Organic Records has not one, but two new singles today from Zoe & Cloyd, the oddly-named husband-and-wife duo from the Asheville, NC region. Their actual names are Natalya Weinstein and John Miller, but they built the band name from their two middle names – Natalya Zoe Weinstein and John Cloyd Miller.
The next Zoe & Cloyd album is to be called Songs of Our Grandfathers, inspired by their actual ancestors and the contributions they made to their individual musical lives, and to the wider music world as well. Miller’s grandfather was Jim Shumate, who played fiddle with both Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs in the seminal early days of bluegrass, while Weinstein’s (David Weinstein) was a klezmer musician who earned his way playing clarinet in both the US and his native home in Russia.
In addition to sharing the two new tracks with our readers, Natalya and John spoke a bit about their forebears and how they blend the sounds they brought them in the band.
“Both Jim and David have had a profound influence on our musical development individually and as Zoe & Cloyd. Interestingly, bluegrass and klezmer are actually more similar than they may first appear. Both styles of music were born in working class communities, incorporating regional and popular influences of the time; bluegrass absorbed elements of jazz and blues into its old-time stringband framework, while klezmer music, with its genesis in the Jewish community of Eastern Europe, often included tunes from a wide variety of countries and ethnic groups. Both styles are melting pots and it is fitting and natural for us to combine them in our music.”
First up, let’s look at Rainbow of my Dreams, which Miller says comes directly from his grandpa.
“Rainbow of my Dreams is a wonderful and rare Tommy Scott composition that bluegrass fans may recognize from a live 1948 Flatt & Scruggs recording on the WCYB Farm & Fun Time program. My grandfather, Jim Shumate, was the fiddler on that session, and this song was one of his favorites that he continued to play (and sing) throughout his life. It’s a fun, lighthearted number and Natalya does a great job recreating Jim’s iconic, swingy fiddle break from that radio show so many years ago.”
With Natalya on fiddle and John on guitar and vocal, the two are supported by regular bandmates Bennett Sullivan on banjo and Ken Kehrberg on bass.
Have a listen…
Bulgar Sigansky has a much different source, and understandably, a distinctly different sound. But to John’s point, if you consider popular bluegrass instrumentals like Bluegrass in the Backwoods or Jerusalem Ridge, you will see some melodic and harmonic similarities.
Weinstein shared a bit about this number.
“Bulgar Sigansky is an obscure klezmer tune that I found in my grandfather, David Weinstein’s, handwritten music notebooks. David was a professional musician who played clarinet, flute, and saxophone here in the US after emigrating from Russia. In homage to David, we were thrilled to have the amazing Andy Statman add clarinet to this track. Throw a bluegrass banjo into the mix and you get a whole new sound — we call it klezgrass!”
Check it out…