Chamberfolk: Three classically trained musicians playing original music, as intricately arranged as a string quartet, lyrically rooted in the singer/songwriter tradition, and wrapped in three-part vocal harmonies reminiscent of both Appalachia and Medieval Europe. Building from the tonal depth of the cello (or is it a bass?), layer in the shimmering sounds of a violin and the strikingly natural addition of banjo to create a sound at once familiar and impossible to categorize. Unapologetic genre-benders, Harpeth Rising fuses Folk, Newgrass, Rock and Classical into something organically unique.
The three musicians each hold classical performance degrees from some of the most venerated schools in the world: Indiana University, Oberlin, Eastman School of Music. But their classical background is only one dimension of this trio’s powerful musical voice. Hailing from vastly different parts of North America, each member of Harpeth Rising brings different influences to the core sound. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Maria Di Meglio cello, was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She was drawn to the music of her first generation Italian and Balkan roots, and grew up learning Eastern European folk songs alongside classical repertoire. She attended many classical programs throughout NYC, including LaGuardia High School (the “Fame” school), and Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege Division. Michelle Younger of Charlottesville, VA comes by her modern spin on old-time infused banjo authentically; her family has been in the United States for generations, and she is a descendent of Cole Younger, a member of the James-Younger Gang and the namesame of his very own banjo tune. Jordana Greenberg, violin, grew up listening to the sounds of Stan Rogers, Leonard Cohen and Natalie McMaster in her native Canada before moving to Southern Indiana as a child. She studied classical violin by day through the pre-college program at Indiana University, and spent her nights learning the folk tunes and classic rocks songs that her family plays at the annual post-Passover jam session.
All three women began singing after they completed their instrumental studies, and found a passionate new musical avenue. They developed their voices and arrangements to bring life to the lyrical expressiveness of their original songs. Hallmarks of their music include expansive three-part harmonies, consummate musicianship and a deft, yet soulful, lyrical perspective.
Against All Tides, Harpeth Rising’s sophomore album as a trio, is proof that authenticity and complexity can live in harmony. It is an exploration of spirituality in place of fundamentalism, uncertainty as philosophy, and an unwavering declaration that human connection is the ultimate force for good in the universe. The songs, crafted lyrically by Jordana Greenberg and arranged by all three members of the trio – Maria Di Meglio, Michelle Younger and Greenberg – do not intend to distract from the social and political atmosphere. They are the vehicle by which the band has chosen to add their voices to the ongoing fight for understanding and respect. Two sets of lyrics – tracks 6 and 7 – come from David Greenberg, Jordana’s father, who has contributed work to every album the band has recorded, and who continues to be a source of inspiration. Track 8 is a cover of a Joan Baez song, – an indictment of the prison system and immigration laws – which heartbreakingly has fully retained its relevance in the 45 years since it was written. Altogether, they present a picture of determined optimism: Things are not as they should be, but we will push back, against all tides.