Shenandoah Run will be bringing 150 years of performing experience to the stage for a show Monday morning at the City of Falls Church’s Memorial Day Parade and Festival.
The nine-piece folk outfit represents a wide age range in its musicians, from veteran performers of the mid-century folk heyday to relative newcomer Johanna Miller, a 30-something concertina player and the youngest member of the group. Some balance their band commitments with work. Others are retired. The group, when it formed two years ago, even considered calling itself “Generations” to recognize its unique makeup. But singer and strings player Bob Melissinos says the band preferred Shenandoah Run.
“It just has a real old-fashioned folk music sound to it,” Melissinos said.
The name may seem old-fashioned, but the acoustic sounds this group makes are influenced by different musical traditions. They perform American folk music from the ’50s and ’60s, but also reach internationally and into folk-rock and into bluegrass for the songs that get the Shenandoah Run treatment when played with a broad assortment of folk instruments and sung with stacked vocal harmonies. Listeners, who may remember the group from a set at the Fall Festival and Taste of Falls Church, can expect to hear renditions of popular folk pieces, but also songs like The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” that will be interpreted with folk sensibilities. They aren’t a cover band, Melissinos says, but audiences may recognize the lyrics or tune of the songs the band plays.
The band of D.C.-area players came to know one another through meet-ups for those interested in folk music – get-togethers for instrumentalists, vocalists, and people who just love the music. Melissinos started to approach a few of the talented performers and gauge their interest in starting a folk group. In a few months’ time, Shenandoah Run was born.
Now, the group is coming off of two sold-out shows at Creative Cauldron last month celebrating the release of their first full-length album, Winter to Spring. The band released a four-track EP last year as a promotional effort, and Melissinos hopes the full-length record will take the band’s music beyond performances at festivals and venues in the D.C. area and generate interest from potential new listeners.
“People come, they like what they hear, they buy the CD, they take it home, they play it for other people,” Melissinos said. “Next thing you know, people are either buying more CDs or inquiring about where we’re playing next.”
Melissinos says the band members are surprised that they’ve accomplished what they have in their two years together, and Melissinos looks to the future of the band with a sky’s-the-limit attitude.
“The goal is to get us to a point where … who knows? Just because some of us are starting this a little later in life than others, doesn’t mean we don’t have the opportunities,” Melissinos said.
• For more information about Shenandoah Run, visit shenandoahrun.com.