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The Other Years

  • The Kentucky School 607 North Limestone Lexington, KY, 40508 United States (map)

The Other Years are Anna Krippenstapel and Heather Summers — two voices riding a single harmonic laser beam, carrying instruments made of wood and skin and bones. They travel light. 

There is something pure and strong and ancient in their voices. It reminds people of Jean Ritchie or Hazel Dickens or Karen Dalton. The Other Years are time-travelers — but not from the past. They come from the future with songs about how we’re all gonna get through these days. 

Fiddle, guitar, banjo, and two human voices. Sometimes Heather and Anna sing together, sometimes they trade off. They leave plenty of space for notes to ring out and words to sink in. Maybe you feel like crying. Beautiful things can cause that. 

“There is no evil, there is human / That river don’t hate, it just does what it's doing” 

Their recent debut self-titled album was recorded over three spring days at a cabin outside Louisville, Kentucky. Daniel Martin Moore was the engineer. Anna is Joan Shelley’s longtime fiddle player. The Other Years is Heather’s first band. She’s a spark. There’s plenty of Kentucky cross-pollinating going on. Anna also plays with Freakwater. Louisville’s Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy has asked The Other Years to tour with him this fall. 

In cars and in kitchens and around Old-time music festival campfires, Heather and Anna have been singing together for ten years. Born three days apart – not blood kin, but hatched from neighboring eggs — their voices lock together with a Sara and Maybelle Carter or Everly Brothers sympathetic vibration. It’s a sonic convergence that contains more than the individual notes the two are singing — a Sacred Harp “hollow square” where chords are made from the space between the notes. This is a mysterious thing, like splitting an atom or finding infinity in the distance from one to zero. 

“Hope is a choice, love has a voice / It’s not the leaves or the branches, but the whisper in between” 

Their versions of the Appalachian murder ballad “Fair Ellen” — learned from a Jean Ritchie recording — and Michael Hurley’s “Wildegeeses” are stunning. There is sorrow and loss in these songs, but there is joy in the singing of them. Michael Hurley is a fan. Heather and Anna probably wouldn’t want to say that, but it’s ok. 

The Other Years are farmers — heartbreaking, hopeful, plowing through the newly-turned earth. Their voices and instruments bend together like plants leaning towards the sun. Names of trees and animals are spoken like incantations. They know how to harvest an acre of sorghum, boil it down and pour it off into a jar — reduce it to its essence. This is what endures. 

This is The Other Years. They come from the future. It’s gonna be beautiful. 

Earlier Event: February 7
The Lexington Gathering
Later Event: March 27
Tatsuya Nakatani & Dave Farris