Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton (of The Be Good Tanyas)

Pearl Street Warehouse Presents

Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton (of The Be Good Tanyas)

Letitia VanSant

Wed · November 29, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm


This event is 21 and over

This show is a GA seated show. Seating is first come first serve.


Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton (of The Be Good Tanyas)
Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton (of The Be Good Tanyas)
Wildflower Blues, the gorgeous new album by Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton, began with a phone call between two friends. The two hadn’t played together in years, but still shared a strong musical and personal connection. “I just called her out of the blue,” says Holland, who asked if Parton wanted to make some music together. “We hadn’t been in touch, but the timing was right and she said yes.”

Scheduled for release in September on the duo’s own label, Cinquefoil Records, the album wanders from rural blues to folk and ragtime, from smoky jazz to emotive R&B and fearless rock & roll. “I really like going at things from a lot of diverse angles,” says Holland. “The idea of genre is really unattractive to me.” She and Parton cover Townes Van Zandt’s “You Are Not Needed Now” and Michael Hurley’s “Jocko’s Lament,” and Holland rewrites Dylan’s “Minstrel Boy,” adding verses about two poets—William Blake and Steven Jesse Bernstein—whose work “helped me crystallize my view of the world.”

Each has exerted a strong musical influence on the other. When they first met nearly twenty years ago on an East Vancouver street corner, the conversation inevitably turned to music. Very soon they co-founded The Be Good Tanyas, the groundbreaking roots act that used traditional folk, country, and blues music to explore a range of different styles and sounds. Holland departed the group after only one album, but remained hopeful that she and Parton would collaborate in the future. “When I left,” Holland says, “I didn’t feel like I was done making music with Sam.”

That “out of the blue” phone call turned out to be well timed for both musicians. Touring for Holland’s sixth solo album, 2014’s Wine Dark Sea, had wound down, and although she had songs for a follow-up, she was hesitant to re-embark on that promotional cycle. Parton, on the other hand, was still recovering from two serious car accidents that left her unable to play music and struggling to connect with her creativity. “I was in this wilderness of health problems,” she says, “and I hadn’t been able to do anything musically for three years. When Jolie called me up, I was so sick of lying on my back staring at the ceiling in a doctor’s office, that I was ready to say yes to anything, whether I could do it or not. I knew I could trust her to be supportive and understanding, even if I wasn’t at full capacity. She was an outstretched hand to me at a moment when I really needed that.”

The two began by writing a few songs together at Parton’s home in Vancouver. “I had a bunch of unfinished material,” says Holland, “and Sam had some half-written songs she wanted to work on. She would come and sit with me and work on stuff, and then she would go about her business and I’d stay home making demos. I’ve never written songs with anyone the way Sam and I work together. It’s a super vulnerable thing to show
somebody your stuff and trust them to tinker around with your unformed ideas.”

When Parton felt stronger, they embarked on a low-key tour, as much to road test their new songs (and a handful of Townes Van Zandt and Velvet Underground covers) as to ease Parton back into the grind of sound checks, long drives, and late nights. “She pushes herself and that’s not always good,” says Holland. “We have to look out for her, because she wants to help out. She wants to haul amps and stuff like that. No! Go sit in the van and take care of yourself! But she’s so tough and resilient.”

“It was really hard, but also spiritually invigorating,” says Parton. “I was in such a weird place, trying to adjust to a new normal, feeling so alienated from my life. Getting back into music, I felt defiant. Let’s just throw shit at the wall and see what sticks.”

Emboldened by a successful tour together, they decamped to the Portland, Oregon, home studio of Mike Coykendall (Old Joe Clarks, M. Ward), and Holland assembled a small band of musicians to back them, including Stevie Weinstein-Foner (guitar), Jared Samuel, (piano, bass, guitar), and Justin Veloso (drums). “I wanted to set up a recording session that would be really chill and homey and not super strenuous, so I convinced Mike that we could do it at his home studio. It was a little ambitious and crazy to make it happen in such a small space, but I had been there before and understood the space, so I knew it would be good for Sam.”

During that time they listened a lot to Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan’s 1969 album, enjoying the looseness of that music, the sense of freedom and possibility. It became a kind of guide for Wildflower Blues, in spirit if not necessarily in sound. “One of the things about Nashville Skyline that feels so exciting to me is that it is a moment in time,” says Parton. “That’s what this new album feels like, too. It doesn’t feel be-labored. It’s more like: Let’s just get in there and see what happens. ‘Is this thing on?’ It feels like a special moment in time. There’s color to it. And dirt, and rocks, and this beautiful earth that we put into the album.”

As they worked, the songs took on lives of their own, and both Holland and Parton determined to follow them wherever they led. The title track began as an acoustic blues tune that gradually transformed into a swampy psych jam, anchored to a portentous bassline yet attuned to something larger, something spiritual, something defiant. “I’m a wildflower standing in the sun,” Sam sings, her voice hanging in the air like humidity. “I bust through the cracks when the springtime comes.”

“Honestly,” says Parton, “after the car accidents, I thought if I ever make an album again, it’ll have to be about recovery. But this album, aside from the title track, actually has very little to do thematically with any of that stuff. It’s like, just stepping back into the stream of music and seeing where it takes you.”

The stream will take them all over the world. In late 2017 and into 2018 the duo will tour throughout North America and Europe, performing songs that attest to the creative spirit that survives such physical setbacks and the friendship that thrives within the song and without. “The spirit of it is all about collaboration and friendship,” says Parton. “To me, more than even the songs themselves, it’s all about what went into this record—the history and the friendships and all the different roads that Jolie and I have traveled to end up making music together again. I think we know that is the beginning of more collaboration between us. I feel like this is our first album.”
Letitia VanSant
Letitia VanSant
In a time when embracing the heart and soul of humanity is at a critical moment, Baltimore’s Americana songstress Letitia VanSant releases a poignant collection of originals and one cover on her debut nationally distributed studio album, Gut It To The Studs (Release Date: February 2, 2018). VanSant sings of emotional empowerment, taking control of one’s destiny and leading with truth in her singular works.

In her music as in her life, VanSant’s ambitions have always sought to harness impact on social change. Before her return to Baltimore, VanSant earned a Human Rights Humanitarian Issues concentration from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN). Afterwards she traveled to Detroit to work with the Obama campaign and then signed on with AmeriCorps for a year developing gardens at public schools. Five years of work with a progressive lobby group landed her in Washington DC. On weekends, she reflected on the state of society through her songs, earning a regional following in coffee shops and clubs.

“We are in this political crisis in part because we have a lot of spiritual work to do,” says VanSant. “This moment requires us to think deeply about our priorities, to confront our fears, to build the relationships and emotional fortitude to sustain a movement.”

Upon weighing the power of music to move people, she ultimately left her nine-to- five job in DC to become a musician. She hasn’t looked back since, and for good reason. She’s won a slew of awards with Kerrville (New Folk Winner), the Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest (Gold; Folk Category), Falcon Ridge (Emerging Artist), and Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Songwriting Contest (1st Alternate). She’s graced the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, and placed among the Top 10 listener-voted “Songs of the Year” by her local radio station WTMD.

VanSant’s national debut Gut It To The Studs opens in tandem with her life as a full-time artist. To get off of the beaten path, though, one must contend with the uncertainties of uncharted territory. “Where I’m Bound” shows VanSant persevering through a “land of broken promises and streets of fool’s gold” with a “map in the stars,” and by following her faith.

Upon moving back to Baltimore, VanSant left behind a nonprofit career. In an effort to feel comfortable in her new skin, she looked at her emerging life and had to “Gut It To The Studs.” She sings, “gotta get the wires a-running right ‘fore the dry wall goes back up." “Taking Back The Reigns” reflects the notion that insecurities will follow you wherever you roam. In order to face your demons and not allow them to swallow up your life, you have to encounter the forces unseen and look them in the eye. If you let fear drive your soul, “then left unchecked it will rule the whole world.”

On “The Field,” VanSant likens her inner journey to the labor of farming, as she sings, “I’ll pick up my plough and I’ll pick up my hoe, for the soil is rocky and dry.”

The sole cover on the album, “For What It’s Worth,” stands the test of time as a true protest anthem. VanSant churns out a powerful Americana interpretation inspired by recent protests against police brutality. She comments, “Being in Baltimore, you can’t deny the stark injustice of racial inequality. The killing of Freddie Gray woke a lot of people up. We owe so much to the people who fought for justice in decades past, particularly in the ‘60s when this song was first released. I recorded this song as a reminder to myself that the present moment is just as critically important to our nation’s history.” “Dandelion” echoes our generation’s keen interest in building communities that are nourishing and real.

Upright bass virtuoso Alex Lacquement (Bumper Jacksons, Charm City Junction) produced the album -- VanSant says, “he has a special talent for taking the emotional content of a song and translating it into a great arrangement.” The songs were co-produced, engineered and mixed by Don Godwin of Airshow Studio (Takoma Park, MD), and feature vocals and guitar from David McKindley-Ward, VanSant’s long-time collaborator. The album also showcases cameos from some of the region’s greatest musical talents, including Patrick McAvinue (Dailey & Vincent), Laura Wortman (The Honey Dewdrops), Dan Ryan (Super City), Will
McKindley-Ward (Fellow Creatures), Sam McCormally (Fellow Creatures), Dan Samuels (Bumper Jacksons), Nick Sjostrom (Caleb Stine & The Brakemen) and Manny Arciniega.
Venue Information:
Pearl Street Warehouse
33 Pearl St SW
Washington, DC, 20024