Date: Wednesday, 28th August 2019
Time: 7:00 pm
With their enchanting debut album, Dreamsongs, Etc., Bill and the Belles have captured the freewheeling, lighthearted approach to music that has endeared them to listeners of every generation. With a spirited sound that falls somewhere between old-time country and vaudeville, the group puts its own spin on a golden era of music, specifically the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.
As a result, a majority of the material on DreamSongs, Etc., is original, from the upbeat number, “Wedding Bell Chimes,” through the yearning ode to youth, “Back to My Childhood Days.” While Truelsen’s distinctive tenor anchors the project, the Tennessee-based band’s trio harmonies gleam against a backdrop of banjo, fiddle, accordion, ukulele, and clarinet.
“The title seemed appropriate in that a lot of the songs are about dreaming for something better, better days, better lovers, better whatever it may be,” Truelsen says. “Not to mention many of the songs we chose to sing are about the sentimental dreamer.”
The band takes its name from Bill and Belle Reed, performers from the 1920s who recorded the songs “Old Lady and the Devil” and “You Shall Be Free” in Johnson City, Tennessee. Truelsen says, “That was the first time I heard ‘Old Lady and the Devil,’ and since then it’s become clear to me why it’s stood the test of time. Simple, plaintive, stripped-down but incredibly expressive, tough as nails and funny as hell. I first heard that side on the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music, a collection that continues to inspire. Our band’s name is a way to honour their music, the music of this place, and this region in general that we’ve come to call home.
The trio recorded around one microphone while rounding out the sound with addition of accordion and clarinet. Home-cooked meals and picturesque surroundings made the experience even more rewarding. “The small cities like Johnson City and Bristol tucked in between the mountains are inspiring to me,” Truelsen says. “I find the tension of urban and countryside to be a beautiful thing.”
After growing up in the mountains of Colorado, Truelsen rambled through Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago, before landing in Johnson City in 2011.
“The musical history of the region is what brought me here,” he says. “I have long listened to recordings from ‘20s and ‘30s, and once you start digging into the stories and the people behind the music it’s incredible to find how many talented musicians through the years made their home in these mountains. How many people were drawn here because of the advent of location recordings, development of radio, and various music-making opportunities that were hard to come by in certain parts of the world.”
Of course one of the most prominent artists with ties to the area is Jimmie Rodgers, known as the Father of Country Music. DreamSongs, Etc. includes superb renditions of his compositions “Carolina Sunshine Gal” and “Tuck Away My Lonesome Blues,” which fit neatly into the album’s overall vibe.
KRIS TRUELSEN (guitar, vocal) was raised in the mountains of Colorado and has been an avid fan of early country music most of his life. As the first to earn his masters degree in Appalachian Studies from East Tennessee State University, he continues to expand and share his knowledge of traditional American music. As Producer and Music Director of Radio Bristol, housed in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Kris’ music, philosophy, and enthusiasm touch audiences internationally. Kris produces and hosts the historic radio program “Farm and Fun Time” and daily morning program “On the Sunny Side.” He has been nominated as IBMA Broadcaster of the Year for 2017 and 2018 and his show Farm and Fun Time has been nominated for Event of the Year 2017 and 2018.
KALIA YEAGLE’s (fiddle, vocal) expressive and versatile fiddling is quickly positioning her at the forefront of a new generation of acoustic musicians. She takes inspiration from her upbringing in Alaska, where long winters and strong, diverse communities have produced a music scene unlike any other. Her music is undeniably of the mountains, both the Chugach and the Blue Ridge. As a scholar of Appalachian Studies, she studied the rich musical heritage of the region with special interest in early country music’s pioneering female artists.
HELENA HUNT (banjo, banjo ukulele, vocal) has been steeped in old time and traditional music from a very young age, first picking up the banjo when she was 8 years old. A Waynesville, NC native, Helena went through the Junior Appalachian Music program, and has played countless shows in the region since. She is currently attending ETSU for Biology with a minor in Oldtime, Bluegrass and Country Music Studies and is grateful for the opportunities and vast array of people and places music has brought to her life.
ANDREW SMALL (bass) – Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Small has performed with artists ranging from Sierra Hull to the North Carolina Symphony. He holds a Master’s Degree in Double Bass Performance from Yale University and has won numerous blue ribbons from fiddler’s conventions around the southeast for his old-time fiddling. Originally from Eastern North Carolina, Andrew resides in Floyd, Virginia where he manages the world’s largest selection of Bluegrass and old-time recordings at County Sales Records.
Tickets £12 on sale directly from the Cafe in person, online at https://www.wegottickets.com/event/478472 (10% admin fee applies) or on the door on the night.
Doors open 7pm Gig starts 8pm. BAR ONLY. NO FOOD SERVED