Lori McKenna’s first name is actually Lorraine. Now you know. She began performing her songs in public at age 27, after her and her husband Gene already had three children. She and Gene continue to maintain a happy home in Stoughton, Massachusetts, adding two more children to their full lives. In addition to family, place has an important role in Lori’s songs. She eventually became a staple of the Boston folk music scene, where she became friendly with Mary Gauthier. “We were the two old ladies in a sea of young faces,” she jokes. When Gauthier picked up and left for Nashville, she brought Lori’s music to the attention of her publisher. They got her music into the hands of Faith Hill, who fell hard for Lori’s songs. Hill recorded three of them for her album Fireflies. Lori’s way of articulating the love, pain and pathos of domestic life had a huge impact on Hill, and Hill’s very public championing of Lori’s music led other artists to Lori’s songs. Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Alison Krauss, Keith Urban and LeAnn Rimes are among the many that have recorded her songs in recent years.
Discovered in an impromptu 3 am hotel room jam at a music conference when he was just 23, Erelli was finishing up a graduate degree in evolutionary biology when his self-titled debut was released in 1999. He hit the ground running when he won the prestigious Kerrville New Folk contest, joining the ranks of past winners such as Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith. With his sophomore release, Compass & Companion, Erelli embarked on a non-stop touring schedule, sharing the stage with the likes of Dave Alvin, John Hiatt, and Gillian Welch. Erelli's albums spent weeks in the top ten of the Americana radio charts and garnered four Boston Music Award nominations.
It was the early 1980s when Boston bluegrasser Taylor Armerding, co-founder of the band Northern Lights, started his 5-year-old son, Jake, on Suzuki violin. Jake studied classical violin into high school and absorbed bluegrass just by being around the house. At 13, he joined Northern Lights on fiddle and recorded three albums with the band during his high school and college years. He soon turned his attention to songwriting, and recorded his first CD, Caged Bird, while at Wheaton College (IL). In 2003, Nashville independent label Compass released Jake Armerding, a collection of folk-pop songs written over a year living in Music City. The Washington Post lauded Armerding's instrumental skills as "remarkable," while the Boston Globe heralded him "a master at bending boundaries ... his real achievement has been to break the conventions that define country music.”
Master of acoustic and electric bass, Zack Hickman has played pump organ, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, upright piano, ukulele, trombone and sousaphone at performances in the past. (The trombone was hanging on the wall of a club in Carbondale, CO, lending some insight into Zack's generally ambitious nature.) One of the few for whom superlatives truly fail, Zack has been featured in both the Improper Bostonian and Stuff Boston. Swears loudly and creatively, often as part of preshow warm-up routine. Plays the bass as if someone were going to take it away from him.
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