Taken from their forthcoming second album No where In Time (out November, 10th), Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton are well known for experimenting with traditional and original songs as they demonstrate so ably on Waterbound, a song by Dirk Powell which featured on his ‘Time Again’ album (2004) and which he once performed at Celtic Connections as part of the Transatlantic Sessions in 2009. Here, however, just by making a few changes they transform the whole feel of the song as Rosie explains.
“We began working on “Waterbound”, one of our favorite songs, and found that it worked best for us if we played it slightly differently from the original Dirk Powell version. We have taken away a few chords which makes the song a little more melancholy, and it seems that there is always a reason to sing it.”
Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton grew up 150 miles and few decades apart. While both were raised by professional cellist, Richie started playing banjo at 14 and Rosie began classical piano lessons at eight, eventually moving to classical viola as a teen. Both shared incredibly unique, musically-immersed childhoods: Richie’s family founded the iconic GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance (which he is now President of) and by her junior year of high school, Rosie was playing the fiddle and touring with folk-rock band The Mammals. During that time, the two were introduced at Saratoga Springs’ Flurry festival — a meeting that would spark a fated friendship and unique musical bond.
“He left an impression on me because he was wearing Converse. I had never seen an adult wear Converse before,” said Rosie, reflecting back on the first time she shared the stage with Richie. As a Woodstock native, she graduated high school and decided to move to Ithaca after being drawn to the thriving old-time scene — which happened to also be Richie’s stomping grounds. While studying viola at Ithaca College and playing fiddle on the side, Rosie started incorporating folk with her traditional Celtic and classical upbringing. Meanwhile, Richie was a well-established singer and banjo player in the community, having performed around the world with bands like Bela Fleck, Pete Seeger, David Byrne, Billy Bragg & Wilco, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Joan Baez. In addition to releasing two solo albums, Richie was adding to his endless discography, which includes three Natalie Merchant records, multiple collaborations with Jim Lauderdale and Donna The Buffalo, and Carrie Rodriguez.
During Rosie’s freshman year, the two finally began touring together regionally as part of the Evil City String Band, where they were joined by bass player Ben Gould, Steve Selin on Fiddle (in addition to Rosie), and guitarist Paddy Burke. Eventually, they decided to pursue a more intimate project as a duo and in 2013, released Tractor Beam, a 12-track mix of originals and classics, including Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” and “Say Darlin’ Say”, a traditional lullaby. Being their first exclusive release as Richie and Rosie, the pair wanted to give fans a polished recording of the songs that they played live.
After three years of touring and writing, the duo returned to the studio last December to record their second full-length album, Nowhere in Time. The record finds itself at a junction of Americana, old-time, and folk, bringing a new sound to traditional music. Recorded with producer Alex Perialas at Pyramid Sound Studios, the album highlights the incredibly-refined skill of both musicians — and while the majority of the album is a simple combination of fiddle, banjo, and captivating melodies, the duo manages to pack an incredibly full sound. “At the beginning, we were thinking it might be a project with lots of other people involved, more of a big production. As we went through it, we realized that the magic lies within the duo. We have an intimacy of music and we feel the power of two people playing. That’s who we are,” said Rosie.
Nowhere in Time gives fans a look inside the band’s personal lives, with a variety of introspective lyrics. You can find out more here: https://richieandrosie.com