Acoustic Americana Folk-Grass: Butterfield holds two CD release parties this weekend
OAKHURST – Multi-talented singer, songwriter and local musician Jean Butterfield has scheduled two events to mark the release of her first CD, Brothers In Time.
Butterfield is a frequent and favorite performer in the mountain area, and has just been nominated as the 2013 Female Vocalist for the Northern California Bluegrass Society Awards.The first CD release party is in Oakhurst on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Oakhurst Fruit & Nut Company, 40879 Highway 41, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. www.mariposafruitnut.com
The following day, Sunday, Dec. 9, Butterfield plans a buffet brunch event at Slim’s Koffee Shak in North Fork. There will be a ham carving station, sausage, breakfast potatoes, fresh eggs cooked to order, waffles, orange juice, cider and coffee. The cost is $12 and the party goes from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Reservations are requested. www.slimskoffeeshak.com
Butterfield will be performing at each event, demonstrating how her local roots inform the music she writes in interesting ways. It’s a style she describes as “acoustic, Americana, folk-grass.”
“I will be singing the song Window of Time, about the lumber mill in North Fork which my grandfather helped to start in the early 1940’s,” says the native songstress.
Some of the songs on her new release are hers alone, featuring guitar and vocal, while others are collaborative. Guests at the CD parties will be treated to a sampling of both.
Four musicians joined Butterfield in recording the CD – Walter Sydoriak, Dan Mazer (BanjerDan), Scott Stouder and Jeff Gurule, playing mandolin, octave mandolin, harmonica and banjo – and will be performing with her at the release parties.
Butterfield has long been drawn to music and began singing in school chorus as a pre-teen, and playing instruments at 15.
“I was introduced to bluegrass and Bob Wills Texas swing type of music early on. I loved the ‘flat picking’ guitar styles of Doc Watson, Norman Blake and others. I also listened to some folk like Kate Wolf and Joan Baez, and some more country types such as Emmy Lou Harris and Olivia Newton John.”
Her first instrument was not a violin, but a fiddle.
“Same instrument, different music,” Butterfield says. “I started learning the ‘fiddle,’ as the music was bluegrass and old time fiddle tunes, as opposed to classical, which would then have been the violin.
“Soon after, I took up the upright bass fiddle (dog house bass, double bass – it has many names). I was part of a bluegrass band being formed, and was asked to play the bass and taught some basics. From then on, I learned on my own.”
Like many around here, Butterfield is greatly influenced by the beauty of the foothills and nature in the mountains.
“I consider myself a flower child and nature girl from early on. It had nothing to do with the political movement, but I just loved the outdoors: flowers, trees, grasses, rocks, you name it. I loved to eat fresh vegetables and fruits right from the garden. I would sometimes come up with little songs – words about my surroundings and melodies – while walking in the forest or sitting beside a stream.”
According to the sweet-voiced musician, her creative muse can strike at any moment and she’s always prepared. In fact, she plans on recording three more CDs in the near future. The next album, now titled “Homestead,” is set to include songs about her family history, the dust bowl era, migrants and farmers.
“My songs come to me at unexpected times, so I’ve learned to keep a recorder with me. Often the words and melody come to me at the same time,” says the prolific songwriter. “Then, I get my guitar as soon as I can and figure a key and chords to form a song. When I write music for other peoples’ stories or poems, it is almost magical, as if the melody is invisible and appears in my head when I start formulating how the words should go.”
Those looking for a little musical magic in their lives may join Jean Butterfield and friends at either – or both – of the planned CD release parties scheduled for this weekend. Her CDs will be available for $15.