Growing up in rural south central Wisconsin, Kari Arnett was experimenting with writing, playing, and singing music from a young age, including teaching herself to play piano. It wasn’t until her early 20s that Arnett taught herself guitar and began performing as a traveling musician. Soon her inspirations led her to draw rich sounds from older country/folk styles of music and brought her into the Americana scene.
Ben Miller sings honky tonk numbers and sad songs in Minneapolis country rock band The Federales. Sometimes he also braves well-lit coffeeshops and other locales to play a set with many fewer bandmates but many more obscure Bob Dylan covers. Oh, he also writes songs.
A series of YouTube videos, each one more precious than the last, paint Minneapolis’ Savannah Smith as a ukulele-slinging Jack Johnson disciple—particularly in an adorable take on “Bitter Heart” by Zee Avi (who’s on Johnson’s Brushfire Records), aided by some smirking, unofficial sign language from her roommate. But the seriousness Smith shows when performing her own songs, like the punchy “Ventriloquism,” nicely balances her jazz-informed cooing and displays a talent for lyrical density that raises her simple melodies. [AV Club, January 2011]
THE HOME FIRES
The Home Fires is an Americana duo from Minneapolis comprised of acclaimed singer/songwriters Sarah Morris and Vicky Emerson. While both women continue to pursue successful solo careers and tour on a national basis, they have joined forces to launch this new project. The combination of Sarah’s clear, melodic voice and Vicky’s warm, weathered tone created a completely unique harmony combination that continues to resonate with audiences and has propelled them into the forefront of their local music scene.
Featuring Ellen Stanley on banjo and vocals, Mother Banjo is a New England-raised, Minneapolis-based songwriter. Called “an outstanding poet” (Inside Bluegrass), she was a Midwest Finalist for the prestigious Mountain Stage NewSong Contest and has been featured nationally on SiriusXM Radio and CMT.com.
Jillian Rae is a multi-talented violinist, lead vocalist, and songwriter whose creative and dynamic style of violin playing, along with her lifelong experience as a performer, lend her an assured stage presence. She has an innate ability to create hook-laden tunes affirming the positives of life in the face of struggle and disappointment.
Adam Levy is regarded by many to be one of the great American songwriters of his era. His newest solo endeavor might be his best and most original work to date. Levy is probably best known for his 20+ years of work as lead singer-songwriter for The Honeydogs. Levy’s songwriting has always been musically expansive, exploring styles as diverse as American roots music, psychedelia, soul, world, jazz, and classical music. His lyrics have always been thoughtful, literary and provocative, and have garnered him international critical accolades and fans.