Nevada County songwriters Mariee Sioux Sobonya and Aaron Ross bring solos to the renovated Nevada Theater.
Mariee Sioux Sobonya was born on the Humboldt Coast in Arcata, California. When she was two years old, her family moved to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in the Yuba River watershed in Northern California to pursue her dream of farming and living off the land. She was raised on their small farm whose surrounding lands were once occupied by the Nisenan people before the cultural and environmental decimation that occurred at the hands of migrants and expansionist settlers during the gold rush, and became known as Nevada City.
Mariee grew up surrounded and deeply touched by music – often going to bluegrass festivals and listening to her father’s bluegrass band – but had no particular personal musical ambitions. However, she learned to play the guitar at 18 while volunteering at a school for Mapuche children in Patagonia, Argentina, and wrote her first songs here while taking refuge inland from the winds of Patagonia. She continued to pick fingers and write songs and made two home-recorded albums solely at the request of friends. In 2007, she released her debut studio album, Faces in the Rocks, on which she collaborated with Native American flautist Gentle Thunder and achieved a devoted cult following that would propel her career to this day. She began touring Europe as well as North America and has continued ever since.
Mariee Sioux learned to more consciously embrace her role in the old and new tradition of healer-singers who have always helped to hold the human social fabric together. Through music, she attempts to fill a cultural void left by severed ties to her mixed Polish, Hungarian, and Native American heritages and thereby fill the larger cultural voids felt by Americans today. She does this “in the hope of bringing the sacred work of mourning back into our lives from the exile in which American society has placed it” – and this is evident in her latest album Grief in Exile.
The songs continue to flow to Mariee Sioux, and her approach as a singer continues to mature. The flowing melodies and quivering vibrato of his voice, as well as the poetry itself, continue to situate themselves and their work with a more solidly grounded precision as to what exactly that work is. His most recent songs most deeply reflect this clarity of vision and acceptance of both his role as an artist and the endless need for that role in this changing world. Mariee Sioux takes us back to the child and grandmother within ourselves, at a time when it’s never been more necessary – and she intends to keep it that way as long as she has a voice.
Aaron Ross has been a force of eclecticism since his time with mathematical rock band Hella (along with Zach Hill of Deathgrips and Spencer Seim of sBACH and The Advantage), and his solo trajectory reflects a constant drive for innovation since his first release. , The Hallelujah. Side in 2003. His musical journey is almost schizophrenic in its complexity, uncompromising innovation and willingness to involve more nuance, layers and mystery with each successive release. But the man himself has shunned the spotlight to some degree. Impose Magazine calls it “buggy in the way of the backwoods…” and indeed its catalog vacillates between the deeply organic blues-folk of the Sierra Foothills, and the very synthetic, playful and even absurd, here reminiscent of Mick Jagger, there esoteric twittering in the vein of Nevada City native Joanna Newsom.
Each track is a complete contemplative journey with a beginning, a climax and a finale. Ross’s ever-steadfast tenor voice leads the way as roaring drums juxtapose upbeat cello melodies on the opening track “Pass the Peace Pipe.” On “Looking Glass Mass,” a folkloric frolic that could easily be passed down from one generation to the next provides a light undercurrent to powerful words about the simplicity of life: “You can laugh and you can cry, but everyone still has to die. Words laden with freedom and spirituality are featured on “Mississippi Burnin’,” as a guitar lullaby calls the listener closer before culminating in an all-out jam. The album’s finale, “Speak the Truth”, showcases Ross’ remarkable vocal agility and leaves the listener with a resounding message about humanity.
Source: Nevada City LIVE by Paul Emery!