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“Low Anthem” Reflects Many Influences

The Low Anthem is touring with Emmylou Harris.

They’ve toured with The Avett Brothers, The Swell Season and others. They’ve played in Europe a half dozen or more times, at Bonaroo, Lollapalooza and in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Now, The Low Anthem will bring their melodic mix of genres to Shaftman Performance Hall at Jefferson Center on Wednesday, November 17, opening for legendary songstress Emmylou Harris.

National Public Radio called The Low Anthem a “frequently gorgeous mix of folk, rock and wrenchingly atmospheric ballads.”  A group for the past three years or so, The Low Anthem, all twenty-somethings, is guitarist/lead singer Ben Miller, upright bassist/drummer Jeff Prystowsky, classically trained clarinetist Jocie Adams and Mat Davidson, a relative newcomer who plays a number of instruments.

The band formed in Providence, Rhode Island, and has a wide variety of experiences musically. “We all bring different music to the band,” said Prystowsky.

The Low Anthem’s second release, “Oh My God, Its Charlie Darwin,” received critical acclaim. A new album is due in February. They’ve never been in Roanoke before, but Prystowsky said in a recent phone interview that Davidson has family ties in the Roanoke area.

“I call it folk and rock n’ roll,” said Prystowsky in describing what the band does, with songs that evoke everyone from Leonard Cohen to Dylan, Tom Waits and others that have “stranger arrangements.” Part of that stems from playing with vintage instruments. “To just call it folk doesn’t describe the whole sound,” noted Prystowsky.

The collaboration with Emmylou Harris will be six concerts old by the time they arrive in Roanoke on November 17, when Prystowsky said the tour and the band “should be hitting our stride.”

He has met Harris once and is spending time going through her album catalog. Prystowsky admires Harris for the way she has experimented with different musical genres over the years – something he says The Low Anthem also strives for. “She constantly reinvents herself. I have a lot of respect for her for doing that.”

Prystowsky said audience reaction to Charlie Darwin “has been an amazing experience,” especially for an album that was released locally at first before the Nonesuch label picked it up for wider distribution. “It was quite a surprise… suddenly a record label was involved and we were playing in Europe. Everything happened at once. It was trial by fire.”

Opening for Harris is something Prystowsky looks forward to. “I’m quite a fan of hers. I think our [styles] fit well. She’s such a lovely and beautiful person.”  Their new song Apothecary Love, which has country overtones, “is very much her style. I think we have overlap and common influences.”

Roanoke audiences can judge for themselves on November 17.

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