What other band would pluck a two-hundred-year-old Georgia Sea Islands song about Death, dress it up with fiddle, guitar, upright bass and four part harmonies and stand it atop a cardboard box groove that owes allegiance to the Meters? Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem have always had a singular way of flirting with the boundaries among American musical idioms.
Rani Arbo is the lead vocalist, fiddler, and founder of Daisy Mayhem. Her musical life began with cello lessons and Latin chant at age 8, when she was a chorister of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine New York City. Since then, Arbo's circuitous career has comprised church and concert choirs, early music ensembles, a honkytonk band, a Balkan rock band, a Capella groups, and 12 years leading her own acoustic string bands on the U.S. and Canadian circuit. Praised for her evocative, honest, and supple vocals, Arbo is above all a communicator. Whether she is delivering a gymnastic swing tune, a funky call-and-response song, or a ballad, she snares the audience for a riveting journey. Her fiddle style draws from swing/jazz, blues, and old-time. Arbo lives in Middletown, CT, where she also does freelance editing and writing. When time permits, she moonlights in a bourbon-sipping, all-girl honkytonk combo.
Andrew Kinsey and Arbo have been singing partners since 1991, first in Salamander Crossing and now in Daisy Mayhem. Kinsey's smooth baritone anchors Daisy Mayhem's vocal harmonies, and he sings swoon-inducing leads on vintage swing tunes and his own originals. An Oberlin College graduate, Kinsey started out as an elementary school-age bagpiper in Lexington, MA. He plays upright bass for Daisy Mayhem and doubles as a multi-instrumentalist, veering into banjo, whistle, and ukulele.
Anand Nayak is a three-year veteran of Daisy Mayhem. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he has studied jazz guitar; sung with a Capella, choral, and theater groups; and fronted a Boston-based original rock trio. With his formidable range and ear for arrangements, Nayak is a singer's singer, on both lead and harmony. His gutsy, emotive guitar style and adventurous leads are the backbone of the band's sound. Nayak also works as a producer and engineer, and plays in a duo with his wife, Polly Fiveash.
Scott Kessel is a kit player and world percussionist by training -- but, above all, he is a consummately creative drummer. Nothing that delivers resonance when struck is safe in his hands. To Daisy Mayhem, Kessel brings the "Drumship Enterprise," a recycled kit with a cardboard box, cat food tins, a Danish butter cookie tin, and a suitcase. A graduate of Wesleyan University and a Connecticut Master Teaching Artist, Kessel teaches and performs through Young Audiences of Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Recorded at the Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, New York, during two record snowstorms in January and February, 2003. Along with producer Dirk Powell, the band was in pursuit of a CD that had a modern edge, but that retained all the grit, soul, tone, and intensity of the best roots music. The song list included centuries-old music from the Appalachians, original songs by Arbo, Kinsey and Nayak, and modern ballads by Dave Carter and Chris Moore & John McGann. During those magical 10 days, Daisy Mayhem brought those disparate songs into the lush and warm musical space they call home.
CD Price: $14.97