On Stage: Halliday lays down the law for folk fans

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Marion Halliday

There are two acts coming to the area this weekend that are performing shows in support of their debut solo albums – but that’s where the similarity ends.

Marion Halliday plays powerful Americana music with rock influence. Alyse Vellturo, who performs as pronoun, is an indie pop singer-songwriter and one-woman band.

On September 7, Halliday will be one of many top-flight talents at the Ninth Annual Haverford Music Festival (Eagle and Darby roads, Havertown,https://haverfordmusicfestival.org). She will be performing at The Rock Coffeehouse at 3:50 p.m.

Halliday is both a solo artist and a member of the Philly-based trio Trickster Sister along with her sister Jane Halliday (violin, banjo uke, vocals) of Louisville, Kentucky and Philadelphia native, Donna Bostock (bass/percussion, vocals).

Recently, Halliday a singer/songwriter/guitarist, released her debut, solo album “Rings Around Saturn.”

“It was released on July 1 and has gone to Number 3 on the Folk Radio charts,” said Halliday, during a phone interview from her home in Philadelphia’s Art Museum area.

In addition to being a practicing lawyer who is Head of Risk at Lincoln Financial Network, Halliday is a songstress and troubadour living in Philadelphia but still very intertwined with her Louisville, Kentucky family and musical roots.  She has been a singer her entire life, initially as a classical chorale ensemble and madrigals performer. For several years she was lead singer of the regionally acclaimed trad Irish band, My Darling Asleep.

“I was born and raised in Louisville,” said Halliday. “I’m from a family of artists and musicians. My dad, who is almost 90, is a painter. The cover of my new album is a graphic art piece by him.

“My older brother is a concert pianist and my sister is in the band with me. I’m lucky to have come from a family in the arts.”

After graduating from high school in Louisville, Halliday headed north. She got her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth University and then did her post-graduate studies at University of Virginia School of Law.

Halliday worked various jobs as a lawyer in Louisville and then spent nine years as a Title Chief Compliance Officer at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC. She also continued her career as a musician in the northwest Kentucky city.

“It wasn’t until a few years ago that my sister and I created music together,” said Halliday. “I had gone through a divorce and making music was a good outlet. I joined an Irish band in Louisville called My Darling Asleep.

“Then, I moved to Philly and formed a band here – The Molly Blooms. My Darling Asleep was more a trad band while The Molly Blooms were an Irish/Celtic band. That band broke up and I started writing my own music.”

Halliday formed Trickster Sister to feature her original music. In 2018, she was named “One of the Ones to Watch” by the Nashville Songwriters’ Association International.

Additionally, she was chosen by Ron Olesko of WFDU FM Radio to perform at the highly regarded NERFA (Northeast Regional Folk Alliance) Suzi Wollenberg Folk DJ Showcase. Halliday was also runner-up for 2018 Best of Philly Live Performer (Folk/Country Category).

“I’ve only been writing seriously for the last four or five years. I was classically trained as a singer when I was young – madrigal and ensemble. So, I was always into music from that perspective.

“When I first moved, I wanted to write about a number of Philly topics,” said Halliday, who fused her Southern background with a Philly sensibility to create her own genre – “Philatucky Music.”

“I wrote songs about the Lenape Statue in Wissahickon park, an escaped convict from Eastern State Penitentiary, the forlorn beauty of Laurel Hill Cemetery, and the revolutionary war memorial at Washington Square,” said Halliday. “The first song I wrote was about the Eastern State Penitentiary.

“When I started working on the new album, it was clear to me that it needed to be a solo album. It was easier. But Jane and Donna do play on some tracks. It took me about two years to make the album.

“I worked with Jim Salamone who helped to produce the album. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at his studio Cambridge Sound in South Philadelphia. “

“Rings Around Saturn,” which Halliday describes as “Bluegrass and bourbon-infused, women-powered, original Americana music,” is an eloquently produced, thought provoking album that straddles the line between “reflective and beautiful” and “playful and hard-driving.”

Modern-day topics and issues are beautifully woven throughout the record with tracks such as “Good Things Will Come,” “We Are the Change” and “Thoughts and Prayers,” (which deals with mass school shootings).

Even though “Rings Around Saturn” is a solo album, Halliday will not be a strictly solo performer at the festival in Havertown.

“For my show at the festival, I’ll be joined by Michelle Lynn,” said Halliday. “She’s a really great bass player.”

The lineup for the Oakmont Field Stage includes Hedera, Rasan, In The Heyday, Skip Denenberg, Moonroof, Cabin Dogs, Emily Duff Band, Flightschool, Teddy Thompson, and headliners Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams. The Darby Road Street Stage hosts Joe Kenney Band, Serene & Salinas, Elle Gyandoh & The John Doe Band, Adam Flymo Birch and the Vershons, RÊVE, Brenyama, Amy Rigby, and Ryan Montbleau Band.

WHHS Eagle Road Stage features Madeleine Anderson, Sergey Ryan, Lil Xay, Emmanuel Ohemeng III and Perpetual Motion, AFTYN, Valendina, Toria Daisy, and DJ JAM.

The Rock Coffeehouse presents Vocal Motive, Eli the Hawk, Alia, Von Roz, Julia Levitina, Frank Martin, Marion Halliday, and Guy Campo.

Video link for Marion Halliday – https://youtu.be/ytFPtIVcpAc.

The Ninth Annual Haverford Music Festival will run from noon-9:30 p.m. Admission is free and voluntary donations will be accepted at the gates.

pronoun

Pronoun (stylized as pronoun) is the name for the musical project of Alyse Vellturo, an American singer-songwriter and one-woman band based in Brooklyn. She is currently on tour in support of her debut album, “i’ll show you stronger” – a tour that touches down at The Foundry at Fillmore Philadelphia (1100 Canal Street, Philadelphia, 215-309-0150, www.thefillmorephilly.com)

Vellturo is a Boston native who attended the Berklee College of Music where she studied music production, engineering and business. After graduating she began working in the industry as a music manager and distributor before she eventually turned to making her own music.

“When I started at Berklee, I wasn’t really playing music,” said Vellturo, during a phone interview Thursday afternoon from a tour stop in Long Island.

“We had to study an instrument and ensemble, so I studied guitar. At first, I wanted to make my own music. But then I realized that I would be a small fish in a big pond.

“I got into production and engineering.  I studied analog and digital. A lot of mixing was done to ProTools. A semester into it, I realized recording studios were closing. So, I didn’t want to be a producer/engineer as a full-time job.

“After graduating from Berklee, I got an internship in New York City. I was doing every aspect of the music business such as working with tour managers and talking with publishers. I worked for a year-and-a-half at DFW but realized there was no moving up there. So, I moved to The Orchard.”

The Orchard is an American music and entertainment company, specializing in media distribution, marketing, and sales. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment.

“My day job is still at The Orchard,” said Vellturo. “I work with a lot of indie labels.

“Four years ago, I started making my own music. I was doing it for the fun of it. At the beginning, I thought making music was cool. I wasn’t planning on putting anything out.

“Everything in my life was good. Then, I went through a breakup. I wrote a whole EP and album around that. Breakups create things. I used frustration in general to help with my songwriting.

“My songwriting usually starts with a guitar riff or a melody. I add the lyrics and it all comes together. Writing about the breakup was the only thing that made me feel better.

“From December 2015 to February 2016, I worked on making an EP – ‘There’s No One New Around You.’ It had four songs. I recorded the whole thing in my bedroom.”

Vellturo’s music has been described as indie/synth and indie pop. Billboard named her as one of their breakout indie artists for 2019. She is also the founder of the record label Sleep Well Records.

“When I finished the EP, I started playing shows in Brooklyn,” said Vellturo. “I did SXSW in 2016 and 2017 along with a few other festivals. Now, I keep playing shows and keep writing. I’ve written a lot over the past three years.”

Video link for pronoun – https://youtu.be/th06-MO9Abc.

The all-ages show at The Foundry, which also features Real Friends, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $22.50.

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