I had never heard of Wisewater until I received an email from Kate Lee about promoting their upcoming area gigs on WHRB. Kate described Wisewater as a “Nashville, TN-based contemporary folk trio”, at which point I was ready to turn the page (if there were pages in emails). But then she went on,
The band consists of myself on vocals and fiddle, Harvard alum, Forrest O’Connor, on vocals and mandolin, and also Harvard alum, Jim Shirey, on guitar. Wisewater has appeared several times this year on the Grand Ole Opry, and we’ve performed with artists like Emmylou Harris, Mary Gauthier, and Ricky Skaggs. Forrest, son of legendary fiddler Mark O’Connor, is the Tennessee State mandolin champion. I have performed on the CMA Shows for several years, and I’ve backed up artists such as Rod Stewart, Lady Antebellum, and Sara Evans on violin.
So I responded with a positive maybe—
Hillbilly at Harvard is not a folk show, but I hear some country in a couple of songs on your website (and in your resumes, of course!). Let’s see how country you can get!
—to which Kate said,
How would Saturday April 18th in the morning sound? We could be in Cambridge then. And yes, country is definitely part of our sound. A lot of the songs we do are ones I’ve cowritten with Pat Alger, a writer who has written country hits for Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Kathy Mattea, etc.
Which was good enough for me. I don’t know Pat Alger personally, but he’s a colleague of our friend Jim Rooney, wrote “Small Town Saturday Night” for Hal Ketchum, and many other country songs. From what I’ve heard, Wisewater is certainly straddling a wide divide between the folkie/Americana and the country/bluegrass worlds (see the videos on their website, here). They’ll be visiting this Saturday between 10 AM and noon, so let’s see how far we can push them over to the country side. /CL
Wisewater has three local appearances; check ’em out!
• Thursday, April 16, 8 PM: At The Center for the Arts in Natick (14 Summer St.), opening for Suzy Bogguss (!)
• Sunday, April 19, 5 PM: At Club Passim in Cambridge (47 Palmer St.).
• Friday, April 25, 8:30 PM: At the Paradise Cafe in Dedham (565 High St.).
You can get tickets and more information from their website.
Here’s a live-performance sample, “Black Creek” (complete with a lot of audience noise):
UPDATE: Had a lot of fun chatting with the three members of Wisewater (not ‘Stillwater’, as I found myself calling them), and enjoyed their music. Jim, as I hope you heard, arrived sans guitar (inadvertently), but made his presence invaluable by finding the Wisewater CD that I had misplaced in another jewel box.
[Edited 23Oct15 to fix link to YouTube video of “Old Black Creek.”]