|The Macrae Sisters|
The Macrae Sisters are an old-time stringband based out of Portland, Oregon. Combining a deep love of traditional music with top-notch musicianship, the group features fiddlers Sophie Vitells and Marian Macrae Herrmann, Gabrielle Macrae on banjo, Joanna Macrae on guitar, and Jamie Herrmann on bass. The band first took root in 2007, when sisters Marian and Gabrielle began playing as a banjo-fiddle duo in Asheville, North Carolina. They recorded their first album, Old Sledge, in Marian and Jamie’s living room, with the help of friend and fellow musician Allison Williams. The album focuses on the sisters’ tight banjo and fiddle duets, with appearances by friends Jamie Herrmann, Barry Benjamin, Michelle Orozco, and their younger sister, Joanna.
In 2009, Gabrielle moved back to Portland, the sisters’ hometown, where Joanna joined the band on guitar and added her strong, sweet harmony singing to the mix. The next year, their sound evolved again with the addition of fiddler Sophie Vitells, formerly of the Crooked Jades, the Government Issue Orchestra, and the Caleb Klauder band. With Marian and Sophie’s driving double-fiddle sound, the band plays a blend of high-energy dance tunes, heart-wrenching ballads, old time gospel songs, and a few originals to boot. Their music is at once deeply traditional and youthful in its energy and drive.
Their sound can be compared to that of the Foghorn Stringband, the Wilders, Gillian Welch, and Uncle Earl. Their near supernatural vocal blends and clockwork rhythmic synergy are testament that they grew up playing [music] with each other…I give this CD a happy thumbs up. It’s got a lot going for it exhilarating listening for both the aficionado or newbie, a variety of sounds, an interesting mix of old favorites and less-heard tunes, and top-notch sibling-tight musicianship. The Macrae Sisters are a force of nature in the Northwest’s Old Time scene, partially because of their cheerful charisma, but mainly because of their insane musical talents. Marian Macrae is a lightning-quick fiddler, and one of those fiddlers who’s so adept that you can’t follow their music visually…Joanna Macrae is their rock-solid guitarist and singer, while Gabrielle Macrae is a firebrand of a banjo player