2018 Labor of Love Music Festival Lineup
Split Lip Rayfield | Dead Horses |Useful Jenkins | Charlie Parr
Split Lip Rayfield
From the blood-red heart of Kansas, Split Lip Rayfield is going stronger than ever.
It's completely fair to call these guys legends. It's been more than two decades since they first mashed up their aggressive stew of acoustic bluegrass instrumentation, tight country vocals, fierce metal shred and in-your-face punk sensibilities. One observer said we all "owe them a huge debt for not only defining a sound but stretching the possibilities of the acoustic music world. Fans of Flatt & Scruggs and Metallica could find a common tent to party under." So yeah, they virtually invented "thrashgrass." But then they kept right on moving as their chops, songs and selves grew stronger from hard-won experience.
Following the 2007 death of their beloved bandmate and founder Kirk Rundstrom, SLR reinvented itself by simple staying the course and continuing to play hundreds of shows -- and there are hundreds more to go. Their new material highlights the powerful songwriting talents of banjo innovator Eric Mardis and mandolin renegade Wayne Gottstine, while bassist Jeff Eaton
holds it all down with his hand-built one-string Stitchgiver. All of that old-school invention and energy is intact, and they still stomp the living hell out of a stage. But their songs keep getting better, and their sound is sneakier and smarter than ever. “Split Lip Rayfield is still the same band with the same ideals that we've had for years," said Gottstine. "But we’re more diverse, sound wise, than we have ever been before.” Their fans know this: Split Lip Rayfield truly delivers. Every record is a revelation, and every concert is an unforgettable experience. Don’t miss these guys.
At fifteen, Dead Horses frontwoman Sarah Vos’ world turned upside down. Raised in a strict, fundamentalist home, Vos lost everything when she and her family were expelled from the rural Wisconsin church where her father had long served as pastor.
“My older brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and my twin had mental illnesses and cognitive disabilities,” explains Vos. “When the church kicked us out, they basically told my dad, ‘If you can’t lead your family, how can you lead your church?’”
What happened next is the story of Dead Horses’ stunning new album, ‘My Mother the Moon,' a record full of trauma and triumph, despair and hope, pain and resilience. Blending elements of traditional roots with modern indie folk, the songs are both familiar and unexpected, unflinchingly honest in their portrayal of modern American life, yet optimistic in their unshakable faith in brighter days to come. Earthy and organic, Vos’ songs often reveal themselves to be exercises in empathy and outreach; she writes not only to find meaning in the struggles she’s endured, but also to embrace kindred souls on their own personal journeys of self-discovery. As much as the album is a reckoning with the past, it’s also an effort to shape the future, to build a community based around art and love and beauty and acceptance, a community to replace the one she was so brusquely robbed of as a child.
“At the time we were expelled, we lived in the church’s parish house,” explains Vos. “Suddenly, my father was unemployed and my family was homeless. My parents couldn’t afford insurance for the medical care my siblings needed. We were kicked out and completely abandoned.”
However, Vos’ love of music carried on after she left the church.
Useful Jenkins is a contemporary acoustic band with a bluegrass foundation. They use their grass-roots to readily tap into other genres such as folk, funk, rock, and hip hop. Their music generates emotion and sends a message to a wide range of listeners, giving them an eclectic group of followers from all walks of life. Useful Jenkins thrives on energy; they flourish in the moment and have an unmatched resonance with the crowd. The band is made up of an acoustic guitar, mandolin, violin, cello, and electric bass. 3-part vocal harmonies accompany the wall of stringed instruments, leaving listeners with a strong, clean, and unique sound.
An easily confused and very shy individual, Charlie Parr has been traveling around singing his songs ever since leaving Austin Minnesota in the 1980's in search of Spider John Koerner, whom he found about 100 miles north at the Viking Bar one Sunday night. The experience changed his life, made him more or less unemployable, and brings us to now: 13 recordings, 250 shows a year or more, 200,000 miles on a well broke in Kia, and a nasty fear of heights. Resonator fueled folk songs from Duluth Minnesota.