Showcasing Americana, country and traditional music in a five-band show, the Vermont Roots Roadshow will perform at three venues beginning Aug. 7 at Magic Mountain Ski Area in Londonderry.
The showcase will feature performances by Vermont acts Ida Mae Specker and Terrible Mountain Stringband, Maple Run Band, Saints & Liars, Sarah King, and Western Terrestrials. After Magic Mountain, the tour travels to Jay Peak in Jay for an Aug. 14 concert and then on to Higher Ground in South Burlington for a Sept. 24 show.
Ida Mae Specker and Terrible Mountain Stringband fuse original and traditional material in their performances. Sisters Ida Mae and Lila Specker are third-generation fiddle players hailing from Andover, and learned their instrument from their performing father, John Specker. Their shows are highlighted by their energetic approach to fiddling.
Together with Josh Norman on guitar, vocals and percussion, Lila and Ida Mae formed Terrible Mountain Stringband in 2017. They are joined by multi-instrumentalist Miller Nuttle on banjo and Mowgli Giannitti on bass. The band plays a blend of Ida Mae’s recently released originals and old-time fiddle tunes. They combine threads of tradition while also adding their own take on songs giving their performance a continuously evolving sound.
Maple Run Band released its debut self-titled album in August 2020 to critical acclaim. As we wrote in our Vermont Arts CD review: “The result is an intelligently written, authentically sounding country/country folk album that avoids aural glitter and the excesses of over-production. The resulting sound is one we remember from the days when many local bars and clubs featured country bands who played well, but rarely recorded or toured. Maple Run has the talent and potential, once COVID-19 is quashed, to tour if they so choose.”
Several songs landed on playlists for both terrestrial and online radio stations worldwide, landing the band a spot on the alt-country charts.
Saints & Liars is a four-piece Americana group from southern Vermont, blending their own variants of honky-tonk, folk, bluegrass, and rock ’n’ roll. They’ve become known as “Vermont’s roadhouse roots band” having thrived in such venues throughout New England since 2012. Members include Jed Hughes (guitars, lead vocals), Mike Farkas (guitars, vocals), Chris Rogers (bass), and Nolan Rolnick (drums). The group remained a live performance-driven band until late 2020, when they decided to record their first studio album, “These Times.”
In our review of their album we wrote: “With the lead voice of Jed Hughes growling and rumbling its way through 11 tracks, a resonator guitar providing lead lines and a bass-drum combo pounding out a solid rhythm, the band Saints & Liars has produced an impressive recording. Here’s a band that could gain national recognition in the Americana-country category of contemporary music if it gets a wide listening public.”
In our review of the band Western Terrestrials a year ago, we wrote: “From the first thump of bass guitar on ‘Space Cowboy’s Got The Blues,’ to the last steel guitar arpeggio riff on ‘Space Coyote Dub,’ we hear a musically creative quintet who can navigate a variety of country music styles, from Texas swing to rockabilly and Nashville cool. Each track from this alt-country ensemble has great energy and this is definitely an album that you can dance to.”
Western Terrestrials blends its love for the weird with the twang of classic country, creating a sound that’s honest, irreverent, and upfront about what they believe in. Earning praise as an unconventional new voice on the country scene, “Back In the Saddle of a Fever Dream” reached #11 on the Alt Country Specialty Chart, won a Times Argus/Rutland Herald Tammie award for Best Country Album, and earned them a spot as featured artists on the legendary WSM radio station.
Sarah King owns a startlingly powerful voice and her songs inhabit the dark side of Americana, with gritty murder ballads and feminist anthems with her atmospheric voice and rhythmic blues guitar. King says, “I always say my influences are bourbon and bad decisions.” Some call her music “gothic country style.” Her debut solo EP “The Hour” is enough to establish this performer as a voice and writing style that will bring her to the attention of a wide audience. The lone solo act on this tour, King will fill a lot of space with her music.