10/21 6:30pm @ Roots Family Stage
10/21 11:30pm @ Eden Hall
Much like the earthly element from which they draw their name, the story of Songs Of Water ebbs and flows, pulsing with life, beauty and energy. Beginning in 2002, Songs Of Water started as a loose community of friends centered on writing and experimenting with different sounds and instrumentation. Most of the music was off-the-cuff improvisation that later grew and matured into completed composition.
That attention to the natural flow and feel of music even extended to the make-up of the group itself, as the membership rose to as many as ten and fell to as little as three, depending on the needs of the music. Stephen Roach (vocals, guitar, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, percussion, tenor banjo) revels in the “cross pollination” found within the band’s members and their individual talents. “One of the unique qualities about the band is that most of our backgrounds are very different than one another.”
Luke Skaggs (violin, guitar, lap steel, percussion, backing vocals) and Molly Skaggs (vocals, accordian, banjo) grew up with bluegrass in their blood, thanks to Ricky Skaggs being their dad. Roach’s own heritage came from his father and from his cousin, acclaimed bluegrass guitarist Tony Rice.
Marta Richardson (violin) and Sarah Stephens (cello, vocals) are both classically trained musicians who have played in symphonies. The line-up is completed by Jason Windsor (classical, acoustic & baritone guitar, mandolin), Greg Willette (bass guitar, acoustic guitar), and Michael Pritchard (drums, percussion, hammered dulcimer, acoustic guitar).
So what ultimately binds this collective of extraordinary musicians together? According to Roach, “we discovered it was really fun to play this sort of cinematic, explorative music in a live setting. It flies so contrary to what you hear in most live music settings. The music pulls you into a deeper, perhaps even spiritual experience.”
Shutter 16 goes on to say, “Songs of Water’s musical range, not only instrumentally but vocally as well, is an elaborate production of many skilled musicians. If Hollywood decides to revisit Last of the Mohican’s or another similar tale as they look for more stories they can just reshoot in IMAX 3D, I fully expect SoW to be the featured sound-track artist as Linkin Park was to Transformers. Songs of Water is not something to miss.”
Their newest release, “The Sea Has Spoken,” is a true collaboration of all members, arrangements with textures woven together by everyone in the band. Their focus on mostly instrumental music comes from the power that sound without words wields over all of us. By leaving aside traditional lyrics, Songs Of Water’s music encompasses the listener, leading them to reconsider music, life and exploration anew. Their music becomes an interactive canvas, inviting all who hear to joy in the act of creation corporately.
“The band’s music feels primitive but forward-thinking, exotic yet familiar; it creates a complete narrative in the listener’s mind with rarely a word sung. Essentially, their music is transportive,”says Ryan Snyder with Shuffle Magazine. Alli Marshal with the Mountain Xpresssays, “The whole record ebbs and flows with graceful gestures, sweeping strokes of light and dark, complex layering and effortless playing… the collection as a whole is so engaging that, surely, to see the musicians in action would only add to the experience.”
Ultimately, the impetus for the band’s existence is the desire to share that transcendent experience with others. The members of Songs Of Water stumbled onto a new form of expression that connected with audiences, spurring them on to further innovations. Hungry to engage even more, they are now pursuing this path to see where the road might lead. As Roach puts it, “Water can be a peaceful stream or it can be a violent tsunami. Our music has that same tendency from moment to moment. It may be a contemplative classical guitar one moment or a raging orchestra of percussion the next.”
And thus flows Songs Of Water, roaming wide and far to pull its listeners in with tendrils of music and beauty.
Carole Perkins – Our State Magazine