ORANGE CITY — Banjo. Accordion. Mandolin. Bass. Guitar. Cello. Washboard.
The Awful Purdies all-female quintet is bringing all that and more to Orange City for a free concert Wednesday, June 8, at 7 p.m. in Windmill Park.
The modern folk ensemble sings through styles ranging from the Andrew Sisters to Motown, weaving vocal harmonies and serving up a string-heavy sound.
“We’re deeply rooted in the American folk tradition, so that means that we are interested in crafting a story with each song,” says Katie Roche, who plays accordion, xylophone, penny whistle and washboard with the group. “We take turns stepping up as songwriter and lead singer.”
“Our songs are about our lives, whether we’re singing about a catastrophic flood, how to find quiet confidence in the face of conflict, or love,” Roche says. “We range in age 20 years, so some of us are writing about having babies, while someone else might be reflecting on a lifetime of patterns with wisdom and humor.”
Roche has sung her way to New York City and back again, and also performs with a 1920s jazz group. Katie Senn, who plays cello, violin and string bass with the Awful Purdies, is director of orchestras at Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids. Marcy Rosenbaum plays mandolin, guitar and bass with the group when she’s not at her day job as a professor of family medicine at the University of Iowa. Nicole Upchurch, whose fingers fly on the banjo and guitar, teaches preschool and early elementary Spanish and ukulele in Iowa City. Sarah Driscoll, a yoga instructor who has also recorded a solo album, adds guitar to the group’s full sound.
Roche describes the Awful Purdies as a “sisterhood disguised as a band.” She says they are excited to play in Orange City.
“We’ve heard from our artist and musician friends that you’ve got a great, welcoming community,” she says. “We’re excited to share some of the new songs that have just come to life and some of our newer stuff off of our last album ‘All Recipes Are Home.’”
The Awful Purdies’ performance is free, thanks to Orange City Arts and sponsors Van Engelenhoven Agency and Pizza Ranch Restaurant. This is the second in this summer’s Onstage Orange City series, all free shows on Wednesday nights in Windmill Park downtown.
Windmill Park is at 200 Central Avenue NW in Orange City. The rain location for the event is the Unity Knight Center at 216 Michigan Avenue SW. For more information, contact ocArts@orangecityiowa.com or 712.707.4885.
Story by Ally Karsyn in Sioux City Journal HERE.
Interview with Mark Munger of KWIT HERE.
(Photo credit: Sandy Dyas)