The Raisin Pickers, staples of the Michigan music scene for almost 28 years, return to the Ark on Thursday, May 25th.
Husband and wife duo Mark (banjo, guitar, accordion and vocals) and Carol Palms (bass, fiddle, vocals) founded the band, named for the River Raisin in their hometown of Manchester, in 1989. There have been a few rotating musicians who have joined and left the band over the years; in 1994, David Mosher joined the group on mandolin and guitar, and has been a constant member ever since, even adding fiddle to his musical grab-bag and the band’s sound.
Long a trio, Raisin Pickers became a quartet two years ago when they added guitarist and songwriter Billy King. King has already made his mark on the Michigan music community as a solo roots artist and member of several bands including The Understorey and Eyes Unclouded, which will open the show on Thursday.
“I’ve known Mark and Carol since I was young,” says King, who also runs Frog Holler Farm in Brooklyn Michigan, with his mother Cathy and his brothers Kenny and Edwin.
“Two winters ago, Mark and Carol invited me to go to New Orleans with them to visit [their daughter] Natalie and play some shows. I guess it went well, because they asked me to join the Raisin Pickers after that.”
The youngest member of the band, King is already steeped in the bluegrass, swing, Louisiana and Appalachian traditions the Raisin Pickers are known for, but he brings a newer sound to the group as well. “I bring a little more of a “pop/folk” singer/songwriter feel to the band I think, as well as a jazzy, swing electric guitar sound,” King says. “They’re very experienced and it pushes me to refine my playing and find my place in what they do.”
Even though the Raisin Pickers’ sound is deeply rooted in traditional music, most of their songs are originals. “[It’s] hard to say when a cover gets into the set-list,” says Mark Palms. “I’d say our personalities and different backgrounds come into the writing.”
Because each member of The Raisin Pickers is a student of traditional music, their audiences always receive a rich musical history lesson, but are also treated to the band’s humor, wit, and instrumental prowess.
The Raisin Pickers play The Ark on Thursday, May 25th at 8 p.m.; tickets are $15.
For more information, please visit http://theark.org/shows-events/2017/may/25/raisin-pickers.
Written by Special Writer Emily Slomovits.