Although Misty River's music is often compared to the neo-bluegrass style of Alison Krauss and the harmonies of The Trio (Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton), these four women have a sound all their own, fusing the band's award-winning songwriting and compelling vocal harmony with their distinctive acoustic instrumentation of accordion, fiddle, guitar, banjo, ukulele, mandolin and upright bass.
Whether exploring the music of Appalachia, China, Ireland, the American South or the Pacific Northwest, the members of Misty River revel in sharing the stories of their own lives as well as those of the characters in their songs. STORIES combines the love Laura Quigley, Carol Harley, Dana Abel and Chris Kokesh have for musical storytelling with the talents of Grammy award-winning producer Todd Phillips. As Phillips describes it, the result is “sophisticated yet simple, honest and transparent. Laura, Carol, Dana and Chris will tear your heart out—then put it back, better off than before.”
Beginning with Misty River’s first open mike at an Irish pub in Portland in 1997, the past decade has seen the band mature as individual musicians. However, the group still maintains the magic vocal blend that first tied the quartet together. As Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Jeff Douglas explains it, “When these four women weave their lovely harmonies, it is spine tingling. Their music and relaxed style reaches out and touches audiences in a way that is uplifting even when a ballad brings a tear to the eye.”
This relaxed and uplifting style of performance has become one of the things the band is best known for. As Diane Schulstad of Victory Review writes: “From the moment of Misty River’s entrance, there was a warmth and friendship between the members of the band and the audience. The walloping charisma of each of the four women—their good humor and jocular stage patter, their laughter and kinship—was as effective in the back of the theater as it was for those in the front row.” The band’s accordionist Dana Abel says, “It is not uncommon for audience members to emerge from a show proclaiming how they now feel like part of the ‘Misty River family’—to us, that is the greatest compliment.”
Despite the band’s growth, its ten-year history has not been without challenges. In 2004, Guitarist Carol Harley was diagnosed with leukemia (CML), just weeks before the band was to leave for a tour of China. “It was a tough time” Harley recalls. “But with the care of my doctors, a new miracle drug called Gleevac, and the power of music, friends and faith, the disease is now in remission.” Harley says making the album "Stories" and sharing the songs on stage is her chance to thank those who have supported her along the way.
Misty River consists of Carol Harley of Vancouver, Washington on guitar, banjo, ukulele and mandolin; Chris Kokesh of Portland, Oregon on fiddle and guitar; Dana Abel of Eugene, Oregon on accordion; and Laura Quigley of Portland, Oregon on acoustic bass.
Stories Track Listing:
1. Branching Out: Misty River’s trademark harmony is featured on this lighthearted, humorous song written by John Gorka.
2. Old Memories (Mean Nothing to Me): Picture Quigley and Kokesh as Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette on this Steve Young country classic.
3. Life Is Good: Harley draws on the gospel tradition to tell the story of her second chance at life after battling melanoma skin cancer years ago.
4. Louisa: Fiddle and accordion duets give Abel’s southern California love song a south-of-the-border feel.
5. Black Muddy River: Kokesh reflects on the restorative power of nature in this beauty written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter.
6. Slice of Life: A bus ride down Portland’s Burnside Avenue inspired Abel’s comical toe-tapper.
7. Time Goes By: Kokesh is solo and at her best on this intimate song about letting go and moving on.
8. Turtle Dove: Based on an old Irish melody, Abel wrote lyrics and arranged this love song for three-part acappela harmony.
9. Star of the County Down/Road to Lisdoonvarna/ Connaughtman’s Rambles: Beginning with a beautiful solemn melody and ending with an upbeat fiddle tune, this instrumental trilogy transports the listener to the Irish countryside.
10. Barbara Ellen: Quigley’s eloquent bass playing and passionate vocal is featured on this centuries-old traditional.
11. Daylight Again: Three-part harmony vocals and Harley’s claw-hammer style banjo deliver this war commentary by Stephen Stills.
12. Black Hawk: Quigley tells the tale of Black Hawk and the White Winged Dove in this Louisiana-rooted ballad by Daniel Lanois.
13. Gan Lan Shu (The Olive Tree): One of the most popular contemporary songs in China, Kokesh sings this melancholy story of longing for home.
14. A Prayer Like Any Other: Harley closes the album with a simple offer of thanks to Misty River’s fans and supporters over the past decade.