Bluegrass lovers and fiddle fanciers will delight in PLAYING IT FORWARD, the new album from Annie Savage and her band, The Savage Hearts. The project is set for release on October 21, 2016. The group has already released a debut single to radio from the project. "Age" is now available digitally (along with the rest of the CD). "Age" was written and recorded by American Folk and Pop Rock artist, the late Jim Croce, along with his wife Ingrid. It was first recorded in 1969.
Q: Annie, thanks for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourselves. Who is Savage Hearts?
We are a twin fiddle based band out of Colorado's colorful bluegrass scene that work to provide highly charged performances along with educating our audiences and students about bluegrass. We are: Annie Savage (lead vox, twin fiddle), Kevin Slick (vox, guitar and song-writing), Nancy Steinberger (lead fiddle), Kit Simon (swing guitar) and Keith Summers (bass).
Q: I love how your music is being described as "bluegrass meets honky tonk." What made you fall in love with both bluegrass and country music? And how did you fine tune your sound to what it is today?
The one thing we all have in common seems to be a love for Bob Wills. We are crazy about both swing and bluegrass music- and the idea of the western swing "orchestra". We also love old country and the No Depression school of Americana. Twin fiddles inspire us- whether it's the Quebe Sisters or Bobby Hicks and Kenny Baker. Finding a groove has been a great challenge- as these genres all have very specific rhythmic drive.
We really honed our sound after a handful of bands that we either love or have played in: The Quebe Sisters, Jeff Scroggins and Colorado (Annie's old project) and Bob Wills. It seems a strange mix and yet we love trying to define it. We call our brand of bluegrass "Southwestern Bluegrass".
Q: You've got a new record out. Describe the significance of the title, "Playing it Forward"?
This is Annie's debut album as a lead singer. We wanted to incorporate the music of both our heroes and our students. Specifically, we wanted these folks to record with us in the studio. The concept of "playing it forward" is that we are teaching and performing from a place of service to future generations of pickers. We teach the group the "Young Pickers" for the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society and we offer workshops in both the Wernick Method and Annie's method for playing fiddle in small groups, the Savage Fiddler Method (www.savagefiddler.com)
Q: I love the variety of songs you have included for this record. How did you narrow down your choices for this release?
Thanks! Wow. What a process. We wanted to offer a very diverse mix of covers as well as Kevin's originals. We wanted the album to represent the racial and cultural diversity we love about Colorado. We also needed each track to be a good twin fiddle vehicle, so that helped us through the selection process!
Q: Let's talk about the debut single "Age." What inspired you to record this beautiful Jim Croce's song?
One of our "hero" bands that we all look up to is the Country Gentlemen. Like this band, we wanted to create a bridge between great folk songs and the bluegrass genre while having a single that was no mistake- traditional bluegrass. This song....wow. What a message. In addition to the fact that it is a tried and true twin fiddle song when Bobby and Kenny covered it in the Bluegrass Album Band, it had never been sung on a mainstream recording by a woman. It just felt like that needed to be done.
Q: The song "Age" speaks of our priorities with each season of life. What are some of your priorities in your own season of life now?
That is an awesome question. Annie says, "One of my priorities is to get smarter over time! I love this song because it points out that even though we all hope to grow and become more effective, that somehow life always brings you back to the same truths. There are just some things that never change. The lyrics to this song are among the best of all time. 'I've been up and down and around around and back again...been so many places I can't remember where or when" really fits the experience of the touring musician and to me, the song is a great metaphor for the balance that artists must stick between being true to their art and being true to their families and loved ones."
Q: I absolutely love your take of "Faded Love." Tell us what was your vision for this song as you were recording it.
Annie taught at Steve Kaufman's Kaufman Kamp a few years back with Becky Buller. While they were there, they performed this together to great effect. Not only is it one of the first slow tunes any fiddler ever learns how to play, it is also a song that Annie performed with Greg Blake (guest artist) in her work with the band, "Jeff Scroggins and Colorado". It just made sense on so many levels.
Q: You are also an instructor at Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamps and you have also released her second instruction book, JOIN THE JAM. How did your passion with the fiddle start? Tell us about your Savage Fiddler Method.
Annie says, "I started playing the fiddle when I was 2 years old. I don't remember not being able to play! It's my world and my language. Not unlike the Suzuki Method, my method aspires to teach people to play fiddle in much the same way that they learn to speak. Through immersion and repetition.
The Savage Fiddler Method is based on the idea that the combination of notation, by ear learning and online videos have the capacity to truly communicate the nuances of fiddle music in a way that we have not been able to make available to people ever. Ironically, technology provides us a way to preserve and teach fiddle music, and the ability of my students to improvise and play chord changes is of utmost importance, whether that are conservatory or opry bound. Total world domination through small vibration wooden boxes!!! :)
Find free instruction, online tools and the Savage Fiddler Method HERE
Enjoy the music and story of the Savage Hearts HERE