ABOUT THE PERFORMER
“WE is not about you and me or even ‘us,’ the band. It’s about finding our way in the world one day at a time trying to live out each moment until the sun goes down.” Parsonsfield has been through the wringer of ups and downs and decided for the first time since the band’s 2011 conception to take a two-month break from touring to focus solely on recording. The result is WE, a contemplative EP filled with real life struggle and excitement. The album takes us from the joys of childhood discovery to the depression and confusion of a quarter-life crisis, and ends with dancing your way toward the darkness at the end of days.
“Everyone finds themselves searching for this theoretical ‘thing’ that is supposed to make them happy. Whether it’s a relationship or financial comfort, there’s a goal in our minds that once achieved, we’ll be able to start enjoying life,” says singer/songwriter and banjo player Chris Freeman. “Our circumstances, whether we’re rich or poor, are only half of what determines happiness. The rest is our thoughts, habits and connections with other people,” adds songwriter and mandolin player Antonio Alcorn. “WE is an inner journey to appreciate what you have, and to find happiness no matter what your lot in life.”
In a concise five songs, WE captures the band’s maturing sound, winding its way through a full range of emotions. It has as much influence from 90’s rock and 70’s R&B as it does the folk-pop material that fans have come to expect from the western Massachusetts based outfit. The album opens with a forlorn mandolin that grows into the groovy “Light of the City,” a song about profound loneliness in the most crowded place on earth. “Go Find Yourself” captures the fading of childhood excitement as you tumble down a prescribed path toward the rest of your life, realizing it won’t bring you happiness. The song takes a cosmic step back and pleads, “when love comes to find you, don’t run and hide.” The danceable, invigorating “Kick Out The Windows,” written in reaction to Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” is a resonant anthem of defiance and redemption, showcasing Parsonsfield’s enduring vein of passion.
Leading up to the recording of WE, Parsonsfield built a home studio where they retreated to workshop song ideas and experiment with recording techniques. “There were more demos and versions of these songs than any other songs we have written. It was a much more thoughtful process with 90% of our ideas not sticking. Since recording our last album, Blooming Through The Black, we scored a film and wrote instrumental music for the first time, which opened new horizons for this record.”
When it came time to go into the studio with producer Dan Cardinal (Josh Ritter, The Low Anthem, Darlingside), Parsonsfield had more material than ever before. “Dan challenged us even further to play with sampled drums and more effected sounds giving the music more depth and mood. Although this was our first time working in a traditional recording studio, we didn’t want to lose the space that our demos had. So we made sure that songs like ‘Light of the City’ and ‘Take Me Back’ maintained that minimalism that we fell in love with on our demo.”
WE is the highly anticipated fourth release from Parsonsfield, a quintet praised for making “the most jubilant and danceable indie roots music this side of the Carolinas” (NPR). The band continues to push the boundaries of their harmony- driven grassroots origins creating their own distinctive Americana, integrating pop and bold rock flourishes along the way.
Just remember, WE is not about you and me. Freeman continues, “It’s about struggling with depression and anxiety from living in a divisive world, yet we have so much to be grateful for. It’s about being at the crossroads of yesterday’s dreams and tomorrow’s plans.”
American Songwriter says Parsonsfield’s album “captures both the live energy the band has come to be known for as well as the sonic evolution that occurred…” in the studio. WNYC Soundcheck had the band in for a session, and say that “the quintet Parsonsfield is based in western Massachusetts, but their music draws on the string bands of Appalachia. At least in part. They also like to crank up the amps and pin your ears to the wall.”
“Parsonsfield introduces some of the most jubilant and danceable indie roots music this side of the Carolinas.” ~NPR
Folk Alley says “a lot of string bands like to talk about how they are innovating, but Parsonsfield actually delivers on that promise. Not only does their sound kick out the windows of what most people think of folk and bluegrass, but their video raises a flag for the millennial generation.”
“…totally out of left field — comes the music of Parsonsfield, an eclectic American band which happily mingles bluegrass, folk, jazz and anything else that comes to mind. Not only does their sound make that biblical “joyful noise,” but the musicians themselves scamper around as though they were part of the cast of the Appalachian production of Lord of the Rings — the Musical.” ~The Toronto Star
As of today, we are being advised by the Monroe County Health Department that we will be unable to hold the 2020 Rochester Lilac Festival during the originally planned timeframe of May 8th -17th. As you can imagine, this is painful for all of us. However, we are hopeful and optimistic that we will be able to reschedule.
As time progresses, and more information is known, we’ll be letting you, our valued Festival participants and attendees know if, and when we plan to reschedule the Festival.
Hang in there and stay healthy.
Your Rochester Lilac Festival Team