By Molly Walsh
A hometown act, Yodelady, has been kindling the traditional music scene in Olympia and surrounding areas since forming in 2010. The members of this triple threat trio have deep roots in the Pacific Northwest old-time music community, and their sets boast three-part harmonies that send audience members to their feet for a round of square dancing. Yodelady consists of Monica Peabody on banjo, Emily Teachout on fiddle and guitar and Jen Witherspoon on guitar and ukulele.
“We love the same old songs and old-time music and old country music, and I think really gravitated towards each other because we like to sing,” said Teachout. She’s excited to perform a lounge act set during the Oly Old Time Festvial, where Yodelady will jam in a relaxed atmosphere and present new material. She described the lounge acts as a lighthearted and fun performance space with beer and wine on tap and attendees mingling throughout the South Bay Grange venue. There the band can present its varied playlist, which was inspired by Appalachian ballads, the Carter Family and Hazel Dickens.
Teachout, a founding member of Oly Old Time Festival, said a vast menu of workshops will be offered. Consistent with a culture of participation in the world of old-time music, festival workshops revolve around dancing, instrumentals and singing. “We have a really robust program of free workshops,” she added. “We have a lot of dances. All the dances are taught. Everything’s aimed at being affordable and accessible and welcoming, and that’s all because that’s what the tradition is. There’s workshops for all levels.”
For their festival set, members of Yodelady created a crankie, meaning a scroll adorned with artwork, to illustrate an old murder ballad the trio will perform. “It’s an old art form,” said Teachout, “and it’s fun, because it really draws people close and kind of changes the feel in the room — because everybody turns their attention to the art that goes along with the music, and it’s just fun to be able to portray these old songs visually.” Teachout and Slater will also host a crankie workshop, where attendees will work alongside the trio to create a new crankie to be used in Yodelady performances throughout the rest of the festival.
Teachout said Oly Old Time Festival is geared toward music-enthusiasts of all ages, but it’s also a great way to get out on the rainy days and nights of late winter to interact with the community and learn a classic form of American dance and music.
“What I really love about the festival,” she said, “is that it’s really geared towards participation, and there’s something for everybody. So old-time music, by its very nature, is intended to be really participatory. It’s not so much performance-oriented, [it’s] people making music to get their friends to dance or entertain themselves or the community. That’s really how it originated.”
5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15
South Bay Grange, 3918 Sleater Kinney Rd NE, Olympia
$5 – $20