Since relocating from the west coast to the east in 2011 to study at the Berklee College of Music, Rachel Sumner has become one of the most vital voices in Boston's thriving roots music scene. Most prominently, Rachel is the guitarist and one of the primary songwriters and lead vocalists in Twisted Pine, a progressive bluegrass band whose self-titled debut album (Signature Sounds, 2017) has propelled them to the main stages of festivals such as Green River Festival, FreshGrass Festival, DelFest, and Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival. Rachel also leads the folk-country trio Sumner & Moss, an outlet for her more traditional roots music inclinations. Sumner's musical influences, however, extend well past bluegrass, folk, and country to classical, indie, pop, and beyond. While Rachel's songs could hold their own on the strength of their melodies alone, she is equally as interested in incorporating literary influences into her lyrics and in exploring the possibilities that exist in the overlap of her many divergent inspirations. It is in this spirit of creative discovery that Rachel has created her first solo EP, Anything Worth Doing, which she independently released in November 2018. To this EP and to her solo shows, Rachel brings a collection of wonderfully original new songs; her prowess as a multi-instrumentalist and singer; and the unique perspective and curiosity that have helped make her one of the most promising singer-songwriters working today. In February 2019, Rachel will release Sing Me An Old Tune, an EP of duets made with renowned New England singer-songwriter Ian Fitzgerald.
‘ANYTHING WORTH DOING’
Rachel Sumner is best known as the guitarist and one of two primary songwriters and singers in the band Twisted Pine, but her musical interests and curiosity extend beyond even the most progressive approach to traditional string-band instrumentation. Her debut solo EP, Anything Worth Doing, will better acquaint listeners with the breadth of her songwriting and production capabilities. With co-producer Daniel Radin, Rachel’s textural experimentation led her to sounds both familiar and new: drawing on her roots as a classically trained woodwind player to incorporate flutes and clarinets; calling on Twisted Pine bandmate Kathleen Parks for lush string arrangements; utilizing instruments typically associated with country music, such as pedal steel, harmonica, and electric guitar, without limiting herself to what they usually play; and accentuating the shifting tempos and time signatures of her songs with the inclusion of drums, played by Honeysuckle’s Benjamin Burns. In addition to Radin (Future Teens, The Novel Ideas), Parks, and Burns, the album’s credits boast a veritable who’s-who of the Boston folk scene with contributions from longtime musical partners Sam Moss and Michael Siegel (Sumner & Moss); Deni Hlavinka (The Western Den); Danny Hoshino (The Novel Ideas); Icelandic harmonica wiz Thorleif Davidsson (Kaleo); and the distinguished folk singer-songwriter Ian Fitzgerald. At the center of all of these moving parts, pulling them together into a cohesive and beautiful work, is Rachel’s voice: both in her performance as a musician and in her songwriting, which is stronger than ever.
‘SING ME AN OLD TUNE’
Ian Fitzgerald & Rachel Sumner are each decorated songwriters in their own right, so it seemed only natural the two would meet and want to create together. Sing Me An Old Tune marks their first collaborative effort, setting their own originals by the side of timeless covers. Recorded by candlelight in a single room at National Sound Studios in Cranston, RI, the album includes only live takes with no edits or overdubs. Sumner & Fitzgerald create a warm space using two acoustic guitars and invite listeners with their tender, intimate harmonies reminiscent of celebrated duos Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris or Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings. The release of this album on February 14th, 2019 will be via digital platforms only.