photo: Kat Waterman
Ari & Mia reference the styles of Southern and Northeastern fiddle music and the early American songbook to create a realm where their own compositions cross paths with older traditions. Their stylish and sophisticated music honors the sounds of Appalachian cottages, rural dance floors, and urban concert halls. Combine this with their innovative approach to songwriting and the result is a captivating sound.
Since 2008 the sisters have toured all across the U.S and Australia and are both graduates of New England Conservatory’s cutting edge Contemporary Improvisation department. They’ve opened for Cheryl Wheeler, performed alongside Sarah Jarosz, and played at venues such as Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center, Club Passim, the Parlor Room, New Bedford Folk Festival, and Jordan Hall. Both are award winning songwriters.
“Strikingly beautiful, distinctive and exhilarating, with expressive vocals that will find a way into hearts and minds” No Depression
“Ari & Mia are not creating a new music; they are taking it to another level and exploring areas that have not been attempted in decades. Their all-acoustic, pure and honest approach has significance. Treading the edges of traditional folk in a more faithful manner, they share the lyrical wizardry of 70’s bands Steeleye Span, Tir-na-Nog, and the Incredible String Band, with searing harmony as good as The Beach Boys. The sisters sing in unison like two violins,” continues No Depression on the review of their most recent release, “Out of Stone.” Their two previous albums, “Land on Shore” and “Unruly Heart,” ranked high on the national folk radio charts and the duo anticipates the release of a brand new album Sew the City in March.
“We recorded Sew The City in the gorgeous and isolated Great North Sound Society in Parsonsfield, ME,” says Ariel. “An old farmhouse was the perfect place to access quiet and creativity.”
The sisters produced the album themselves, and it was engineered by Ariel Bernstein, with help from GNSS intern Abigale Sullivan. Bernstein also provided insightful input on the production side. “We recorded all of the takes live together in one room, other than a few third harmony parts that we overdubbed and Ariel Bernstein’s added percussion on two tracks,” says Mia. “This resulted in an album that sounds exactly like what our audience would hear at a live show. The sound is organic and full, and it features intricately designed parts for all four of our voices—two vocals and two instruments.”
Recording Sew The City felt freeing and exhilarating for the pair, “most likely due to being isolated in a gorgeous place where our only goal was birthing this album,” says Ariel. “We allowed ourselves to be influenced by the place itself, like when we recorded ‘Unquiet Grave’ directly after we had visited the extremely old and definitely haunted basement. It was late in the evening and raining buckets outside.”
With a sound that SingOut! Magazine praised as “a traditional rootsy grounding with a clear background of classical training” as well as “soothing and fresh, tasteful and accomplished,” the sisters have toured across the United States and Australia since 2008, and both are both graduates of New England Conservatory’s cutting-edge Contemporary Improvisation department. They’ve performed alongside Sarah Jarosz, have opened for the likes of Cheryl Wheeler and Catie Curtis, and have played at venues such as Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s Mainstage Emerging Artist Showcase, Club Passim, the Parlor Room, New Bedford Folk Festival, and Jordan Hall. Both are award-winning songwriters: Mia’s song “Across the Water” won the 2010 John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the folk category, and Ari’s song “Old Man” was a semi-finalist for the 2016 International Songwriting Competition.