Xpress is speaking with artists and performers in advance of the upcoming autumn LEAF festival, a weekend dedicated to art and music, held Thursday, Oct. 20, through Sunday, Oct. 23.
The Crystal Bright and the Silverhands front woman and namesake is a Greensboro, N.C. native. A life-long musician, Bright is also a teacher of music, a theatrical producer and director and a holistic health coach. Her haunting and mystical sound exudes folkloric qualities accompanied by a wide assortment of instruments such as the musical saw, the adungu — a Ugandan harp — and the guitarlike vihuela, common to Mariachi groups. The gypsy-jazz folk assembly performs Friday in the Barn, 6:45-8 p.m.; and Saturday in Eden Hall, 12:15-1:30 p.m
Xpress: How has your background in theater contributed to your live music performances?
Crystal Bright: [It] helped me feel more comfortable performing in front of people and probably comes out through my dramatic facial expressions and hand gestures while singing in order to get the story across more effectively.
Your band is named after a Brother’s Grimm Tale and many of your songs have roots in folklore. What in particular strikes you about the idea of fables and why?
Folktales and mythology intrigue me because of the timeless lessons we can learn from them and the archetypes that cross cultural boundaries. Tales such as “The Ugly Duckling” still apply today. The human experience at its core hasn’t changed much in the past few centuries and probably even longer, so to have tales that can still help us navigate through some of life’s hardest transitions and hurdles is comforting. We just need to still pay attention to what they are trying to tell us.
How has being part of many culturally diverse music ensembles influenced your music?
Certain styles such as Balinese Gamelan, Chinese and Ugandan definitely influenced my rhythm on unsuspecting instruments such as piano. The experience of working in different dynamics helped me to be adaptable in different situations, and, of course, the obvious influence of instruments. I have incorporated the accordion and adungu as of now, and have plans for adding more instruments in the future. Also, learning about the different ways music from other cultures is structured socially and theoretically has influenced the way I write music and think about its function.