Monday, April 30, 2007
Once upon a time, four friends started a bluegrass band despite the fact that only one of them had any experience playing bluegrass. Five years later, The Prairie Acre is one of the most accomplished string-band outfits in the Midwest. The Lawrence group's third self-released record "Jaybird and the Sparrow-Hawk" is loaded with hot doses of revivalist old-timey fare, documenting the sound of a band hitting its stride and having a heck of a good time doing it. Fiddler Tricia Spencer and upright bassist Virginia Musser (both singers as well) visited our podcast studios to discuss Jaybirds, family values and all things old-timey.
Once upon a time, four friends started a bluegrass band despite the fact that only one of them had any experience playing bluegrass. Five years later, The Prairie Acre is one of the most accomplished string-band outfits in the Midwest. The Lawrence group's third self-released record "Jaybird and the Sparrow-Hawk" ...
No-fi excerpts from the podcast
lawrence.com: Tell us a little bit about the origin of the name for this record.
Virginia: It's actually a lyric from the song "Sugar Hill" that we do: "Jaybird and the Sparrow-Hawk got in a little fight together" : We liked that it was almost "Jayhawk" but not quite : We had all kinds of rejected song titles. I think our favorite was from a song on the album called "Cindy" and the lyric was "Take a Bite Out of Me." But we weren't sure that seemed like an upstanding family kind of name.
And you are a family-friendly band?
Tricia: I think some of that is because we have families, and I guess that's just who we are. We're pretty laid back, simple people.
- Sunday, May 6, 2007, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Replay Lounge, 946 Mass., Lawrence
- All ages / $3
So even late at night at Winfield, if we were to catch you at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night-would it still be family friendly?
Virginia: Yeah. Unfortunately, we couldn't be un-family-friendly if we tried. You know how there's Pecan Grove and Walnut Grove? We're not even in one of those Groves, we're like north of the highway. Most nights at Winfield if you come over at 1 a.m. our campsite is out.
The new record was recorded live in your living room, right?
Tricia: The beauty about this CD is that it's not perfect-it's exactly what we would sound like if you were to find us on the street. There's no fancy tricks : There's something pretty cool and pure about that.
What goes into the process of seeking out songs and how do you decide which ones you want to play?
Virginia: One of the big things for us is arranging music, because a lot of these are traditional songs. So how do you make them different from everybody else? If we really like a song we're going to sit down and dissect it and make it a Prairie Acre song. Those are the ones that are most successful.
Could you suggest a few starting places for people who are new to the bluegrass/old-timey genres?
Virginia: I started out with Bela Fleck, which is a nice mainstream choice : Right now we're on such an old-time kick. We're into The Freight Hoppers : They were young people making old-time music, which can be hard to find : Of course, being in Kansas, you have to listen to The Wilders.
Tell me more about the formation of the band.
Tricia: Virginia and Noah went out and decided they were going to buy a bass, but they were only going to buy it if it actually fit in their Honda Civic : Virginia took it home, and I remember the first gig we all had this book in front of us.
I was the only one who actually had some (bluegrass) experience. I started when I was four and learned from my grandpa : He had a gas station out of Route 40 and he's actually quite well-known with a lot of musicians who live in this area : There were two chairs at the gas station and he would have somebody play guitar while he played fiddle. When I was growing up, I just thought everybody had lots of fiddles and guitars and mandolins because that's all I saw and all I ever heard.