Lac La Belle is an acoustic duo from Detroit, Michigan that juxtaposes the early decades of recorded rural American music with decaying Rustbelt aesthetic. A tradition is re-imagined- or maybe just resumed- in the ‘future-rustic’ swirl of accordion, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and resonator guitar. The instrumentation echos another era, but is employed for a music of now.
Lac La Belle began with a repertoire of old-time country and folk, but they soon added original material. The songs were honed during two sizable tours in 2009 and this creative flurry culminated in the first eponymous recording, released in November of that year. Recorded by Jim Diamond (The White Stripes, Detroit Cobras, The Dirt Bombs etc), the entire record was cut live in the studio, using only a few microphones. Its spare production captures the timeless quality of Lac La Belle’s sound.
The group has now completed six tours of the mid-west, south and east, with appearances at Hiawatha Festival, The Detroit Folk Festival, Dally in the Alley, Dune Grass and Hollerfest (MI); Whofest (Chattanooga, TN), The Chicago Calling Festival (Chicago, IL) and The Avant Fairfax Festival (Fairfax, VA), and completed their first European tour this past November.
Their newest release, "Bring on the Light" boasts 12 original works and one traditional arrangement, performed with a variety of instruments from accordion to banjitar. Each song presents a melodic tale, be it an intimate anecdote, or stories on their hometown Detroit, "Bring on the Light" captures the drifting spirit of early America.
Jennie Knaggs mined folk music first hand, meeting and playing with musicians of Central and Southern Appalachia during her course of travel and advocacy work in the region. Her snapping rhythm guitar, mandolin and accordion playing are all in fine display with Lac La Belle. She is the 2000 Hollerin' Champion of Wise Co., Virginia and Letcher Co., Kentucky, and she gracefully applies her vocal techniques in the duo's original works with her soaring and yodeling vocals. Knaggs has studied opera and has toured Ukraine and Europe in various vocal ensembles, and recently performed and taught as an artist in residence in Labro, Italy. She continues to sing with the fifteen piece Odu Afrobeat Orchestra, and in 2011 she performed as a principal vocalist in Matthew Barney's upcoming film "Khu."
Nick Schillace is recognized as a solo instrumentalist who has contributed to the American Primitive guitar canon with his releases Box Canyon (2005) and Landscape and People (2008.) Raised by folk and blues enthusiasts, he acquired early training at Augusta Heritage in Elkins, West Virginia. Schillace draws on this background as he sings and plays banjo, mandolin and resonator guitar in Lac La Belle. Other recent work includes tenor guitar in Odu Afrobeat Orchestra, electric guitar in Indoorpark (with percussionist Jon Moshier) and the experimental/traditional group Duo un Duo with bassist Joel Peterson. Schillace has toured and performed with other fingerpicking greats, including Bert Jansch, Peter Lang, Jack Rose, Keenan Lawler, Eric Carbonara and Glenn Jones. Considered an authority on early 20th century American fingerpicking guitar styles, Nick is sought after as an instructor both privately and in workshop settings.