Brooklyn’s 18-Year Old Banjoist/Vocalist Nora Brown and Award-Winning Fiddle Player Stephanie Coleman Team Up for EP Lady of the Lake (Jalopy Records)

NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert on Nora Brown and Stephanie Coleman was released on Tuesday.

Bob Boilen writes, “This music still feels inspiring, with emotions of yearning and joy that are still central to our being… Tiny Desk fans may remember first meeting Nora Brown a few years back, when this 10th grader performed a Tiny Desk (home) concert thirty feet below the surface in Brooklyn. Now, with her musical soulmate, the two perform a few songs behind my desk.”

Brown—Brooklyn, NY’s eighteen-year-old banjoist/vocalist who has appeared at Newport Folk Festival, The Kennedy Center, Trans-Pecos Festival, globalFEST, and more—teamed up with award-winning fiddle player and fellow Brooklynite Stephanie Coleman for the EP Lady of the Lake, which came out in July via Jalopy Records digitally and will come out on vinyl in early 2024. The duo performs two songs from the EP on the Tiny Desk Concert. Brown and Coleman discuss both the history of the songs they play and their own paths to folk music.

Brown has confirmed a performance at the Brooklyn Folk Festival November 11, 2023 at St. Ann’s Church in Brooklyn Heights. The festival runs November 10-12 and also features Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Alice Gerrard, Jake Blount, Dom Flemons, The Fugs, Sonia Sanchez, Harry Smith@100, David Johansen, Alynda Segarra, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Jake Xerxes Fussell, and Celebrating 75 Years of Folkways Records. Learn more about Folkways’ 75th anniversary celebration via my friends at Shore Fire.

Brown and Coleman have also confirmed two concerts in Nashville, TN December 28 at City Winery.

Reviews on the EP have been strong:

Songlines Magazine said, “Despite their twenty-year age difference, the chemistry and richness of Brown and Coleman’s musical partnership cannot be overstated, and it reflects the six years the duo have performed live together.”

Oregon’s Willamette Week said that the duo work at “returning the music instead to its roots as a source for social uplift and spiritual connection.”

Folk Radio UK says that the EP “leaves you wanting more,” continuing, “There is a shrewd exuberance in the way Nora and Stephanie play together on this EP, taking turns to lead and leaving plenty of space for each other to shine. They play with consistent flair and an audible mastery of their instruments.”

World Music Central called Nora “a banjo prodigy.”

Coleman learned the instrumental title track from a performance by Eric Merrill at the fiddle competition in West Virginia’s Appalachian String Band Music Festival, aka “Clifftop.” The song originated with Galax, VA fiddler Parley Parsons via the great fiddle and banjo player Paul Brown. It was released today as the first single from the EP (OK to share).

Brown performed “Copper Kettle” at the Lincoln Center event Voices of a People’s History of the United States: Celebrating the Centenary of Howard Zinn alongside Claire Danes, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, and others. Here, Nora plays archtop acoustic guitar and Stephanie’s plaintive fiddle sets the scene.

Over the past two decades, fellow Brooklynite Stephanie has established herself as a highly respected and sought-after practitioner of traditional Appalachian and Midwestern style old-time fiddle. She holds the record for most ribbons won in the renowned fiddle contest at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, WV—where she first heard and learned the title track of the EP. Stephanie has recorded and toured internationally with artists such as trailblazing all-women stringband Uncle Earl, Watchhouse’s Andrew Marlin, GRAMMY Award-winning singer/songwriter Aoife O’Donovan, and clawhammer banjo virtuoso Adam Hurt.

The EP was produced, recorded, and mixed by the legendary Peter K. Siegel, who recorded Neil Young, Joseph Spence, and Doc Watson; recorded concerts that were later released by Mississippi John Hurt, Roscoe Holcomb, and Dock Boggs; taped an iconic Bob Dylan bootleg in the basement of Gerde’s Folk City; and has made vital field recordings on musicians from Indonesia, India, China, and Sweden.

Of the duo, Siegel said, “I was a big fan of both Nora and Steph when they were performing separately. Their new collaboration is more than the sum of its parts. They make their virtuosity so much fun to listen to. Their music is deeply rooted in American tradition, but the excitement of their performances is all theirs.”

The EP comes amidst more activity this year, having played two sold-out shows in London; performed festivals in Canada, England, and Denmark; completed a spring, 2023 tour of Japan; a recent appearance on WNYC’s tastemaker Soundcheck show; and the duo’s west coast debuts with concerts in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA.

Other new releases on Jalopy Records include Cuatro Vidas by acclaimed New Mexican string band Lone Piñon and a new volume in the legendary Secret Museum of Mankind series: Atlas of Instruments – Fiddles, vol. 1 presenting deep fiddle music from around the globe.

Nora Brown and Stephanie Coleman Tour Dates

December 28 – Nashville, TN – City Winery (two shows, second show with J.P. Harris)
January 5 – Fall River, MA – Narrows Center For the Arts (with the Brother Brothers)
January 6 – Northampton, MA – The Parlor Room
January 7 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Caffe Lena
January 10 – Sellersville, PA – Sellersville Theater
January 12-13 – New York, NY – Café Wha? (APAP)

Nora Brown Tour Dates

November 11 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Folk Fest at St. Ann’s Church
November 25 – Northampton, MA – BOMBYX Center for Arts & Equity (with Josh Ritter)
March 17 – Utrecht, Netherlands – Tivoli Vredenburg
March 21 – Ternat, Belgium – CC De Ploter (with Laura Cortese, Eli West, and Kris Drever)
March 22 – Dranouter, Belgium – Dranouter Centrum (with Laura Cortese, Eli West, and Kris Drever)
March 23 – Herselt, Belgium – Aaschot (with Laura Cortese, Eli West, and Kris Drever)
March 24 – Ghent, Belgium – Ha Conserts (with Laura Cortese, Eli West, and Kris Drever)
March 24 – Belsele, Belgium – Muziekclub T’ey in (with Laura Cortese, Eli West, and Kris Drever)
March 30 – Queens, NY – Kupferberg Center for the Arts

About Jalopy Records

“Tradition & Creation”
• New and Archival
• Studio and field recordings

Jalopy Records is the record label of the Jalopy Theatre & School of Music, located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY.

Ancient tradition fosters artistic creation: Folk music is simultaneously historic, timeless, and modern – evolving and responding to the changing world. Jalopy Records is an outlet for the best contemporary artists in the fields of folk, traditional and vernacular music to record, reinterpret and advance their music. We also offer high quality reissue recordings; historic, archival treasures, deep cuts, and more.

Jalopy Records is a part of the non-profit Jalopy Theatre & School of Music, which holds as its central mission to support artists and educate the public by preserving, promoting and perpetuating diverse musical traditions.