DIARY - 30 JANUARY 2005 - MALIBU STORM
bluegrass boom, accelerated by Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, Claire
Lynch, Cox Family and the O Brother movie and its tributaries, has
a much longer shelf life than most country sub genres.
Californian family trio Malibu Storm have been accused of cloning
the Dixie Chicks despite bassist Michael Alden not practising cross
Alden, 19, and videogenic twins Dana Burke on banjo and Lauren Mills
on fiddle opted for a trans-genre debut single - a bluegrass revamp
of Def Leppard 1983 hit Photograph, penned by Shania Twain's spouse
and I were big fans of Def Leppard as kids, and Photograph was just one
of the random songs we used to jam on," says Dana.
"It seemed to lend itself really well to the banjo and fiddle."
Mills wrote instrumental Clover, they play on all tracks and are qualified
to use TV as their surrogate radio launch pad.
Lauren and Dana played Heather on TV soapie The Young And The Restless
aged just four.
"We were the daytime version of the Olsen twins from Full House,
the two of us sharing one role to comply with child labour laws,"
revealed Dana who won banjo contests as a teenager before recording as
the Schankman Twins.
The siblings' lives took a defining turn when 10-year-old Dana found an
old banjo that her father had played during college.
"I just fell in love with the sound of it," Dana revealed, "and
started taking lessons at the Picking Parlour in Los Angeles. Mostly,
though, I learned from playing in jam sessions around L.A."
The family's weekend automobile trips also gave her time to practice.
"One summer my family bought a pass to Disneyland. It took about
an hour for us to drive there, and I picked the banjo the whole time,"
"My mother says Disney is responsible for my career!"
By her early teens, Dana was winning banjo contests around the country,
including one in New York when the 14-year-old topped an otherwise all-adult
The equally musical Lauren, not wanting to too closely emulate her twin,
picked up the fiddle and quickly established her own virtuosity.
The girls began playing together in the mid-1990s; Michael soon joined
them on bass guitar, adding his own vocals to the blend.
was during an appearance in Nevada that the legendary Ralph Stanley
first heard the group. "We were in awe of him," says Dana.
"One of his entourage walked up and asked if we'd like to meet
him. So we go walking into his tour bus - and this is the first time
I'd ever been in a tour bus - and he's sitting there drinking a cup
of coffee. He looked up and said 'you gonna play something for me?"
Stanley liked what he heard, and asked the band to join him on stage
later that day. It was the first of many appearances with Stanley
over the next few years.
The duo cut
an indie disc and Johnny Cash's Home of the Blues on compilation album
Cash On Delivery long after Ralph Stanley discovered them at a
They signed with Rounder in 2002 and were produced by Mark Bright whose
work with Rascal Flatts and Jo Dee Messina had earned their admiration.
They recorded at Emerald Studios in Nashville, and Bright gave the trio
wide leeway in shaping their sound.
Beach (Rounder-Shock) surfs from descriptive entrée The Bird
Song to Lee Dorsey R&B classic Working In A Coal Mine and
a revamp of Radney Foster-Cindy Bullens 1992 tune Hammer And Nails.
Nielsen Chapman-Annie Roboff-Bekka Bramlett tune Old Hickory Lake
and the Janis Ian-Rhonda Fleming penned poignant finale Some People's
Lives enable the trio to reveal a diverse mix.
The band pays homage to its bluegrass roots with Lauren's up-tempo
instrumental workout, Clover (named after the family cat),and
Old Hickory Lake, which beginsand ends with stanzas from the old-time
favourite The Crawdad Song.
version of Some People's Lives has earned rave reviews from its
author, Janis Ian who is making a return tour of Australia in March that
included the famous Port Fairy Folk Festival.
The power ballad Long Way To Fall was producer Bright's suggestion,
Light In Your Eyes showcases Michael's vocal talents and the girls
get country-tough on I'll Be With You.
Studio veterans Adam Steffey on mandolin, guitarist Bryan Sutton and Rob
Ickes on dobro support the siblings' tight harmonies and instrumentals.
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