Annie & the Beekeepers
LIVE on Folk & Beyond with Aer Stephen
Thursday, August 6, 2009, 5:30 PM
Photo by Adam Jason
You can catch
Annie and the Beekeepers
performing later this evening at 8:30 PM at the Branch Tea Bazaar, downtown Charlottesville, and on Saturday, August 8, at 8:00 PM in nearby Lovingston at Rapunzelâs Coffee and Books.
Annie and the Beekeepers is a folk and country inspired trio that met at Berklee College of Music in December 2006. The members of Annie and the Beekeepers came to Berklee from across the country with different musical backgrounds â Annie Lynch is a self-taught guitarist and the Beekeepersâ principal singer and songwriter from Cape Cod; Ken Woodward is from Charlottesville and plays acoustic bass and sometimes stomps on a snare at the same time for fun; and Alexandra Spalding, who lends her beautiful voice to create the Beekeepersâ signature harmonies, grew up playing cello in orchestras in Northern California. Annie met Ken through various attempts to learn bluegrass and saw Alex playing in a Berklee Joni Mitchell ensemble. One brief rehearsal later, the group gathered in Ken's frigid basement apartment with producer and peer, Frank Charlton, for two days of recording. Though the work was never titled or released, those two days in December of 2006 gave birth to a band that would go on to build a reputation for their unique instrumentation and lyrics, evocative layered harmonies, and heartwarming live performances.
In the summer of 2007, Annie and the Beekeepers joined Grammy-nominated producer, Jack Gauthier, at his lakeside studio for the recording of their self-titled debut album, Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers. Creating arrangements for songs that Lynch had written months or years prior to the December 2006 session evolved into stronger collaborations, with Woodward and Lynch co-writing âThe Bee Song.â The album was released in January of 2008 and has been played frequently on WERS Emerson Radio and WUMB Boston Radio, and earned fans at The Boston Globe and many other regional publications and blogs. Annie and the Beekeepers went on to play 2008âs Boston Folk Festival, CMJ and South By Southwest in 2009.
Nearly a year after their debutâs release, Adrian Olsen, a friend and producer from Berklee, invited the band to use some studio time he had at Squid Hell in Jamaica Plain, MA. Without plans or expectations, the band laid down new songs and live favorites in what Lynch describes as "a one of the most gratifying creative moments we've shared." The songs recorded that afternoon would set the foundation for the Squid Hell Sessions EP, and in the winter of 2009, the band finished recording at Garth Stevensonâs home-studio in Brooklyn. The group produced the work with the help of Stevenson, Olsen, and Kyle Vandekerkhoff. Woodward says of the process, âThe recording experience was in many ways similar to what this record is about. Squid Hell Sessions is about facing life's suffering, confronting that pain, and ultimately passing through it. The sounds on this record are dark, rich, and deeply satisfying.â Lynch concludes, âThough the EP contains a lot of sorrowful emotion, it is, in essence, a celebration of music as a positive outlet. There is something strangely comforting in the sharing of one's hardships. Though we all know that each person feels pain, having songs in our lives that reflect these common emotions help us to feel a sense of unity in the times when we need that the most.â
When the band first began playing together in living rooms and basements around Boston, the mysterious disappearance of bee colonies throughout the world was receiving a great deal of attention in the media. As the group built the foundations of their band in coffeehouses and clubs around the Northeast, the collapse of the bee colonies fascinated them and inspired their name. The Bee has long been a symbol for hard work and community, and the Beekeepers were inspired to preserve and promote those same qualities by way of music and their role in the music community. To that end, the songs on their first album, 2008âs Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers and the Squid Hell Sessions EP (May 12, 2009), are honest, collaborative efforts, drawing on the sounds of Joni Mitchell, Gillian Welch, Bob Dylan, and CSNY.
Photo by Tammy Lamoureux
[reprinted with permission]