ear fullPaying tribute to their roots
Ashes for Trees releases ‘The Wilkes-Barre EP’L ike other musicians who have been embracing the release of digital music, Wilkes-Barre folk group Ashes for Trees is treating their new release, The Wilkes-Barre EP, as a pre-cursor to their debut full length album.
The band has been busy recording with producer and multi-instrumentalist Joe Loftus at J.L. Studios in Wyoming. Since December, the ongoing sessions have yielded between 16 and 18 songs, though the band felt the time was right to release a few as an EP.
“We’ve been playing this particular batch of songs for about a year,” said Katie Kelly, vocalist/guitarist and mandolin player. “We were able to pick up a lot of feedback before we laid them down in the studio.”
Kelly, the primary songwriter for the band, also contributed vocals, guitar, banjo, melodica, harmonica, ukulele, and piano. Conrad Miller played drums, while Kelly’s former guitar teacher, Vince Insalaco, was featured on bass and guitar. Loftus added piano and some guitar.
“We sort of went overboard on our last album with the physical release, so this time we’re trying to save on the plastic,” she said. “A lot of people aren’t buying physical CDs any more.” Still, the band plans to bring along physical copies at the release show on Nov. 19 at Bart and Urby’s in Wilkes-Barre.
Many of the sounds and topics are reflections of living in the 570. Kelly chose to attend Wilkes-University when many of her friends were attending colleges elsewhere.
“We have a good local arts scene with an underground network of poets, artists and musicians,” she said. “You can find what you’re looking for here.” She chose the title of the EP as a way to pay tribute to her local roots and the local success she’s cultivated with Ashes for Trees.
The song “Wilkes-Barre” deals with the struggle of moving away, while “We Were Blue” lifts from polka music with a unique blend of ukulele and melodica. An instrumental entitled “Beagán agus a rá go maith,” has a Celtic feel, reminiscent of her Irish heritage, and actually means, “Say little, but say it well.”
The band is heading back to the studio soon, though it will be without Miller, who is leaving the band in order to pursue his education. Kelly and Insalaco will be on the lookout for his successor, and hope to finish up their debut full-length album for a spring release.
- jason lucarelli
Ashes for Trees will play Bart and Urby’s on Nov. 19 with Charles Havira Band and Chuck Silsby (The Way). The show begins at 9 p.m. and tickets will be sold at the door.