Let me tell you about the first real concert we ever played as Harpeth Rising. It was in a tiny town in Michigan, so far south that on humid summer days the border swells and Indiana claims it for its own. Still fresh graduates of Indiana University, it felt like just enough of an adventure to get our pulses racing, while remaining within safe distance of home. You know, in case things went real wrong, real fast. It was a Bluegrass Festival, and when I say Bluegrass, I mean it. Single-mic, dizzlingly fast-fingered, Gospel influenced-harmony singin’, matching Hawaaian shirts Bluegrass. And Harpeth Rising. We had applied for the gig through one of these online services built to help new musicians find the right venues, and we were “selected”, probably based on our living room recording of a semi-trad fiddle tune and the pictures of a banjo. It felt like being asked to headline Bonnaroo.
When we arrived and saw the schedule, which included multiple sets each day for 3 days, we knew we’d have to repeat material, and frequently. But we got up there, and we played. We played our earnestly arranged old-time tunes, thinking they were Bluegrass. We played our handful of original songs, thinking they were Bluegrass. And we played our covers, including “Don’t Fear The Reaper”, thinking that at least it still had a banjo. The crowds, gathered on a grassy hillside and showered in sunshine, opened their musical hearts to us immediately. We announced on stage that we were going to make our first CD directly following the festival. At the end of the weekend, the director sat down next to us and said “That was not what I was expecting…will you come back next year?”
6 years and perhaps a thousand concerts later, we often still feel that same way when stepping onto a stage. Unsure we quite fit the mold, grateful to the faces looking back at us, ready to play, to be in the middle of one of those moments where you feel what we’re feeling. We’ve learned that we can rely on that desire to propel us through the many challenges and changes of our musical lives. And we have one upon us: Rebecca has chosen to leave Harpeth Rising and move back home to California. We support her in the pursuit of her goals, and know that our loss is her family’s gain. But in this time of change, we are more committed than we have ever been to making music, to putting our experiences and ideas into words and sounds and sharing them with you.
And in that spirit, please make welcome our incredible new bandmate, Michelle Younger! Hailing originally from Charlottesville, VA, Michelle is a brilliant musician and shares both our classical background and our passion for multi-genred acoustic music. In addition to degrees in classical guitar from Oberlin Conservatory and Eastman School of Music, Michelle has been writing and playing old-time, folk and bluegrass for years, and we cannot wait for you all to hear her play. Her ability on both banjo and guitar are going to raise us closer to our musical goals. When we were first introduced to Michelle, we needed to find out if our musical minds meshed…it took less than a couple of hours to discover that this was it. After several days of learning music, helping to raise newborn cows, cooking a lot of food, and playing Cards Against Humanity, we already felt like a team.
Something has Shifted. But nothing can change our love of making music, and playing it for all of you. See you at a show.