Malibu Storm
The 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 gender genetics.

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 Mutt Lange.

"Lauren 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," Dana recalls.

"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 field.

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.


It 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 Nevada festival.

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.


Malibu 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.

Beth 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.

Their delicate 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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