Americana Roots: The Ladles

Americana Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US.  It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores.  Like an early morning dream are the Ladles whose seamless harmonies and simple acoustic picking create a breath of musical fresh air.

Name: The Ladles.

For Fans Of: The Chicks, EmmyLou Harris, Lake Street Dive.

Hometown: New York, New York.

Band Members: Caroline Kuhn (banjo/ vocals), Katie Martucci (guitar/ vocals), Lucia Pontoniere (fiddle/ vocals)


Discography:  ‘The Ladles Debut EP’ (2016), ‘The Line’ (2019), ‘Springville Sessions’ (2021)

Background:  For the Ladles it has never been about what kind of music you play, where you are from or where you’ve been, instead it has always been about if you touch people or not with your music. The Ladles are a band built on what three people can do together. While the band’s instrumentation has its roots in country and bluegrass, their music is so much more than that.  The Ladles are not bound to any genre and want to keep it that way.  The focus is on their gorgeous harmonies with subtle strums and simple banjo rolls serving as light accompaniment.

The three Ladles, Caroline Kuhn, Katie Martucci, and Lucia Pontoniere first crossed paths in 2014 as students at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.  They were the only three undergraduate women in the program at the time ( the Contemporary Improvisation Program), and naturally gravitated towards each other.  The Ladles were born organically through jam sessions in each others’ dorm rooms, and began by playing college house parties.  “The Ladles are a project that blends different roots music influences – taking our individual musical backgrounds and drawing from each of them to create a new roots-inspired sound. This practice is such an integral part of the history and development of roots music, and it feels great to be contributing to that as a band,” explains the band.

There is something timeless about roots-inspired music, a familiarity and nostalgia that most everyone can connect with regardless of whether or not they grew up listening to it. As the Ladles were finding their sound they were influenced by many different styles and genres with everything from Hank Williams to Thundercat to Meredith Monk finding a place in their sweet sound.  “Our music is definitely a blend of many different styles,” says the Ladles, “each of us come from different backgrounds, including but not limited to Western Swing, classical violin, choral music and Americana fiddle styles.  All three of us write songs for the band, so any Ladles album has each of our unique songwriting voices represented.  Our collaborative process begins when one of us brings a new song to the group. We work together to arrange it and give it that specific “Ladles” sound.”

The Ladles latest album, the ‘Springville Sessions’, came together almost accidentally.  After eight months of COVID quarantine and no performances, they came together for a (covid-safe) artist’s residency at the Springville Center for the Arts in Western NY.  The band spent two weeks working up new material, learning the songs they had each written during their time apart. With an arsenal of songs in hand, during the last week of the residency they decided to record an album.  The resulting album is a spontaneous blast of gorgeous, lilting harmonies, with a simple acoustic roots backbone, that is raw, organic and captures those moments of uncertainty we all faced during the pandemic.  The band says, “It was a very organic, acoustic, and creative moment that we’re so happy to have captured in this album.”

What They Do Live:

About Tim Newby 59 Articles
Author of books, writer of words, enjoyer of good times. Often found with a beer in hand and barefoot at a festival somewhere. Author of 'Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound & Its Legacy' (2015), 'Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! (2019). New book 'Pete Browning: The Life & Troubled Times of a Forgotten Legend' due out in 2023. Follow him on twitter @Tim_Newby9 .
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