Studio Live

Steven Spencer

When I listen to vocal groups with vibrant harmonies, I feel a rush of emotions from admiration to jealously. I’ve never been very good at it myself.

But Emily Higgins, Larry Lee and David Wilson are.  They’ve recently come together in a new trio that bursts with three-part harmonies. The group has dubbed themselves The HigLeeWils, taking a bit of each of their last names. But how does someone learn how to sing in harmony?

From Tarkio Road to Seven Bridges Road

Jessica Balisle / KSMU

For Randy Buckner, the sounds of Merle Travis’ guitar picking would fill his grandparents’ home on North Grant Avenue, where he spent the week from time to time when he was a young child. These records were a pivotal point for Buckner’s music. At 9, he picked up his first guitar. By the time he was 15, he had the opportunity to join Travis onstage.

To many people in Springfield, Molly Healey is known as a fiddle player. Over the last few years, she has developed her style into folk-inspired orchestral looping. She uses a looping pedal to overlay different instruments and rhythms, creating a sound that feels like an entire ensemble rather than just one musician.

On Studio Live, Healey demonstrated how she creates each sound – layering them one at a time, to build up an impressive wave of music. She performs without shoes, in order to work the array of pedals with her feet, much like a pipe organist would do.

Jessica Balisle / KSMU

Traditional Ozarks music is steeped in old fiddle tunes from the British Isles, France, Germany, and French Canada, among other places. Over time, the style evolved, giving us bluegrass. According to Roger Matthews, if you boil down a bluegrass band to its core, you are left with Fiddle and Banjo – the name of KSMU’s Studio Live group for July.

Fiddle and Banjo is Michael Smartt on fiddle and Matthews on banjo. The duo shared several old-timey tunes with hosts Mike Smith and Jess Balisle, along with a history lesson about each song and the genre it came from.

Jessica Balisle / KSMU

Andy Havens was in the Studio to perform original songs with his backing band - Johnny Strickler on electric guitar, Larry Cataldo on bass, David Nace on drums, Alisha Thomas on violin and backing vocals, and Kat Rueda-Lynn on backing vocals. 

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