Folk ensemble Patchy Sanders is proving to be a force to be reckoned with.
Folk ensemble Patchy Sanders is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. With a nod to traditional and modern folk, the Ashland band recorded a full-length CD — "The Wild Peach Forest" — that was officially released in October and followed it in November with a tour of Northern California.
"We played Nevada City, Davis, San Francisco and Santa Cruz," says backup vocalist Jacqueline Aubert. "We made new friends and a lot of new fans."
To say the least. The band was picked up by Sedge Thomsom for a live performance on "West Coast Live" in San Francisco. During the show, it turned the head of songwriter Mason Jennings — who described the band's performance as having "great musicianship, harmonies and feel."
Afterward, it drew a large crowd while busking at a street market outside the radio show's Ferry Building.
"It was the highlight of our tour," Aubert says.
While Patchy Sanders' music is steeped in traditions of Americana, Celtic and bluegrass, its songs make the arc into modern folk.
"A lot of people are surprised at the full, well-rounded sound," says songwriter and string player Ian Van Ornum. "The record touches on many parts of the musical spectrum with folky pop tunes that are upbeat and funky to more orchestrated pieces that have multiple movements, key changes, tempo changes and more of a classical feel. We're nailing the live performances, as well."
A live show can take audiences on a ride to a down-home hootenanny with such songs as "Darkest Skarlet Wild Rose" and "Mrs. Henry," then turn introspective with "Ancient Ancestry," "Rye Fiddlesticks" and "Carried by Cider."
The band will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at the Ashland Community Center, 59 Winburn Way. Singer and songwriter Phoenix Sigalove will open the show. Tickets cost $7 in advance and can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com or at Music Coop. Tickets will cost $10 at the door. Organic food and refreshments will be available. The show is open to all ages.
At the onset, Patchy Sanders was sisters Jacqueline and Danielle Aubert (banjo and lyrics), multi-instrumentalist Van Ornum and guitarist Daniel Sherrill. The group moved from the hills around Greensprings to Ashland a little more than a year ago to be closer to drummer Alex Patterson, stand-up bassist Eric Jones and violinist Sara Wilbur.
"We decided to get serious about our music," Van Ornum says. "We needed to be nearer to each other to put in the work, the rehearsal time and prove ourselves."
Ornum plays mandolin, violin, bouzouki and guitar, touching on each instrument for the recording of "The Wild Peach Forest." Lead guitarist Sherrill studied music at the University of Pittsburgh, and percussionist Patterson studied jazz drumming at the the University of Oregon. Jones bows his bass.
"The band's percussion is anything but cliche," Van Ornum says. "It's got a great dynamic, and Eric's bowed bass is the foundation for some of our songs."
Wilbur plays violin and viola, switching between instruments and folk and classical techniques to lend different approaches depending on the tunes.
"She incorporates classical into folk, or, if the song has more of a traditional folk feel, she'll lean on fiddle techniques," Van Ornum says.
Patchy Sanders found producer Sylvia Massy and Loud Palace Studios in Weed, Calif., when it was ready to record its debut album.
"She's worked with a lot of really awesome artists," Van Ornum says. "Most of her career has been in Southern California, working with rock bands Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Prince, Tool.
"We brought our EP to her, and she thought it was fresh, innovative and cutting-edge folk music ... and she wanted to be part of it. It's a mix of new folk with a feeling of familiarity."
Patchy Sanders' "The Wild Peach Forest" is available on iTunes, CD Baby, Spotify and at Music Coop in Ashland.