By Kelly Marie Martin

Evie_Ladin_CD.jpgEvie Ladin, step dancer, banjo player and singer in the Stairwell Sisters has just released her first collection of songs, Float Downstream. From the opening track, I Love My Honey, with its stripped down banjo, rhythm and voice, she shows you where she's from-- "a girl who ran barefoot through muddy festivals, soaking up traditional American music and dance." Although this tune (from fiddler Santford Kelly) and the album have those late night acoustic elements of fire and firewater, its overall sound has a more global, contemporary singer-songwriter blend. She takes what she knows best, the unique rhythm of the banjo, adding to it sounds and layers to steep a different cup of tea.

Float Downstream is produced by Mike Marshall, a renowned and versatile mandolinist and Keith Terry, a jazz and world music drummer and Body Music percussionist, who plays old time bass and happens to be Evie's husband. It seems each song called for a particular feeling which each of them (along with a host of heavy hitters in the west coast Old Time scene) could readily add to and help define. Of the album's process Evie says, "Mike and Keith both have amazing, creative ears. They added colors and shape to my music that made the stories in each song more real; gave them a deeper bed to lie in," she recalls. The album was recorded at Megasonic Studios, in Oakland, CA by Dave Luke, Mike Marshall and Jeff Cresman. The tri-fold CD packaging is beautifully designed by Debbie Berne with perfectly appropriate photos of Evie in motion by Mike Melnyk.

Title track, Float Downstream strips it down to just Evie's voice and banjo with cello by Mark Summer providing the riverbed of harmony to a lovers lament. Dance Me brings her back to her man with harmony vocals provided by Caleb Klauder. The Mistreated Mama/Yew Piney Mountain, medley, is a take on Dock Boggs song and Lester McCumbers tune respectively. The former starts with an eclectic percussive blend and rich vocal harmonies then pauses and moves rollickingly into the latter with the added force of Black Crown Stringband's Matt Knoth on guitar and Knuckleknockers' Karen Heil on fiddle. They also add that straight up old time feel on Going Across the Sea with Evie's banjo cluck and her sister, Abby Ladin's harmony vocals. Home from Airy and Mardi Gras are modern country and Cajun tunes lending the proper feel by the amazing Suzy Thompson on fiddle in one and accordion on the other.

As the album began with a tip of the hat for where she's from, ends with a nod to what else she loves, re-visiting Float Downstream as a full stringband coda. You can always find her with her feet to the fire, banjo in hand and voice opened in song right there in the middle.

Kelly Marie Martin plays guitar and sings in Los Angeles' old-time stringband Triple Chicken Foot." She came to old-time when the drummer in her indie/punk/folk rock band quit and while at a bbq at Walter Spencer's house he offered her the upright bass. Three weeks later she was jamming in a livingroom with Foghorn along with her soon-to-be husband, Ben Guzman on mandolin, Walter and fiddler Barb Hansen. She hasn't looked back since". Blame it on the strawberry margaritas? and