by Lauren Rosier
Rainy, dreary weather commenced the drive to Pennsylvania’s Capitol on Friday evening, but upon the onset of the show, the night erupted into beautiful, shoe-stomping, American roots music.
The folk/Americana trio, the Evie Ladin Band, opened the intimate, seated show at the Abbey Bar at Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg to an attentive, music-loving crowd of mostly older, middle-aged folks, but with some younger individuals with incredible music taste amongst the crowd, as well.
The trio, comprised of Evie Ladin, Erik Pearson, and Keith Terry, opened the set with a lively, shoe-stomping performance reminiscent of old time, Appalachian mountain music, on which Ladin mentioned she grew. The performance was somewhat of a rarity; one of which featured full-on body percussion, which caused the crowd to roar following the end the performance.
The band showed off their great stage personalities through conversation in between songs and engaging with the crowd. At one point, Ladin introduced the song “Cozy” off their Jump The Fire album, as a “song about napping.” Following that performance, she said matter-of-factly, “well, that wasn’t exactly about napping.”
Each song contained its own feel – with layers of folk, country, bluegrass, Americana, and blues – of which elements of each genre shined in each track, some more so than others. Another track from Jump The Fire, “Honey Lou,” featured the banjo, some delightful harmonies, and music that takes you back to the sounds of music this country grew up on.
I think, perhaps, my favorite performance by the Evie Ladin Band, was of “Walking in a Straight Line.” It, again, featured some of the same body percussion as noted earlier, and the musicianship was just unbelievable on how they were able to create such a rhythmic sound so in sync with each other.
Lancaster County’s own, The Stray Birds, took to the stage maybe around 10:30 PM or so. The Stray Birds, a trio featuring the musical prowess of multi-instrumentalists and songwriters, Oliver Craven, Maya de Vitry, and Charlie Muench, all grew up in Lancaster County.
Like the Evie Ladin Band, The Stray Birds combine elements of true American music from folk, roots, country, and blues – and blend those together for a sound that equates to modern-day, traditional Americana. The trio opened their set with the title track off their latest collection of songs, Best Medicine. The song was truly a perfect way to open a set. In the direction in which our country, and the world for that matter, continues to travel in, music has always been something that has a way of bringing people together. The lyrics, ‘music is the best medicine,’ ring true with not only those who are musicians, but those who have true appreciation for the craft, as well.
Another track from the band’s last LP, “Never For Nothing,” is a heartfelt song about life, love, and loss of which the three sing in harmony ‘Oh, I have lost, but not for nothing / Never for nothing.’ The harmonies that are featured in this track are quite something to see live. Listening to an artist on a recording and then seeing them perform live can sometimes be a big difference.
As Craven mentioned in our interview a few days ago, any one of them was able to take center stage, and lead the band through that song’s performance with ease. From their sharp songwriting to their harmonies, you could hear such a carefully handcrafted sound. Though they each have different vocal and instrument capabilities, those said differences craft a melting pot of harmonies from sultry, twangy, to folksy, all while staying solid and consistent. I heard the band’s attention to detail in their craft from their vocals to the arrangement to the lyrics on Friday night.
Their multi-instrumental talent is no joke either. De Vitry and Craven both play guitar and fiddle, while Muench plays upright bass.
The trio performed several new tracks off their upcoming fourth full-length, Magic Fire, due out in August, including “Shining in the Distance,” a track in which de Vitry calls a modern-day gospel song, as well as “Somehow,” “Third Day in a Row,” and then closed the show with a lively performance of “Sabrina,” a track which they mentioned was their ode to Pennsylvania and Yuengling beer.
The trio ended their set to a well-deserved, roaring standing ovation from the crowd and immediately received a request for an encore. The band took the stage once again and invited the Evie Ladin Band to join them in a performance of “When I Die,” also from Magic Fire. The encore was the perfect bookend to night of traditional, yet modern Americana music from skilled musicians that deserve your next play.