“I grew up in a small town obsessed by ideas of self-reliance, community, and life off the grid,” Scheinman says. “The folks that H. Lee Waters filmed display all the characteristics that we aspired to—poor and proud, theatrical, resilient—real toughies. It resonated with the way I want to make art. Something that feels real. Real expression.”
Indeed, when Scheinman first watched the raw footage, the faces onscreen felt oddly familiar despite being from a bygone era. It led to the revelation that as much as America has changed from the previous century, the human condition, at its core, remains constant. Thus inspiring a collection of fiddle tunes that on first listen may seem rooted in the past, but reveal themselves to be definitively modern upon repeated listens and ultimately timeless.
“The fiddle can be played by anyone with rudimentary musical skill,” she says. “They can entertain a crowd. They are the people’s music.”
Scheinman based her band for these recordings on a specific scene from the movie, where three musicians (fiddle, banjo and guitar) are playing at a dance party. To recreate this dynamic in the studio, she enlisted Danny Barnes (banjo, guitar, tuba), Robbie Fulks (guitar, banjo), Bill Frisell (guitar) and Robbie Gjersoe (resonator guitar), not just for their brilliant skills and deep-rooted understanding of fiddle music, but because they brought the barn-stomping, slightly unhinged energy she was trying to conjure.
‘Here on Earth’ captures this magic-in-a-bottle on songs like “Broken Pipeline” and “Don’t Knock Out The Old Dog’s Teeth.” The rhythmic weaves created here is nothing short of intoxicating, the perfect melodies for gathering around a burn barrel and hollowing out your demons. There are also songs like “Rowan” and “Delinquent Bill,” which play like campfire music, creating an aura of community and unity. Of course, no Scheinman album would be complete without a few big signature melodies such as those found on “Annabelle And The Bird” and “Esme.”
‘Here on Earth’ is about the present and the past. It’s about daydreams and poetry and the rituals that keep people sane and human. It’s a collection of songs that are both deeply personal to Scheinman and a tribute to hundreds of ordinary people from another time who just happened to look at a camera and reveal a little of their humanity. Above all, it’s about the frenetic, joyful melody of being alive on this planet.
Scheinman will be joined by Fulks and Gjersoe for a run of shows in March accompanying the film, ‘Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait’ with a live soundtrack that features the music of ‘Here On Earth.’
March 3 – Burlington, VT – University of Vermont Recital Hall
March 4 – Middlebury, VT – Mahaney Center for the Arts
March 5 – Concord, NH – Capitol Center for the Arts
March 7 – West Hartford, CT – Carlo Autorino Center
March 10 – Portland, ME – USM Hannaford Hall
March 17 – New York, NY – The Metropolitan Museum of Art