The Bowery Ballroom


Fri, October 7, 2011

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Bowery Ballroom

New York, NY

This event is 21 and over

"Ollabelle came together because of these musicians' love of this music, without thought of success or career or any of the other trappings of the modern professional music business. It has great value to our culture, adding new life to a tradition that is an important part of who we are. But mostly, they sound great. They sing great and they play great, and they are wonderful people." -T-Bone Burnett

Amy Helm—vocals, mandola
Byron Isaacs—vocals, bass, dobro
Tony Leone—vocals, drums, percussion
Fiona McBain—vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
Glenn Patscha—vocals, keyboards, accordion

A collection of songs of hard times, loss, compassion and hope" is how Fiona McBain describes Riverside Battle Songs, Ollabelle's second album and Verve Forecast debut. The 13-song set finds the New York quintet building upon the foundation of its self-titled 2004 debut, drawing from a deep well of gospel, blues, bluegrass, and country influences to create timelessly resonant music that honors the integrity of its sources while remaining effortlessly contemporary.

A multi-talented, democratic collective whose participants share vocal and songwriting duties, Ollabelle gains strength from its members' shared sense of mission, as well as their diverse musical and personal backgrounds. Although the group initially began as a casual sideline to the musicians' individual projects, it quickly evolved into a full-time creative entity with an unmistakable life of its own.

Where Ollabelle's gospel-steeped debut album emphasized distinctive adaptations of traditional material, Riverside Battle Songs — produced by veteran producer/multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, best known for his lengthy stint in Bob Dylan's band, and mixed by longtime admirer T Bone Burnett — showcases the group's own compositions. Such memorable originals as "Heaven's Pearls," "Fall Back," "Dream the Fall," "Blue Northern Lights" and "Reach for Love" offer subtly riveting examples of the bandmates' vocal and instrumental interplay, mining an evocative palette of acoustic and electric textures to create singularly expressive music.

Another highlight is a haunting reworking of the bluegrass standard "High On A Mountain"—a song written by the band's namesake, legendary rural songstress Ola Belle Reed, a key inspiration in their formative days. The group also brings fresh perspective to the traditional classic "Riverside" (aka "Down by the Riverside"), whose message of hope and redemption serves as the album's thematic centerpiece.

Riverside Battle Songs reflects the substantial growth that Ollabelle has undergone since recording their debut effort. "The new record, to me, sounds more like us," says McBain. "When we made the first one, we weren't really a band, and our collaboration was new and a little timid. Now, three years down the track, there's been a natural evolution in both the music and our personal relationships, and I think that you can hear that on this record."

The band credits the new album's confident vibe to the extensive roadwork that followed their first release. "The first album was made by a group of people who were just getting to know each other, personally as well as musically," Tony Leone notes. "But Riverside Battle Songs is a strong representation of where we are now, and who we are as writers, singers and players."
Venue Information:
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002