Covered as part of the regular "Americana" column, titled "Goin' To Heaven in a Split Pea Shell"
- Andrew Bottomley
In all genres of music, there seems still to be a tendency to view all-female bands as novelties, despite the obvious fact that in many cases
they sing and play as well or better than the guys. If the cover story of the previous issue of Sing Out! has convinced anyone that the list of
top-flight all-female old-time bands begins and ends with Uncle Earl - good as they are - then be prepared to be convinced by the Stairwell Sisters that
there are at least two. (Check out that same issue for the Stairwell Sisters' song "Could It Be Him" - Eds.)
Based on the West Coast, in Oakland, the "Sisters" are Evie Ladin (banjo), Stephanie Prausnitz (fiddle), Lisa Berman (guitar and "old-time" dobro), Sue
Sandlin (guitar and "old-time" tiple) and Martha Hawthorne (bass). Who sings? All of 'em. Who writes? Most of 'em. Along the way, they pay homage to the likes of Fiddlin' Arthur Smith ("Weary Weary World"), Kentucky fiddler Owen "Snake" Chapman ("Big Black Cat"), Dock Boggs ("Drunkard's Love Child") (sic) and more.
Don't get the impression it's a lesson or lecture in musicology or field recording, though. The ladies are having a huge amount of fun playing these
old tunes as well as their own, and that sense of good times, high energy and love of music and performance permeates and resonates throughout the
whole disc. Male or female, one of the best bands in the biz.