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MJF67, Sept. 27-29, 2024


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The Carolyn Sills Combo
  • Grounds Artist
  • Sunday, September 29 4:00 pm - 4:45 pm Courtyard Stage Presented by Folktale Winery & Vineyard
  • Sunday, September 29 5:15 pm - 6:00 pm Courtyard Stage Presented by Folktale Winery & Vineyard

2024 Ameripolitan Award winners, the Carolyn Sills Combo makes American roots music that reaches across genre boundaries and state lines. It's a sound built for juke joints, dive bars, theaters, and campfires, driven forward not only by Telecaster twang and swooning steel, but also the sharp songwriting of the band's frontwoman.

"I love writing story-driven snapshots where every word counts," says Sills, a Sacramento Western Swing Hall of Fame inductee who serves as her group's lead singer, bass player, and chief songwriter. After paying tribute to country cowboy Marty Robbins with her band's previous release, Return to El Paso — a critically-acclaimed concept album that earned Sills the title of "Western Swing Female of the Year" from the Academy of Western Artists — she widens her focus with On The Draw. "We're always growing and evolving." adds Sills, "We've received some awards for western swing music, but our sound is bigger than that. It's a big mix."

On The Draw finds the Carolyn Sills Combo embracing the full range of its influences, making room for classic country, modern Americana, roadhouse rock & roll, and ageless honky tonk. "Little Death," the album's opening track, is a timeless two-stepper laced with autobiographical lyrics. "Sam McGee" is a countrified tall tale that offers a new spin on Robert W. Service's famous poem. "West of West and East of Tokio (For James Hand)" pays tribute to honky-tonk hero who toured with The Combo before passing away in 2020. "Good Gracious Alive" is a modern burst of old-timey twang, its instrumental passages packed with dobro and its lyrics full of vintage turns-of-phrase. On The Draw comes to a close with "Bourboning," a jazz song for late nights and last calls. It's a big mix, indeed, tied together by a group of song-oriented musicians who've never sounded so versatile.

Carolyn Sills continues to carry the torch for the music that soundtracked her childhood. She's a classic American roots musician for the modern world, nodding to her old-school favorites one minute and exploring new ground the next. Joined by steel guitarist Charlie Joe Wallace, harmony vocalist Sunshine Jackson, drummer Jimmy Norris, and guitarist/husband Gerard Egan (who also performs with Sills in the old-school country & western side project Poi Rogers), she charts even wider territory with On The Draw.