MORE ABOUT THE SISTERS (cont'd.)
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"What's hot: corn likker, overalls and straw hats with little price tags dangling from them. What's not: pomegranite martinis, PalmPilots. With Madonna dropping the kabala for jug-blowing lessons, and the $300 million Hee-Haw spinoff movie in production (Crow Puppet: The Adventure Begins, starring Anthony Hopkins as Junior Samples), you know that square dancing is HOT! You can't afford to lower your street cred by failing to learn allemand lefts and do-si-dos, and fortunately The Stairwell Sisters are here to command you. Stephanie Prausnitz, Evie Ladin, Martha Hawthorne, Sue Sandlin and Lisa Berman are experts at music sweet and hot. The ruckus begins at 8pm, with a sit down show, and a proper square dance at 9pm. The Attic. $10-12, 8pm.
- Richard von Busack, METRO SANTA CRUZ
"STAIRWELL SONGS - OLD-TIME IS NOT FORGOTTEN
The women of the Stairwell Sisters had no trouble picking their second CD's title, Feet All Over the Floor. It's a line from the old folk song "Cindy," and if there's anything the quintet enjoys at least as much as playing old-time string-band music together, it's dancing, from square dancing to clogging. However, they'll be leaving their dancing shoes in the closet for Saturday's CD release concert at 8 p.m. at the Freight & Salvage.
Everyone sings, and there is no leader dictating the band's direction, "but we all have strong opinions," fiddler Stephanie Prausnitz says. "The Stairwell Sisters' sound blends all of our influences, ultimately old-time, but with country and bluegrass mixed in. Everything comes from that acoustic, Southern Appalachian, African-Scottish-Irish blend." The group really did get its start in a stairwell five years ago, where dobro guitarist and banjo player Lisa Berman and guitarist Sue Sandlin first tried singing together. Berman, Prausnitz, and bassist Martha Hawthorne all played in acclaimed '90s old-time band Crooked Jades, and when they found banjo player and clogger Evie Ladin, the Stairwell Sisters were complete. Inspired by such pioneers as fiddler Tommy Jarrell and mandolinist Bill Monroe, they also cherish the less-heralded female thread in this American music: the two-thirds women Carter Family, the Coon Creek Girls, the duo Hazel & Alice, and the Bay Area's '70s women string bands Good Ol' Persons and Any Old Time. "Women have always made this music," Prausnitz says, "but they haven't gotten the gigs or recordings the men have." It is a heritage the Stairwells proudly carry on. Tickets cost $18.50. TheFreight.org or 510-548-1761."
- Larry Kelp, East Bay Express 5/6/05
"The second album by this SF-Bay Area fivesome is a fine set of squeaky, raspy old-time music with plenty of fiddle, banjo and twang... The songs are a nice mix of older material from the public domain and a half dozen originals written by the band members... These gals -- Lisa Berman on guitar, Martha Hawthorne on bass, Evie Landin on banjo, Stephanie Prausnitz sawing on the fiddle and Sue Sandlin on guitar -- hail from several other local bands and have a nice, relaxed feel as a band. Their new material fits right into the classic old-timey vibe -- if you like your stringband music "crooked" and uncompromised, like, say, Jim & Jennie or the Crooked Jades, this is a fine record to check out..."
- Joe Sixpack's "Hillbilly Riot"
"If you enjoy listening to authentic string band music then look no further. This CD definitely feeds our traditional roots. Using their voices as musical instruments they ebb & flow back and forth and come back together to create a beautiful sound. I was totally mesmerized while listening to this wonderful project. The vocals were excellent and you could really feel the emotion and enthusiasm in their voices as they sang each song. I have heard many of these songs before but they took on new life on this project. The instrumental work was superb and dovetailed very well with the songs being sung. Hearing this CD once was not enough. It needs to be played several times in order to fully appreciate the combination of their fine voices and the great lyrics of each song. I played the entire CD and received many calls to play it again. I will be playing several cuts each week until the CD has been played in total again."
- Al Shusterman, KCBL/Backroads Bluegrass
"... I have been a DJ for 12 years and I have been collecting rare old time and country records for about 7 years. I have about 4,000 records in my collection and out of that I have about 1,000 various 33's, 78's & 45's (not including CD's) of country music starting in the 1920's going all the way up to the modern era. I have heard tons and tons of current artists that have a good song here and there or maybe a pretty good album in spots... BUT, as far as the Stairwell Sisters go you have simply blown them out of the water and probably left them all scratching their heads in a bewildered stupor. I was listening to the Crooked Jades before I knew of the SWS's and vaguely knew of Lisa, Martha and Stephanie then one day a promo CD came into Logos and I read the back and thought to myself: these girls seem to have something here. The following day on a beautiful sunny summer morning on the way to the flea market I put on the CD, absorbed the sounds of Rock Andy and was instantly floored. Every song was a lullaby to my soul, from the spookiest & crustiest old time Appalachian tune to the candy sweetest love song. Now we have "Feet all over the Floor" and we still have not stopped listening to it. I can tell that your sound has been polished and refined, you all have made the Stairwell Sisters sound unique and yours but at the same time you have captured the spirit of the original music as if the ghosts of that sound are whispering into your ears as you play. I swear that there is something inexplicable about the way you all play. You're quite a combo of intensity when thrown in a jar and mixed together and as far as I'm concerned you are the real thing!!"
- and, about their upcoming wedding...
"We are more than stoked to have you all be a part of this most special moment in our lives... just consider the wedding location to be a super elaborate old time movie set designed with you gals in mind... I'm just gonna imagine that it's 1940 and you have come out from Maces Springs in your old Model T to play for us. Tell Sara and Maybelle to bring extra strings. Talk to you soon.
- Tom Levey-Galleguillos, DJ & Logos Record Store worker, Santa Cruz
(& his fiancé Rosey Lakos, our photograper extraordinaire!)