The Evil City String Band grew out of the vibrant old time Appalachian music scene that exists in and around the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. More specifically, Ithaca and Trumansburg have been home to a large number of musicians who play traditional, as well as original music. Also a tradition in these parts is the combination of great food, wine and music being enjoyed simultaneously in a casual, family-oriented, community-based atmosphere.
This combination has become a renowned part of the local culture, and people come from miles around to enjoy and partake. Samantha Izzo's Monday Nights at Simply Red Bistro and Richie Stearns' Evil City String Band were born together in Trumansburg, NY when Sam and Richie decided to join forces with their particular talents to further this tradition. Richie Stearns, singer-songwriter and banjo player, loosely organizes sessions of local and nationally touring bands to play many local establishments. Together with Steve Selin on fiddle, Paddy Burke on guitar, and Ben Gould on doghouse bass, The Evil City String Band was created simply because they showed up to play every week for 2 years, with the ulterior motive of eating Sam's fried chicken and collard greens, and drinking locally produced wines. Nothing makes you sing better than a belly full of good chicken!
Old time Appalachian music is people’s music. It’s not pretentious, not even performance oriented. It's music to dance to, eat to, drink to, and talk over. It creates an atmosphere of celebration of the basic things in life by expressing the hard times as well as the good. For the players, it is trance based music, highly repetitive and rhythmic, with often haunting lyrics loosely thrown over the tune like a battered jacket on a cold day.
With a feisty personality and a fiery passion for her food, Sam Izzo wanted to create a new scene in a tired world. Sam approached Richie about relocating his old time session to her Simply Red Bistro, and Richie jumped at the chance.
The Evil City String Band recorded its music for Sam's cook book with sound engineer/musician Chad Crumm at The Music Tank Studio in Trumansburg. The band recorded 32 cuts in three days, and then slept for two weeks straight in the winter of 07/08. They proudly handed over their music to Sam to include in her debut cookbook, Mama Red's Comfort Kitchen.