Jesse Milnes & Emily Miller headline Berkeley Old Time Music Convention

Article Contributed by Tanya Pinkerton | Published on Tuesday, September 6, 2016

For an up-close-and-personal encounter with some of today’s most exciting Appalachian musicians, the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention presents triple-bill concerts and square dances, a string band contest with fifteen bands, master classes and plenty of informal jamming from Sept. 21-25 at venues all over Berkeley.

Friday Sept. 23 marks the Bay Area debut of Prairie Home Companion favorites Jesse Milnes and Emily Miller, headlining a triple bill at the Freight & Salvage.  Also appearing: the Gallus Brothers (juggling, ragtime and blues) and the Hurricane Ridgerunners (reunion of beloved Northwest string band).  Jesse and Emily also host an open jam session at Ashkenaz on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 8 pm, and give a harmony singing workshop at the Freight on Sun. Sept. 25.

Jesse Milnes and Emily Miller, who live in rural West Virginia, have been immersed in Appalachian tradition since they were toddlers.  “We played a lot of music around the house when I was a kid,” Emily says. “The whole social scene during my childhood revolved around music too.” Her parents being traveling journalists, Emily’s family found themselves living and playing music in Chicago, Toronto, Hong Kong and Vermont. “I got hooked on playing at a pretty young age.” Emily has since become known as one of the best young traditional roots musicians, appearing as a solo artist on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion.  Jesse was raised in a rural music community in West Virginia. “I spent a lot of time going to square dances and old time music festivals with my parents when I was a kid. It seemed like every adult I knew played music, so I always imagined I would play music someday.” Jesse and Emily helped form the Sweetback Sisters in 2006. After signing to the Signature Sounds label, touring the world, and producing three full-length albums and two EPs with the band, Jesse and Emily began performing as a duo. Their masterful vocal harmonies, Jesse’s unique fingerstyle guitar, Emily’s driving rhythm guitar and both their powerful fiddles combine to create old-time music that somehow manages to sound old and new at the same time. Their sound is not retro or vintage, but it clearly is a link in an unbroken chain of centuries-old Appalachian tradition.

More information:

Fri. Sept. 23 at 8:00 pm
Concert at Freight & Salvage
2020 Addison, Berkeley
Jesse Milnes & Emily Miller; Hurricane Ridgerunners; the Gallus Brothers
Tickets: $20 in advance, $22 at the door.  All ages welcome
More info:
Berkeley Old Time Music Convention complete schedule:
Freight & Salvage phone:  510-644-2020