A BIT MORE ABOUT THE ALBUM....
We knew from the outset a couple of things were different about this album.
First off, this record is all about the songs. In other projects, we'd focused on trying to capture a flavor of our live shows. Not that the songwriting wasn't important on those projects. It was. But we felt that our new material was some of the best songwriting we've managed, and we wanted to make it the center of this project.
We also knew from the outset that we wanted to work with a band. We got a fantastic group of musicians together. Our rhythm section is Chris Hepola (Poor Nobody's, Cactus Blossoms) on drums and Liz Draper (Okee Dokee Brothers) on upright bass. Instrumentalists include Toni Lindgren (Reina del Cid) on electric guitar; Patrick Harison (Patty and the Buttons) on accordion, lap steel, and washboard; and Randy Broughton (Trailer Trash, Gear Daddies) on pedal steel. Chris Hepola played some keys, as did Joe's sister Marya Hart, a stalwart of the Twin Cities music scene. A few other folks got involved as well, including Adam Kiesling on banjo, Nikki's brother, Cory Grossman, and trumpet player Gerard Ahlgren. Taken together, this crew was fantastic--great musicians, and happy, no-drama workers.
The other thing we knew from the start about this record is that we wanted to work with a producer. Our good friend and fantastic studio/recording engineer Tom Herbers (Low, Trampled by Turtles, Charlie Parr) would of course be involved. We couldn't imagine making anything without him. But we also wanted a producer on board to help shape the music and the record as a record.
We were sitting around one night discussing this fact, and as it happened the Richard and Linda Thompson album, "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight" was playing. If you don't know this recording, run out and buy it right now. It's one of the greatest masterworks of the British folk-rock era. One or the other of us said, half jokingly, "Let's get the guy who made this record to help us with ours."
On a whim, we went ahead and looked him up... turns out it's the producer/engineer John Wood. With Joe Boyd, John established Sound Techniques studio in London in the early 1960s--and proceeded to make some of the greatest records of all time... not only for Richard and Linda Thompson, but for Fairport Convention, Incredible String Band, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd.
We were a bit intimidated by John's pedigree--but we went ahead and threw some of our CDs in the mail, along with a letter querying his interest in the project. Much to our surprise, he wrote back saying he'd love to be involved.
Working with John has been fantastic. He's had insightful comments on the demos, and now that we are done with the studio work, we'll be shipping all the files to him at his hunting lodge in Northern Scotland, where he will do the final mixes of the album. Needless to say, we are delighted to have someone who's nickname is "Magic Fingers" crafting the sound for the record.
After mastering, we'll be into production--vinyl and digital--with a release date and tour to follow shortly after. Again, you'll be the first to know about our dates.
For now, we're back home in the Ocooch Mountains, welcoming spring and celebrating Neva Rose's first birthday.
Hope to see all of you down the road...
WHAT A YEAR it has been...
With fridgid temps settling in, we're pulling our chairs a little closer to the fire---and warmed even more by remembered tales of summer adventures on the road with new friends and old. So we're reaching out to all of you to say thanks... Since Neva Rose was born, we've put more than 10,000 miles beneath us bringing our music to folks like you. We feel honored, grateful, and privaleged to live this life.
And now--a new record is in the works. With more touring to follow. We'll be posting lots of news after the new year about all of that.
But for now--warm thoughts to you and yours. See you next year...
WE'RE PUTTING UP A LOT of new dates every day on our website calendar page! We're on the road every weekend through November, with stops throughout the Midwest. Please check out our calendar and come see us! If you live in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri--well we just might be coming your way. Here's a little video about our plans... ;)
IF YOU ARE WONDERING what we've been up to, well they say a picture is worth a 1000... Neva Rose Vera Grossman was born on March 17, 2016, at 2:38 in the afternoon. Since then, we've mostly been hanging around the house marveling at this little miracle.
Not that we've neglected the Sapsuckers entirely! We are continuing to write new songs, including one called The Flower Girl, which we debuted in January at a sold-out show at the Underground Theater in Viroqua. We've posted a video of it, and we'd love you to watch, like, and comment on it on our YouTube feed.
We're also continuing to fill in the details of our summer schedule, which we will be posting soon. Some exciting travel in our future that we're excited to share with you. Stay tuned for that!
As always, if you'd like to keep abreast of the Sapsuckers news, please sign up for our newsletter right here at the CONTACTS page.
And finally, be sure to check out the absolutely fantastic new album from Jack Klatt, which was recorded alongside ours at the Ark art center in Viroqua. You can learn more about the album here: www.differentfolkrecords.com.
Nikki + Joe
WE PLAYED OUR LAST GIG, for the time being, last Friday. A delightful hour at a nearby nursing home--perhaps the purest performance a musician can ask for. No posing, no worries, no status. Just music, and the way it connects us.
And now... we're here, quiet, and waiting for our baby to come meet us.
Quiet--not so much actually, between the croaks of the migrating Sandhill Cranes, whines of another pregnant cat (oy vey), and laughter from the steady parade of bright-eyed, fun-loving, and passionate teenagers, friends of Joe's daughter, who grace our home with their enthusiasm.
Still, our performance schedule is (except for a few local events) on hold until late May. Stay tuned for an update announcement, because we'll be hitting the road in full force come then.
While Nikki readies for the baby, Joe works at de-constructing our new transport vehicle (pictured above), a 1977 Coachmen Leprechaun. The poor little bugger sat for years in a storage lot before he found his way to us. Joe's found "surprisingly little structural damage." Faint praise? Look past the chaos, he says, to the solid bones beneath. Pictures to come.
So stay tuned for baby, and stay tuned for a fun summer. We will see you on the road. And we'll be thrilled for you to meet the newest member of the Sapsucker crew.
RADIO LOVE, TOUR EXCITEMENT, AND SONG STRIDES: NEWS FROM SAPSUCKERVILLE
Howdy folks! January is upon us, and we figgered that it's high time to bring you up to date on our doins' as a band and as people.
JANUARY TOUR: Our biggest news and most important current project is our upcoming Frozen Solid tour). This tour will take us and our friends Sandler, Kendra and Shawn of A kin up to the blustery wilds of northern Minnesota, where we hope to get many frostbitten toes a-tappin'. We continue, daily, to plan and publicize for our impending adventure. Though we're beginning to question our judgement in traveling to even colder climes at this time of year, we know we'll get a warm reception from friends old and new! All dates are posted on our DATES page.
KUDOS FOR THE RECORD: News that has us busting our buttons with pride comes from music blog, Ear To The Ground. They were kind enough to review our album, Ocooch Mountain Home, back in September, and have more recently named our track Kiss Away as number 17 on their list of top 20 songs of the year. We couldn't be more tickled.
Likewise, KDHX radio DJ Kelly Wells, from our home-away-from-home in St. Louis, named Ocooch Mountain Home as one of her top 10 picks for the year! We're very honored, and feel a lot of gratitude for all the props and promotion Kelly has given us over the past couple of years. We're looking forward to heading down there to play the KDHX Folk & Roots session on Feb 12!
Finally, American Roots UK has chosen the record for its list of 2015 Albums of the Year. We are so honored to be included in all of these lists and accolades, and don't forget you can listen and purchase the album right here.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH.... Last Saturday, we rolled on down to our local community radio station, WDRT, to appear as guests on the Driftless Weekend show (listen to it here). We played a few tunes and yukked it up with our buddies Mike and Genie Nordskog, and went out to breakfast at the Viking Inn afterwards. Good times had by all!
This week we have also been holing up in our cozy home, making some exciting progress on new musical material. Nikki has finished 2 new fiddle tunes, The Dump Run Rag and Pass The Buck. The former is a straight-up, rollicking fiddle rag with a jazzy twist or two.
Dump Run has been giving poor Joe a run for his money--it is chock-full of tricky key changes and rhythmic bugaboos. In desperation, he enlisted Nikki's brother, Cory, who is a professional cellist and composer, to transcribe Dump Run as Christmas present to Nikki--and as a tool to help Joe figure out what the heck to play on the guitar! Cory, after valiantly facing and conquering the Dump Run challenge, was heard to remark that his sister's head should be examined. Or something along those lines.
Joe has penned a charming song that is currently operating under the title of My Flower Girl. Originally intended as a Charlie Poole-style vaudeville-esque love ballad, it has taken on very subtle flavors of Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard as well. It should be ready to trot out on our Frozen Solid tour, along with a handful of other new offerings!
QUILTS, ANCESTORS AND SNOWSTORMS: A PEEPHOLE INTO OUR WORLD
We've been having a warm, wet, brownish-green time of it so far here in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin. Until this week, that is, when the sky opened up and dumped several inches of snow on us! We have plenty of projects to work on inside, and didn't let it worry us overmuch when we were unable to get the car out of the driveway for a day or so.
Nikki has been plugging away at one of her favorite winter pastimes--sewing projects. She does all her sewing by hand, because she's inept at using sewing machines. She finished a baby quilt for her nephew, Adam, who was just born on December 16th! She got to meet him last week when she went up to visit family for the holidays. She's also on the home stretch of finishing a quilt for Joe, which she started making about about 3 years ago. The top is all wool fabric, and the borders are made from an old, worn-out Hudson Bay blanket from Joe's childhood. It should be done within a week or so, finally!
You may or may not know that we are expecting a baby in March! Nikki and baby are healthy and doing fine. We are pretty sure, based on compelling evidence, that it's a girl, and we've even got a name all picked out, after Nikki's great-grandmother and great-great aunt on her Dad's side. Nikki's parents gave her a very special Christmas present of a beautiful photo of those two ladies when they were little girls.
CONCERT JANUARY 23 AT THE HISTORIC PIONEER PLACE
CLICK FOR TICKETS
The Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers are very pleased to announce that they'll be bringing their brand-new take on old-time music to the historic Pioneer Place on Fifth Theater in downtown Saint Cloud on Saturday, January 23.
“Old-time country music is all about bringing folks together and adding a little fun to life,” says Sapsucker Joe Hart (guitar, vocals), who grew up in Grand Portage, MN. “Winter is the perfect time to cut a rug.”
Expect a lively and rollicking performance of polkas, country harmony songs, and hilarious novelty tunes from Hart and his partner Nikki Grossman (fiddle, guitar, vocals), who together make up the band named one of five "Americana Bands you have to Hear to Believe" by Ear to the Ground Music and "A match made in heaven" by American Roots UK.
WATCH their videos here.
LISTEN to their widely acclaimed new album, "Ocooch Mountain Home" here.
BROWSE their photos here.
CONTACT the band.
Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available online by clicking this link, by phone at 320-203-0331, or in person at the box office at 22 Fifth Ave South. Doors open at 7 p.m.
The Sapsuckers, based in rural southwestern Wisconsin, performs original songs and fiddle tunes inspired by the classic hillbilly, western-swing, and old-time fiddling traditions—and they also mine this same repertoire for forgotten gems that deserve to be heard again.
A hard-booking band, they perform frequently at music festivals, in bars and listening rooms, and as a dance band for square and contra dances. Their live performances are popular for their lively, humorous stage show and skilled musicianship.
Their second album, “Ocooch Mountain Home,” (2015), has received high praise from the likes of fROOTS, which called out the duo’s “Enchanting harmonies” and “note-perfect old-time fiddle playing,” and Bluegrass Today, which lauded their “impressive… enjoyable take on old-time music.” Ear to the Ground Music named the Sapsuckers one of “5 Americana bands you have to Hear to Believe,” and chose the song “Kiss Away” for their list of top-twenty best singles of 2015.
Starting in January, the Sapsuckers will be braving the cold snap with our friends A Kin (Sandler Waggoner, Shawn Neary, and Kendra Swanson) for our “Frozen Solid” tour through northern Minnesota.
Confirmed dates are below; watch our calendar page for more dates to be added as confirmed!
Wednesday, January 13 – Viroqua, WI, location TBA
Thursday, January 14, 7 p.m. – Acoustic Café, Eau Claire, WI, 505 S Barstow St, Free
Friday, January 15, 9 p.m. – Red Herring Lounge, Duluth, MN 208 E 1st St, $7/10
Saturday, January 16, 7:30 p.m. – Tamarack Square Dance, Duluth, MN, 404 W Superior St, $8
Sunday, January 17, 7:00 p.m. – Gun Flint Tavern, Grand Marais, MN, 111 W Wisconsin St., Free
Monday, January 18, Finland, MN, location TBD
Please help us spread the word!
We are independent, DIY musicians—we don’t have a label, a manager, a booking agent, or a PR agency to help us get the word out. That means we count on folks like you! Can you take a few minutes to make a few clicks in support of the tour? Here’s how:
1. Share this announcement on your social media accounts.
2. Join and share our Facebook invites for the individual shows and invite your friends. Below are direct links to each date:
Duluth (Red Herring)
Duluth (Square dance)
3. Like and share us on YouTube and Facebook!
Check out this live video and if you like it, post it to your page. That way folks can see what they might be getting at the gigs.
Thanks again for all you do…
Just a quick note from Sapsucker-ville to remind you that the second in our series of four house concerts that we're curating and hosting is coming up on Friday, August 14. Media folks, please check out our press release. As always, we'd love to send you music, photos, etc.--whatever you need to help get the word out.
This time we are featuring two fantastic acoustic folk singer/songwriters, both with ties to the North Shore area of Lake Superior in Minnesota. Barbara Jean is an award-winning songwriter who performs on banjo, fiddle, and guitar; and Bill and Kate Isles from Duluth, MN, are a lovely harmony duo who've been performing regionally and nationally for more than a decade.
It all takes place starting at 7 p.m. on our farm, located at S3947 County Road S, about 10 miles from Viroqua, WI. Price is $10 for adults and children are free. There will also be a taco bar!
We hope to see you there!!
Joe + Nikki
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