Long-reaching roots

Much old-time and Appalachian ballads and folk tunes came over from Europe (especially the British Isles) with emigrants from those countries. And, while many musicians have worked to keep those musical traditions alive (think: Celtic jams), others helped the songs evolve (think: bluegrass and contemporary folk). But part of the process of the evolution of folk music has to do with the songs, in their American adaptations, finding their way back to their homeland.

Enter I Draw Slow, an acoustic group from Ireland who plays bluegrass and Americana. Their album, Redhills, was recently released on N.C.-based Pinecastle Records, and the band is currently in the midst of a two-week tour of Appalachia.

The band is led by Holden siblings Dave (guitar and vocals) and Louise (vocals) with Konrad Liddy on guitar, Colin Derham on banjo and Adrian Hart on fiddle. Based in Dublin, they describe their sound as “rooted in the old time style of the Appalachian mountains, drawing on Irish traditional music and modern Americana.” In fact, so enthralled are they with Appalachia that, on a solo trip through the area a few years ago, Dave was inspired to write a song about Little Switzerland.

But, if there’s any intimidation factor in bringing old-time music, filtered through an Irish sensibility, back to the epicenter of old-time, I Draw Slow didn’t show it at their first American show. That was at Jack of the Wood (below) a little more than a week ago. They quickly had the crowd dancing (including a pair of cloggers) and were doing brisk CD sales on their breaks.

I Draw Slow’s tour culminates with appearances at the Albino Skunk Festival in Greer, S.C. on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 4 and 5. (They’re on stage at 5:10 p.m. on Thursday and 2:20 p.m. on Friday; other acts include The Lee Boys, Zoe Muth & the Lost High Rollers, Sol Driven Train, The Honeycutters, Elephant Revival, Darrell Scott and many more.)

But first, I Draw Slow plays at White Horse Black Mountain tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 3) at 7:30 p.m. $15.

Watch for a video interview and excessive performance from I Draw Slow to run on mountainx.com later this week.

Watch the band perform “Goldmine” here:

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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