Parsonsfield

“A mix of infectious Appalachian anthems and rustic, handcrafted ballads. It is a pop-ish bluegrass fury of well-worn guitars, danceable drums, and traded vocals balanced evenly with the haunting sounds of three-part harmonies… ultimately, it is the precision and polish of musicianship well beyond their years that pulls the audience fully in.” -Pop Matters

“Parsonsfield introduces some of the most jubilant and danceable indie roots music this side of the Carolinas.” – Folk Alley

May 6, 2015:
Day One in the abandoned axe factory hadn’t gone as planned, so today is the first time the five members of Parsonsfield will actually get to make music here. They’d been looking forward to converting this cavernous industrial space on the banks of the Farmington River in Collinsville, CT, ever since singer/ banjo player  Chris Freeman, who grew up nearby, brought it to their attention. The Idea of recording is such a reverberant, reactive space held great appeal after the past six months spent in Canada exclusively performing their critically acclaimed original songs for ‘The Heart Of Robin Hood,’ a musical that required them to wear in-ear monitors for eight shows a week in theaters designed to be sonically dead.

They’ve got their amps and PA plugged in now, and there’s a faint layer of sawdust on top of all the gear. It’s nothing compared to yesterday, when they opened the doors for the first time and discovered sawdust an inch thick coating every imaginable surface. It was so bad they had to purchase respirators and devote the entire day to sweeping and vacuuming, trying to outwit the neighbor’s overzealous guard dog every time they came and went from the building. The whole process left so much dust still floating in the air that every time they take a break, another layer settles back down to earth, but at least they can comfortably breathe now.

Above them, a cyclist crosses the rickety bridge over the river, making a distinctive clatter as the wheels hit a particularly loose plank. It’s time to begin ‘Blooming Through The Black.’

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Though they call western Massachusetts home, Parsonsfield draws their name from the rural Maine town that’s home to the Great North Sound Society, the farmhouse-turnedrecording-studio of Josh Ritter keyboardist/producer Sam Kassirer. It was there that they cut their outstanding debut, ‘Poor Old Shine,’ which established them as a roots force to be reckoned with. Folk Alley dubbed their songs “the most jubilant and danceable indie roots music this side of the Carolinas.” Their rowdy live performances only upped the ante, with The Bluegrass Situation falling for their “fun and frenzy” and No Depression raving that they’ll “give you rich five-part harmonies one minute, sound like bluegrass on steroids the next, and then rock you over the head with unbearably cool and raucous Celtic rhythms.”

It was only natural, then, that they called on Kassirer once again for their follow-up, ‘Blooming Through The Black,’ enlisting his engineering and production ingenuity to help convert the axe factory into a temporary recording studio. In addition to placing microphones on each instrument, Kassirer set up additional mics throughout the factory just to capture the feel of the enormous space, which itself became another instrument in the band’s already-impressive repertoire.

Parsonsfield spent nearly six months writing and rehearsing in the factory, discovering that song ideas that had begun life in Canada radically transformed in their new home. The space demanded understatement and subtlety to balance out the band’s exuberance and energy, and by the time they were ready to hit record, they were sitting on a collection chock full of the most infectious, emotionally mature songs of their career.

‘Blooming Through The Black’ opens with ‘Stronger,’ a slow-burner that begins as an acoustic folk number and builds to an electrified tumult. It’s a showcase for their instrumental prowess, lyrical chops, and unbridled passion, and it’s just the start. The title track—inspired by the sight of the first flowers growing back in the forest firecharred landscape of Hell Canyon, South Dakota—finds Freeman blending punk energy with earnest sincerity in his delivery, while “Across Your Mind” rides a feel-good groove driven by bassist Harrison Goodale and drummer Erik Hischman, and “Water Through A Mill” ebbs and flows like a solemn hymn on top of Max Shakun’s meditative pump organ.

As the band explored the quirks and eccentricities of the factory, unexpected sounds and moments sometimes became permanent fixtures of the songs, but a particularly happy accident occurred outside the studio entirely, when Shakun called mandolin player Antonio Alcorn for help setting up his new record player. Upon dropping the needle somewhere in the middle of a copy of ‘Poor Old Shine,’ they discovered it was spinning backwards, but the melody coming out of the speakers was perhaps even more of an infectious earworm than it was when played forward. They brought the new riff to the rest of the band, where it morphed into “The Ties That Bind Us,” a stand-out foot-stomper and a highlight of their live show.

Catch Parsonsfield onstage any night and the band’s joy is palpable. They trade instruments, share microphones, and shoot each other big grins. They sing in tight multi-part harmonies, their voices blending like they’ve been doing this together all their lives. That’s because Parsonsfield is a family band, not by birth but by choice. And with an album this thrilling, it’s only a matter of time before you share their same enthusiasm.

Listen closely at the top of “Don’t Get Excited” and you’ll hear the clatter of a cyclist crossing the rickety bridge over the river. That’s the sound of Parsonsfield inviting you into the axe factory. It’s time to begin ‘Blooming Through The Black.’ Good luck not getting excited.  

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Parsonsfield Downloads:

Parsonsfield on Tour:

Date City Location Venue

Wed, 10 May 2017

WASHINGTON

DC

DC9 NIGHTCLUB

Thu, 11 May 2017

PHILADELPHIA

PA

BOOT & SADDLE

Fri, 12 May 2017

PROVIDENCE

RI

FETE LOUNGE

Sat, 13 May 2017

SARATOGA SPRINGS

NY

NEWBERRY MUSIC HALL

Fri, 19 May 2017

NEW YORK

NY

THE BOWERY BALLROOM

Sat, 27 May 2017

COLORADO SPRINGS

CO

MEADOWGRASS MUSIC FESTIVAL

Sat, 3 Jun 2017

Hadley

MA

Asparagus Festival

Wed, 7 Jun 2017

Davenport

IA

The Redstone Room @ River Music Experience

Fri, 9 Jun 2017

SALINA

KS

SMOKY HILL RIVER FESTIVAL

Sun, 11 Jun 2017

PALISADE

CO

PALISADE BLUEGRASS & ROOTS FESTIVAL

Sat, 17 Jun 2017

LAFAYETTE

NY

BEAK AND SKIFF

Sun, 18 Jun 2017

HUNTER

NY

MOUNTAIN JAM FESTIVAL

Tue, 20 Jun 2017

Ridgefield

CT

Concert Happenings In Ridgefield's Parks

Thu, 22 Jun 2017

Concord

NH

Market Days

Wed, 5 Jul 2017

Pittsburgh

PA

Club Cafe

Thu, 6 Jul 2017

Ann Arbor

MI

The Ark

Sat, 10 Jun 2017

Denver

CO

Brewgrass

Fri, 7 Jul 2017

Harbor Springs

MI

Blissfest

Sat, 8 Jul 2017

Harbor Springs

MI

Blissfest

Sun, 16 Jul 2017

GREENFIELD

MA

GREEN RIVER MUSIC FESTIVAL

Wed, 2 Aug 2017

Whitefish

MT

Great Northern Bar

Thu, 3 Aug 2017

HELENA

MT

MYRNA LOY CENTER

Fri, 4 Aug 2017

Missoula

MT

The Top Hat

Sun, 6 Aug 2017

Casper

WY

Beartrap Summer Festival

Thu, 10 Aug 2017

Frisco

CO

Frisco Concerts In The Park

Sat, 12 Aug 2017

Park City

UT

St Regis Big Starts Bright Nights

Fri, 8 Sep 2017

Sisters

OR

Sisters Folk Festival

Sat, 9 Sep 2017

Sisters

OR

Sisters Folk Festival

Sun, 10 Sep 2017

Sisters

OR

Sisters Folk Festival