November 3rd: Anna & Elizabeth and Their Crankie Perform with the Murphy Beds

Join us for this very special evening when performing separately and together, two traditional music duos that feature music from Appalachia and the British Isles come to Harrisburg on Thursday, November 3, at 7:30 p.m. for a Susquehanna Folk Music Society concert at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street. Featured will be Anna & Elizabeth, who present a mesmerizing collaboration on Appalachian music and stories, sung in close harmony, and The Murphy Beds, offering traditional and original folksongs with tight harmonies and deft instrumentation.

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Anna and Elizabeth perform with a CRANKIE. According to the duo a CRANKIE is a long scroll that is placed in a frame. As they sing a ballad or tell a story, the scroll is cranked around (it has a crank at the top) so the audience sees one part of the scroll at a time. Anna and Elizabeth make the scrolls together. Some of them are quilted and stitched together, so they’re giant 16-yard collages. They also make them with paper cuts and put a light behind them so they can be in silhouette.

Each scroll takes about a month to create. The Crankies help the duo to engage audiences in the stories behind the traditional music that they sing.

The event will be signed for the hearing impaired by Deb Maul. There is special pricing for families.

Concert tickets are $22 General Admission, $18 for SFMS members and $10 for students ages 3-22, with a $25 maximum admission for families (parent(s) and child(ren) age 22 or under). Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets online, or toll-free (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website.

Read excerpts of an interview with Anna and Elizabeth from the April 15, 2016 Bluegrass Today publication, used by permission.

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BLUEGRASS TODAY: Listening to [your] record, the first thing that hits you is the arrangements; some of them are risky and not so traditional. And vocally there’s some complex interplay between you and Elizabeth. Is everything planned to the note or do you leave room for improvisation?

 

ANNA AND ELIZABETH: Our music is rooted in an approach we learned from playing old-time music, which is about feel. We hear a song and figure out what kind of feel we want, and then within that framework a lot is improvised. We don’t do a ton of planning. Old-time music has really given us an aesthetic of simplicity.

 

BLUEGRASS TODAY: Do you feel any pull to stay true to the “classic” versions of some of the songs you cover? Ever think you might be messing with something sacred when you arrange them so unconventionally?

ANNA AND ELIZABETH: I think in some ways we’ve avoided that issue. We’ve done a lot of work trying to learn music from field recordings as a way to not get bogged down in more recent old-time recordings. If you’re learning from a field recording you only have one voice that you learned the song from and it’s not really giving you any harmonic or rhythmic information. That gives us a lot of leeway to say, “Well, how do we hear it?”

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BLUEGRASS TODAY: So then is it difficult balancing your creative impulses with staying true to the music?

ANNA AND ELIZABETH : As a pair we really value the relationships we have with some of the families of the singers who we draw a lot from. It’s important to know that we have their support. Like with Texas Gladden, it means a lot to us that her family is excited that we’re carrying on her music. And weirdly, they help us be ourselves in her music. Because who better to know that we’re not Texas Gladden than Texas Gladden’s granddaughter? She’s not expecting us to sound like her granny.

 

BLUEGRASS TODAY: For newcomers to this music, they generally need a way into it. And its players like you who’ll be their gateway. How do you bring them in and get them interested?

 

ANNA AND ELIZABETH : The coolest thing we do in our travels is plant the spark of, “You can learn this too!” We take stagecraft really seriously because it’s a crazy challenge to explain to someone how moving a little song is. This is subtle music and I think you have to figure out how to invite people into that space where they can hear it. We rely a lot on storytelling techniques and creating a whole show that can put the music in context. Because I think the context is what makes it magical.

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This interview was taken from “Anna & Elizabeth: New Twists on Old Tales” written by Robert Kimmel. Read the full article HERE.

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