8 pm, Saturday, 7 March 2015
Hollis Cornell Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall, Arts Quad
East Ave., Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Nurtured on campfire sings with the music of Guthrie, Seeger, and Odetta and workshops with the Revels, sisters Nerissa and Katryna Nields began writing and performing their own songs as children. In the 1990s, the Nields formed a five-member band and toured heavily. As a duo, Nerissa and Katryna became festival darlings at Falcon Ridge and Lilith Fair, admired for their contemporary folk-rock-pop close harmonies, deep and quirky songs, and dynamic energy. With Nerissa’s original lyrics and guitar work and Katryna’s lead vocals, they created poignant, punchy songs and a distinct style. The Boston Globe declared: “The Nields are young. They are hip. They are hot.” The Chicago Tribune compared them favorably with the Bangles, the Roches, and Alanis Morrissette.
Today, many gigs and 17 CDs later, the Nields have moved full circle to joyfully celebrate great traditional music. Their sweet voices, banjos, mandolins, and guitars fly as they recycle and refashion old songs with love. Much of their recent original material is inspired by musicians from all times, both anonymous (Appalachian ballads, old-timey hollers, sea chanteys, spirituals) and famous (Bob Dylan). Their “new” songs are as familiar as home, yet eye-opening with fresh angles. Mike Joyce of the Washington Post writes, “Their harmonies are tight and soulful, their spirits unflagging. When these sisters are indeed hollering, they sound like they’re ready to pound out their own version of The Seeger Sessions.”
The Nields clearly revel in their roots. Raising their children in the rich music community of western Massachusetts, they champion participatory singing, engaging listeners with the reminder that we are all music makers. With their CDs Sister Holler, All Together Singing in the Kitchen (and companion book), Rock All Day/Rock All Night, and Organic Farm, they’ve realized their dream of creating family albums with songs learned from their father and loved by kids of all ages. In The Full Catastrophe, they look honestly at the hard pulls of marriage, child-rearing, artistry, and commitment to the larger world. And in their new Groundhog’s Day 2015 release, XVII, the Nields again do honor to their hero, Pete Seeger.
They promise their live audiences: “You will sing. You will dance. You will not regret it.” After seven years since their last Ithaca appearance, please join the Cornell Folk Song Society in welcoming the Nields.
Tickets: Ithaca Guitar Works, Autumn Leaves, Greenstar Market, Bound for Glory, online at www.cornellfolksong.org/ and at the door. $15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebate for members, seniors, teens. Children free. Cornell students $5. Info: web or 607-351-1845.