Happy 10 years, Boxcar Lilies

  • The Boxcar Lillies. Contributed photo

  • Emily Matthew-Muller. Contributed photo

Published: 12/6/2019 5:50:18 PM
Modified: 12/6/2019 5:50:05 PM

For ten years, the Boxcar Lillies, a local Americana band, has been delighting us with irresistible harmonies, sharp songwriting and lively performances. The group, which features Stephanie Marshall on guitar, washboard and cajon and Jenny Goodspeed on bass and guitar, will be joined by Katie Clarke, who plays guitar and clawhammer banjo, for a special anniversary show tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St. in Northampton. Founding member Clarke is rejoining the band for this special occasion, having retired in 2015.

The trio will be joined by a backing band that features some of the Pioneer Valley’s finest musicians: Paul Kochanski on bass, Jim Henry on guitar, dobro and mandolin and J.J. O’Connell on drums. Up and coming singer-songwriter Emily Matthew-Muller will open the show.

The Boxcar Lilies’ band members first connected in 2009, having met through mutual involvement in the Franklin County Musicians Cooperative (COOP Concerts). At the time, Clarke was working as a bluegrass and country musician, Marshall was playing contemporary country and rock music and Goodspeed’s solo work was heavily influenced by the singer-songwriters of the 1970’s. 

That summer, Goodspeed invited Marshall and Clarke to join her at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s Emerging Arts showcase. Once on stage together, the trio’s voices blended almost effortlessly. Afterward at a sit down in a local tavern, the group discovered they shared similar songwriting styles and an appreciation for sweet harmonies. The Boxcar Lilies was born. The fact that all three women are songwriters and hail from varying backgrounds has greatly befitted the band’s music, which has traces of folk, bluegrass, country, rock and even Celtic in its sound. In addition to the group’s own songs, the Boxcar Lillies put its own spin on a selected collection of covers. 

In their ten years together, the band has released three albums — “Heartwood,” “Sugar Shack” and “Knockout Rose.”  The latter two debuted in the top five of the International Folk DJ charts. The group has toured throughout the Northeast, including an official showcase performance at the International Folk Alliance Conference and another at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival as the fan-voted Most Wanted Emerging Artist. The group has played extensively throughout the Pioneer Valley, including annual shows at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton. 

In 2015, tired of balancing family and work obligations, Clarke retired from the band. Susan Cattaneo, of Boston, stepped in but left in 2018 to focus on a solo career. Since then, Marshall and Goodspeed have worked as a duo, limiting any long-distance touring. Tomorrow’s show will mark the second time they have been joined by Clarke, who now performs with musician Larry Leblanc, and they are all excited to be on stage together again. 

The Boxcar Lilies’ members say they are also thrilled to have young Emily Matthew-Muller, of Guilford, Vt. opening the show. Matthew-Muller is only 12 years old, but this past summer she opened for Arc Iris at the Ashfield Lake House and sang backup vocals for Lake Street Dive at the Newport Folk Festival.  

Like so many of the young female artists in our area, she attended the Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA) in Goshen, where, at the age of 9 she wrote her first song. Marshall is friends with her family and has watched Emily — who started playing the ukulele at age 4 and guitar at 7 — grow musically over the years.

 “I remember the first time she played in my kitchen at 6 years old,” recalled Marshall. “She played her ukulele and sang ‘Wagon Wheel.’ It was precious and I knew she was a natural.” 

Looking back, Marshall says she has many great memories of her time with the Boxcar Lilies, including an opening performance for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton. Another memory that stands out doesn’t have anything to do with the size of the show or the fact that they were opening for a big name act.  

“My top favorite moment was during a show at the Conway Festival of the Hills. My daughter, 5 years old at the time and completely unprompted, walked up on stage, adjusted my washboard mic to her level and belted out ‘That Lonesome Road’ with us,” said Marshall. “It took everything we had not to burst right there.”

“There are so many great memories with Katie, Jenny and me and also with Susan Cattaneo, who joined us for a short stint after Katie left,” she added. “We drove many miles, met tons of wonderful people, experienced an abundance of kindness and love, lots of laughter and most importantly, the incredible bond we created with music and friendships.”  

Come on out and celebrate this milestone with the band and wish them many more years of great music and memories.

Advance tickets to Friday’s show at the Iron Horse Music Hall cost $15 and are available at nbotickets.com, by phone at 413-586-8686 or in person at the Northampton Box Office, 76 Main St. in Northampton. Admission is $18 at the door. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

She Said celebrates release of documentary at Hawks & Reed 

The all-female band She Said also has a reason to celebrate — there is a new documentary out about the band called “Let You Love Shine, The She Said Documentary.” The film will be shown followed by a performance by the band at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center, 289 Main St. in Greenfield. Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. The film was made by Stephanie Baird, Hannah Brookman, Elena Fortier and Desiree Lowit.

“They approached us last year and told us they felt our story was interesting and they’d like to film us and make the movie,” said Gail Hegeman, the band’s drummer, about the project. 

The documentary, which chronicles the formation of the band of middle-aged rockers, previously aired on Montague public television. Saturday’s performance, however, will be its premier and the filmmakers will be on-site to answer questions. The film will be shown in the Wheelhouse, which is the downstairs room at Hawks & Reed, while She Said will be rocking the ballroom upstairs. She Said is based in Franklin County and features Tanya Bryant on guitar and harmonica, Torie O'Dell on rhythm guitar, Margaret Fitzpatrick on keyboards, Nina Rossi on bass and Hegeman on drums. 

The Curtis Rich Revue will open the show. Advance tickets are $12 (purchased at hawksandreed.com) and $15 day of show. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information call 413-774-0150.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at soundslocal@yahoo.com.

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