Harmony, rhythm, indelible songs – these are the hallmarks of Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, the New England based folk quartet now in its 17th year. From the Newport Folk Festival to the California World Music Festival and beyond, this band’s steadfast brew of wit, camaraderie, and musicality leaves audiences everywhere humming and hopeful, spirits renewed.
Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem are Rani Arbo (fiddle, guitar), Andrew Kinsey (bass, banjo, ukulele), Anand Nayak (electric and acoustic guitars) and Scott Kessel (percussion). At the helm, Arbo is “blessed with an unmistakable voice, both light and sultry, with a hint of tremolo and smoke” (Acoustic Guitar). With Kinsey and Nayak’s vibrant baritones and Kessel’s resonant bass, the band’s signature lockstep harmonies can shake the rafters or hush the room. Arbo’s fiddle is sweet and sinewy, while Nayak’s guitar stretches across genre lines. Kinsey’s old- time bass anchors the deep groove of Kessel’s homemade percussion kit — a truly funky collection of cardboard boxes, tin cans, caulk tubes, packing-tape tambourines, bottle-cap rattles, Mongolian jaw harps, and a vinyl suitcase.
In the lineage of string bands who blur the boundaries of American roots music, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem have always been standard-bearers, with a particular knack for pairing words and music. From bluegrass barnstormers to sultry swing, old-time gospel to bluesy folk-rock, they consistently turn in lush arrangements with “stylish, unexpected choices” (Acoustic Guitar). Original songs fit seamlessly aside artful re-workings of Georgia Sea Islands music, Hank Williams, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen — just a few of the many places this band is willing to go.
Writes Maverick Magazine, “How refreshing to hear something that sounds as if it has come from people who are genuinely original thinkers. As soon as Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem strike up, you realize this is a band that is unpredictable and impossible to pigeonhole. But, what a thoroughly mellifluous melange — sophisticated, soulful and always handled with care and a lightness of touch that is part folk/jazz/country, part blues/old time, and all good. There is a togetherness that flows right through the heart of the performance. It never gets too clever and always remains understated and classy.”
Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem have seven releases on Signature Sounds, most recently Wintersong (November 2016), a celebratory, poetic, reflective collection of seasonal songs; and Violets Are Blue (April 2015), an eclectic bouquet of love songs infused with poetry and groove — that “skip over sentimentality and go straight to the bittersweet truth” (Music Matters Review). Some Bright Morning (2012) and Big Old Life (2007) are the backbone of the band’s American Spiritual program. The band’s family album, Ranky Tanky, won top awards from the Parents’ Choice Foundation, National Association of Parenting Publications, and the American Library Association. The band’s strong residency programs include school and family shows, hands-on percussion-building workshops and Arts in Medicine offerings.