Harpeth Rising’s Shifts and Turns
Next week, Jordana Greenberg, Rebecca Reed-Lunn, and Maria Di Meglio, will join the mass migration from Chicagoland to the Door Peninsula. For these three women, who make up the folk group Harpeth Rising, Door County is not the destination, but one of many shifts that they will navigate together.
Jordana, who plays violin and sings lead vocals, is the group’s lyricist. In addition to Jordana’s lyrics, the group arranges music written by Jordana’s father, who is also a songwriter.
The three women work together to create instrumental and harmony parts that convey the mood and feeling of Jordana’s lyrics.
“We sit around and drink lots of tea,” Maria said, “It’s a very collaborative process, musically.”
For Harpeth Rising, the collaborative process began at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where they studied as classical musicians.
“All three of us independently have a wide range of interests that has extended beyond classical music,” Maria said.
While it’s easy to say that the music Harpeth Rising creates now is not classical, it’s harder to identify what genre the group fits into. Folk, Maria said, was the most welcoming category.
Rebecca studied viola at Jacobs, and learned how to play the banjo by watching YouTube videos. She and Jordana, who plays violin, began writing and performing music together.
“The music that they were writing, they didn’t intend for it to be folk. But it sort of fit in with the folk genre,” Maria explained.
Harpeth Rising identifies as a “genre bending” trio, and their newest album, Shifted, released Aug. 15, is as much about their constantly evolving sound as it is the bends and changes in their personal lives.
“In our personal lives, we strive for growth,” Maria said.
In the past year, Harpeth Rising has relocated from Nashville to Louisville, added new tour dates, and visited many new places. “A lot of changes are happening, and you can hear that reflected in our music.”
While title Shifted refers to the shifts that have taken place in their lives and in their music, it is also a play on words – the movement of the hand from one position to another on the fingerboard of a violin, viola and cello, is called shifting.
On the album, the group plays all of their own percussion parts, with Rebecca on tambourine, Jordana on cowbell, and Maria on cajón (because Maria is seated when she is playing cello, she plays cajón backwards, with her foot). The three women have also expanded their use of vocals.
“We try to keep pushing the envelope and create as many new sounds with our instruments as we can to express ourselves,” Maria said.
The new sounds range from different permutations of pizzicato, to the interaction between cello, banjo, and violin, to a cappella voices.
Shifted begins and concludes with a cappella voices – Jordana on lead, and Rebecca and Maria singing harmony. Singing unaccompanied challenged the musicians, individually, and as an ensemble.
“Singing a cappella can be very vulnerable,” Maria said. The interaction between the voices and three-part harmony are important to Harpeth Rising, and to Shifted.
“It’s very empowering to be able to do,” Maria said.
With practice and time three female voices have become more powerful.
“We are becoming more confident in our sound,” Maria said.
It is a testament to this confidence, and strength, that Harpeth Rising’s sound does not break or stop, but instead shifts, and turns a corner.
Harpeth Rising will perform Friday, Aug. 21 at 7pm, as part of the Woodwalk Concert Series, in Egg Harbor at Woodwalk Gallery. Tickets are $20. Call 920.868.2912 or 920.495.2928 for reservations.