A Friend Too Long - Released October 9, 2014
Lac La Belle's third release, "A Friend Too Long", elaborates upon their cohesive duo of resonator guitar, banjo, accordion and ukulele, with the addition of upright bass, pump organ, piano, percussion and strings. Written in a secluded cabin in Michigan's upper peninsula, and recorded in their Detroit home during the snowiest winter on record, "A Friend Too Long" provides beautiful soundscapes and a journey of characters that sound at once both new, and reminiscent of days long past.
Recording "A Friend Too Long"
Photo series by Riva Sayegh-McCullen and Chris McCullen
Lac La Belle is an acoustic duo from Detroit, Michigan. Made up of multi-instrumentalists Jennie Knaggs & Nick Schillace, Lac La Belle is influenced by early Americana, blending history with the present to create stories that capture the human experience via accordion, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, organ, harmonizing vocals, and finger-picking resonator guitar.
What sets this acoustic duo apart is their utilization of their varied experiences; Schillace has a separate career performing his instrumental guitar pieces, and he wrote the first academic work on the recordings of John Fahey; Knaggs has history with New Music compositions and improvisations, including her vocal work in Matthew Barney’s film “River of Fundament”. This with their separate experiences learning folk and blues in Appalachia, American roots binds the duo’s compositions with a heavy thread.
With the release of their third album, "A Friend Too Long", (October 2014), Lac La Belle elaborate upon their cohesive duo, with the addition of upright bass, pump organ, piano, percussion and strings. Written in a secluded cabin in Michigan's upper peninsula, and recorded in their Detroit home during the snowiest winter on record, "A Friend Too Long" animates the lives of fictional characters grappling with the tensions between the urban and the rural, the individual and the community, economic decay and the land of plenty.
The group has completed six tours of the mid-west, south and east, and has completed two European tours in 2012, 2013, with a third slated for 2015. Their performance styles vary to the venue, often including their arrangements of old time, 1920’s western swing, Dixieland, folk and blues tunes.
JENNIE KNAGGS mined folk music first hand, playing with musicians of Appalachia during her advocacy work in the region. She is the 2000 Hollerin’ Champion of Wise Co., Virginia and Letcher Co., Kentucky, has studied opera and has toured Europe and the US in various vocal ensembles. She continues to sing with Odu Afrobeat Orchestra, composes and performs in a microtonal duo with pianist Clem Fortuna, and teaches voice privately and in workshops. Knaggs is a principal vocalist in Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler’s new film, “River of Fundament”, which features several of her original compositions, including “The Hovering of the Khu” and “The Ballad of the Bullfighter”.
NICK SCHILLACE is recognized as a solo instrumentalist who has contributed to the American Primitive guitar canon with his releases Box Canyon (2005) and Landscape and People (2008.) Raised by folk and blues enthusiasts, he acquired early training at Augusta Heritage in Elkins, West Virginia. Other recent work includes tenor guitar in Odu Afrobeat Orchestra, and tenor banjo in the Dixieland group Detroit Pleasure Society. Schillace has toured and performed with other fingerpicking greats, including Bert Jansch, Peter Lang, Jack Rose, Peter Walker, Keenan Lawler, Eric Carbonara and Glenn Jones. Considered an authority on early 20th century American fingerpicking guitar styles, Nick is sought after as an instructor both privately and in workshop settings, and is the owner of Orion Music Studio in Lake Orion, Michigan.
Notable appearances include
Showcase artist Folk Alliance Mid West (FARM) (St. Louis, MO)
Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour broadcast (Lexington, KY)
Hiawatha Festival (Marquette, MI)
Ann Arbor Summer Festival, (Ann Arbor, MI)
American Autumn series (Orense, Spain)
Whofest (Chattanooga, TN),
The Chicago Calling Festival (Chicago, IL)
The Avant Fairfax Festival (Fairfax, VA)
Reviews of A Friend Too Long, 2014
“A Friend Too Long is as wildly beautiful and organic as modern music gets.” - No Depression
“...A timeless yet modern set of songs and their fullest and most complete album yet.” - The Atlas & Anchor
“The sound is raw and heartfelt, tinged with virtuoso-like finger picking throughout...A Friend Too Long is a satisfying listen, start to finish.” - Mike Larson - Detroit Metro Times
“A Friend Too Long” is the third release from Lac La Belle, and by all rights should be the record that puts the tandem of Jennie Knaggs and Nick Schillace on the map. It’s a dynamite gathering of 10 rootsy tunes, recorded during the dead of a frigid Detroit winter, that underscore the duo’s songwriting gifts.”- Jeffrey Sisk - Pittsburgh in Tune
“[Lac La Belle] delivers Americana music in a way that gives the audience a history lesson through a great musical experience.”- Rachel May - The Detroit Free Press
Reviews of Bring on the Light, 2012
"The thirteen songs represent heartfelt, lyrical displays of good'ol folk music with splendid picking, plucking, and strumming . . . Fans of Appalachian folk music, Americana, and old time music will love the music of Lac La Belle." - Matthew Forss, Inside World Music
“This is a wonderful nu-folk duo that knows how to shake off the dust and the stigma to serve up an incredibly hot session that leaves you looking forward to the next one. Well done. - Midwest Record
“[Thier] songs are odes to transition and modern values . . . [Marrying] traditional styles with more ethereal, contemplative musical passages. - Heather Longley, Centre Daily Times
"You can practically hear the bare walls resonating on each cut as Knaggs and Schillace swing into action, heating up the room with vivacity or chilling it back down in backwoods lament...There is indeed a modernistic ring to the affair, but the depth of resonance with the past is blood deep and highly impressive..." - Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Reviews of Lac La Belle, 2010
“[Lac La Belle]...play old-school swinging Western, country and backwoods Americana. Comprised of Detroit's most talented musicians multi-instrumentalist and music aficionado Nick Schillace and the owner of that sweet and plaintive warble, Jennie Knaggs Lac La Belle play pitch-perfect originals in synch with the old-timey classics that are also included in their repertoire.” - Megan ONeal, Detroit Metro Times
"[Lac La Belle's] old-timey revival music is distinctive in that, rather than providing a contemporary twist on music using throwback instrumentation, the band's sound is straight out of early Americana. Knaggs provides warbling vocals and yodels, and her backing band -- Nick Schillace and Joel Peterson, both well-known musicians in their own right -- holds down a startlingly authentic old-time country sound."
- Andy Mulkerin, Pittsburgh City Paper
“Detroit, where the garage rock and noise groups go to breed, is not known for its Americana, folk or country music, but maybe it should be. Lac La Belle’s 10-song collection is fun, it's real, it's a little technical, and gets to the core of American music.” - Josh Humphries, The Daily Reflector , Greenville NC
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A FRIEND TOO LONG - 2014- Lac La Belle's third release, " A Friend Too Long", elaborates upon their cohesive duo of resonator guitar, banjo, accordion and ukulele, with the addition of upright bass, pump organ, piano, percussion and strings. Written in a secluded cabin in Michigan's upper peninsula, and recorded in their Detroit home during the snowiest winter on record, "A Friend Too Long" provides beautiful soundscapes and a journey of characters that sound at once both new, and reminiscent of days long past.
BRING ON THE LIGHT - 2012 - Their second release, as a duo, boasts twelve original works and one traditional arrangement, performed with a variety of instruments from accordion to banjitar. Each song presents a melodic tale, be it an intimate anecdote, or stories on their hometown Detroit, “Bring on the Light” captures the drifting spirit of early America.