Written by Nick Noble, host of WICN’s FOLK REVIVAL
Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards are clearly inheritors of a timeless legacy, creating music that is both original and evocative of a rich tradition. Blending distinctive voices and a wide range of accompaniment (guitar, harmonica, ukulele, clarinet, penny whistle, electric bass), their songs have been well-received by audiences around the eastern United States since 2010. Transcending the genre of folk Americana, their music echoes inspiration from traditional folk duos and singer/songwriters like Ian & Sylvia, Kate Wolf and Neil Young – combining beautiful harmonies and a lyrical intensity, while establishing a unique sound of their own.
Their new CD, Grain by Grain, demonstrates an ever progressive richness in songwriting and performance. From the opening title song through its closing track—“Across the Morning”—it is an exemplar of what modern Americana can and should be. I maintain that Mark and Raianne’s previous CD—Hard Times & Woes—is one of those rare singularly perfect albums, but with Grain by Grain this talented duo takes it all to a new level, rivaling their earlier effort with terrific original songs beautifully presented.
Both artists are products of central Massachusetts mill and factory towns, and for all their national exposure, they are passionately dedicated to the region and what it has to offer. Each summer for the past eight years they have organized the “Massachusetts Walking Tour” where they hike the roads and trails of the Commonwealth, more than 100 miles in less than two weeks, in support of the arts in local communities along the way. Each evening they stop over in yet another Massachusetts town, putting on a free concert there, along with local performers and fellow artists who accompany them on their journey. These annual two-week treks also raise awareness of the trails and greenways in Massachusetts, using music to make important connections. It is my privilege to be able to join them each year for these annual walks and evening concerts, just as it has been my pleasure and honor to have Mark and Raianne on my radio program multiple times over the last several years. They also represented the folk tradition at WICN’s 45th Anniversary gala at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall. With their bandmates—Doug Williamson on bass and piano and Peter Hart on pedal steel guitar—they continue to impress listeners with their heartfelt songs and to inspire in me an even deeper appreciation of contemporary American folk music.
Testimony / Reviews
“The best part of their performance is the undeniable chemistry Mark and Raianne have together; they play with a comfortability and trust that can only come with years of partnership. They allow enough space in their musical bond to for us to settle in and witness some serious songwriting and playing.”
-Fred Knittel, WXPN (Philadelphia)
“Grain by Grain is a sweet, heartwarming record, made with love and passion, that should introduce Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards to the wider audience they clearly deserve.”
-Phil Vanderyken, www.folkradio.com.uk
“In recent decades country music has become more and more fragmented, which has produced many interesting new singers/bands, and a few we would rather forget. Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards are two we should remember.”
-Paul Riley, Country Music People (May 2016)
“The album “Grain by Grain,” by local Americana musicians Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards, was one of last year’s most compelling musical offerings, an exquisitely constructed collection rife with feeling and skilled musicianship.”
-Victor D. Infante, Telegram & Gazette (Apr 2017)
Over the years, Mandeville & Richards have shared the stage with acts like Garnet Rogers, Melanie Safka, Eric Brace & Peter Cooper, John Gorka, Willie Watson, Pierce Pettis, Pokey LaFarge, Joan Osborne, Mustard’s Retreat, Atwater & Donnely, Antje Duvekot, and David Wax Museum – in 2015, while showcasing at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, appeared on stage with Tom Paxton.
Mandeville & Richards were Quad Showcase artists at Northeast Folk Alliance (NERFA) in 2014 and Formal Showcase artists at Southeast Folk Alliance (SERFA) in 2016.
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