memorial Music Center, a non-profit

organization dedicated to preserving old-time, traditional country and mountain music. The family applied for grants, and they turned A.P.’s general store into the museum. “He helped mom get started in the new building,” Rita said. “I think he started somewhere between 40 and 60 arts organizations during his life. Even when he was in an assisted living facility with cancer about to pass away, he was still texting me and advising me on what we needed to do.” Performances at the Fold are almost exclusively acoustic, keeping with the traditions the Carter family helped make famous with their RCA Victor recording sessions in the 1920s and 30s. “We want it to be like the music as my grandparents played it - the mountain music the way they did it. The one exception to that was John


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[Johnny] Cash. Mother would say, ‘I can’t really help it. He was plugged in the day we met him.’ So, she would allow him to plug in.” Performances from Cash helped provide muchneeded funds to the non-profit over the years, and Rita ranks his last performance at the Fold, 30

shortly after his wife June’s death, as one of the most memorable she’s seen there. “It was rough on us emotionally because he talked about her, but it was also rough work because we had more than 1700 people on the grounds before we started turning people away. The building can hold around 800.”

People enjoy Appalachian clogging and buck dancing on the floor space reserved for dancing. Like Janette before her, Rita wants concerts to bring together families, “from the grandparents to the babies,” for dancing, music, and food. “There are few places today where you see


October 2021 Number

1

Farmin Man

2

Song

Artist

Label

LM

The Kody Norris Show

Rebel Records

11

People, Places, & Song

Greg Blake

Turnberry Records

4

3

Someday

Barefoot Movement

Bonfire Music

3

4

Goin Up The Mountain

Shannon Slaughter

Independent

8

5

Santa Barbara

Balsam Range

Mountain Home Music

5

6

Living Left to Do

Billy Blue Records

2

7

Think Again

Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers Jaelee Roberts

Mountain Home Music

7

8

Irons in the Fire

Unspoken Tradition

Mountain Home Music

NRV

9

Roll That Rock

Bobby and Teddi Cyrus W / Billy Ray Cyrus

Pinecastle Records

1

10

Date With An Angel

Pinecastle Records

NRV

11

Man Who Never Plowed

Danny Paisley and Southern Grass Branded Bluegrass

Bell Buckle Records

NRV

12

Goodbye Marie

Merle Monroe

Pinecastle Records

3

13

You Are My Sunshine

The Dead South

Six Shooter Records

NRV

14

Transistor Radio

Daryl Mosley

Pinecastle

14

15

Now There’s You

Lori King and Junction 63

Turnberry Records

6

Submit Your Professional Videos, or Lyric Videos for Consideration to: editor@thebluegrassstandard.com NRV – New Release Video RE – Returning Video to Chart

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Susan Marquez


families all together, and that’s what my grandma and grandpa always wanted,” she said. Before the music, Forrester prepares the food. “We always have hot dogs because my mother loved hot dogs from a local drug store, Bunting’s. So, I do homemade chili with the hot dogs, and we have burgers and egg salad, and we used to do cakes and popcorn before COVID, and hopefully, we will bring that back,” she said. Like many musicians and music venues, the Fold has taken a financial hit since the spread of COVID-19. In addition to seeing fewer visitors in general, Rita has decided to close from late

November through March to avoid any potential surge in the virus over the winter. “We have been doing fair since guidelines changed, and we reopened, and we will close out the season with Carson Peters. He’s played here since he was a child, and we have been watching his career grow.” Peters is currently competing on The Voice, with Blake Shelton as his coach, and will perform at the Fold on November 20 with his group Iron Mountain. Other November performances include Hogslop String Band on the 6th and The Hillbilly Gypsies on the 13th, both old-time bands. Most groups performing at the Fold have been doing so

for years, with two groups - the McLain Family Band and the Whitetop Mountain Band, having played in A.P.’s store in the mid-70s. “I get real attached to everyone because we have a lot of repeat performers. A lot of the same ones come, and the dancers like them. Although, you never know who will show up at the Fold. We have had Marty Stuart, Tom T. Hall, John Paul Jones. I always ask them to come on stage and play a song,” she said. After a winter break, concerts at the Fold will resume on March 5, 2022. Tickets are $10 for adults and $2 for children, and no advance tickets are sold.

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Shelly C. Berry

Millie Meunier Teenage Multi-Instrumentalist

Viral Sensation

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Millie Meunier played her first note on a piano at age five. The New Albany, Indiana native, grew up in music, but it wasn’t until she was 12 years old and heard bluegrass musician Billy Nett play for the first time that she fell in love with the genre. “I watched him play, and I just fell in love,” Millie laughed. “I instantly knew that I wanted to do that.” Millie was honored with the opportunity to be mentored on fiddle by Billy himself. She began performing locally and across her state while gradually learning how to play other instruments. At 16

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years old, Millie can play six instruments: fiddle, piano, viola, banjo, guitar, and mandolin. “But the fiddle is probably still my favorite,” she said. “I still perform it the most.” As a high school student still involved in sports and other activities, it can be a bit hard for Millie to take the time to focus on herself and her music. So last year, during the pandemic lockdown, Millie took the time to create and record her first album from her bedroom. “Before I released that album, several people asked me to

create one at my shows,” joked Millie. “I laughed it off because I never had time. But with virtual school and no sports, I was able to record all of my parts in my bedroom at home.” But recording an album wasn’t the biggest accomplishment Millie made last spring. She produced a music video for her radio-TV class featuring five instruments she plays. She played, produced, and edited the video as a dedication to Earl Scruggs’ production of Foggy Mountain Breakdown for this assignment to make a feelgood video.


Millie began getting uplifting feedback from all around the world about her video that has now been viewed over 4 million times on Floyd Central High School’s YouTube channel as well as her own. “I never expected anything like this when I turned in my video for a school project,” said Millie humbly. “It didn’t get a ton of views at first, but then, all of a sudden, it started getting tons of views out of nowhere! It’s so cool these many people have been able to enjoy my music.” Canceled Jamborees still distress the music industry

as it moves forward to find a way out of the pandemic. However, Millie plays locally with the Hank Rose Trio, and they have enjoyed joining the world of live performing once again. “I am performing live almost every weekend right now, mostly with the band but also a few solo shows as well,” said Millie. As one of the newest members of Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars (TBS), joining this September, she looks forward to the connections and opportunities that TBS and its leaders bring her. After

finding

the

TBS

community on Facebook, Millie’s mom encouraged her to join to give her an opportunity for a community amongst other young bluegrass musicians since there aren’t many in her hometown. “I’ve never really played with any other musicians my age. It will be really fun to connect with more people my age to take about their musical journey and jam together,” said Millie. In September, Millie received five nominations at the 7th Annual Josie Music Awards, dedicated to independent and up-and-coming artists and songwriters in all genres. 37


With these nominations, she also won Musician of the Year for 2021. “Whenever I submitted recordings to the Josie Music Awards, I didn’t really expect to get an award for anything, but I figured I would at least try to see what happened,” said Millie. “I was just happy to have been nominated for anything in the first place,

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so when I actually won something, that was very surprising and was a great honor!”

music videos, though! Working on movies or postproduction would be cool, too,” said Millie.

As Millie makes plans for her future, she hopes to attend college to major in video production and minor in music.

Today, Millie is recording her very first Christmas album to be released Christmas 2022. You can find her online on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at Millie Meunier Music.

“I always want music to be a part of my life. I enjoy making


Mississippi Chris Sharp’s

Review

work: a musical event: a trip back home, an exhortation, a few lamentations, an exultation, a restoration. Mosley gives us twelve original songs. If the songwriting Mosley was a pitcher in the major leagues, he would be the the 1934 version of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Dizzy Dean. That is saying something. I like all twelve songs, but what’s not to like. Mosley is a major songwriter, crafting songs that speak right to one’s heart with soothing melodies and poignant lyrics. Those songs are:

CD: Small Town Dreamer Artist: Daryl Mosley Artist Website: www.darylmosley.com Label: Pinecastle Records Label Website: https://pinecastlemusic.com/ I have hadly had a chance to catch my breath over Daryl Mosley’s release of last year’s The Secret of Life, which really got my attention. I reviewed that CD for this magazine, and it can be found right here: https:// thebluegrassstandard.com/daryl-mosley-thesecret-of-life/ Just now beginning to catch up on my breathlessness, Mosley has a new CD, slated for release on November, 2021. Bring out the oxygen. I’m likely to need it. Let’s start here: This new Mosley CD, Small Town Dreamer, is an important

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

Transistor Radio Hillbilly Dust The Last of His Kind Bringing Simple Back He’s With Me The Waverly Train Disaster You Are The Reason I Can’t Go Home Anymore The Way I was Raised Mama’s Bible Here’s To The Dreamers Sing Me Song About A Train

It’s gonna be tough to separate out the favorites from the rest, and my favorites list is subject to change with every listen, depending on my inclinations at the time, or whatever song is playing at the moment. My current favorites are: Transistor Radio, Hillbilly Dust, The Way I was Raised, and 39


The Last Of His Kind. Reluctantly sorting out four songs does not mean that the others are any the less, rather, they speak to me in this instant. As I write this, Sing Me A Song About A Train is a pleasant earworm, partially because it was the last song on the CD, and partially because it thumped all the way through. I’m thankful for that, since for some unfathomable reason The Captain and Tennile’s Muskrat Love got stuck in my head a few weeks back which caused me to have to go for counseling. I was still grooving on Transistor Radio, a cleverly crafted song and the one picked for a single, meaning that the label thinks this is the one to go straight to the charts (and so do I). Before the joy of that song passed, Mosley smote me with Hillbilly Dust, which spoke directly to my soul, the drop D guitar just slapping me to attention as I hear echoes of everything that was important in a man’s successful life. How can one not like that? “I give Him the hours, the labor, and the trust, and He gives life to this hillbilly dust.” I suspect that every songwriter that ever lived would admire this line. I sure do. Mosley and Co-Producer Danny Roberts (Grascals) assembled a stellar team of musicians, including Roberts on mandolin, Tony Wray on guitar and banjo, Aaron Daniels on banjo, Adam Haynes on fiddle, Justin Moses on dobro, Jaelee Roberts and Jeanette Williams on harmony vocals, and Mosley on bass...all top shelf. Salute to Gorilla’s Nest Studio on the recording, and Chris Latham on the mastering. This recording has the sound of everything I like and none of what I don’t. Small Town Dreamer has a poignant dedication to Mosley’s hometown of Waverly, Tennessee, which suffered from severe flooding in August of this year, resulting in the deaths of many people. No doubt this touched Mosley. It touched us all. I don’t keep up with what songs are on the Bluegrass charts, but this CD will produce more than one chart topper, I think, for those of you who inclined to such things. The CD is playing in the background as I write this. You Are Reason is up right now. I must stop, as I am tempted to add this to the favorites list, too. Oops! I Can’t Go Home Anymore is up. Tempted! There is nothing on this CD that disappoints. I expected it to be good, but it is far better than I expected. In this world filled with madness and mediocrity and compromise, that is quite refreshing. Small Town Dreamer. You’ll want this. You’ll like it, too. Oh, gee whiz. Mama’s Bible is up. I gotta go. The favorites list will just get longer.

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SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18TH, 2021 4PM & 7PM FIRST METHODIST CHURCH CHRISTIAN LIFE CENTER 300 West Main Street Louisville, MS 39339

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CANDACE NELSON

TAPPING INTO TRADITION

Maple Syrup is Appalachia's natural sweetener

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Appalachia has always been on maple syrup.

and left behind thick maple syrup.

For hundreds of years, the sweetener has been a part of communities – whether production, commerce, or maple syrup consumption. Legend tells us that Native Americans, specifically Cherokees, threw hot rocks into hollowed-out logs filled with sap to unearth the sweet stuff. Early colonial settlers quickly learned sugar making, slowly boiling sap in a pan over fire until most of the water in the sap evaporated into the air

The weather dictates much of the labor-intensive maple syrup process, which means unpredictable timing and yield. The season can last a few weeks up to a few months – or not even happen at all. Today, the process might look a little different. Sweet Harvest

trees each year in February by drilling a small hole into a tree and inserting a tap. Early spring is usually the sweet spot for maple production because freezing temperatures at night and thawing temperatures during the day create a cycle of pressure that draws water and dissolves sugars up through the tree to the buds, and allows the sap to flow out of the tap.

Each tap has a bucket Family Roots Farm, located in Wellsburg, West Virginia, hanging from it or thick typically begins tapping their tubing that relies on gravity


to help sap flow downhill and feed into a large tank to make the collection more accessible. For taps that utilize buckets, it’s essential to keep an eye on them. They can fill up within a day – or sometimes more quickly. At this point, the maple sap is mostly clear water with about 2% sugar content. Once all sap water is collected, it is then immediately boiled. Because the sap holds a lot of water, it could spoil and go to waste if not prepared in a timely

fashion. The boiling process removes all the water and what is leftover is the syrup. Then, it runs through a traditional wool filter – or a press – and is finally bottled just in time for Sunday morning pancakes. It takes approximately 50 gallons of sap water to produce one gallon of syrup. That’s a lot of sap – and a lot of trees. Mountain Maple Appalachia is home to a

large population of sugar maples; West Virginia even named it the state tree. Those sugar maples are critical to syrup. While all maple trees produce the sweet sap that can turn into syrup, typically, only the sugar maple and black maple are tapped due to the high sugar content. Sugar maples thrive at higher elevations, around 3,0005,500 feet, and can be found from eastern Canada and down through Appalachia into North Carolina and Tennessee. 43


Census records back to the 18th-century note maple syrup production in 26 Appalachian counties across southwest Virginia, West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and eastern Tennessee.

While maple production is less prominent than it once was through Appalachia, a resurgence in recent years reveals its importance to the region.

The cultural influence of maple syrup in Appalachian Maple syrup production communities is evident in Appalachia has a longstanding history because through street names like “Maple Hill,” official state syrup production was necessary. There were few tree symbols like the Sugar Maple, and farmers market options for sweeteners and even less so for communities stands that sell leaf-shaped isolated from transportation bottles on the side of the road. or other people. Sugaring provided jobs and income for the many Appalachians who The sweet history of maple syrup in Appalachia spans had little more than their centuries and continues its land. impact on our economy, our 44

lifestyle, and, of course, our sugar maples – for the better. Recipe: Maple Walnut Blonde Brownies Homesteaded by Henry Hervey in the 1770s, Family Roots Farm has passed through eight generations of the Hervey family. The family began selling its maple syrup in 2013 and not only produced pure maple syrup to sale, but also maple nuts, pure maple sugar, maple cotton candy, and other products. At the 2015 International Maple Conference, Family Roots Farm received first place for their Maple Sugar and


their Maple Syrup received a perfect score. They still receive blue ribbons of excellence for their maple products. Below is a favorite family recipe. Ingredients: 1/2 cup Family Roots Farm Maple Syrup ½ cup Family Roots Farm Maple Sugar 2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ⅓ cups chopped walnuts, divided 11 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9x9-inch baking pan with parchment

paper or foil and add the nuts in one layer. Toast the nuts in the oven for 5 - 7 minutes. Let cool. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the Family Roots Farm Maple Sugar and cook 2 - 3 minutes, stirring often until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Stir in Family Roots Farm Maple Syrup. Remove from heat. Pour the mixture into a large

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mixing bowl and let cool. Stir in the salt, egg, and vanilla by hand. Stir in the flour and baking soda. Stir in 1 cup of walnuts. Spoon into the pan and spread evenly from edge to edge. Bake 22 - 25 minutes until lightly golden and almost set in the center a slight jiggle is ok when the pan is shaken. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Icing for Maple Walnut Blonde Brownies: 1 tablespoon Family Roots Farm Maple Syrup ½ teaspoon vanilla 1 cup confectioners’ sugar Add Family Roots Farm Maple Syrup to a small bowl, whisk in the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Add more sugar if needed to make a thin glaze. Drizzle over the

cake and sprinkle the top with the remaining walnuts. Lift the blondies out of the pan using the parchment onto a cutting board. Slice into bars. Store tightly covered in a cool, dry place for up to 5 days. This recipe is courtesy Family Roots Farms, where you can discover more delicious, mouth-watering recipes.

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Shelby C. Berry

Kristina Jacobsen

of The Merlettes

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“I’m a big believer in your journey being about doing what others can’t and living authentically. Songwriting, travel, and mindfulness are those things for me, and it’s all about linking them. It feels like, particularly with songwriting and touring, that it’s something that feels authentically me,” said New Mexico-based singer-songwriter Kristina Jacobsen. Kristina combines elements of honky-tonk and classic country with western, Americana,

and roots to create meaningful music inspired by the places she’s been. Spending time in Norway, Italy, and the Navajo Nation and being fluent in multiple languages across the world led to Kristina’s impeccable talent of putting pen to paper to create the most beautiful and honest songs about the human experience. The deep understanding Kristina feels for playing music, specifically her lap steel guitar, and the experience of touching people with a perfectly written melody didn’t only come from her time and experience in other countries and with different cultures. From a very young age, she taught

herself how to listen well, harmonize, and sing along with her father, a folk musician in her hometown in western Massachusetts. Kristina, now a multiinstrumentalist, began playing her first note on the flute in the fourth grade. She moved on to the guitar a few years later when her dad bought her one from a local pawn shop. Later, she learned the nylon string guitar, the steel-string acoustic guitar, the lap steel guitar, and even a touch of the dobro. “Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV or listen to country music, but when I went to college, I fell in love with The Judds and their tight harmonies. I loved the feeling and the vivaciousness of country music,” said Kristina. “I was majoring in classical flute, so the music I was listening to and the music I was playing couldn’t have been further apart. After college, I moved to Chicago and started taking lessons in songwriting and the lap steel guitar, and I never 49


But it wasn’t her time in college listening to The Judds that led Kristina to her love of music and storytelling—it was studying the language of the Navajo people.

This same dissertation eventually became a book that Kristina released in 2017 titled The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language, Diné Belonging.

Visiting Navajo Nation territory and falling in love with the people and the community led to a postgraduate job for Kristina as a radio deejay - learning a new language in a completely different environment while submerging herself into the world of country music.

Finding her place as a singer and songwriter, Kristina performed with her band while living in North Carolina and brought The Merlettes to life.

Kristina later found herself at Duke University in North Carolina, studying for her master’s degree and writing her dissertation on a Navajo country-western band. With this study, her research was to perform and tour with them across Navajo Nation. 50

Named for the warm voice of country legend Merle Haggard, The Merlettes got a new rendition when Kristina moved back west in 2016. As a band focusing on all the twang country music can bring, the modern version of this all-female band, fronted by Kristina, features the tunes of Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells, and their original

jams. Dair Obenshain joins Kristina on fiddle, guitar, and vocals along with Laura Leach-Devlin on upright bass and Sharon Eldridge on drums as their air-tight harmonies warm the hearts of listeners while making you want to stomp your feet along to the beat. “The Merlettes debut show was in Albuquerque at a place called Outpost,” said Kristina. “It is one of the nicest venues in town, and it was packed out. It’s like this sitdown venue, but they let us push chairs back and make a dance floor. We invited friends from the Navajo reservation, and they got a bunch of 2-steppers on the dance floor in this stuffy jazz venue. It was incredible.”


Singing and performing solo and alongside The Merlettes isn’t the only way Kristina graces the world with her talent. She passes her impeccable knowledge of music and songwriting to the next generation of performers as an Associate Professor in the Departments of Music and Anthropology at the University of New Mexico.

the past.

Hired at the university due to her Ph.D. in anthropology, she was surprised to use her musical background to teach there as well. Since joining the music department, she founded the UNM Honky Tonk Ensemble and the Songwriting Focus Area program. Kristina uses this opportunity to help songwriters find their voice - literally and symbolically - by digging for their emotional truth in storytelling.

Together with 20 other musicians, songwriters, storytellers, and producers, Kristina completed the album she dreamed of creating.

“As a musician myself, it makes me a way better teacher. They challenge me, especially the songwriters. I’m super humbled by them, and it allows the continued conversation,” said Kristina. Her time with the music department at UNM allowed Kristina to receive a grant to become the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Scholar from 2019 to 2020.

“I got a grant to write an album of songs. One of the ways that I studied the language in Italy was writing songs with people,” said Kristina. “It’s introducing something you know with something new. It makes learning the language much easier - at least that’s my theory.”

making it especially rewarding songwriting and teaching her craft to others. “The most rewarding part of all of this is teaching the creative process and songwriting. I got to facilitate a songwriting workshop in Finland, in prisons in Sweden, and North Carolina,” said Kristina. “Those are the moments I feel super connected to humanity. I have

Earlier this year, Kristina announced the release of this collaborative album titled House on Swallow Street. Although primarily released overseas, it is now available on all major streaming platforms. Throughout her long, impressive career immersed with culture, Kristina credits two things to

As a teenager, Kristina lived briefly with her family in Italy, traveling and cowriting with musicians in the area. She decided to spend time in Sardinia, Italy writing and recording an album like those she helped co-write in 51


feelings of catharsis, nobility, and healing. In writing, we go from having someone else tell our story to tell our own story. It can be very powerful.” In 2019, Kristina spent the year in Italy recording her album. In 2020, she was under lockdown due to

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COVID-19. This month, Kristina performs live with The Merlettes at a local New Mexico venue for the first time in years, finally getting back to local roots in baby steps. She also looks forward to touring overseas in 2022. “With my music and songwriting,

cultural exchanges meet storytelling. Poetry meets medley. I’m biased as a songwriter, but I think there are times and places that music can change the world. It’s an amazing thing to be able to do.”


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FAN PHOTOS

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