VOTE! "I Got A Lot Riding On These Wheels"
100 years ago women were not allowed vote. Not allowed! For the Suffragettes fighting for the right to vote, no symbol was more powerful than the bicycle. The bicycle allowed women to leave home and to get where they wanted on their own power. The bicycle required changes in fashion that allowed them to move more freely. The exercise made them stronger, healthier and more independent. Unsurprisingly, none of these things were popular within the turn-of-the-century power structure.
Award-winning songwriters Anya Hinkle and Louisa Branscomb joined forces to bring this unique connection between women and bicycles to light during the suffragette’s centennial year. “I’ve got a lot riding on these wheels” was born when Anya read an article about an Afghani women’s cycling team, which resonated with her own history riding and racing bicycles. Anya invited Louisa, a pioneering woman in bluegrass, to co-write and co-produce the project, and invited a diverse cast of women to participate: Adilene Delgado on drums, Mary Lucey on clawhammer banjo and harmony vocals, Celia Millington-Wyckoff on bass, Natalya Weinstein on fiddle, Louisa on mandolin and tenor banjo, and Anya on guitar and lead vocals. The project was conducted in a covid-safe- and guerilla- style: Anya brought a portable rig to each player’s house to capture their parts and then assembled the song with help from David Arnold.
During this important election, on the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment that gave women the right to vote, it is more important than ever that not only women’s voices are heard, but that all people that are disenfranchised and discouraged from voting are heard. We have to honor those that fought so hard for women’s suffrage, for voting rights in the 60s, by ensuring that voices are not silenced, for it impacts us now and our children later. This video is dedicated to the life and work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her legacy of standing up for the rights of all people.
"Hills of Swannanoa" out now!
New music coming your way! As you probably know, I am in the process of recording the first full-length album under my own name! In February I recorded four tracks for Organic Records here in Asheville with Billy Cardine (dobro), Thomas Cassel (mandolin), Julian Pinelli (fiddle), Johnny Calamari (bass) and Mary Lucey (vocals) with help from Van Atkins on knobs and Jon D Weisberger in the producer's chair.
Before I go back into the studio to record some more, I will release one more single from that session called "Hills of Swannanoa," a song I wrote with Akira Satake, a ceramic artist in Asheville but also a banjo player and composer originally from Osaka, Japan. Special thanks to Gen Kogure for shooting and editing this video as well!
The tune will available on streaming platforms and for digital download on August 14th. You can pre-add or pre-save the track, and here are the links: https://clg.lnk.to/AH-HoS-s. We will also release a very special video, and I'll keep you in the loop on that.
I feel like the artwork for this single with the blurred ink subtly suggests the rivers and mountains of the Blue Ridge but is also reminiscent of "sumi-e" or Japanese ink drawing. Stay tuned for more on this! Thank you!
ABOUT THE SONG:
"Hills of Swannanoa” is the story of the Great Flood of 1916. The unusually heavy mid-summer rains that year, in addition to heavy logging in the Carolina mountains caused severe flooding of Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers and heavy damage in the Asheville area. The idea of writing about this event came about because of my friend Akira Satake, who wrote an instrumental called “Swannanoa” after moving to nearby Black Mountain, NC almost 20 years ago to start a ceramics studio. He asked me if I might want to write some lyrics. I let my mind wander to the beautiful Swannanoa Valley where I spent a lot of time with my daughter when she was very small. There is a mystical feeling there: vibrations from the ancient Cherokee, heavy mists that shroud the hills, generous green that carpets the valleys. It feels sacred, sad and beautiful.
The modal scale of the tune, somewhere in between a major and minor key, naturally gives the listener a feeling of both beauty and tragedy. I began to read about the flood and let the story develop from there, creating my own song that knits together seamlessly with Akira’s instrumental melody. The story is fictional but based on true events: prisoners really did drown in their cells, all of Asheville’s bridges were washed away, hundreds of houses were destroyed, dozens of people were killed.
Akira and I have enjoyed performing this song very much in recent years and we are pleased to release it now with a fantastic band that includes Billy Cardine (dobro), Julian Pinelli (fiddle), Thomas Cassell (mandolin) and Johnny Calamari (bass).
"Road of the Winds" out now!
Anya will release tracks for her first full-length album under her own name this year on Organic Records. The first single, “Road of the Winds” debuts April 2020, features an all-star cast, including Billy Cardine on dobro, Julian Pinelli on fiddle, Thomas Cassell on mandolin, Johnny Calamari on bass and Mary Lucey on harmony vocals.
“Before I began singing, I was in graduate school studying botany. I was researching ancient Polynesian migration in the South Pacific and the plants that people carried with them on their journeys. More than a thousand years before Columbus, Polynesian people departed the Asian continent in great voyaging canoes, sailing thousands of miles before eventually reaching tiny islands in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean like Hawaii and Tahiti. It boggles the imagination to think of the courage and faith it would take to get in a boat and sail toward a new homeland that you hadn’t ever seen and didn’t even know existed. Yet they got in their boats and sailed east, into the sunrise.
Similarly, we are constantly moving closer toward our own homeland, a place we sense is there, somewhere, if we can just pay attention and listen closely to our inner voice. It takes tremendous bravery and tenacity to believe that we can grow to become the person we were meant to be, doing the work we are meant to be doing. We are embarking on a great journey with each sunrise, with each day we are alive. This song helps me feel free to move ahead in new directions with boldness and conviction even though I don’t exactly know where it will all lead. But like the ancient mariners of the Pacific, once you leave the shore you are committed to the journey—there is no turning back.”