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Original Roots Music
Friday, May 17, 9:00 pm
All-female folk trio Lula Wiles brings its unique blend of mostly acoustic, harmony-laden, roots-inflected music to Hudson.
Since the beginning of 2019, the group’s brand-new album, “What Will We Do,” was selected for NPR Music’s First Listen feature; the trio was No Depression’s Spotlight Artist for the month of January; and they were invited to record a live video session at Paste Studio in New York City.
While they usually function as an acoustic trio of guitar, bass, and fiddle, on occasion the group augments its sound with percussion and electric guitar.
Lula Wiles is a collective featuring the talents of Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland, and Mali Obomsawin. The three take turns in different roles — Burke and Buckland on guitar and fiddle, Obomsawin on bass, all three singing and writing – but no matter who’s playing what, they operate in close tandem. All three members grew up in small-town Maine, and the band came of age in Boston’s lively roots scene. Since then, they have toured internationally, winning fans at the Newport Folk Festival and the Philadelphia Folk Festival, garnering acclaim from NPR Music and a Boston Music Awards nomination, and sharing stages with the likes of Aoife O’Donovan, the Wood Brothers, and Tim O’Brien. Lula Wiles exists in the tense space where tradition and revolution meet, from which their harmonies rise into the air to create new American music.
The songs of Lula Wiles speak to the issues of the day, even as they riff on folk music’s tropes. “Is this land yours / Is this land mine / The fault lines crack / And the fists they fly,” Burke sings on “Shaking As It Turns” in a nod to the country’s deepening political divisions. Obomsawin punctures cowboy song nostalgia on “Good Old American Values,” a searing rebuke of American expansionism: “Good old American cartoons/ Indians and cowboys and saloons/ It’s all history by now/ And we hold the pen anyhow.” Sometimes, the best thing to do with an old idea is to turn it upside down.
Some of its deepest influences are the protest anthems of Woody Guthrie and the trailblazing songs of female folk forebears Elizabeth Cotten and Hazel Dickens. Even the band’s name is a twist on an old Carter Family song.