Sofía Chiarandini (fiddle), Micah Nicol (guitar), Noah Harrington (bass), Ariel Wyner (mandolin), Trevin Nelson (banjo) and Justin Moses (dobro) are The Ruta Beggars. The band initially formed in college and quickly became friends. They started to play music together and would soon be playing shows.
They have performed alongside Tony Trischka, opened for Lyle Lovett and headlined the stages of the largest bluegrass festivals in New England and beyond. On top of that they are also the winners of the Thomas Point Band competition of 2019, and were commissioned alongside the Steep Canyon Rangers to perform a Bluegrass Concerto at Freshgrass. Suffice it to say the band got to work and has had a good amount of success early on in their careers.
On their album Ever-Changing the band showcases some of their talent. They state “A typical theme of bluegrass music is the exploration of dark stories underpinned by peppy music.” The band showcases this on a couple of songs including “Papa’s Got Ahold of the Wine” which contains lyrics like “Don’t you know I’ve had the blues since your mama died / So let your daddy have some fun, cause Papa’s got a hold of the wine.”
They also tell complex love stories on songs like “Hold Me Close” and “The Way That You Loved Me.” It was evident to me that the group are storytellers. I found the lyrics well crafted and was able to find a narrative on each of the songs. Take for instance the hook on “Hold Me Close”. The vocalist sings “Hold me closer now, Just one more minute of your love It’s colder here somehow, for I should have kept you by my side I hope someday when we’re old and tired, we’ll meet again and pray Just hold me closer now”
So how does the music sound? The Ruta Beggars is a grade A bluegrass band. There’s a number of vocalists here and I enjoyed all of them. The thing that really separates them however are the vocal harmonies. There’s a blend of male and female voices which when combined sound inviting and warm.
It’s only that however, it’s the fact of how strategically placed the harmonies. There are added when needed to add some additional weight to the music.
As far as the instrumentation goes I was impressed from both a technical and creative perspective. The songs consist of organic instrumentation which often sounds like you’re hanging out in the same room as the band. There are some songs like “Ever-Changing Love” where you can’t help but appreciate how fast and accurate they can play. That being said, they have a dynamic presence. There are times where they lean into a slower timing where the warmth and emotion of the song boils over.
Furthermore, the album has a nice flow to it. It’s an album where you can just sit back and enjoy or easily dance to with someone. Take this one from me. You will not want to miss what they can do.