Green Mountain Bluegrass And Roots: Through The Artist’s Eyes
No two artists are the same. No two bands are the same. Its those little intricacies prevalent in what we listened to growing up, who we have played with over time, how we got our start in those formative years that shaped folks to be who they are today and sound the way that they do. But inspiration and influence extend far beyond the style of guitar a guitarist plays and how hell bent on finding the perfect harmony a musician is. It intersects into who we are as people and how we feel about and view things around us.
This is why we are excited to bring you today an interview that spans across three very different artists playing at Green Mountain Bluegrass and Roots. What is most interesting isn’t necessarily where these folks’ answers to the questions differed, but it is where they intertwined and were so similar that really says so much about music and the community that GMBR is trying to foster. Whether you are a group that weaves some of the tightest, most beautiful harmonies ever, a brilliant locally-bred VT traditional roots duo or an American Roots guitar virtuoso, it always seems that this ideal of community is what stands out to artists.
From favorite New England style brews to writing habits to who they want to see join forces over the weekend to form the next folk super group, we are so happy to give you the thoughts on GMBR and the music scene at large from Jordan Tice, Carling & Will and Ellie Buckland (Lula Wiles).
An obvious large goal and part of the mission of GMBR is this community centric, locally sourced mentality. From putting local Vermont artists on stages next to nationally touring juggernauts to the food trucks to the sound folks to (of course) local Vermont beer. In terms of your own mentality how important is fostering that sense of community where you come from and being able to bring it to Manchester for the festival?
Jordan Tice: Community is so important to me as an artist because I find a lot of times, combing the depths of my imagination to create new music is a solitary pursuit and it feels great to share the fruits of those pursuits with receptive and interested people and receive their feedback and encouragement. I always think of festivals as celebrations of artist’s and band’s personal journeys- kinda like a carnival or bazaar where different artists wares are on display to be shared, taken in and celebrated.
Carling & Will: Since we both grew up in Vermont, specifically the Manchester area, it’s really important for us to have events like this in our hometown. We’re really looking forward to seeing how the community grows and transforms over time. We think this festival’s focus of using what we have to offer locally and extending it to communities that are less familiar with southern Vermont is brilliant. We’re excited to see how GMBR positively impacts our arts and music scene!
Ellie Buckland: Our community is ever expanding and that’s what I like about it so much. To have a thriving musical and social community in New York, and Nashville, and, of course, Boston, is such a joy! This festival is full to the brim with those friends, so I’m really looking forward to bringing that energy to Manchester and GMBR.
In that same vein, who are you most excited to connect with at Green Mountain Bluegrass and Roots? Some old friends from the road you haven’t seen in a bit? Someone you can’t wait to pick around the campground with?
Jordan Tice: Literally, almost the entire lineup- almost every band is comprised entirely of some of my best friends and favorite musicians in the acoustic scene. The Lonely Heartstring folks, Mandolin Orange, the trio of Joe, Grant and Danny, 10 String Symphony- I could go on and on. I’m excited that collaboration is encouraged via the late night sets and the Hartford tribute set.
Carling Berkhout: I started listening to Mandolin Orange many years ago when I was first starting to really get into playing music, so I’m definitely excited to be in the same space for the weekend.
William Seeders Mosheim: The list is almost too long to write! As a musician and luthier I’ve connected and become friends with many of the musicians who will be playing and attending the festival. It’s always a pleasure to see Twisted Pine, The Lonely Heartstring Band, Allison De Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves and find a time to have a rowdy old time jam. Especially excited to see Mandolin Orange and 10 String Symphony for the first time.
Ellie Buckland: Personally, I always enjoy the brand new connections I make while at festivals, whether it’s at a late night jam, or the dance tent, or through mutual friends. Obviously, I love spending time with friends I already have strong connections with but when those folks introduce me to new people… that’s the best.
How about the dream collaboration that you hope takes shape on a stage during GMBR?
Jordan Tice: I’m just excited to see what will happen- I think there are a lot of people who will be present and down to hang that might not have otherwise if it wasn’t encouraged.
Carling Berkhout: I think Lula Wiles and Molly Tuttle would sound fantastic together.
William Seeders Mosheim: Excited to see Andrew Marlin and Eli West work their magic together. I’d love to hear one of the many incredibly talented women that will be around jump in with them for a collaboration.
Ellie Buckland: Oh man! Well, we’re playing on Sunday and I think Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange will be wrangling a Gospel set that morning, so I really hope Lula Wiles can participate in that! Also, Rachel Baiman (of 10 String Symphony) and Molly Tuttle recently did a collaborative tour and I so wish I coud’ve seen one of those shows. I’m hoping they’ll do a reunion of sorts!
There will be a plethora of brews, food and vendors on site…so, what is your favorite Vermont thing to eat or drink…or wear or burn or etc, etc, etc?
Jordan Tice: The New England Style IPA is one of my favorite things on planet earth- can’t wait to drink some Heady, some Upper Pass, some Fiddlehead and if I’m lucky, some Hill Farmstead while I’m up in VT.
William Seeders Mosheim: Being from the area, one of my favorite local spots is The Barn Restaurant right up the road in Pawlet. I play and attend shows there frequently and the family who owns it are some of my favorite people. It’ll be a safe bet to say we’ll probably be picking some tunes around some of their great food and Olivia McChesney’s sculptural installations.
Ellie Buckland: Ok, I will speak for Isa here and say that Heady Topper is definitely her favorite Vermont thing. On the other hand, Mali is gluten free and I like my beer to taste like, well, not beer, so I think she’ll have to drink our share.
For the next two questions I am going to steal a page from some other artist’s book. First: Langhorne Slim recently did a Twitter blast where he would just post “best song ever”…which is of course completely subjective (as music and art are) and kind of ludicrous to proclaim. Nevertheless, looking at this line up and culling from their catalogue of tunes: what is the best song ever that you think we might hear during the weekend?
Jordan Tice: Tough one but you’re gonna hear a whole set of Hartford tunes on Saturday night and I would call many of his songs some of the best written.
Carling Berkhout: “Take This Heart of Gold” by Mandolin Orange.
William Seeders Mosheim: I’m a sucker for sad, slow, and pretty songs so the first two that come to mind are Mandolin Orange’s “Take This Heart of Gold” or 10 String Symphony’s “I Can’t Have You Anymore.”
Ellie Buckland: Umm, most definitely Mipso’s song “Servant to It”. I was fortunate enough to tag along on a recent tour with them through the midwest and I fell in love with it. Libby sings the heck out of that song, the lyrics are so real for me, and the boys’ background vocal arrangement on the chorus is brilliant. It’s just such a banger!
Getting away from festy-centric questions I am going to steal a question Joe Pug asks folks on The Working Songwriter. If you have the perfect day to write, what does that day look like? Time of day, the place you are writing, what are you drinking or eating?
Jordan Tice: I usually write best at home- Ideas usually come to me on the move but it takes solitude and a familiar environment to organize them and flesh them out so I usually end up working through and finishing pieces at home. Going on walks and bike rides is equally as important to me in my writing process as sitting down and focusing- I usually sit at my desk for an hour or two and push myself as hard as I can then go out and do something active to let the ideas swirl around a bit then return and repeat.
Carling Berkhout: I’m constantly writing, both songs and stories, and I don’t think a perfect writing day is something that can really exist because words come from a lot of imperfect places and emotions. I’m also not sure how prolific you’d be if you needed a lot of things to line up for a good song, ha. However, our most productive writing session for our duo work was last summer in a small cottage located in Surry, Maine. We spent a few days straight working on songs in the beautiful golden sunlight, with breaks here and there for sunsets and hikes in Acadia.
William Seeders Mosheim: Being someone whose mind is constantly all over the place, finding creative inspiration anywhere and everywhere, I can’t pinpoint what the perfect writing environment is. Sometimes it’s on the road being far from home, sometimes it’s in the serenity of Vermont’s woods and fields, and sometimes it can be in the middle of a city on a busy Subway. My creative inspiration can strike at any moment, night or day, and I always try and be receptive to it whenever and wherever it strikes. That said, the days we spent in Maine that Carling mentioned were more than ideal for writing inspiration.
Ellie Buckland: I’m actually writing this from an arts residency in rural New York, where I’ve been spending the last 4 days on a sheep farm with 10 other writers, painters, and musicians, so I guess my days here can serve as my new template, ha! My routine (and I already try to make it so while at home off tour) is to get up around 7am, have coffee and breakfast while writing in my journal, and then I spend the whole morning working on (I should really say, struggling with) songs. A lot of coffee is consumed during this time. Maybe I’m outside on a blanket in a field. Or listening to someone play the fiddle in the other room. Doesn’t that sound revoltingly perfect?
Where are you before the festival…and where can folks catch you on the road following GMBR?
Jordan Tice: I’ll be teaching bluegrass guitar at Augusta Bluegrass camp in West Virginia the week before then playing a solo set the weekend after at Great River Folk fest in Wisconsin.
Carling & Will: We’ve been on a long hiatus for almost a year while Carling has been finishing college and Will has been focusing on his luthier business, Seeders Instruments. Other than a possible unannounced local show before the festival, GMBR will be our welcome back to performing. We have plans to record a new album of our original material in the next coming year. We can’t wait for GMBR!
Ellie Buckland: We’ve got a double header of a weekend! We’re playing the Philadelphia Folk Festival on Saturday, and boogieing up to Vermont just in time for late night shenanigans at GMBR. After the festival, we’ve got some time off, which will be a welcome break after a busy summer of touring, but then in September, we’re touring the southeast! Tickets for that will go on sale soon, so folks can sign up for our email list on our website or follow us on twitter and instagram @lulawiles or like us on Facebook to stay updated, if one is so inclined.