The Nields

Katryna and Nerissa Nields will be performing as part of the Folkus Project concert series at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 at May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church, 3800 East Genesee St., Syracuse. Doors open at 7:30 and refreshments will be available.

The sublime vocal chemistry and quirky, emotive songs of the Nields open the Folkus Project's 2007-08 concert season. The show will feature songs from the Nields' new CD, Sister Holler, the first release on their own label Mercy House Music and Books. Sister Holler is full of twisted takes on tradition: a sea chantey, a blues, a couple of ballads, some gospel, New Orleans flavored ragtime, and even a touch of singer/songwriter pop. Sister Holler is a big old nod to the folk process, say the Nields. We took as our premise that we would compose an entire album of songs inspired by some other song.

At the heart of any Nields collaboration is the glorious harmonies of two sisters who have been singing together almost from the cradle. Katryna's volcanic, mercurial soprano seems almost to need the tawny, rich tones of Nerissa's tethering harmonies to keep it here on earth. Together they voice not only occasional anger and well-aimed sarcasm, but also empathy and passion. Nerissa's brainy songwriting surges to life in the expressive, vital, engaging vocals of Katryna.

Nerissa and Katryna grew up singing folk songs in the kitchen and in the back seat of the family car. In the early 1990s, they began as a coffee house trio and expanded into a rip-roaring nationally touring five-piece band, an edgy rock ensemble that somehow managed to remain the darlings of the folk festival circuit. Of late, the two sisters, who call Northampton, Massachusetts, home, have been performing and recording as a duo, bringing them back to their origins. But constant through a career spanning fourteen CDs is the sisters' bold harmonies and Nerissa's passionately introspective songwriting.

Admission is $15, $10 for students. For reservations, email tickets@folkus.org or call 440-7444.

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