Originally published in The Commons issue #399 (Wednesday, March 15, 2017).
BRATTLEBORO—Mariel Vandersteel and Joe Walsh say they are excited to be coming back to the Brattleboro area. After strong performances by Vandersteel last winter at the Northern Roots Festival and by Walsh recently with Darol Anger at Next Stage, they are joining forces with guitarist Eli West to carve out a unique sound on their New England Spring Tour.
Drawing from their strong individual musical voices, the trio will collaborate on traditional American songs and tunes, Norwegian fiddle tunes (using Vandersteel’s hardingfele, Norway’s traditional folk instrument), and original songs and instrumentals. They will perform at Putney’s Sandglass Theater on Saturday, March 18, at 7 p.m.
Walsh has performed with legendary musicians including John Scofield, Bela Fleck, and Emmylou Harris. He is an avid educator and teaches mandolin at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He also has performed for numerous years with bluegrass group The Gibson Brothers. Last year, he released Borderland, an album of original music.
Vandersteel and Walsh met when they were students at Berklee.
“It was my first semester and Joe’s last. Ever since then, Joe’s musicality and versatility has been something I’ve deeply admired,” Vandersteel says.
After graduation, Vandersteel moved to Norway to study the hardingfele and recorded Hickory, an album of old-time and Norwegian fiddling. Her passion for world music and international collaboration led her to be accepted twice by the U.S. State Department’s American Music Abroad Program.
Vandersteel looks forward to continuing to work with Walsh and West. “I’m thrilled to collaborate with Joe and Eli. They both have beautiful ways of hearing things musically and expressing them so honestly,” she says.
Based in Seattle, West is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist who spent many years performing in the duo Cahalen and Eli with Cahalen Morrison, touring internationally and recording three albums. Cahalen regularly collaborates with Ben Winship and Norwegian fiddler Olav Mjelva. In 2016, West released an album that includes duets with Bill Frisell, Dori Freeman, and John Reischman.
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