Ever since the Harvest Music Festival lineup has been released, I’ve been pouring through the music of slated artists to find my favorites. A lot of the musicians I wasn’t too familiar with, including Under the Willow. From the first song I heard, I knew this was a band I could easily love.
The first of theirs I heard was “We Are Cold”; a strong, vocally driven track that both floats and stands tall – I hope to hear it live in the upcoming month. As I continued through their catalog of songs, I noted the unique sound of Erin Donovan’s voice and the smoothness of the fiddle, while their guitar supports the other instruments wonderfully and banjo adds its undeniable twinge of bluegrass to the lineup. This quartet brings life to lyrical, socially conscious songs and paints classic sounds modern.
Currently, Under the Willow is hitting it hard on the concert circuit, and will be landing in Ozark, Arkansas, for Harvest Fest on October 16. Their set begins at 3:30 on the Roost Stage. You can find Under the Willow touring with top musicians like SHEL (Sept. 25 in Chicago) and Shook Twins (Oct. 1 in Davenport, Iowa).
GW: What is the songwriting process like for the band?
UTW: A lot of the time a song or a progression is brought to the table and we all collaborate on piecing the rest of it together. Since we have a lot of songwriters in the band and everyone's creative process is different our songs spring from a lot of sources.
GW: Where is your favorite place to play music?
UTW: Festivals definitely. We really enjoy playing in that atmosphere. We get inspired by the musicians around us.
GW: Where is your favorite place to write music (or other writing in general)?
UTW (Erin): Passenger seat of the car while we travel.
GW: What has music taught you about how live in this world?
UTW (Erin): Music is honest and taught me my strengths and weaknesses. You learn a lot about yourself through playing music.
UTW (Pat): Everybody's got something to say.
GW: What musicians do you most admire?
UTW: A lot of the older-generation of musicians who have been touring, writing and recording for so many years.
GW: Where did you first learn how to play music?
UTW: Elementary music class.
GW: What is your earliest memory of music?
UTW (Erin): My family would gather on the back porch and listen to the radio. I remember them dancing and everyone having fun.
GW: How does your music help people?
UTW: It connects us all.
GW: How does music help you?
UTW: Music helps us the same way it helps others by connecting to something.
GW: What are some instruments you wish you had the ability to play?
UTW: Dobro or pedal slide always looked fun
GW: What’s one of your favorite live shows you've seen? Why was it so great?
UTW: Pat's favorite was at Yonder Mountain’s Harvest Fest when Poor Man’s Whiskey played Dark Side of the Moonshine late night. One of our favorite live albums of all time.
GW: How can the experience of live music be improved, either in your shows and/or in general live music?
UTW: For us, having quality sound people behind the board that know your music, their board, and want to produce the best quality sound they can. Knowledgeable and diligent sound crews.
GW: What’s one of the most difficult things about being a traveling musician
UTW: The traveling part. Being on the road with our dog, Brianna, and two cats in a small travel trailer can take a toll after a few weeks. Maintaining our vehicles helps take some of the fear of breaking down and having to cancel a gig away (some). Missing friends and family; but making new ones on the way helps.]GW: If you could interview one person (about anything), who would it be?
UTW: Bill Murray
GW: Similarly, if you could interview one musician, who would it be
UTW: That's a hard one to narrow down…but Sam Bush.
GW: What piece of advice would you give to a person who is trying to follow their dream(s)?
UTW: Planning and persistence is key.