Nora Jane Struthers has been on a journey. As a solo artist, band member and, now, band leader, the singer/songwriter has musically examined the connection between contemporary bluegrass and story-based folk songs. Visiting Folk Alliance with her new band, the Party Line, Struthers tells Matt Watroba how the group plans on balancing a modern, technology-filled life with the authenticity of live music. Hear songs from their CD Carnival and enjoy video performances captured with the help of Beehive Productions in Toronto.
Virginia-born Struthers was educated at NYU’s Steinhart School of Education and taught at a charter school in Brooklyn, while cutting her musical teeth as a folk-rock performer in New York clubs like CBGBs and the Cutting Room. She decided to move into music full-time after attending such convocations as Virginia’s Galax Old Time Fiddlers Convention and North Carolina’s Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention with her father, Alan. She made her recording debut in Dirt Road Sweetheart, a duo with her father and not long thereafter, she piled her belongings into her 1998 Honda Odyssey and relocated from New York to Music City, where she recorded her 2010 solo debut, Nora Jane Struthers.
Shortly after taking first place at Telluride in June 2010, she and bassist P. J. George teamed up with Bearfoot and released an album, American Story, on Nashville’s Compass Records in September 2011. She recommitted in late 2012 to touring with her own band and Carnival marks the recording debut of Struthers’ touring band, the Party Line. The gifted group of instrumentalists includes Struthers’ longtime collaborator P. J. George (upright bass, harmony vocals, pedal steel guitar, accordion and banjo), Joe Overton (clawhammer banjo and harmony vocals), Aaron Jonah Lewis (fiddle, three-finger banjo, baritone fiddle, mandolin) and Drew Lawhorn (drums).