By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
With eight members who hail from Mississippi, New York, Wisconsin and Texas by way of Tennessee, the NYCity Slickers are playing truly American music.
There are touches of country, zydeco and Delta blues, but at its heart, NYCity Slickers is a bluegrass band.
“We’re classically trained musicians and singers, and we’ve worked in all areas: musical theater, jazz, classical, pop, country, and we bring all of that background into our bluegrass,” said NYCity Slicker Annie Chadwick, a native Mississippian. “It’s progressive bluegrass. There’s a synthesis of a lot of different styles.”
Though the band loves to shake things up by stirring in different styles, the band still loves old-school bluegrass.
“We’re really respectful of the bluegrass ancestors who’ve created this beautiful type of music,” she said.
Song and dance
The NYCity Slickers formed in New York in 2008. Chadwick and her husband brought their Mississippi influences, while members like Kim Harris and Andrew Baird added in a Texas sound. Mandolin player Greg Utzig is a Broadway vet, while New Yorker Doug Drewes has a strong jazz background.
Chadwick said New York may not seem like a bluegrass-loving town, but the band has been pleasantly surprised by the response.
“There is an amazing following of bluegrass, progressive country and American roots music,” she said. “We turn down a lot of offers. We could play every night of the week, that’s how much interest in bluegrass and Americana there is.”
Not only do fans love NYCity Slickers’ sound, they also appreciate the show.
Chadwick, Harris and Abigail Hardin – the band’s three leading ladies – all have backgrounds in acting and musical theater, so they put on a show. The rest of the band gets drawn into the theatricality, too.
“We don’t just stand there and sing in our place,” she said. “People get up and dance. We’ve never wanted to draw the line and say, ‘We’re on stage, and you are separate, in the audience.’ We love to bring people up on stage, we love them interacting with us.”
A typical NYCity Slickers set includes traditional bluegrass tunes, gospel songs and covers of the group’s favorite country tunes, all done with a NYCity Slickers-style twist.
“We’ve found a very eclectic set list mix. We really run the gamut of styles, and people love it,” Chadwick said.
This weekend the band embarks on its 10-day, eight-date Mississippi tour, which includes Hal & Mal’s in Jackson on Saturday, a gospel show in Canton on Sunday, a performance at Millsaps College on Tuesday, a show in Vicksburg on Wednesday, the Link Centre gig in Tupelo on Oct. 11, Ground Zero in Clarksdale on Oct. 12, Octoberfest in Cleveland on Oct. 13 and the Oxford-University United Methodist Church on Oct. 14.
The band is recording each of the Mississippi shows and will release a compilation of the best of its performances in the Magnolia State next year, Chadwick said.
Musicians are welcome to join the NYCity Slickers on stage after the Link Centre show for a jam session.
“I can’t wait to hear some authentic players jamming and doing their own take on a lot of our tunes and tunes they’re playing,” she said. “We’re thrilled with the interest in family and friends from Mississippi about the tour. It’s going to be a very full 10 days.”
Monthly Music Mix
Performers: NYCity Slickers
Where: Link Centre’s Concert Hall, Tupelo
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11
Cost: $10/adults, $5/students
Info: (662) 690-4011
Extra: There will be pre-concert BBQ & Beer drink in the Link Centre’s reception hall at 6 p.m. Tickets for both the dinner and concert are $25.
Jam Time: There will a jam session with the NYCity Slickers after the show. Anyone is welcome to bring an instrument and join in.