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Sarah Jarosz' Roots Feel New and Polished At the Same Time

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Sarah Jarosz' Roots Feel New and Polished At the Same Time

Four-time Grammy winner Sarah Jarosz is bringing new life to the Americana roots musical genre. Serious enough to win the Fresh Grass Foundation’s 2017 commission to write a thirty minute original piece featuring traditional bluegrass stringed instruments yet fun enough to share cocktail recipes during her two online after shows recently, Jarosz is full of surprises.


On her commissioned piece called The Blue Heron Suite, released on May 7, Sarah never fails to amaze even the most faithful Americana music fan with how versatile her octave mandolin, her acoustic guitar and her clawhammer banjo, joined by a bass guitar (Jeff Picker) and guitar (Jefferson Hamer) can truly be. Falling somewhere between classical music and folk rock, Blue Heron Suite will inspire mandolin and clawhammer banjo players for the foreseeable future.


The commission awarded to Jarosz by the Fresh Grass Foundation states the following on its website: “The FreshGrass Composition Commission is our flagship grant, given annually to an artist whose work reflects the FreshGrass mission to preserve and support innovative grassroots music. Composition Commission recipients write a new long-form piece of music for an ensemble that includes some elements of traditional string band instrumentation,” Blue Heron Suite therefore is not a traditional album of songs (unlike her 2020 Grammy winning World on the Ground album). 


This cohesive new album contains songs, interludes and reprises that are most satisfying to listen to in one sitting, preferably with headphones and with the high quality setting if you are using the Spotify app!


Jarosz has not only excelled at writing and performing a piece that fulfills the purpose of  her award. She has also written a testimony to the comforting and strengthening importance of family and friends at a time in one’s life when crummy circumstances are blindsiding a usually upbeat individual. Jarosz’s theme of experiencing her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis ( now in remission) and the devastation of Hurricane Harvey at a much-loved town near her Texas hometown of Wimmerley back in 2017 is proficiently reflected in the way the music finds strength after the suite’s turning point during Interlude Two. 


An example of how her music evokes the storyline of her experience is Interlude Two’s pleasing clawhammer banjo strumming, calling to mind her thinking over what her mother and friends have said. This interlude then leads to the appearance Jarosz’s trademark powerful vocals (rather than the higher-pitched vocals heard up to this point) for the first time on this album. 


For the remainder of Blue Heron Suite, the music becomes more upbeat —- not exactly her boisterous Little Satchel (a bluegrass standard she covered on World On The Ground in 2020) but that’s what makes Blue Heron Suite so beautifully and genuinely relatable to anyone that has come out on the other side of a crisis or a tragedy.


Sarah’s concert swag available online also will delight and surprise her fans new and old. In addition to some of the prettiest t-shirts and tank tops with artwork by her friend Taylor Ashton,  Jarosz offers imprinted kites (!) and bluebonnet seed packets in true Texas fashion. 


Don’t forget, there are imprinted Blue Heron tumblers for enjoying her cocktail recipes!


Published: June 18, 2021 |

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