New England's Musical Traditions

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Thursday April 19, 2018

From Seven Days Vermont

Anna & Elizabeth Mine New England’s Musical Traditions on ‘The Invisible Comes to Us’
By: Dan Bolles

On their latest album, The Invisible Comes to Us, Anna & Elizabeth went in a new direction – north, specifically. For the past five or so years, the Virginia-based duo has enjoyed a growing reputation in folk music circles, primarily for their pristine and inventive take on American traditional music. Like the majority of Americana acolytes, they have largely derived inspiration from the South – guitarist Elizabeth LaPrelle is a southerner. But the other half of the duo is a Yankee: Vermonter Anna Roberts-Gevalt.

SEVEN DAYS: What led you to the Middlebury College archives?

ANNA ROBERTS-GEVALT: I had been aware of the archives for a long time, but it was very peripheral, like, “Oh, there’s some folk songs from Vermont.” I knew Pete Sutherland growing up, and he was connected to the Flanders family and Vermont music. So I had little whispers of Vermont music when I was getting into folk music. But I didn’t really pursue it. I got into southern music, moved to Kentucky and Virginia, and delved pretty deeply into the fiddle and banjo tradition.

But, after our first two records, I thought it was time to do some work in this archive. I’m not from the South; I’m from this place. So, what’s the music from where I’m from? What does it mean to research the music from my region? That’s something I’d seen so many of my southern friends do. So I moved home for a month and went to the archive every day.

SD: Can you give me an example of a song you found particularly evocative?

ARG: “Irish Patriot.” To me, that’s really connected to the image of a forest and someone coming out of the forest. I think using a broader musical scope, kind of inspired by what film music does – being illustrators with sound – and suggesting these bigger, immersive landscapes was something we did more heavily on this record than we’ve done before. That was the main goal of taking more risks and experimenting with the sounds we put on the record.

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