review by Brenda Hough
The Stairwell Sisters are a Bay Area group that sounds as if they've stepped out of the distant hills of the past.
They are "good time gals that love old-time tunes," and their enthusiastic delivery and heartfelt vocals get your feet stompin' and rarin' to go.
Lisa Berman and Evie Ladin propel the sound with bouncy banjo and soulful dobro, backed by Martha Hawthorne on bass and
Sue Sandlin on guitar. Stephanie Prausnitz's fiddle work makes the band; the woody sounds pull emotions out of the air and the fast-paced
fiddle notes send the horse hairs on the bow flying! "Rock Andy" may be a Civil War tune, but it could easily be "Rock, Andy, Rock"...!
Bill Grant's "Kiamichi Moon" is filled with smooth harmonies and celebrates the Kiamichi mountains in Eastern Oklahoma.
The group excels at dance numbers and their "Crockett's Honeymoon/Waldorf's Reel" and "Hog Eyed Man" are high-energy.
Lisa and Sue do a sister duet in the style of Alice and Hazel in the song "No Never No." The songs also include a Bob Dylan tune
"Buckets of Rain," and another version of the haunting "O Death" song popularized by Ralph Stanley in the "O Brother" movie.
"Alcatraz Blues" is a nod to our local jail house and has lyrics rewritten by Bay Area bluegrass stalwart, Alan Senauke.
"Swannanoa Tunnel" is this reviewer's personal favorite and it has all the rollicking banjo and smooth harmonies that make this group special.
Check them out when they are performing near you - their special sound is worth seeing!