News from the Stairwell

The weblog of The Stairwell Sisters – All-Gal Old-Time String Band

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Welcome Harlan! New Reviews, Tour Dates / Southwest Tour

Hello Friends!
We are beside ourselves, tickled and pleased as punch to announce the arrival of Lisa & Ryk’s baby boy, born at 11:40pm on April 29th! Welcome Harlan Booker Groetchen, the beautiful boy with the blackest hair. Both mom and baby are doing great! In music news, we’re working on our new material – lots of original songs to choose from – and enjoying Spring. A big thanks to Erik Pearson who filled his Mister Sister slot with style on our Southwest Tour – details below.

-JUST ADDEDAnchorage Folk Festival, Alaska in January..brrrr; Concert in Sunnyvale, CA 10/20; Concert on the shores of Lake Tahoe 8/24; Summer Of Love 40th Anniversary Concert 7/22 and Festival 8/19 featuring some incredible bands including Big Brother & the Holding Company, Canned Heat, Tea Leaf Green and many more…details to come.

Stairwell Sisters are featured in the May issue of fROOTS Magazine, THE folk music magazine of Europe – from an interview conducted in Scotland this January. You can find the issue at Down Home Music, and other, chain bookstores. From the article:
“Five multi-instrumental, singing, dancing old-time gals hit the UK…their sassy modern take on southern old-time string band music was so feisty..they caught everyone’s attention.”

Stairwell Sisters are featured on the premier broadcast of Old Time Traveler. Tune in to Old Time Music Radio on May 2nd, 2007 at 8:00 PM CT, for an intimate interview where we play some as yet unrecorded, original songs.

Old Time Music Radio will broadcast a new edition of Old Time Traveler, a one-hour program that features new releases from the world of Old Time Music and an interview with an Old Time Musician or Group, on the first Wednesday of the month at 8:00 PM CT. Encore broadcasts of Old Time Traveler will air on the following Wednesdays at 8:00 PM CT.

For more information:

We had a fabulous reception in both Albuquerque and Durango, where we headed for the Durango Meltdown. In three days we encountered snow, rain and the gorgeous blue skies at mountain elevation. Altitude wore us down a little, but didn’t stop people from claiming us as “the hit of the festival.” We loved the Victorian hotel, hospitality and unbridled enthusiasm of the crowds. The square dance, a recent addition to the festival line-up, was a huge hit – check out a fairly hysterical review of the event, where they claimed having us play for their hippie-hopping crowd “had an air of overkill, like the Beatles doing a bar mitzvah”!

-We were reviewed by an Italian music journalist Salvatore Esposito, and the on-line translation yielded some funny phrases, but can’t be right – can you translate for us?

-another review from Celtic Connections (UK):



riptide1.JPGOH – Steph’s Birthday was celebrated in style – At the Riptide in SF with Super Cher, Helga, Morticia and, um, who is that bass player?

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Sisters go International

We had a fabulous tour in Scotland – our first truly international festival, we were honored to bring our old-time sound to the stages. In addition to concert sets at the Celtic Connections festival, we appeared twice in the Festival Club, the raucous party that never ends on the bottom floor of the hotel where we stayed, and the only place to find curry & chips late into the night – not to mention the formidable numbers of Scotch that beg tasting!

We arrived at 7:30 am and first played at 2am that same night, about the best way to introduce us to the time frame for the tour. Other American performers who were on their way home from their portion of the three week festival advised us to stay on North American time, going to bed after breakfast, and getting up for sound check.

City Hall - Glasgow
We shared stages with the debonair Quebecois trio Genticorum, and the gorgeous Gallic singer Julie Fowlis, earning the concert a five star review, that also named us “the find of the festival.” We had to turn our clock around though, since we had a morning taping for BBC TV to be aired at a future date. It was wonderful to hear us introduced in Gallic – about the only words we understood being “Stairwell Sisters” and “Sugar Hill.”

Our second concert was recorded for BBC Radio, Andy Kershaw’s famed program, for broadcast all over the UK later in February. In the beautiful old Fruitmarket, we shared a bill with a 12 piece brass band from Brittany – L’Occidentale de Fanfare. Talk about being blown away! We are lucky to be in the hands of a fantastic agent, Loudon Temple, who made sure everyone knew we were coming and no one got allergic. Major thanks to him, and to our very first roadie, Gerald, who ferried us around answering questions about sheep and shaggy Aberdeen Angus cows, labor laws and health care, haggis, fried hamburgers, beer, scotch, lager, whisky, um, nevermind . We gladly left the left-sided driving to “wrong-turn Roche” and enjoyed the ride.
our luxury vehicle!

Once we took leave of Glasgow, it was absolutely gorgeous to head off into the country. Reminiscent of Northern California in it’s green, rolling hills, we were thrilled to see small fortress towns, castles (!) all built well before our country was even a thought. We often tell audiences at home that our music is old – but our old is a drop in the bucket over there. We played Peebles and Birnham, home to Beatrix Potter and about as idyllic, and ducked into England to the coal-town of Newcastle. Scottish audiences were so polite and quiet during the shows, and so surprisingly effusive and enraptured after. Some folks came to several shows in different towns, bringing family and friends along. They all countered “Haste ye back,” and we sure plan on it.

A big thanks to Lucy and Stuart who hosted us in Peebles in true Scottish fashion, and gave us one of the best introductions we’ve ever heard. Jan Fairley did a very fun (and delicious) interview for fRoots magazine, the folk magazine of Europe. It should come out in a few months time – but more importantly, while we spoke, we had fabulous haggis, neeps & tatties (meat & vegetarian), and some excellent hard cider, in a cozy pub. Worth the price of admission for sure. This meal begs thanks to our good friend David Jones.

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Steve Earle Radio / A Fan’s Patter

We’re bringing our tornado to Texas. Recent bookings include Celtic Connections in Scotland (Jan), and The Annual Horseshoe Class in Benton Hot Springs (Sept), ahhh….Here’s some of the latest.
Stairwell Sisters’ on Steve Earle’s Air American Program…
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Summer Update – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival!

Stairwell Sisters at HSB
Photo By Mike Melnyk
I don’t know if you know this, but the Stairwell Sisters are purely a DIY operation. We are our agent, publicist, manager, graphic designers and all else. We like it this way, since we have total control over our time and money, and it doesn’t seem to have hurt us any. This makes it ever more satisfying to be reaching national festivals and audiences.

Part of the payoff is finding ourselves in the midst of a thriving and skilled traditional music scene on our home turf, and in the presence of many musical heroes and inspirations everywhere we go. Our long festival season started with the amazing but freezing Strawberry Music Festival, and ended appropriately with one of the most monumental assemblies in roots music, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park, SF. A free festival, the weekend apparently drew over 500,000 people, and several generations of performers.
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Sisters & Ramblers

Photo By Mike Melnyk

Two weeks ago we had the immense honor of opening for the New Lost City Ramblers as part of the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention. The sold-out evening was a highlight of my life – watching the Ramblers together and knowing how many people there they had brought to traditional music, myself included. The entire weekend of concerts, square dance and cabaret was a like a homecoming – everyone I have met on the West Coast seemed to be here do-si-doing and picking all night long. Every night’s party saw dawn. And you know the Sisters, as the Good Ole Village Persons, donned wigs and attitude to belt out BOTMC, letting our freak flags fly.

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New York, the NE and more

Stairwell Sisters at Lincoln Center

Taking it all the way back, we’re remiss in not writing about our trip to New York City and points North. Lincoln Center kicked it off – free, out-of-doors, and we’re grateful the rain didn’t start till after we were done. Sorry to Robin & Linda Williams who followed us! We also would have like to stay to hear Percy Sledge, but it had been a very long day. After resting a bit, we headed back out at midnight (keeping on California time), to a bar in Red Hook, Brooklyn when they didn’t mind if we crowded round the entrance and played till 4am. Thanks to Thomas Bailey for scouting us a place, Joe Bass for coming out at 2, all ready to fly to the UK next day, and our homegirl Sabra, joining us from her road trip.

Several dates in NYC, then on to Boston, lobster, and a plethora of fans who filled Cantab’s on what should have been a slow Tuesday. Ithaca was a real treat – a full to overflowing Chapter House throbbed with people dancing, even on the slow, depressing songs. How great to introduce old friends Mac Benford and John Hoffman to our California girls. As always, a major thanks to Sally Freund who took us in to her beautiful country home, a respite under any circumstances.

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