FestivaLink.net presents Ollabelle at MerleFest, NC 4/26/08
Here's what No Depression had to say about this performance:
"It's tempting to call this MerleFest 'The Year of the Piano,' in that keyboards seemed to figure fairly prominently in many of the most memorable performances. None were better than Ollabelle, whose keyboardist, Glenn Patscha, repeatedly cast mesmerizing trances and tones with his organ work ... Their version of the Grateful Dead's 'Ripple' on the Cabin Stage...was a show-stopping beauty. MerleFest may generally be all about the banjos and fiddles and guitars and mandolins, but when you hear a good keyboardist in the midst of all that, it tends to stand out like a clarion call..."
"The sound of Ollabelle is the sound of the mountains and hills, valleys and rivers and ridges, of the people who grew up and grew old in those places and handed along songs about love, life, death, and courage that continue to ring true today. The five people in the band met up in New York City, about as good a place as any for a twenty-first century Folk band to get its start. They came from Jazz, Folk, Blues, and singer-songwriter backgrounds, from the New Orleans Folk scene, from Australia, from Woodstock. Byron Isaacs, Amy Helm, Glenn Patscha, Fiona McBain, and Tony Leone made their own melting pot of sound, which is not like a melting pot really, but like something that's grown naturally from that heritage of land and river and mountain people, harmonies and leads, notes and spaces interweaving to take their own place in the handing of music as story and emotion.
"As soon as I heard them at the Salt Festival up in Maine, I thought, 'I've got to get these guys singing on something,'" says top notch Blues and Folk musician Chris Smither. You get an idea of why he said that in this live recording. The Cabin Stage at MerleFest, the long running acoustic music festival in North Carolina, is not exactly a side stage and not exactly center stage, where acts appear while main stage audio is being reset. Over the years, such innovative musicians as Tish Hinojosa and the Sweethearts of the Rodeo have played the Cabin Stage, and Ollabelle fits right in, with a mix of tradition and innovation that centers of Appalachian mountain tradition and moves beyond it. Among the eight songs present here are "No More Cane On The Brazos," "John The Revelator," and "Before This Time."
Amy Helm (vocals, mandola)
Byron Isaacs (vocals, bass, dobro)
Tony Leone (vocals, drums, percussion)
Fiona McBain (vocals, guitars)
Glenn Patscha (vocals, keyboards, accordion)
Dirk Powell (fiddle, mandolin)
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Photos by Leila Jackson (Gnu Moon Graphics)