(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Acoustic-roots outfit Joy Kills Sorrow brings its original style and songs to Club Helsinki Hudson on Friday, November 30, 2012, at 9pm. The group, featuring musicians all conservatory-trained in jazz and classical music, uses the tools and instruments of a bluegrass ensemble in the service of its original, acoustic indie-rock and folk.
While the crack ensemble playing has made Joy Kills Sorrow proven favorites with the bluegrass circuit, their new emphasis on writing arrangements transcending genres allows them to reach wider audiences. Emma Beaton’s haunting vocals and the band’s rootsy variation on Americana is just as likely to appeal to fans of Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes as committed Stanley Brothers enthusiasts.
Songs on the group’s most recent album, This Unknown Science, surprise with their melodic twists and dark, moody detours. While there are instrumental passages in some of the songs, this is not traditional bluegrass – a banjo solo in “Reservations,” for example, functions more like an electric guitar solo in a blues or rock song. In its overall vibe and swooping arcs of dramatic melody, “Jason” has more in common with Radiohead and Osvaldo Golijov than Bill Monroe.
Joy Kills Sorrow brings together an eclectic mix of musicians, each of whom have classical and/or jazz conservatory training. Their music is an amalgamation of lamenting music of the heartland, singular stories of heartache and laughter, beautiful string arrangements, and five musicians who grew up listening to indie-rock, jazz, and pop music that churn out impressive tunes with an incredibly contemporary sensibility.
Singer Emma Beaton, who was nominated for “Traditional Vocalist of the Year” at the Canadian Folk Music Awards 2010 and won “Young Performer of the Year” at the age of 18 at the Canadian Folk Music Awards 2008, has captivated critics and fans alike. She quickly caught the ear of bluegrass super-star Laurie Lewis, who says she has a “voice like a laser.” A classically trained cellist, she formerly studied at Berklee College of Music and has worked closely with Crooked Still’s Tristan Clarridge and Rushad Eggleston.
Bassist Bridget Kearney, who double majored in jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music and English at Tufts University, is the primary songwriter of the group. Of songwriting, Kearney comments, “A lot of my ideals as a songwriter come from novelists and poets, like Hemingway’s idea that to start writing a story, all you have to do is write one true sentence. A song works that way too. You just need to find one seed, the rest will grow from there.”
In 2006, Kearny won the John Lennon Songwriting contest for her songs “Sometimes When I’m Drunk” and “You’re Wearing My Favorite Shirt.” In 2008, she was a runner-up for her composition, “Neighbor Song,” which is about hearing your neighbors having sex. She finds herself in many bands these days including Lake Street Dive, Cuddle Magic, and The Xylopholks. “Musically, my main influence is indie-rock,” says Kearney. “Some of the songs on our new record were sort of inspired by specific artists, like Bon Iver and Arthur Russell.”
Guitarist Matthew Arcara is gaining a name for himself as both an up-and-coming guitar slinger and luthier. Arcara has taken home several honors at various guitar competitions. including Winfield’s National Flatpicking Championship in 2006.
Filling out the group is Jacob Jolliff and Wesley Corbett. The former is Berklee School of Music’s first full-scholarship mandolin student and a veteran performer, who has toured professionally since the age of 11 and shared the stage with such mandolin greats as David Grisman and Mike Marshall. Corbett, a banjo player, has toured nationally with Crooked Still and The Biscuit Burners, and he’s currently teaching banjo at Berklee School of Music.
For reservations in The Restaurant or in the club call 518.828.4800
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