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: What animal do you associate yourself with (given our ties to oxen)?  

Rachel Sumner: We all have our power animals – personally, I’m a water critter (a dolphin to be exact). Collectively, I’d say Twisted Pine would be a Painted Bunting, which is an extremely colorful cardinal. Our energy is vibrant like these birds and, as birds do, we occasionally go through our own stages of molting, sort of reinventing ourselves with every new musical influence the more we grow.

B&L: Why music? Why do you seek it? Why do you create it? How’d it come calling to you?

Sumner: To us, music is no different from speaking. It’s a means of communication, and our creating music is sort of like creating a sentence. We’ve got thoughts and feelings that we want to share with people and this is the best way we know how.

B&L: Let’s trace the roots. How’d Twisted Pine come to be? Why’d Twisted Pine come to be? What’s in the name?

Sumner: Originally Twisted Pine was loosely formed as a wedding band. We were all just friends who enjoyed playing together. We started doing a monthly residency at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge in late 2013 and every month we’d bring our favorite bluegrass tunes to the group. Together over time the arrangements presented themselves. Coming up with cool, fresh arrangements was what really hooked me to the group. These are timeless tunes that have been recorded over and over again and it was a challenge to us to try and come up with arrangements that stretched the limits, but still felt faithful to the spirit in which the tune was written. There’s a reason these songs have lasted so long and we wanted to build around that, not take away from it. The name reflects that – pines are evergreen, ever enduring (like the songs), but twisted pines have a bit more character than your average pine tree. That, and they are indigenous to California, which is where Ricky and I are from so it was a bit of a nod to our roots (pun definitely intended).

B&L: What was your introduction to Bluegrass music? How’d it draw you in?

Sumner: The Chris Thile & Michael Daves album that came out in 2011 was the first I’d really paid attention to bluegrass. I had never heard anything like Daves’ voice or guitar playing before and it made me want to dig in and find out why he sounded that way. I came across Bill Monroe and simply fell in love with the music!

B&L: You’re a young band, yet you’ve accomplished a fair amount in your career thus far. What do you attribute that to?

Sumner: Zeal for life, love for music & each other, and lots of coffee.

B&L: What excites you about winning such things as the FreshGrass and Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass competitions?

Sumner: In winning these competitions, we’ve gained a lot of exposure. In Colorado, we tied for first in the RockyGrass 2015 competition, which probably created more buzz for us than we would have gotten had we just played an early set on the main stage. Competitions are interesting in the way that you’re quantifying and judging something that’s so subjective – I’m sure it’s very difficult on the judges. We’ve met many incredible bands and people through these competitions and have kept in touch with some for possible future projects and/or split bills, which is very exciting to me!

B&L: You also recently received a grant from the Iguana Music Fund at Club Passim to record their debut full-length album in Nashville at Compass Records Studio. That seems exciting! When do those sessions begin (or have they)? What else is in store for 2016?

Sumner: They have yet to begin! We’re busy writing and have plans for making a demo of the album sometime this winter. We’re being patient with the process because we want to make our first effort unforgettable. After all, you only get one debut album.

B&L: What’s the making of a great show? What do you look or hope for as the folks setting foot on that stage?

Sumner: Great shows have a dramatic arc to them. We carefully plan out our sets to take folks on a musical journey. As for what we hope for? Dancing. Always.

B&L: You’re opening up for the Steel Wheels on Saturday, January 23rd. You getting pumped?

Sumner: SO pumped! It may be cold and snowy outside, but it’ll be roaring hot inside with The Steel Wheels! We can’t wait to join them!

B&L: What can folks expect when they come out to see you perform Birdseye Lounge this weekend?

Sumner: Expect a lot of notes 🙂

Twisted Pine will be opening up for the Steel Wheels at the Birdseye Lounge in Portsmouth on  Saturday, January 23rd. For tickets: Click here