Posted on November 10th, 2004
Three traveling minstrels from Mennofolk, an international Mennonite folk music festival, will perform in at EMU Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 9 p.m. at Common Grounds coffeehouse.
Rachel Ries, Louis Ledford of Chicago, Andru Bemis of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and local talent Alex Albright of Harrisonburg will present a song-swapping format, showcasing their unique mix of folk, Appalachian blues and newly-written, funky vintage sounds.
Rachel Ries hails from a Mennonite community in the vast expanses of South Dakota, where she first began raising her melodious and lilting voice while learning to appreciate country living. She currently resides in Chicago’s west side.
Ms. Ries is classically trained in voice, piano, violin and viola, but her music has long since evolved into her own, less classifiable, sound – a bit country, a bit lullaby, and maybe a bit siren song. With an adventurous ear for melody and a voice flexible enough to accomplish it, she delivers sweet and often sad, intelligent songs.
Ries has also worked with members of the Goldmine Pickers, an Indiana band that recently played at the Little Grill in Harrisonburg, and together they played well-received shows in Ireland/N. Ireland in November 2003. She will be performing this time with friend Louis Ledford, also from Chicago.
Andru Bemis, another Mennonite performer, has played violin for 22 years, guitar for eight and banjo for two. His self-taught fingerstyle guitar and banjo method and his high plaintive voice immediately set his music apart from that of most contemporary singer-songwriters. Wendy Chappell-Dick, organizer of the Mennofolk festival, describes Bemis as "a young man who sings like a 30