"Thunderstorms" from recent live recordings
Not that it's a bad thing, but it seems like the train of bluegrass bands out of western North Carolina is never-ending. But here's another reason to get on board: ever heard of a band made up of a waitress, a river trip leader, a court advocate for abuse victims, and an organic flower farmer? It's worth mentioning they're all women with angelic voices, who are easy on the eyes and solid songwriters to boot.
The Barrel House Mamas formed in 2003 when Jane Kramer Edens, Molly Rose Reed, and Eleanor Underhill collaborated for a women-only musician showcase at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C. The three trade off between guitars, banjos, and ukuleles, taking turns singing lead and harmonizing; fiddle player Anna Baumann-Smith joined the band last winter.
Despite accolades from newspapers, festival appearances from the Carolinas to Florida, and an all-expense paid invitation to Los Angeles to play for the Next Great American Band television show, the ladies have kept their day jobs and rarely travel during the week.
"We love the balance of having meaningful work but also having a creative fun outlet where we get to travel," says Underhill, the primary banjo picker. "But on the other hand, I think that we would love to throw it all in and tour."
If they do that, it'll be on their own terms. They quickly realized in L.A. that competing on TV wasn't their style.
"We're pretty stubborn. We're women who know what we want. We don't want to be molded," Underhill says.
Juggling music and jobs means having to plan trips like this one months in advance, but Underhill says playing Charleston has been a mutual desire for awhile, adding, "We're really excited to finally get to go out and get the people boogying, hopefully."
The quartet's appearance at the Pour House this Wednesday marks their first ever concert in Charleston. —Stratton Lawrence
The Barrel House Mamas perform at the Pour House (1977 Maybank Hwy., 843-571-4343) at 9 p.m. on Wed. Sept. 17. Cover is $10 ($8 adv.). Visit www.barrelhousemamas.com for more.