Interview: Evie Ladin

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With a childhood spent running free at festivals and listening to the traveling troubadours who stopped by to play shows in her living room, it’s no surprise that music and dancing are a part of songwriter, dancer, and banjoista Evie Ladin’s DNA.  “My mom was deep into the international folk dance world; she has a master’s degree in folk dancing, and taught at the university level.  My dad fell in love with southern Appalachian music; he was an economist and he enjoyed that work, but his entire social life revolved around music and dance,” she recalls.  “Even to this day, he’ll drive hours and hours to go to an event.”

Ladin’s passion was percussive dance and choreography, but college expanded her creative horizons.  “Hearing African music and seeing African dance blew my mind; I realized it was one of the main influences of Appalachian dance.  I dove into studying it in Africa, but when I came back to the States, I was like an outsider in that community.  I didn’t have that feeling when I was in Africa; the nature of that style of dance is so community-oriented, I felt it would be hard to always feel like an outsider, so I dove back into the Americana side,” she says.  After finishing school, Ladin moved to California but had difficulty finding a professional percussive dance scene where she fit.  “I joined an all female string band, called The Stairwell Sisters—I’d been writing songs all along—and I began taking music more seriously.  In life, you try to figure out what you want to do and what you like, and fortunately, for me, the older I get, the more full circle things come. I realized you don’t necessarily have to decide; things that I used to be interested in have come back to me in different ways, and I find that fascinating,” she explains.  “My career keeps shifting and changing depending on what’s available around me.”

Mid-career, Ladin took a couple of months to rejuvenate creatively; spending her time taking lessons and writing songs which lead to the making of Jump The Fire, her brand new album set for release on May 6th.  Jump The Fire takes the listener on a journey through 13 tracks of southern Appalachian-influenced goodness; unlike traditional bluegrass music, Ladin’s arrangements eliminate the need for showboating and create plenty of space for harmony and storytelling to flourish.  “More than anything else, it’s the sound of home to me, because it was always playing in our house.  It encapsulates basic human emotions and experiences. My sister and I clogged, and we were always singing southern Appalachian songs and harmony songs,” she says.  “I love that music and dance is at the foundation of the cross-cultural mix in our country, I really appreciate that there’s a collision of artistic cultures rooted in a deep and meaningful sound and style, and centuries later, it still impacts people.”

Purchase Jump The Firehttp://evieladin.bandcamp.com/album/jump-the-fire

Purchase tickets to the album release show in Berkley, California: http://thefreight.org/stray-birds-evie-ladin-band

 

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Susan Hubbard

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