Up-and-coming songwriter Ashley Storrow’s radiant voice and thoughtfully crafted songs have quickly grabbed listeners’ attention. She began writing as a child on a farm in Western Massachusetts with a hay wagon as the stage
and sheep for an audience. She has since expanded her following, ranking #2 on Reverbnation’s folk music chart in Maine, and she has shared the stage with Putnam Smith at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artist Showcase and One Longfellow Square (2016). Ashley released her debut CD the “Bear and the Bird” in July 2016. According to the Portland Press Herald, The Bear and the Bird is full of tender, poetic songs that will provoke thought, optimistic smiles and even a misty eye.” Ashley’s warmth and honesty draw you in and invite you to feel the same.
The Bear and the Bird, Ashley’s debut record, is a distillation of 20 years of ideas jotted on the back of journals, textbooks, and phone recordings. The twelve songs explore tensions between living a life of responsibility vs. freedom and simplicity vs. impact as well as age-old stories of love and death. “Sweet Matilda” tells the story of 1950’s housewife who breaks through the chains of social graces to explore her personal freedom. “Wild Wind” captures the moment one has to choose between escaping a crumbling society and going back to try to fix it. The title track, “The Bear and The Bird” is metaphor for the tension in human relationships. The song depicts two animals from distinct worlds–one built to fly and the other to stay grounded–who have tragically fallen in love and are trying to find a meeting place to coexist. The songs range from bold and rich, catchy and upbeat, to soft and contemplative.
Ashley is joined by many celebrated musicians on this record including April Reed-Cox on cello, Nate Martin on upright bass, Emma Stanley on trumpet, Putnam Smith on guitar and vocal harmonies, Jud Caswell on 12-string guitar, and Charles Lester on percussion. The disc was produced by Jud Caswell and Ashley Storrow and recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jud Caswell at Froghollow Studios in Brunswick, ME. Original artwork was designed by Jamie Andrew and photos were taken by Brenden Bullock.
My mission is to write songs that respond to life emotionally as a young woman, a public servant, a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a human being with a voice.
Putnam Smith, who hails from Portland, Maine, could be an old-world troubadour fresh from the nineteenth century. After all, he lives in a log cabin, plays his grandfather’s banjo, and prints up the jackets to his CDs on an antique letterpress. Yet this rootsy multi-instrumentalist songwriter (he also writes and performs on guitar, mandolin, fretless banjo, and piano), steeped as he is in Appalachian traditions, is very much a storyteller for the modern age.
Putnam first came to national attention when his sophomore release, “Goldrush,” went to #5 on the national Folk DJ Charts (and made it onto 6 “Favorite Albums of 2009” lists). His next release, “We Could Be Beekeepers, (June, 2011), shot right up the charts the month it was released, to the #2 album, with three songs in the top ten. Noted as “One To Watch” (Rob Reinhart, Acoustic Cafe), Putnam has been selected for official showcases at Folk Alliance International (2012) and the NERFA Conference (2012). Also selected as an Emerging Artist at the prestigious Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (2016), Putnam is proving himself to be a quickly rising star on the national folkscape. His most recent release, “Kitchen, Love…”(2013) made it onto WDCB Chicago’s Folk Festival “Favorite 15 albums of 2013.” The song “New Shoes” made the “Best Songs of 2013” list of Tupelo Honey of KRVM, Eugene, OR.
Putnam is also an extraordinary performer, whose craft at songwriting is matched only by his love for putting on a truly memorable show. Says Sarah Banks, formerly of Spuyten Duyvil: “One of the most magical performances I’ve had the luck to attend!” Engaging folks with humor, charm, and storytelling, Putnam’s audiences have been known to howl like wolves, sing like moonshiners, and laugh and cry like, well, like human beings. Whether performing solo, or with cello, fiddle, or upright bass, Putnam puts on a unique and remarkable show that lingers in the heart, mind, and imagination, long after the last round of applause.
A nationally touring artist, Putnam has performed in 40 states from East Coast to West. Some favorite venues that Putnam has played include: Club Passim (Boston), Rockwood Music Hall (NYC), Me and Thee Coffeehouse (Marblehead, MA), Caffe Lena (Saratoga Springs, NY), Anderson Fair (Houston, TX), Trinity House Theatre (Livonia, MI), High Plains Public Radio (Amarillo, TX), and “Gene Shay Presents” @ Psalm Salon (Philadelphia).
Every spring, Putnam returns home from life on the road to his log cabin in Maine in time to plant his spinach and peas. Though he still plays local shows for his “cash crop,” Putnam’s primary focus during the summer months is living as simply and sustainably as possible. Something of a modern day homesteader, he cuts and splits his own firewood, and cultivates a substantial garden. “I’m trying to live more closely to the means of my own subsistence. I figure the more I can cut down my expenses, the less money I need to make from music. It’s also a way of balancing the troubadour’s life on the road with a more rooted, grounded existence close to the Earth. Then, after he’s planted his garlic for the following summer, and canned up as much of the season’s harvest as he can, he heads out on the road, playing shows all across the country. Luckily for his music, Maine has a short growing season…
Putnam is a compost enthusiast and a self-avowed proselytizer for cast iron pans. Yup, you just gotta ask him about it.
Whether performing solo as a duo with Ashley Storrow, or with cellist April Reed-Cox, Putnam puts on a unique and remarkable show that lingers in the heart, mind, and imagination long after the last round of applause.