Evie Ladin is our musical guest this week on Art of the Song. Evie is a banjo player, step-dancer, singer, songwriter and square-dance caller with a lifetime of experience in traditional American cultural arts. To quote the Folkworks website, “You don’t often hear words like “traditional,” and “authentic” paired with “innovative” and “unique,” but Evie Ladin brings them together brilliantly.” We visited with Evie and her partner Keith Terry in our Albuquerque studios. In the second half of the show for the Creativity Corner, we’ll hear from Thomas Bien, PhD, psychologist and author, with an essay entitled, Deep Insights Of The Buddha Part 2.
Evie has always been surrounded by music – credit to her upbringing as daughter of an international folk dance teacher, and an old-time folk music devotee, she grew up thinking that playing music, dancing, singing with others was what people do. Though entrenched in the traditional cultural arts of Appalachia, her home was in Northern New Jersey, New York City, Baltimore – in cities, not mountains. But the tradition bearers came through these towns, and stayed in her house. They played in her living room, and weekends were spent running free at music festivals and house parties.
The neo-trad kinetic-folk of the Evie Ladin Band is a mingling of the deep Appalachian sound of clawhammer banjo, guitar, bass and percussive dance, with contemporary storytelling and original, conversational interplay among the band members. Some of their adventurousness comes from early hip hop in the high school cafeteria, some from Evie’s early attraction to, and study of, the African roots in Appalachian music and dance. She created an African Studies In Dance major at Brown University, then studied dance in Eastern Nigeria on a Fulbright Fellowship. While myriad world and contemporary music influences permeate the band’s choices, they never reach too far, remaining seamless and true to the stories they tell.
Her band has gathered an eclectic, devoted following, from A Prairie Home Companion to Celtic Connections, Lincoln Center to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, First Nations reservations in Canada to a premier jazz club in Istanbul.
Precisely because Evie was raised to know that music, dance and singing are what humans do together, she is an avid educator and community facilitator, at all ages and levels, in diverse communities. An electric and entertaining live performer, balancing performing with hands on teaching has proven extremely satisfying. Music is meant to move. Music is to do. In listening, live or on record, Evie keeps bringing you back to these basics, while savoring the real stuff of life. Jump the Fire!
Dr. Bien is a licensed psychologist, author, and mindfulness teacher. In addition to his doctorate in psychology, he also holds a masters degree in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He has been a life long student of Asian spirituality and meditation and is a former United Methodist pastor. His psychology background includes extensive clinical practice and research in the field of addictive behavior.