Anna & Elizabeth

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Anna & Elizabeth

Their show is like no other. Through their immersive creative process and bold interpretations, Anna & Elizabeth’s visionary partnership pioneers new ways of presenting old songs and stories to modern audiences. Since 2011, with a deep and shared love of old Appalachian music, they stand at the vanguard of tradition and the avant-garde, transforming traditional music with innovative, modern arrangements. Their captivating performance integrates visual art, movement and experimental film with breathtaking harmonies.

The performance magic comes from unique strengths of each artist: Elizabeth LaPrelle, lauded as the finest traditional singer of her generation, is rooted in rural Virginia and a lifetime of singing ballads. Anna Roberts-Gevalt’s musical path has led her from the kitchens of Kentucky banjo elders to sessions in Brooklyn’s thriving experimental music world. A master instrumentalist, Anna is the band’s arranger and driving force.

In winter 2018, Anna & Elizabeth will release their third full-length album; a continuing progression of their evolving sound. It is co-produced by Anna and Benjamin Lazar Davis (avant-pop outfit Cuddle Magic) and features Jim White of The Dirty Three on drums, and lauded experimental pedal steel player Susan Alcorn (Mary Halvorsen Octet).

In the spring, Anna & Elizabeth will tour the US, UK & Europe to support their new project, with additional accompanists to recreate the expansive sonic landscape of their album. The spartan simplicity of their voices and acoustic instruments will include percussion, synth, pump organ, woodwinds, field recordings, film projections, choreography, and crankies -- illustrated, hand-cranked scrolls depicting songs and stories as they are performed.

Anna & Elizabeth has appeared on stages across the world, including the Cambridge Folk Festival, Brighton Festival, Newport Folk Festival, National Sawdust, Atlanta Museum of Modern Art, Old Town School of Folk Music, Brooklyn Folk Fest; intimate theaters across the U.S., U.K. & Europe; and fellowships to develop their work at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Centrum. They have released two acclaimed full-length albums--Sun to Sun (2012) and Anna & Elizabeth (2015).

Anna Roberts-Gevalt is a voracious and curious musician who nestles in the space between ancient ballads and new sounds. After spending years in Baltimore’s underground art scene, she now resides in Brooklyn, NY. She fell in love with the sound of banjo in college, moved to the mountains, and learned with master musicians in Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina. She has been a fellow at the Berea College Traditional Music Archive and OneBeat (Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation); three years artistic director of Kentucky’s traditional music institute, the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School; and co-curator of Baltimore's Crankie Festival. She is a summer 2017 fellow at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, and recently studied in a workshop with Meredith Monk.

Elizabeth LaPrelle is a world-renowned ballad singer who resides on a farm in Rural Retreat, VA. The student of master singer Ginny Hawker and National Heritage Fellow Sheila Kay Adams, LaPrelle was the first recipient of the Henry Reed Award from the Library of Congress at age 16, and won the 2012 Mike Seeger Award at Folk Alliance International. She has been hailed as “the best young Appalachian ballad singer to emerge in recent memory” by UK’s fRoots Magazine.

We're really excited for their new record on Smithsonian! Here's a little information on that as well...

Rarely does an album based on traditional folk music resonate so strongly in modern times, but Anna & Elizabeth’s new album The Invisible Comes to Us taps into their imagination-fueled arsenal to present a work of unique, genre-bending storytelling and sonic exploration. Lauded by many well-known musicians and widely loved for their moving minimalist arrangements, Anna & Elizabeth’s partnership pioneers new ways of presenting old songs and stories to modern audiences. Co-producer Benjamin Lazar Davis (of Cuddle Magic) and musicians like legendary avant-rock drummer Jim White (The Dirty Three, Xylouris White) assist in the duo’s vision of breathing life and new perspective into the crackling and disintegrating recordings and artifacts of the past. The Invisible Comes to Us is Anna & Elizabeth’s third full-length album and first with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, available Spring 2018. House and Land is the duo of Sally Anne Morgan (fiddle, shruti box, banjo, vocals) and Sarah Louise Henson (vocals, 12-string guitar, shruti box, bouzouki). Sally and Sarah started playing together after Sarah opened for The Black Twig Pickers for whom Sally plays the fiddle. The duo quickly discovered that they were both interested in the same very specific forms of traditional music. Additionally, they both viewed it through the lens of their shared love of modern, experimental and minimal music. “We honor what two voices and bodies can do in one moment in time. It totally shapes our sound.” Guitarist, Shane Parish. How does one arrive at the creation of an album like “Undertaker Please Drive Slow”?

Here is a boy who, at age 14, picks up a guitar for the first time and decides “this is it!” This is the escape hatch from the tragedy and trauma of an unstable childhood in the sweltering heat, chaos and congestion of sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In music Parish finds stability and eternity and truth, elevated beyond the work-a-day grind and fight for mere survival. There is no music in his childhood home aside from what is being administered on the TV and radio, so music must be sought out and discovered, in the days before everything is instantly discoverable. There is jazz and blues and Cuban and classical music in South Florida. There are innumerable Florida death metal bands and Marilyn Manson is an unsigned local act. Riffs by Iron Maiden and Metallica and Pink Floyd are being passed around by friends, and the friends form bands, and write songs, and try to be original. The ego is broken down and made permeable by the ingestion of psychedelics, and music and life become integrated on a cellular and spiritual level… Naturally, school and work hold very little interest at this point, and the boy Parish drops out and tells everyone he is going to just play guitar.

Here is a young man who, at age 26, has just played his first international jazz festival in Austria with his confrontational, no-holds-barred, avant-garde, instrumental rock band, Ahleuchatistas [AH-LOO-CHA-TEES-TAS]. It’s really just a punk band in this incarnation, almost like Fugazi meets Captain Beefheart. The crowd loves it and the world feels less lonely. Parish is on the cusp of wrapping up a university degree in philosophy, in which he becomes deeply immersed in the anarcho-musico-Buddhist ideas of composer John Cage. He has long dipped his toe in different styles of guitar playing, but has barely scratched the surface, really. Parish’s explorations are now led by an ethos of wide open curiosity and awareness. Jazz is an obsession and John Coltrane is a guiding light in any situation. There is a radio interview with Coltrane in the early 60’s, just before he goes on to record “A Love Supreme”, in which he talks about how he is currently trying to “deepen his roots” because he “skipped over a lot of stuff”. This conversation leaves a lasting impression.

Here is a family man who, at age 38, makes his living playing gigs and teaching lessons. Still very much the experimentalist, touring musician and collaborator, with over 20 albums in his discography, he has spent the past decade cultivating a more embodied approach to playing the guitar: how to pull out the most beautiful sound, or whatever desired effect, by following the breath and touching the string just so. Parish has taught himself classical guitar, as a practice like meditation or Yoga or Tai Chi. As a boy he thought the tape was warped and that was why Andres Segovia’s guitar sounded like flowing water. Now Parish knows that being completely in the moment is the real cause. He turns to the blues and folk music where a universal magic is being shared and passed down generations and permeating every other form of music. Elizabeth Cotten and John Hurt hypnotize and heal with a simple root-five bass line, like a pulse, in four-four time and fill up all the cracks with sparkling melody. Parish sings folk songs to his young daughter and, through her new ears, begins to truly appreciate the regional music of his adopted home in the Appalachian town of Asheville, North Carolina. One winter’s night, just before bed, he thinks, “I’ll write an arrangement of ‘The Cuckoo’ for solo guitar.” Instead, Parish records 45 minutes of music, twelve folk songs, in a trance-like effortless stream of free association. He goes to sleep. It’s as if someone else played it, and he listens to the recording in the coming days twenty or more times. He sends it to friends and labels. The music catches the ear of the great and famous composer and saxophonist, John Zorn, who lives up in New York City. Zorn asks Parish if he would like to record on better equipment, offering him a small budget, and tells him that he can record it whenever he feels ready.

Six months later a recording session in a cabin in the woods yields a 15-song album of original arrangements and improvisations of gospel, folk, blues, field hollers, Child ballads, Scottish traditionals, and Appalachian tunes. Undertaker Please Drive Slow.

"A long time resident of the Appalachian town of Asheville, North Carolina, Shane Parish is the mastermind behind the cutting edge rock band Ahleuchatistas.

Here he steps out with a remarkable and soulful acoustic solo project that digs deep into Appalachian roots. Taking classic old timey folk songs, Shane has abstracted them in utterly fascinating ways evoking the haunting and brooding world of the American South.

At times reminiscent of John Fahey and Robbie Basho, at times of John Cage and Morton Feldman, Shane uses these beautiful songs as launching pads for his creative flights of fancy, at times boiling them down to their very essence." -John Zorn

"Shane Parish is one of the most interesting new guitar voices to come out of the country blues tradition of Mississippi John Hurt, Lightin Hopkins… via John Fahey, and the folkie fingerpickers….this recording finds Parish standing at the cross-roads between playing the country blues and… deconstructing? Devolving? Destroying?…them.
Some of the miniatures are stunning, haunted by an Anton Webern-like economy. Check it out!" -Marc Ribot