Famous World Touring Musicians Billy and Jeni along with special guest Craig Eastman will be playing in Concert on October 25th 6:00 PM
For those of you who know them, get reservations early, For those who don’t know them – Keep reading. Limited Seating – Reserve Early (805) 466-4653
More about Jeni and Billy! – See their website too!
Original Appalachian Song, Story, and Dance Trio –
“Jeni Hankins is a true heiress to the mountain music crown. Call it good. Call it authentic. Call me anytime Jeni is singing and Billy and Craig are playing by her side.” – Rob Weir, Sing Out
“There are two kinds of music – the blues and Zip A Dee Doo Dah. That’s what Townes Van Zandt said. But there is a third kind, which finds the best parts of both of those kinds of music and turns it into something seamlessly American and wonderful. That third kind is Jeni & Billy music.”
That’s the assessment of Grammy-nominated songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Dillon O’Brian, who co-produced “Picnic in the Sky,” the latest studio recording from the Appalachian folk duo.
Novelist Lee Smith says, “Jeni and Billy’s stunningly original music is as old as the hills, yet brand new at the same time. Jeni is a true poet and a born storyteller, through and through — many of her songs contain whole novels.”
Jeni Hankins spent every summer of her childhood in the Southwest Virginia homes of her grandmothers — and every summer Sunday in the pews of the Friendly Chapel Church.
“My grandmother’s church was Pentecostal,” Jeni says. “People spoke in languages I didn’t understand, they believed in a fire that did not burn, they fell down in the floor, and they sang. They sang loudly and passionately. Their singing got under my skin because it wasn’t for prettiness or show — they were hollering their story up to God with every ounce of their being. To me this is singing and this is songwriting — to shout the story of life as an urgent message to the beyond.”
“Hankins’ approach is often compared to that of Hazel Dickens and aptly so,” Rob Weir of “SingOut!” magazine writes. “Though Hankins has a smoother, less nasal voice than Dickens, it has the same born-in-the-bone twang – the kind you don’t get by dressing up country and scouring songbooks. Hankins also grew up in the same contiguous coal mine region that spawned Dickens, and with the same sensibilities: an appreciation for the grace of ordinary people, mountain gospel music, support for miners’ unions, and a gift for finding beauty where less attuned people fail to see it.”
Billy Kemp’s schooling in the traditions of mountain music took place in the mill village of Ellicott City, Maryland, among Appalachian migrants who had come to escape the mines and work in the mills, bringing their fiddles and banjos with them. Billy listened and learned becoming a versatile instrumentalist who can soar in any style from Rockabilly to Indian ragas and whose chops as a side man took him right onto the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Billy has opened shows for dozens of folk and roots legends including Johnny Cash, Joe Ely, Merle Haggard, and the Band, and he’s played with them too all the way to Tom Paxton.
“Jeni’s songs spring from the true vine,” said Mary Smith, Director of the Richmond (VA) Folk Music Society. “Billy is the perfect partner, skillfully accompanying Jeni with guitar, banjo and harmonies. These two are tradition bearers — the next generation of traditional music.”
That Southwest Virginia catch in Jeni’s voice blends perfectly with Billy’s finely tuned vocal harmonies. Jeni’s solid rhythmic playing provides a solid bed for Billy’s syncopated and gorgeously melodic guitar and banjo solos and fills.
About Craig Eastman
Add LA based multi-instrumentalist and New England Fiddle Champion, Craig Eastman, to the mix and the Appalachian soundscape is complete. Jeni & Billy met Craig in 2012 when Craig and Billy were both called in by four-time Grammy winning producer and mixer Dave Way, to overdub on Creed Bratton (of the Office’s) latest record. Jeni & Billy felt a sense of complete musical kinship with Craig. The three first collaborated on Jeni & Billy’s 2014 critically acclaimed Picnic in the Sky record where Craig’s musical storytelling made every song more vivid and poignant. As part of Jeni & Billy’s Big Picnic Band, Craig brings both humor and heart to their recordings and their show, and to hear the three of them have a musical conversation on stage makes your hair stand on end.
After winning the New England fiddle contest at the age of 13 against career fiddlers in the open category in front of an audience of 60,000, Craig went on to work with a who’s who of artists on stage and in the studio, including Steve Martin, Jackson Browne, Elton John, and Lucinda Williams among others. Millions of people across the world have heard Craig’s playing on soundtracks for blockbuster films including The Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango, Black Hawk Down, and Pearl Harbor, to name just a few. He has also composed entire scores for many independent films and, most recently, he wrote the score for Woody Harrelson’s latest project.
As producer Dave way puts it, Jeni & Billy are “the sweetest, most down to earth, good people making music just like that. Their roots run deep.” And when you add Craig’s deep roots to that soil, you’ve got a trio so in tune with each other, they are ready to dig deep and take their audience from the earth to the moon on a single shared note.