March 16, 2012
Rose Polenzani opens
The musicians who make up Session Americana started as a Sunday residency at Toad, where they brainstormed songs and jammed together. Swapping songs and spinning tales caught on and the band has been touring festivals, winning new fans and awards ever since. ¶ Rose Polenzani stopped by one evening and it was magic — she and the band just clicked and have performed off and on ever since.
Session Americana (comprised of Jim Fitting, Jon Bistline, Billy Beard, Dirty Child and Ry Cavanaugh and occasional guest musicians) sit tightly around a small cafe table, ambient mics tuned to catch the whole sound of the voices and instruments. A suitcase drum kit, an old electric bass, a bunch of acoustic instruments, a field organ: This format feels very theatrical and though the musicians face each other, the audience feels drawn into the circle by the warmth, joy and camaraderie that emanate outwards by the all-star cast of characters seated around the table. What keeps you coming back show after show is the same thing that any audience member longs for: great songs performed by a great band.
The core members of the band have brought enviable careers worth of experience to the “table”, featuring (current and former) members of Treat Her Right, Patty Griffin, Lori McKenna, The The, Dennis Brennan, Kris Delmhorst. The group has grown from a rag tag jam at a local pub to a regional institution, playing gigs from church coffee houses to urban nightclubs to regional festival tents to large halls. The band’s 2009 CD, Diving for Gold, represents a big change for Session Americana as it features original material as opposed to previously using songs from its immediate community of friends and public domain material. Their latest CD, Live, released in 2011, is drawn from five of their very popular shows at the Lizard Lounge and captured the vibe, energy, magic and fun that they create on stage.
Photo by Topher Cox
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Rose Polenzani was first noticed for her 1998 unanimous win in the Chicago Lilith Fair competition, closely followed by her debut at the Newport Folk Festival. She spent several years touring and recording, moving from her native Chicago to California to Boston, where she has been nominated for Best Female Vocalist in the Boston Music Awards. Rose has released records both privately and on labels such as Rykodisc and Daemon Records. Rose’s song “You Were Drunk” was named “Best New Song” at Mountain Stage Newsong contest in 2008. Her 2008 release, When the River Meets the Sea, is a collaboration with Session Americana. The musical arrangements stand as unrepeatable works of chance, friendship, and artistry. Rose’s latest CD, The Rabbit, was released in mid-2011 and was self-produced.
Photo by Cliff Garber
- Genius . . . Jaw-dropping vocals . . . Session Americana is blessed in this regard: . . . musicianship that sets the standard for the genre in Boston and vocals that do the same NE Performer Magazine
- No egos, no big production, just some great songs stripped down to their bare essentials and performed with a real genuineness of spirit and emotional authenticity . . . it’s beautiful. Brian Mosher, !e Noise
- I’d give them 100 miles. That is to say, if they’re playing anywhere within 100 miles of your home, you drive there and are grandly rewarded for your effort. David Greenberger, National Public Radio
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- Polenzani’s sultry crooning is mesmerizing as she wraps listeners into her world of dark Americana. . . . Smoky Americana with insane talent. Citizen Dick
- Having been called the heir to Nick Drake’s domain and a cross between Joan of Arc and Leonard Cohen, Rose Polenzani seems to have some fairly sizable shoes to fill. And fill them she does, with a captivating maturity and a sense of poetry seldom found in young artists. All Music