Misty Riverâ€™s debut album "Rising" continues to receive widespread national and international airplay since its release in June 2000, and independent book and music stores report "Rising" as one of their top-selling albums.
Showcasing the budding songwriting talent of its members, this beautiful, introspective collection of original and traditional songs has independently sold over 9,000 copies. Guest artists include mandolin extraordinaire John Reischman, bass virtuoso Glen Moore, resophonic guitarist Bill Storms and guitarist Dale Adkins.
Reviews of "Rising" speak to its appeal:
â€œThis music is heavily steeped in the bluegrass, folk and country traditions. But thereâ€™s also a modern edge which resembles the neo-bluegrass style of Alison Krauss or EmmyLou Harris.â€â€”Minor7th.com (Acoustic Guitarâ€™s Webzine)
â€œIf you are in the mood for something outside the bluegrass mainstream, you could hardly do better than this very attractive albumâ€¦.The four women are excellent singers and their voices blend like milk and honey.â€â€”Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine
â€œWhen these four women weave their lovely harmonies, it is spine tingling.â€â€”Jeff Douglas, Oregon Public Broadcasting-TV
The story so farâ€¦
The â€œopen micâ€ is a time-honored tradition in the world of musicians. Anyone with enough nerve can get up on stage, stand behind the microphone and perform for a real, live audience. Appearing at an open mic is a great way â€“ and sometimes the only way â€“ for fledgling performers to gain experience and confidence. For many musicians, itâ€™s an occasional lark. But once in a very long while, something magical happens. Talents converge, ideas mesh, personalities click, the audience respondsâ€¦and a band is born.
Thatâ€™s how it happened with Misty River, the Portland/Vancouver-based acoustic Americana band that has captured the hearts and ears of thousands of fans and critics since its formation in 1997. Victory Music Review has hailed the band for its â€œlush, pitch-perfect harmonies, gentle tasteful arrangements [and] fresh interpretation of songs.â€ Bluegrass Unlimited raved about the â€œexcellent singers [whose] voices blend like milk and honey.â€ Positively Entertainment put it simply: â€œPure and wonderful.â€
The Misty River story begins back in 1997, when Laura Quigley was celebrating her twenty-first birthday with a night out with her mother, Carol Harley. The two went to an Irish club in Portland and were thoroughly blown away by the band. As Laura and Carol were leaving the club, they were overheard harmonizing on a version of â€œSomewhere Over the Rainbowâ€ out in the parking lot. The club bouncer was impressed enough by their singing that he told Laura and Carol they should return some time and perform at the clubâ€™s open mic night. Carol responded for them both: â€œWhatâ€™s an open mic?â€
After hearing the explanation, Carol and Laura decided the open mic sounded like fun and called a couple friends to see if they would join them. The first call went to Dana Abel, a former guitar student of Carolâ€™s who also sang and played piano. Looking for a more portable alternative for the gig, Dana remembered her dadâ€™s old accordion stashed under the bed, and decided to give it a try. The second call went to Chris Kokesh, a singer and fiddler whom Carol had seen perform with the Celtic band Finvarra. After one rehearsal, the four women discovered they shared a love of singing and that their vocal blend and harmonies actually sounded pretty goodâ€”at least good enough to perform at an open mic. So on to the gigâ€¦.
It was one of those nights. As the clubâ€™s music manager Kurt Selvig wrote in the liner notes to Misty Riverâ€™s first CD, â€œFrom the first note to the last, the audience and I knew we were experiencing something more than special, and we were right.â€ The response to the band and its fresh sound was so favorable, the crowd so enthusiastic, that the club manager offered the group a job. â€œBut weâ€™re not even a band,â€ they protested. â€œOh, yes you are,â€ he countered. And he was right.
As Misty River took shape over the next few weeks and months of arduous rehearsals, the personalities, tastes and experiences of the four women meshed despite their varied backgrounds. An elementary school teacher in Eugene, Oregon before she became a full-time musician, Carol led a popular folk group called The Little Women during her high-school years in Bend, Oregon. At the University of Oregon in the 1970s, Carol played in a folk-rock band known as The Sterling Generation; more recently she taught private guitar lessons.
Laura grew up singing harmony with her mother. She also sang in the concert and jazz choirs in high school and college in Eugene. Dana had also been involved with music since early childhood, playing classical piano, trombone and guitar, and singing in the Oregon Childrenâ€™s Choir and chamber chorale at Stanford University. Chris started playing violin at the age of two and performed in orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout high school and sang in a cappella groups and choir at Pomona College.
As they worked out their arrangements, the women also began blending their musical influences and ideas into a cohesive band sound. That Misty River â€œsoundâ€ is a seamless amalgam of many different styles of music, including folk, bluegrass, classic country, Celtic, and old time music. It all comes together beautifully and organically in a fusion perhaps best described as â€œAcoustic Americana.â€
After a few shows by the band, Laura began learning to play the upright bass. She made tremendous strides on the instrument, studying with Todd Phillips, Glen Moore and Missy Raines. Confirmation of her status as a first-tier musician came in 2001 when Laura won the Best Bass Player award at the Washington State Bluegrass Championships. She has performed in Ireland with Laurie Lewis, Hazel Dickens and the â€œOh Sister, Where Art Thouâ€ tour, and toured Europe with Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum.
Once Laura moved to upright bass, the permanent line-up of Misty River was set and remains so today. Carol Harley plays guitar, banjo and mandolin; Chris Kokesh fiddles and plays guitar; Dana Abel plays accordion and guitar; and Laura Quigley anchors the band on acoustic bass.
The band recorded its first CD, Rising, in 2000. The heart of the album is its original materialâ€”â€œOnly Love,â€ â€œMother, Motherâ€ and â€œReal As A Dreamâ€ written by Chris Kokesh and â€œThis American Dreamâ€ by Dana Abel. The album also contained a pair of traditional songs, â€œLittle Sadieâ€ and â€œThe Trees They Do Grow High,â€ and songs from such outstanding singer-songwriters as Townes Van Zandt (â€œIf I Needed Youâ€) and Tom Paxton "The Last Thing On My Mind."
"Rising" was a hit both with the bandâ€™s fans and with music critics across the country. The Oregonian exulted: â€œThe album is angelic in the way only the high lonesome sounds of bluegrass and folk music can be.â€ Dirty Linen loved the bandâ€™s â€œbeautiful, soaring harmoniesâ€ and found the album â€œwonderfully enchanting.â€ CD Baby Magazine gave it another rave: â€œStunning musicâ€¦beautiful and tightâ€¦exacting musicianship.â€
For its second CD, the band decided the best way to showcase the bandâ€™s eclectic tastes and stylistic variety was to record an actual performance, catching the band in its â€œnatural habitat,â€ so to speak. Recorded over two nights in December 2001 at Artichoke Musicâ€™s Backgate Stage in Portland, "Live at the Backgate Stage" is a tuneful delight from start to finish.
The set list ranges from Danaâ€™s original â€œMisty Riverâ€ to a gorgeous four-part a cappella harmony version of â€œAmerica the Beautiful,â€ with stops along the way for a Stanley Brothers bluegrass classic, a couple of traditional mountain songs, and some of the bandâ€™s favorites from such writers and performers as Lyle Lovett, Gillian Welch, Lynn Morris, Tim Oâ€™Brien, Bill Staines, Kate Wolf, Shawn Colvin and The Trioâ€”Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt.
In the bandâ€™s third CD release, "Willow," Misty River branches out from its traditional Americana roots to explore new rhythmic, instrumental and harmonic colors. The 14-song collection includes five originals by Chris, Dana and Carol, and seamlessly crosses genres, continents and time. The result is fresh and beautiful, making Willow Misty Riverâ€™s most evocative album to date.
Misty River CDs have sold exceptionally well and have received extensive radio airplay throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as in such countries as China, Australia, Spain, England, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, France, Ireland and Belgium. The bandâ€™s other radio credits include appearances on Nebraska Public Radioâ€™s NPR-affiliated show River City Folk. Misty River has performed on television programs such as ABCâ€™s and CBSâ€™s Portland, Oregon affiliates KATU (AM Northwest) and KOIN (Christmas Special), and Oregon Public Broadcastingâ€™s Oregon Art Beat. The bandâ€™s appearance on Oregon Art Beat was voted an audience favorite and remains one of the top-viewed shows in the seriesâ€™ history.
Misty River travels in a 37-foot motor home the women have named â€œAnnabelle,â€ after a favorite Gillian Welch song. This road-tested band has played as many as 200 engagements a year and regularly averages around 150. From small clubs to large theaters, performing arts centers to civic and corporate events, and house concerts to huge music festivals, Misty Riverâ€™s live show is what gives the band such a devoted following. Victory Music Review described the magic of Misty River live as â€œa warmth and friendship between the members of the band and the audienceâ€ and a â€œfeeling of intimacy in an audience that numbered over 600.â€ The review continued, â€œThe walloping charisma of each of the four womenâ€”their good humor and jocular stage patter, their laughter and kinshipâ€”was as effective in the back of the theater as it was for those in the front row.â€
The band performs frequently in the Pacific Northwest, but has also toured internationally, most recently representing the U.S. at the Shanghai International Music Festival in China. Nationally, Misty River has performed at venues such as Dollywood in Tennessee and Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. Other leading music festival appearances include the Strawberry Music Festival (in California), the Walnut Valley Festival (Kansas), the Northwest Folklife Festival and Wintergrass (Washington), the Sisters Folk Festival (Oregon) and the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival.
In Misty Riverâ€™s homebase of the Pacific Northwest, performance highlights include a sold-out double-bill concert with Tracy Grammer at Portland's Aladdin Theater and performing before an audience numbering 6,500 at the grand opening of the Oregon Gardens in Silverton. Misty River has also showcased at music industry conventions sponsored by such organizations as the Folk Alliance, the International Bluegrass Music Association and the NW Booking Conference.
And so. The road goes on forever and Annabelle keeps racking up the miles. As Misty Riverâ€™s popularity continues to expand beyond the Pacific Northwest, the band plans to do even more national and international touring. And Misty River rolls along, as rivers do, touching people at each stop along the way.
For more information, contact Carol Harley at:
Phone: (360) 576-7676, Fax: (360) 576-5050
Email: email@example.com www.mistyriverband.com
Check out the artist's website:
1. Only Love
2. The Trees They Do Grow High
3. If I Needed You
4. Mother, Mother
5. Obligatory Waltz
6. Little Sadie
7. The Last Thing On My Mind
8. Real As A Dream
9. This American Dream
10. You Can Have Her (Him)