Under The Covers
Armerding, Erelli, Cousins, and Hickman gather in the 14th year of Under the Covers!
The Boston Globe calls composer-violinist Jake Armerding “the most gifted and promising songwriter to emerge from the Boston folk scene in years.” The original song “Catchy Paul & Dreamy John,” from his new album Cosmos in the Chaos, was a finalist in the 2013 Newsong Contest.
Armerding grew up playing classical violin and listening to 80’s pop radio. Over the course of 2000 performances, he has shared the stage with Bela Fleck, Nickel Creek, Josh Ritter, David Wilcox and Toad the Wet Sprocket.
He lives in Minneapolis.
Mark Erelli finished up a graduate degree in evolutionary biology shortly after his eponymous debut was released on Signature Sounds in 1999. He has won several prestigious awards, including the Kerrville New Folk contest and the International Song Contest, where a song he co-wrote with Catie Curtis (“People Look Around”) bested 15,000 entries to win the grand prize. For the past 17 years, he has maintained a rigorous touring schedule, appearing onstage everywhere from coffeehouses and major folk festival stages (Newport, Philadelphia) to Fenway Park, where he once sang the national anthem before a Red Sox game. In recent years, Erelli has gained notoriety as a multi-instrumentalist sideman and producer, accompanying GRAMMY-winning artists such as Lori McKenna, Paula Cole and Josh Ritter everywhere from Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry to London’s Royal Albert Hall. In addition to producing two records for McKenna, Erelli’s own diverse discography includes collections of western swing, lullabies, bluegrass (with his band Barnstar!) and songs of stirring social conscience, as well as several highly-acclaimed collaborations (2009’s Darwin Song Project and 2010’s Seven Curses, a collection of murder ballads recorded with Jeffrey Foucault). His tenth and newest solo album, For A Song (slated April 2016 release), has already been likened to “the best of Paul Simon or Jackson Browne’s work…stories that are immediately relatable and reflective of the small moments in our lives.” (No Depression)
Rose Cousins isn’t afraid of feelings. Her music explores the shadowy corners of a heart: sadness, pain and desire for love in all of its simplicity and complication. Native of Prince Edward Island, she lives in Halifax. With additional roots in Boston, she values her many musical communities and is constantly fueled by collaboration. Her 2012 album, WE HAVE MADE A SPARK took home a Canadian JUNO Award along with many other awards including a spot on NPR’s Top 10 Americana & Folk Albums. In September 2014, she released an EP called STRAY BIRDS – a collection of meaningful covers and original songs.
Master of acoustic and electric bass, Zack Hickman has played pump organ, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, upright piano, ukulele, trombone and sousaphone at performances in the past. (The trombone was hanging on the wall of a club in Carbondale, CO, lending some insight into Zack’s generally ambitious nature.) One of the few for whom superlatives truly fail, Zack has been featured in both the Improper Bostonian and Stuff Boston. Swears loudly and creatively, often as part of preshow warm-up routine. Plays the bass as if someone were going to take it away from him.
“I still got stars in my eyes, I’m just looking at a different part of the sky.”
In “Sometimes Your Dreams Find You,” Suzie Brown sings about reimagining your life’s path, and leaning into the unexpected turns. It’s a vivid, hopeful song, driven by Brown’s stirring voice that has been compared to Patsy Cline and Patty Griffin.
“Sometimes you don’t know what’s going to make you happy, you just have to be open to change and open to adjusting your dreams,” says Brown about what inspired that song, the title track of her newest album, due May 12. “What you think you will want at a certain time isn’t necessarily what you end up wanting later.”
No one understands this more deeply than the Nashville-based singer-songwriter, who is also an Advanced Heart Failure/Heart Transplant cardiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center–a job that sees her treating patients in urgent circumstances for two weeks at a time before devoting the next two weeks to songwriting and performing.
It’s a perfect balance that she’s found after years of working hard for success in the medical field, only to discover a relentless pull towards music that has now yielded five albums, a succession of songwriting awards, and featured placement of her music at retailers like Starbucks and the Gap. It also brought an invitation to TEDMED in 2015, where she debuted “Sometimes Your Dreams Find You” and spoke about unearthing a vulnerability through music that makes her a better doctor. That talk has led Brown to sing and speak at conferences around the country to help physicians approach their work differently.
Montreal-born and Boston-raised, Brown wrote her first song while in a research fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and launched her musical career in Philadelphia. In 2014 she moved to Nashville, where along with her work at Vanderbilt, she found a community of co-writers and collaborators that pushed her writing even further. She has since released Our Album Doesn’t Like You Either with her husband musician Scot Sax, and had two daughters, making her pursuit of balance and reflection all that much more important.
Sometimes Your Dreams Find You was born in that space of uncertain transition followed by confident calm.
“I was in a creative rut because I hadn’t been writing a lot while I was pregnant with my second baby and chasing around a toddler,” says Brown. “I was having trouble bringing myself to book co-writes because I was feeling so out of practice, and being in Nashville I felt a lot of pressure to be a superstar in every writing session. The more time went by, the more out of practice I felt and the more hesitant I got to write and it started a negative creative spiral.”