BELLOWS FALLS — Mile Twelve, winners of the 2017 International Bluegrass Music Association's Momentum Award for Newcomer Band with Significant Contribution to Bluegrass Music, will perform in Bellows Falls on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m., at Immanuel Episcopal Church, the stone church on the hill, 20 Church St.
In a news release, guitarist/vocalist Evan Murphy said of the five-piece band's newest album, City on a Hill, “original bluegrass music, written and played by young people, is very much alive.”
“I hope people take away that songwriting and arranging really matter,” he added. “It's about the material and playing it in a way that feels honest. This album isn't political in the sense that we're beating people over the head with anything, we just tried to tell stories that feel authentic.”
The album title alludes to the image of a shining city on a hill - a historical phrase that has often been applied to Boston, where the band got its start.
“We realized that many of the characters in these songs were in crisis, had been failed in some way, or were failing themselves,” Murphy said. “It's an unintentional theme, but it came out in the songwriting.”
Mile Twelve includes David Benedict (mandolin), Catherine “BB” Bowness (banjo), Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (fiddle), and Nate Sabat (bass, lead vocals).
All are credited as songwriters on the album. Produced by Bryan Sutton and engineered by Ben Surratt, City on a Hill begins with a lively rendition of Richard and Linda Thompson's “Down Where the Drunkards Roll.”
From there, the album explores a number of unexpected perspectives, including that of a modern war veteran with PTSD (“Jericho”), a Jewish immigrant fleeing war (“Liberty”), and a man who cannot escape the stigma of the penal system (“Innocent Again”).
As the album winds down, the light-hearted power waltz, “Barefoot in Jail,” and the ethereal, old-time dream sequence of “Journey's End” leads to the poignant “Where We Started,” a portrait of small-town life written by John Cloyd Miller.
City on a Hill follows multiple IBMA Momentum Awards. Mile Twelve won the band category in 2017, shortly before releasing their debut album, Onwards. The following year, Keith-Hynes and Benedict secured IBMA Momentum Awards in instrumental categories, while the band earned two major IBMA award nominations for Emerging Artist and Instrumental Performance of the Year in 2018.