By Seth Muller
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer
It is not every day you see a banjo played with a spoon or a cello played with drumsticks, but for the Tennessee string band Harpeth Rising it is just another part of their one-of-a-kind performances.
Carrboro residents enjoyed Harpeth Rising’s peculiar style at The Station on Sunday evening, Oct. 14. The band was voted “Best Local Band in Nashville” by the Tennessean.
The group describes themselves as “a little bit bluegrass, a little bit folk, a little bit classical, and whole lot of original.” At one moment during the show, the drummer, Chris Burgess, played the cello with his drumsticks, and at another moment, Rebecca Reed-Lunn played her banjo with a spoon.
Fiddler Jordana Greenberg said, “The truth is we are definitely bluegrass influenced, but by no means traditional bluegrass. When we play for audiences in this part of the country, they say, “You’re bluegrass, but you’re different.” Other people in other places of the world just think we’re bluegrass, but we’re not.”
Greenberg said the band decided to play at The Station because of Carrboro’s great music culture, along with the incentive of having folk radio like Wrecking Ball Radio nearby.
Chris Baker of Carrboro and his dog, Ellsie, were in the audience. He said, “I guess it is bluegrass. They’re an interesting play on that. They bring the cello. It’s hard for me to say what it is, but what they’re doing they do well.”
Baker chuckled as he explained that Ellsie was getting spayed the next day, so it was their last big night out.
The Station hosted Harpeth Rising for free from 7-9 p.m. and offered a charity fundraiser raffle for a Pabst Blue Ribbon bicycle during the show. After several finalists were picked for the raffle, they competed in a very heated rock, paper, scissors tournament to claim the prize.
Jim Smith, director of operations at The Station, said, “We had a good time giving it away. We’re a neighborhood. We try to consider that a privilege and an obligation. We try to be good stewards of that.”
Harpeth Rising has toured in the American Midwest, South, and Northeast, as well as in the U.K. The ensemble’s debut album was released in 2010 and they just released their latest album titled, The End of the World. There are some apocalypse tails on the album but also much lighter lyrical songs as well.
According to Greenberg, it comes off as poetry set to music, which is exactly what it is. Greenberg’s father wrote the lyrics to the album and the band set music to them.
Smith was excited to have Harpeth Rising come play at The Station. “We don’t have any genre specific sensibilities, but good music is not hard to figure out. Harpeth Rising’s songwriting is traditional in its tone but particular and personal in its lyrics. I always like music that pays the deepest homage to an existing genre or structure but then can be snatched out of that sociological reference and if it’s still good, well then that’s good music,” Smith said.
Greenberg said the group was fortunate to have a few hours before the concert to go explore Carrboro.
“It seems like there are lots of young local things going on. We ate at Weaver Street Market, and that was delicious and awesome. There were a ton of people out,” Greenberg said.