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)