The Pine Hill Project/Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem
by Eric Sutter and Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley

rani-arbo-2015_x500Imagine a coffeehouse string band transported onto the big stage – RaniArbo_VioletsAreBlue_cover-490x432where they perform a seamless mix of folk and bluegrass from the stellar album Violets Are Blue. That’s what took place this past November at the Academy of Music in Northampton, MA. Fiddle extraordinaire Rani Arbo of Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem roused the audience in gospel harmony. The group began with a spirited rendition of “Hear Jerusalem Moan” followed by “Will Your House Be Blessed?” Bruce Springsteen’s “Reason to Believe” received a similar rootsy Americana treatment. The traditional “Travelin’ Shoes” came to life with playful fiddle. Ticklin’ and toe-tappin’, they moved onto “Fire in the Sky” and added more fiddle flavor with “Swing Me Down.” Great picking and playing by Andrew Kinsey’s ukulele and Scott Kessel’s sweet kalimba (featured on The Pretenders’ “2000 Miles”). Guitarist Anand Nayak closed with his upbeat vocals in “I Want to Be Ready.”


This was followed by Pine Hill Project, which is the collaboration of singer-songwriters Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell who performed cool covers of their own and other folk/Americana artist’s songs, many of which were from their Tomorrow You’re Going CD. This was thoughtful music with beautifully moving vocals that provided a 1410192392000-PineHill-11x17-rev2-proof-(3)stunning complement to one another. Story songs “Wichita” (Gillian Welch), “Rain Just Falls” (David Halley), and “Farewell to St. Dolores” rsz_the_pine_hill_project_1_photo_credit__joe_del_tufo(Dave Carter) churned out thought provoking lyrics. Nick Lowe’s edgy “I Live on a Battlefield” was countered by a sad love song “Open Book.” Richard Shindell’s relationship song, “Are We Happy Now?” came to life with Kaplansky on the mandolin. Kaplansky’s “Reunion” highlighted memories of family and her piano ballad, “Brooklyn Train,” expressed memories about home. Her rendition of “Ten Year Night” was fresh and angelic; a song which had been responsible for bringing her sound to a wider audience back in 1999. The Pine Hill Project wound down the show giving a wonderful Americana treatment to U2’s “The Sweetest Thing” and finally, “I Know You Rider” pulsed with heartfelt, bluesy passion. They ended the night with a stunning encore of Greg Brown’s “Lord, I Have Made You a Place in My Heart.”

Many thanks to Jim Olson and Signature Sounds for bringing great music to the Valley.

Stephanie & Wayne

About Stephanie & Wayne

Stephanie is a journalist, writer, editor, and has had several hundred articles published in various newspapers and magazines, many of which still are available online under “Stephanie Lyons Schultz”. She has a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology and was a practicing psychotherapist. She currently is a professor of psychology at WCSU and NVCC in Connecticut. Wayne is an Emmy-Award winning writer, producer, and director. He has produced many programs and documentaries that have appeared on television, and have been distributed to schools, libraries, and home video. Wayne also is a practicing attorney with a Masters degree in Law from NYU. In addition, he is a professor of communications at WCSU. Together, this recently wed couple write, produce, and direct as many of their stage, screen, and TV projects as they can with a full house -- their combined brood of seven! Some of their work has been featured this summer and fall off off Broadway; other work currently is under option. They hope to continue to promote more of their projects in the coming months! Feel free to write whatever comments you like! We want your feedback!