Granville Roots: Barefoot Movement to perform at ArtsCenter
The members of Barefoot Movement have been touring all summer promoting the release of their second recording “Figures of the Year,” released in June. The tour comes to the ArtsCenter today, but violinist and vocalist Noah Wall is looking forward to having time to write some new songs.
“We’ve been gone this whole summer,” she said in a phone call from her home in Jonesborough, Tenn. “I’m looking forward to the fall when I can go back and revisit all these ideas. … I’m going to be very happy to get in my little room and begin writing again.”
The Barefoot Movement is based in Johnson City, Tenn., and plays in the bluegrass tradition. Wall grew up in Granville County, where beginning in second grade she took violin lessons from Suzanne Moody, who taught using the Suzuki method, but also taught traditional fiddle tunes. She continued playing but began practicing in earnest and writing songs in high school. “That was when I got more interested in fiddle playing,” she said.
When she graduated from high school, she went to Vance-Granville Community College but later transferred to East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, where she entered that school’s program in Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies.
Among her teachers there was Roy Andrade, a professor in the program who plays with the Old Time Travelers. In school, she “fell in love with old-time fiddle playing. … What I’m trying to do is play old-time fiddle but adapt that to the songs I write.”
The ETSU program drew together the people who became Barefoot Movement. She and Tommy Norris, who plays mandolin, are the founding members. They grew up together in Granville, and went to South Granville High School, she said. Norris went to Western Carolina University, but they still played music during summers and vacations. They got together and wrote some songs for an EP in 2009, began playing around Jonesborough, and in 2011 the band released its first full-length recording, “Footwork.”
Other members of the band are Hasee Ciaccio (bass), who is still a student at ETSU. Guitarist Quentin Acres recently left the band. Barefoot Movement has been playing with Nashville guitarist Alex Conerly, who will play at the ArtsCenter concert. All members of Barefoot Movement now live in Jonesborough.
They have recently toured with The Milk Carton Kids, and were the first runner-up in the new band competition at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado.
On the group’s website, Wall mentions the band Blind Melon as a strong influence, but she was exposed to all kinds of music growing up. Her parents loved rock-and-roll and traditional music, and were frequent contributors and listeners of the WUNC radio show “Back Porch Music.” “That was like a gateway for me to traditional music,” Wall said.
“Right now, I feel like I’m doing my homework going back and listening to as many songwriters as I can,” she said. She mentions Neil Young, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan as songwriters she is listening to.
The band members are in their 20s, and are, by coincidence, part of the new folk and roots music revival. Wall has a radio show, “Highway Companion,” at WDVX FM in Knoxville, where she interviews musicians she has met during Barefoot Movement’s tours and features their live music. The current folk revival probably began with the success of the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Wall said. She never believed she would hear groups like the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons being played on radio. With the advent of the Internet and other platforms “people don’t have to rely on what radio gives them any more.”
All of their recordings so far are self-released, which gives the band considerable artistic leeway. “The record industry is suffering because they lost touch with their fans. The thing about this music is you go directly to your fans … allowing bands like us to be successful even without a label. You can be independent and still have a career,” Wall said.
Go and Do
WHAT: Barefoot Movement
WHEN: Today, 8 p.m.
WHERE: The ArtsCenter, 300-G E. Main St., Carrboro
ADMISSION: Tickets are $14 day of show. To purchase, call 919-929-2787 or visit www.artscenterlive.org.