We have written a couple of times about Sara Hershkowitz, a noted opera performer who has recently been returning to the bluegrass roots she grew up on. In order to avoid confusion appealing to such widely divergent audiences, she now goes as Sara Shiloh Rae for her acoustic string music, accompanied by a band known as Bluebird Junction.
Sara’s re-entry into the bluegrass world has been by way of Max Hoetzel, a veteran of the west coast music scene, who plays guitar and banjo with her on these grassy recordings. Bluebird Junction is Max, and a number of rotating pro pickers including Dominick Leslie on mandolin, Alex Hargreaves on fiddle, and Myles Sloniker on bass.
To date, their recordings have all been completed virtually, in the manner with which many musicians have become familiar this past year, made into music videos that have won them plaudits from both the longhair and the crewcut crowds.
This latest, an arrangement of Bill Monroe and Peter Rowan’s classic number, Walls of Time, finds Sara and Max in the California brush land, with video contributions from Bluebird Junction superimposed on screen.
Sara likes to make plain that she is not trying to blend her operatic training with acoustic music, or mix influences from one into the other. In fact she gets mildly defensive when someone suggests that she is, and Ms. Shiloh Rae is one of the most non-confrontational people you’ll ever meet.
She shared her thoughts about this question in a recent post at Noteworthy Music, where she issued a manifesto of sorts.
“I would love to clarify something. I am not a crossover artist. You will never see me make a crossover album. I do not combine opera with bluegrass. I do not combine opera with folk. I was singing and listening to this stuff way before I knew what opera was.”
At this point, Sara Shiloh Rae is not offering any of her bluegrass music for sale, simply making it available at no charge on YouTube and Facebook. But she and Max may yet combine these socially-distanced recordings into an album.
Keep an eye out for Sara Hershkowitz, or her nom de grass, Sara Shiloh Rae.