Bill and the Belles Sing In Their Dreams

Read our take on Bill and the Belles’ new release ‘Dreamsongs, etc’

 

Bill and the Belles

Dreamsongs, etc.

Out Now

 

By Rob Dickens

 

 

 

 

Bill and The Belles hail from the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Johnson City, Tennessee and came together out of a mutual love for early American music.  The band has just issued its debut studio album DreamSongs, Etc. via Jalopy Records.

Some essential information – Bill and the Belles comprises Kris Truelson (guitar, vocal), Kalia Yeagle (fiddle, guitar, vocals), Grace Van’t Hof (banjo, banjo ukulele, vocal) and Karl Zerfas (bass), with the band taking its name from Bill and Belle Reed, performers from the 1920’s who recorded the songs “Old Lady and the Devil” and “You Shall Be Free” in their home town.

As Truelsen says:

“That was the first time I heard ‘Old Lady and the Devil,’ and since then it’s become clear to me why it’s stood the test of time.  Simple, plaintive, stripped-down but incredibly expressive, tough as nails and funny as hell.  I first heard that side on the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music, a collection that continues to inspire.  Our band’s name is a way to honor their music, the music of this place, and this region in general that we’ve come to call home.”

purchase link

The band members have been paving their way for this release by honing and polishing their skills over a prolonged live career.   They stepped into the role of house band upon the launch of a live radio show Farm and Fun Time presented by community radio station Radio Bristol which was started by Truelsen in 2015 and is housed within the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (read about our first visit there) in Bristol, Tennessee.  Along with sharing the stage with special guests such as Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives and Earls of Leicester, the group writes and performs the snappy, comical jingles for the show’s monthly sponsors.

(Listening Through The Lens was fortunate to catch headliners Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley at one show including the band back in 2016).  In fact, Farm and Fun Time and the show’s producer and program host Truelsen have been recently selected as finalists in the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Special Awards and Momentum Awards program.

Working with engineer Joseph Dejarnette, the band’s debut was recorded in just two days inside a beautiful old farmhouse in the rolling hills of Southeast Virginia.  The trio recorded around one microphone while rounding out the sound with Evan Kinney on accordion and Aaron Olwell on clarinet.  The songs mix vaudeville and old-time country music in this collection of mainly original material, ranging from the upbeat “Wedding Bell Chimes” to the longing “Back to My Childhood Days”.  There are also terrific renditions of Jimmie Rodgers‘, “Carolina Sunshine Gal” and “Tuck Away My Lonesome Blues” (Rodgers first came to fame through his recordings as part of The Bristol Sessions).  For the album title Truelson says: “a lot of the songs are about dreaming for something better, better days, better lovers, better whatever it may be.  Not to mention many of the songs we chose to sing are about the sentimental dreamer”

The record is a homespun delight, with contagious melodies and vibrant, rich vocal harmonies.

Here is a clip for “Wedding Bell Chimes”

 

 

Listening Through The Lens will be rolling into Bristol as a part of its TriFest Music Tour and we hope to visit and report on Radio Bristol as part of our visit.

 

Bill and the Belles Tour Dates:

Aug 30 – Stockbridge, MA – Naumkeag at Night
Sept 1 – Woodstown, NJ – Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival
Sept 7 – North Hillsdale, NY – The Old Tone Roots Music Festival
Sept 9 – New Haven, CT – Second Sunday Concert Series
Sept 13 – Bristol, TN – Birthplace of Country Music
Sept 15 – Hilham, TN – Crossing the Cumberlands Festival
Sept 15 – Nashville, TN – Official AmericanaFest Showcase (8 p.m. at The Local)
Sept 16 – Jonesborough, TN – Brews and Tunes
Sept 21 – Bristol, VA – Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion
Sept 25 – Raleigh, NC – IBMA
Sept 28 – Raleigh, NC – IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass (StreetFest)
Sept 29 – Kansas City, MO – Dust Bowl Jamboree
Oct 5 – Harlan, KY – Sorghum Stiroff
Oct 6 – Johnson City, TN – Studio One (WETS)
Oct 9 – Damascus, VA – Damascus Concert Series
Oct 13 – Floyd, VA – Floyd Country Store
Oct 20 – Big Stone Gap, VA – Home Craft Days

 

Read our take on Bill and the Belles’ new release ‘Dreamsongs, etc’

 

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Author: Rob Dickens

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