Artist in Focus: Haunt the House

Hope you’re all amped for Folk fest this weekend. As part of our Artist in Focus series we interviewed Will Houlihan of Haunt The House. Make sure you check him and others out at the festival this Saturday, April 25th.

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How did you get started in music?

That’s a long, involved question. I guess I’ll start at the very beginning… my earliest memory of being involved in music is when my sister was getting piano lessons. I remember watching her play… she was into it, but not interested enough to pursue it. And so, I had been really moved by the song she had played at the time. I had grown up in a very sheltered community so I didn’t really have much in the way of music exposure until high school. I had traditional style music, like only hymns, but I didn’t know that I wanted to be a musician until I was 20. I remember sitting in my truck listening to a band and thinking, I want to be a part of this. I want to make other people feel the way this is making me feel…I really started writing after my second divorce, I would force myself to go to open mics and write songs that could stand alone with just a guitar.

How did you come up with the name Haunt the House?

It’s both a play on words, a description, and a spiritual reference. When I started writing music, I really wanted to focus on saying something. At the time, I was going through a really difficult period in my life and I had a lot of hurt and anxiety and a lot of loss. So, I just needed to express that. When I first started playing music, people would come up to me after my set and say “that was so haunting” so it kind of stuck with me. And then, I was thinking about the spiritual aspect of it. I have a very strong foundation in Christianity and that’s something I base a lot of my work out of. I was thinking about the idea that the Holy Spirit inhabits your body, and your body is the temple of the Lord… and then temple transferred to house to make Haunt the House. And it just stuck.

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Artist in Focus: Laney Jones and the Lively Spirits

Brown University Folk Festival is ecstatic to welcome Laney Jones back to Providence, this year with her band, the Lively Spirits. She graciously took time off her tour to call in for an interview. Read all about her new sound, and pet kangaroos, below and see her on April 25th on Lincoln Field!

10500538_799085520135404_6963905488909548312_nHow did you get started in music?

I’ve always been a music listener. I had taken lessons when I was younger, but I hadn’t really started getting involved with music until 4 years ago. I was at school studying business and got really bored after my first semester. I didn’t love the major and I didn’t know what I wanted to do so from there, I started teaching myself guitar. It grew from a hobby, to a passion, to a job.

So you’ve taught yourself quite a few instruments then…

I have. I started off on guitar, played around on the ukulele, and then borrowed a friend’s banjo. It felt totally great. Of late, I’ve been mostly a banjo player.

Do you come from a musical family, or did you learn mostly from school?

Mostly from school or from my own listening. None of my folks play instruments or have taken me to concerts, but now they really support it.

So have you seen any cool concerts lately?

I saw Hurray for the Riff Raff this past summer, they’re always really great.

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I heard you grew up on an exotic animal farm, what was that like?

It wasn’t necessarily like a farm, but there were definitely exotic animals. My parents got to retire early so they sold their business and kept the land. They got some pretty weird and cool things. Instead of growing up with dogs, I grew up for kangaroos. It was crazy to some people. Like, before kindergarten, everyone has to get testing to make sure you’re ready to go to school. The person who was testing me asked what a fence was. I told him it’s what holds my Kangaroos and he thought I had an overactive imagination. I had to get psychological testing for a week at an outside facility because he didn’t think to check with my parents.

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Artist in Focus: Sage Snider

Folk Fest is proud to present, for the second year in a row, Sage Snider. See her play on Saturday, April 25th.

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Sage Snider describes herself as a “radical fiddler.” Hers is truly a show you have to see to believe. Simultaneously combine one part fiddling, one part singing, and one part tap dancing and you can start to imagine exactly how radical the experience is.

Sage started playing violin under the Suzuki  method at the age of three, learning to read music before learning to read. Her mastery of classical violin lead her to a violin conference wherein she first discovered fiddling. She fell in love with playing and interpreting music beyond the notes on the page and has been doing just that ever since. A self-described, “obsessive-practicer,” Sage surrounds herself with her many instruments so, in a moments notice, she can translate her thoughts into sounds.

Sage comes from a family comprised of composers and prodigies and certainly fits right in. While an undergrad at Yale, she played in both the Symphony Orchestra and Bluegrass Band. She’s lived in Vermont as a resort musician and a member of a rock band. Currently, she’s pursuing a graduate degree at Brown studying American History and Music History.

For Sage, growing musically is growing socially. She collaborates with other musicians once a week and loves the challenge of navigating a new group dynamic. She feels inspired by the musical conversations she has through her instrument and strives to “jam intelligently.” She’s also inspired by her favorite artists, some of whom she’s studied under, such as Chris Thile, Mark O’Connor, Bruce Molsky, and Casey Drissen.

We were completely blow away by her set at last year’s Folk Festival, which she earned after winning our Student Battle of the Bands. Sage is currently preparing a Solo Show within the TAPS department at Brown, drawing a lot of influence from Civil War era fiddling. We can expect her trying out some new pieces from her studies at this year’s Folk Fest. While talking with us, Sage also discussed how she loves covering music because it allows her to translate more emotion and personal sentiment through her interpretation. In following last year’s covers of “If I Die Young” and “Devil Went Down To Georgia,” we can expect to be moved and awed by more covers this year.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see an incredibly dedicated and talented Brunonian folk out on Lincoln Field, April 25th.

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Lineup Announcement!

1277824_654336897953935_1664447612658030408_oThe time has finally come, festers! The official 2015 lineup has been released! Check out our Artist in Focus series right here on the blog for more information about the artists, and poke around the website for volunteer info, directions, and contact info for any other questions you may have. Also be sure to check out and share our Facebook event to let your friends know where you’ll be that weekend.

Friday, April 24th is $2 at Pembroke Field House — you can buy your tickets right here!

Saturday, April 25th is free and open to the public on Lincoln Field!

Want to help out at the Fest? We’re always looking for volunteers! Check out the volunteers page to get in touch with us.

Shoot us an email with any questions at brownfolkfest@gmail.com… and get stoked for the Fest!

Folk yeah!

Artist In Focus: Tall Tall Trees

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Welcome back, Festers! As the days get warmer and Spring is finally underway, we’re excited to debut even more performers in our Artist In Focus series! Mike Savino, known as Tall Tall Trees, took some time out of his busy rehearsing and performing schedule to chat with us about his music and the Folk Fest! Be sure to come watch his performance on Friday, April 24th at the Pembroke Field House!

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Tell us about yourself! How did you get started in music? How did Tall Tall Trees start?

I’ve been involved in music for a really long time, and I started performing as Tall Tall Trees in 2010 or so. Tall Tall Trees started as a four-piece band, and has kind of evolved into a one-man band thing using a lot of leaps and technology to expand the range of banjo in modern music!

I picked up saxophone in fourth grade, and I’ve really been playing music since then. I started in the public school system playing in band, and I just stuck with it the whole time! I’ve played everything from saxophone to bass to double bass, and now I play banjo mostly. Someone gave me a banjo when I was in college, and I had always loved the sound of a banjo. So I started to mess with it in my early 20s, but I got really serious about it in about 2005, when I was like, “Wow. I want to write songs and play banjo.” So I’ve been playing that long, developing my own style!

Where did the name Tall Tall Trees come from? Continue reading

Artist In Focus: Big Jim + The Sister Wives

IMG_4509Thanks for checking back in, Festers! We’re so excited to present our second winners of Battle of the Bands, Big Jim + The Sister Wives! They will be playing with Kale on Friday, April 24th at the Pembroke Field House. These two lovely ladies (unfortunately Big Jim was missing again, he’s really been slacking on his appearances) sat down with us to chat about their music and experience as a band!

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Tell us a bit about yourselves! Where are you from? How did you get to Brown? How did you meet each other?

Elaina: I’ll be starting at the PhD program in June, we’re in the Biochem program and work in the same lab, that’s actually how we met! I’m from Seattle. I went to undergrad here, then I started a Masters program, and now I’m doing a PhD program, so it will be 7 years so far of being in Providence.

Vè: I’m from Maryland, from the suburbs. I came here to start my PhD program right after undergrad. I wish I would’ve taken a break, hindsight 20/20. I met Elaina when I came here because she was working on her Masters in a lab, and then… well, we didn’t do anything musical at first. She was in random bands with a bunch of different people, all with very interesting names.

Elaina: Biscuits and Groovy, one where we do really bad impersonations between every song…

Vè: We did an open mic in November, and then we were like, “Yeah, let’s do this! There’s no other time.”

Elaina: I was like, “Let’s practice all the time!” and Vè was like, “Let’s perform all the time, and then practice!” Continue reading

Artist In Focus: The Four Legged Faithful

photo1Greetings, Festers! Hopefully y’all are holding up in your first week back from Spring Break — I know we’re thinking about that sunny, folky, lovely weekend coming up soon… To get us all in the mood, and even more stoked for April 24th and 25th, check out our next artist in focus, The Four Legged Faithful!

We had the privilege to speak with Jon, the designated “band dad” to learn a bit about the band and their sound. They will be playing at the Pembroke Field House on Friday April 24th!

10363682_10201446578044881_5757969148982549846_nTell us about yourselves! Who is in the band? How did y’all meet?

There are four of us! I (Jon Kaplan) am the designated “band dad,” and I play the mandolin, percussion, and contribute to the vocals — all of us sing, actually. Matthew Migliori plays the acoustic guitar and dobro. Nate Pelletier plays the banjo and percussion. And Joseph Pierog plays the upright bass and percussion as well! We all came together in very different ways. Matt, Nate, and Joseph had been playing together for a few months. Joseph was a musician his whole life (he went to Berklee College of Music), and works as a sound engineer. Matt and Joseph played together in a jam band around 7 or 10 years ago, and their sound developed through a kind of jamming relationship.

Matt and Nate ended up meeting in a funny way — Matt’s sister and Nate’s brother got together and got married with a kid, so Matt and Nate are sort of like brothers, in a way. Nate eventually started to pick up the banjo, he’s been a drummer his whole life. And ironically, we’ve all been drummers in other bands, but we have no drummer in our band — we all just contribute to percussion in different ways than a typical drumset.

I went to high school with Nate, and he eventually said, “Hey, my brother and I have been looking to do folk stuff, I just picked up the banjo. Are you still playing mandolin?” I said yes, and he sent some of their music over MySpace (I’m not sure if you still know what that is…). I looked into what Nate and Matt had… funny enough, I hated the first three songs, but absolutely loved the last one. “If they’re doing anything like that, I’m absolutely in,” I thought. And that was about five years ago!

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