THE AMERICAN ROOTS SERIES AT THE LINDA PRESENTS:NORA JANE STRUTHERS
Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 - 8:00 pm, $15.00
Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line
Hosted by songwriter, roots scholar and multi-instrumentalist Michael Eck
From her roots in a Virginia father/daughter duo to her current status as one of the leading lights on the new bluegrass/Americana scene, Nora Jane Struthers has always been something special. She effortlessly merges the songwriting chops of Dolly Parton with the deep sensibilities of Gillian Welch. Whether taking the stage in vintage fashions or crafting a new song, Struthers manages to be at once winsome and wise, knowing and innocent. It's an irresistible combination.
The American Roots Series at The Linda traces our musical family tree back to the source. The program, hosted by songwriter, roots scholar and multi-instrumentalist Michael Eck, is an examination of the varied musical styles that make up our country's rich cultural history. In simple terms, roots music, a phrase coined in the mid-90s, is a catch-all reference for new sounds derived from old styles; for music handed down from generation to generation. Blues, country, gospel, jazz and early rock & roll qualify as branches, with a wider canopy covering Cajun, Zydeco, Tejano and Native American chants and dances. Like its close relative "folk music," which was popularized by such greats as Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Phil Ochs, roots music tells stories of the "hopes, sorrows and convictions of ordinary people's everyday lives."
Nora Jane Struthers
Virginia-born Struthers was educated at NYU's Steinhart School of Education and taught at a charter school in Brooklyn, while cutting her musical teeth as a folk-rock performer in New York clubs like CBGBs and the Cutting Room. She decided to move into music full-time after attending such convocations as Virginia's Galax Old Time Fiddlers Convention and North Carolina's Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention with her father.
She made her recording debut in Dirt Road Sweetheart, a duo with her father, which released the album I Heard the Bluebirds Sing in 2008. Not long thereafter, she piled her belongings into her 1998 Honda Odyssey and relocated from New York to Music City.
She recorded her 2010 solo debut Nora Jane Struthers with such Nashville masters as multi-instrumentalist Tim O'Brien and fiddler Stuart Duncan. The album was received with ecstatic reviews: Bluegrass Unlimited praised it as "a marvel that combines brilliant songcraft, a sultry yet honey-hued voice, and an inspired sense of personal musical style," while Dave Higgs ofBluegrass Breakdown called it "one of the most mesmerizing, haunting and hard-hitting projects I've ever heard."
Shortly after taking first place at Telluride in June 2010, Nora Jane teamed up with Bearfoot and released an album, American Story, on Nashville's Compass Records. The album featured six songs either written or co-written (with Tim O'Brien and Claire Lynch) by Struthers; one of them, "Tell Me a Story," became a top-rated video on CMT. While Struthers calls her time with the group "definitely a step up for me, and a very positive experience," she recommitted in late 2012 to touring with her own band.
Her heightened profile as a touring performer with a popular video helped Struthers mount a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the making of Carnival. She says, "My goal was to raise $20,000 in 30 days, and I raised $22,000. It was all from touring and making new fans and meeting people."
Nora Jane Struthers stepped forward with a distinctive sound and on-stage style - her personal collection of vintage dresses makes her one of the most visually striking of modern country artists. But the moving, perceptive, and witty songs on Carnival represent a new quantum leap, born of hard work and deep creative reflection.
"Over the past three years, as I've been touring and performing, I realized that primarily I'm a storyteller," she says. "I've been working to hone my skills so I can do that better." After listening to Carnival, no one will deny the keen edge of Struthers' masterful new work.
Struthers now re-emerges as a band-leader with a smart, affecting cycle of songs sporting a timeline that stretches from the antebellum 19th-century South to the middle of the last century. The Party Line includes gifted instrumentalists Joe Overton (clawhammer banjo and harmony vocals), Drew Lawhorn (drums), Nick DiSebastian (upright bass and guitar), and Jack Devereux (fiddle).
All five programs of the American Roots Series at The Linda will be hosted by Michael Eck who plays 78 rpm music for the 21st century with Ramblin Jug Stompers; Historic American Music with Lost Radio Rounders; and performs solo under his own name and as Ukulele Mike. Eck, who has shared stages with Pete Seeger, Patti Smith and Peter Case, has also spread the word about roots music to important venues like Caffe Lena, Old Songs, The Dance Flurry, The Eighth Step, The Electric City Ukulele Festival and Jalopy Theatre and School of Music.
The American Roots Series is made possible by the support of the New York Council on The Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
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