On this morning’s edition of Art of the Song, we hear from banjo player and folk-rock star Evie Ladin.
About the artist:
Evie Ladin is a banjo player, step-dancer, singer, songwriter and square-dance caller with a lifetime of experience in traditional American cultural arts. She grew up in a trad folk scene up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the US, travels the world, and calls the rich arts scene in Oakland, California home. She also tours with The Stairwell Sisters, all-gal old-time teardown, and Keith Terry & Crosspulse, performing rhythm-based multi-cultural music & dance works. She teaches banjo, harmony singing and dance and calls rowdy square dances in the San Francisco Bay Area when you can find her there.
Evie Ladin grew up with traditional American music and dance, clogging, step dancing and playing clawhammer banjo at music festivals all over the East Coast. Her childhood home was a hostel for musicians and dancers traveling through the New York/New Jersey area during the Folk Revival of the early 1970’s, and much of her training was informal, through constant contact with traditional artists. It was not unusual to travel to a weekend party or festival in North Carolina, sleeping in the corner at a square dance or jam session. Evie’s dad is an avid music-appreciator and her mom was an International Folk Dance instructor. From an early age Evie performed with her sister Abby, dancing clogging duets and singing country harmonies.
An athlete in highschool, Evie studied dance, choreography and anthropology at Brown University (BA ’91: African Studies In Dance). After graduation she pursued a Fulbright Fellowship, studying music and dance among several groups in Eastern Nigeria. She found in her African studies a parallel to the old-time folk culture, where music and dance are an integral part of social communication. That experience continues to inform her educational work with the roots of American music & dance, as well as musical collaborations with other performers of music of the African Diaspora.
On her return from Nigeria, Evie studied tap and jazz dance in New York, before moving to Bloomington, IN. While based in the Midwest, Evie toured nationally with the music and dance ensemble Rhythm In Shoes of Dayton, OH. Her eight years with the company was her professional training, performing and teaching rhythm tap dance, clogging, step dancing, and body percussion, as well as choreographing for the company. Evie has appeared in countless prestigious concert halls and at festivals throughout the country.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, Evie appears as a versatile dancer, musician, vocalist, songwriter and square dance caller. She regularly performs in venues ranging from fine arts theaters, epic outdoor festivals and rowdy bars to school auditoriums, libraries and dance halls.
Evie has produced a popular DVD “Buckdancing for Beginners: The Basics of Southern Appalachian Flatfoot Clogging” (2002) on Crosspulse Media. The Instructional Video features live music by Suzy’s Floozies (Suzy Thompson, Maxine Gerber and Kate Brislin) and a room full of dancers. The video is designed to teach not only steps, but how to dance to old-time music. It is available through Crosspulse, The Stairwell Sisters, Down Home Music and others.
Evie tours internationally with the all-gal old-time band The Stairwell Sisters, as well as being the band’s Business Manager. A purely DIY operation, the Sisters have achieved significant success on their own steam. They have appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, broadcast live to 3.5 million viewers from the sold-out San Francisco Opera House; as well as extensive radio play internationally, and on the internet. Festival stages include Strawberry Music Festival, Live Oak and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (CA), Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors (NYC), Rockygrass, North Fork Festival and Durango Meltdown (CO), The Portland Gathering (OR), Anchorage Folk Festival and Nome Midnight Sun Festival (AK), Celtic Connections (UK) and many more. The band has recorded three CDs on the Indie label Yodel-Ay-Hee that feature Evie’s banjo playing, clogging, hambone, singing and songwriting: The Stairwell Sisters (2003), Feet All Over the Floor (2005) and Get Off Your Money (2008). Their third CD was produced by Austin-based Lloyd Maines. The band is entrenched in the thriving traditional music community in the Bay Area.
Evie also works extensively with husband Keith Terry, renowned Body Musician, and his multi-cultural rhythm-based music & dance projects produced by the non-profit arts organization Crosspulse, Inc. Evie brings her Appalachian traditions to collaborations with musicians and dancers of other styles, including West African, Afro-Cuban, African-American, Indonesian and more, bending and blending forms to create exciting new works. She appears on two of the organization’s CDs: Professor Terry’s Circus Band Extraordináire (with Linda Tillery, David Balakrishnan, George Brooks, Paul Hanson and others), and Body Tjak: The Soundtrack (with Indonesian artists). She is also the Assistant Director of Keith’s two Instructional DVDs: Body Music (Parts One & Two).
Evie handles the management of the Educational Outreach Program for Crosspulse, booking and performing shows in schools, libraries and arts centers, including the Skirball Center (LA, CA), the Montalvo Center (Saratoga, CA), The Pioneer Center (Reno, NV) and Performances to Grow On (Ventura County, CA). The Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble performs with, among others, the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music Program, where the group reaches every 3-5 grader in the SF Public School district – over 12,000 kids annually.
Solo, Evie is a much sought after performer and instructor in percussive dance and banjo. She choreographs for choirs, theatre and school residencies. In 2005, Evie started organizing and calling rowdy, popular Square Dances in the Bay Area. Inspired largely by the plentiful, driving old-time bands erupting in the scene, Evie wanted folks to experience the joy of dancing to the music in easily-followed, accessible ways, while giving the musicians leeway to play however they like. She is embedded in the Bay Area old-time music and dance scene, reaching thousands of fans, kids and music lovers annually.