Little Country Giants
Rachel Baiman, Adam Chaffins
515-B North McDonough St.
Decatur, GA, 30030
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 7:00 PM
Little Country Giants
From the sleepy town of Oakman, Georgia, come the Little Country Giants, comprised of husband and wife songwriting duo, Cameron Federal and Russell Cook, along with Michael Bowman (guitar) and David Long (mandolin). After recently successfully funding a Kickstarter campaign for a new album, the band immediately got busy in the studio, and have completed the recordings of what they feel is their best work yet. The album will be their sixth, and is entitled, Dead Reckoning, and is expected to be self released in November 2015.
The Little Country Giants have been voted "Atlanta's Best Folk Act" by Creative Loafing Magazine, and were awarded with the "Emerging Artists of the Year" by the Rome Area Council for the Arts in Rome, Georgia.
Their music has been featured in a handful of award winning films, including the documentary about Georgia's organic farmers, GROW, which uses music by the Little Country Giants as the soundtrack. One half of the songwriting pair, Russell Cook, had the opportunity to work with T. Bone Burnett and perform in the Stephen King, John Mellancamp, T. Bone Burnett musical, the Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.
"Delivering pure, simple, and timeless rustic songs touching on country, bluegrass, and even rural blues, husband-and-wife duo Cameron Federal and Russell Cook produce artful work on par with the finest of the expansive genre. Masters of the lexicon of rural music, Little Country Giants create music rich with the sounds of Georgia's roots and the musical seeds of America grown. "
-Adam Klein, Cowboy Angel Music
n many ways, Shame, the new album from 27-year-old Nashville Americana songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Baiman, is an exploration of growing up female in America. “I wasn't necessarily trying to write songs that would be easy to listen to," Baiman says of the project, “I wanted to write about reality, in all of it's terror and beauty.” From the title track about abortion politics, to love, sex, and abuse in relationships, to classism and inequality in her re-write of Andy Irvine's working class anthem “Never Tire of the Road,” the album is ambitious in its scope, yet remains cohesive through Baiman's personal perspective. Despite the serious subject matter, the overall feeling of the album remains light, with the tongue-in-cheek “Getting Ready to Start (Getting Ready)” and feel-good anthem “Let them Go To Heaven." A departure from her stripped-down work with progressive folk duo 10 String Symphony, Shame is lush and varied in instrumentation and musical texture.
Inspired in equal parts by John Hartford and Courtney Barnett, Baiman's influences span a wide range, but years spent playing traditional music shine through in the album’s firmly rooted sound. For recording and production, Baiman turned to the talents of Mandolin Orange's Andrew Marlin. “At the time that I was writing the music for this record, I was listening to all North Carolina-made albums, including Mandolin Orange and the album Andrew produced for Josh Oliver (Oliver is also featured heavily on Shame)." Shortly after reaching out to Marlin, Baiman traveled to Chapel Hill, NC for three intensive days in the studio. "The energy was amazing," Baiman says. "It became clear that we were making something really special that needed to be finished.”
Added to the musical intensity was the context of the material they were recording—namely, how the songwriting on Shame sits within the current American political climate. "I think what is happening in the country right now has really shifted my career priorities, and brought the folk music community together. We are all suddenly seeing our purpose come into focus, and feeling a renewed responsibility to be a voice of unity and resistance.” In addition to the release of her new solo album, Baiman is the co-founder of a new political group called Folk Fights Back, a musician-led national organization that puts together benefit concerts and awareness events in response to the Trump administration.
Baiman is no newcomer to activism. Raised in Chicago by a radical economist and a social worker, she was surrounded by social justice issues her entire life. “If I wanted to rebel against my parents I could have become a finance banker or a corporate lawyer” she says of her childhood. While her classmates went to church or temple on Sunday mornings, Baiman attended the Ethical Humanist Society of Greater Chicago, a non-religious community formed around discussions of morality and current events. “That was always a tough one to explain at school” she says with a laugh.
As a teenager, Baiman found music to be a welcome escape from worrying about global politics. “I often found the constant discussion of seemingly unsolvable problems to be intense and overwhelming, and when I moved to Nashville to pursue music it felt like something positive, beautiful and productive that I could put into the world. Now that I've had some years to devote to music,”—Baiman has been recording and touring internationally for the past 4 years with 10 String Symphony, and has played fiddle for numerous other artists including Kacey Musgraves and Winnipeg folk band Oh My Darling—“I find it hard to escape from the values that I grew up with, and I feel compelled to write politically, to speak out about things that I've experienced or seen. Songwriting is a unique opportunity to do that, because it avails a more emotional vehicle for discussion. I love the political tradition of folk music, from Woody Guthrie to Tupac, and my hope is that this record adds another voice to it.”
“I wanted to make sure it was ready, and it was me” Says Adam Chaffins of his upcoming solo project. Equally at home leading a band and playing a support role, Chaffins is one of those rare musicians who can always bring a unique musical voice to a project while simultaneously blending in to showcase the musicians he collaborates with. A native of Eastern Kentucky, the son of a coal miner and social worker, Chaffins grew up on Country Music Highway (Highway 23), surrounded by shrines to local heroes who’ve made their mark on American musical legacy.
“I never had ‘Nashville Superstar’ aspirations, but music has always been a way for people from that area to get out and experience a different kind of life,” he explains.
Chaffins is no small town kid anymore, and has certainly had his share of experience on the road, touring for two years with Boston-based progressive acoustic group The Deadly Gentlemen, followed by two more years with Asheville-based bluegrass outfit Town Mountain. He’s played the Grand Old Opry and the Ryman Auditorium, Music City Roots PBS series, and such festivals as Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Pickathon, Merlefest, The Old Settler’s Music Festival, and GreyFox Bluegrass Festival.
Bluegrass wasn’t a straight path though. Chaffins played electric bass from the age of 12, but he was initially awarded a vocal scholarship studying opera. Though his vocal ability remains powerful and captivating, Opera was not ultimately where his passion lay. A school transfer to Morehead State University led Chaffins to pursue a jazz performance degree on bass. Throughout his time at school, he remained firmly rooted in the country and bluegrass music that had been such a part of his youth. “I remember searching for good cassette tapes at the flea market with my dad, that was always our big hobby together”, he says of his childhood. Upon graduating and moving to Nashville, he quickly found a home in the bluegrass scene, where his versatility as bassist, singer, and writer have made him one of the most sought after musicians in the city.
After sharing band songwriting duties for years, and winning a SESAC award for a co-write with GRAMMY nominated The Infamous Stringdusters, a solo project from Chaffins is a welcome treat. “ It’s simultaneously everything I’ve learned over these past years, and everything I’ve not had the chance to do yet musically.” If his previous work is an indication, we will all be lucky to hear what Chaffins hasn’t yet done.