River Stage Preview
RiverRoots’ River Stage
even more music for one price
Nashville-based Wild Ponies
to headline Saturday lineup
(May 2014) – The band Wild Ponies tackle tough topics in their songs: loss, rejection, abuse and relationships ending and starting over. Their studio debut album, “Things That Used To Shine,” has incorporated these topics and is comprised of the basic theme of leaving some things behind, while meeting others head-on.
The Nashville-based band is made up of husband and wife team, Doug and Telisha Williams. Originally from Virginia, the couple has previously toured and recorded as acoustic folk duo Doug & Telisha.
Photo courtesy of Warren Swan
The Wild Ponies includes
(from left) husband-and-wife
duo Doug and Telisha Williams,
and drummer Jake Winebrenner.
Sensing that a name change and a new direction were in order, they settled on the name Wild Ponies. Their album’s 12 songs were recorded in three days by Grammy-winning producer Ray Kennedy. Several heavy-hitting roots musicians make appearances on the album, revving up the band’s songs with everything from organ to pedal steel.
The pair has even created their own festival called Mighty Kindness that “celebrates all that is kind for the body, soul and mind.” They have six recordings including their latest “Awakening to Love.”
Of “Things That Used To Shine,” Doug has been quoted as saying, “It feels like we finally made a record that captures the sound we’ve been hearing in our heads for the past ten years.”
The album addresses some heavy subjects, such as Telisha’s abusive stepfather. The songs are about “trying to find places where people don’t necessarily have a voice or don’t know how to speak out on their own, and we try to give them some sort of a voice,” said Doug.
Live shows are what the couple loves the most about the music business. Wild Ponies will be in their element when they take the stage at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, May 17, as the headline act on the River Stage at the RiverRoots Music and Folk Art Festival in Madison, Ind. The River Stage will be located west of the Main Stage near the gazebo.
• Preceding Wild Ponies from 6:15 p.m.-7:15 p.m. will be Yvette Landry and Richard Comeaux. Originally from Breaux Bridge, La., Landry wears many hats: musician, author, educator and interpreter. She tours worldwide as a multi-instrumentalist with several Cajun bands, while fronting her own band.
She has recently co-produced a new CD, “No Man’s Land.” Laundry had help from various friends on the CD, including pedal steel maestro Comeaux, who will accompany her at the RiverRoots Festival.
• From 4:15 p.m.-5:15 p.m. on the River Stage, a children’s program will provide entertainment for even the youngest attendees. Performing solo with his acoustic guitar, Farmer Jason will bring to the stage his live show full of sing-alongs, dancing and discussions about nature appreciation, ecology and farm animals.
Farmer Jason is actually rock music legend Jason Ringenberg of Jason and the Scorchers. He is known as one of the pioneers of the modern Americana and alt-country genres. His act appeals mostly to 2-8-year-olds, but everyone is invited to get involved in his spontaneous, high energy concerts. Farmer Jason’s musical influences range from folk, country, rock’n’roll to DIY punk rock.
• Shiny and the Spoon will perform before Farmer Jason from 2:15 p.m.-3:15 p.m., beginning Saturday’s lineup on the River Stage. This folk and Americana band is based in Cincinnati and includes members Jordan Neff (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Amber Nash (vocals, guitar, ukulele), Pete Brown (upright bass) and Matt Frazer (drums).
Additional instruments members play include kazoo, Spanish coronet, electric guitar, fiddle and piano. Their songs have described as “whimsical, old-timey, charming and intimate.” Their blended harmonies have been labeled “smooth” and “mesmerizing.”
The band was nominated as “Best Local Band of 2009” by CityBeat and “New Artist of the Year” at the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards the same year. Their debut EP was released in January 2010 and they became a popular touring act in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.
Their first full-length album, “Ferris Wheel,” was released in 2011. The band’s second album, “Sing the Season,” was released in 2012. Their song “Coriander Blues” was nominated as “Americana Song of the Year” at the Independent Music Awards.
• The Tim Grimm Band is the Friday night headliner on the River Stage. This southern Indiana native’s songs and performances have defined his role as a unique voice in Americana music, blurring the line between folk and country.
Critics often compare him to Johnny Cash, Woody Guthrie and (Nebraska era) Bruce Springsteen. Grimm is also an award-winning songwriter and actor, having co-starred for two seasons on the NBC drama Reasonable Doubts.
Grimm created a concept CD in 2007 with several of the Midwest’s finest songwriters: Krista Detor, Carrie Newcomer, Tom Roznowski, and Michael White. The recording was known as Wilderness Plots and drew from the short stories of noted author, Scott Russell Sanders. Wilderness Plots explored the settling of the American Wilderness in the Ohio River Valley Region between The Revolutionary War and The Civil War eras.
Two PBS programs have explored Wilderness Plots. The first was a documentary on the story and song, and the second a full Wilderness Plots-In Concert (2012). Produced by WTIU in Bloomington, Ind., both productions were nominated for Emmy Awards.
His music tells of riveting stories rooted in rural life. They are descriptive and well thought out.
• The Troubadours of Divine Bliss will kick off the entertainment on Friday on the River Stage from 6:46 p.m.-7:45 p.m. Troubadours of Divine Bliss are two Kentucky women who became best friends in the Grace Assembly Pentecostal church as young girls and became traveling musicians. Their music is diverse and interspersed with accordion, guitar and perfect harmonies.
They have been voted “Best Folk Band in Louisville, Ky., and New Orleans.” Both have said in interviews that the way they grew up had a tremendous influence on their musical presentation today.
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