When the City Paper talked to the Lovell Sisters before their inaugural Piccolo Spoleto performance last year, the three young women, none of whom are even old enough to drink yet, were busy spinning their wheels in anticipation of what looked to be a promising future.
The sisters — Jessica (20, vocals/fiddle), Megan (17, vocals/resophonic guitar), and Rebecca (15, vocals/mandolin) — had been playing their contemporary, but reverent, blend of traditional country, folk, and bluegrass seriously for less than a year and were just a few months removed from taking home the top prize at A Prairie Home Companion‘s 2005 National Talent Competition.
Since then, the Lovell Sisters, along with bandmates guitarist Jake Stargel and bassist Andy Nall, have had a ridiculously productive second year of existence, especially considering that the sisters, who hail from Calhoun, Ga., are all school-aged.
In September of last year, the Lovell Sisters Band released their debut album, When Forever Rolls Around. The disc, engineered and co-produced by noted Nashville mandolinist Brent Truitt, contains plenty of original songs that demonstrate the sisters’ richly-honed chops (they all began playing classical violin and piano at age five), such as the haunting, multilayered “King Lear.”
They’ve spent nearly every weekend of 2006 so far on the road, playing oprys across the Southland, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage (in Washington, D.C.), and a number of bluegrass festivals and industry conventions. In late April, mandolin whiz Rebecca took first place in the MerleFest International Mandolin Contest, becoming the first female ever to win the contest, which she placed third in last year.
While Rebecca may be taking home the trophies, all three girls are talented beyond their years, and crowds at last year’s Charleston Music Hall shows were wowed by the poise, grace, and otherworldly harmonies of these precocious sisters. Once they are all out of school, nothing will be holding the Lovell Sisters band back from the fame they rightly deserve.
THE LOVELL SISTERS • Piccolo Spoleto’s Charleston Music Hall Series • $25, $22 seniors/students • June 1, 4 at 1 p.m.; June 2, 3 at noon • Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St. • 554-6060