RED TAIL RING is the musical brainchild of two old-time-minded Michiganders – Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo. The collaboration blends the loving attention of revivalist fervor with the playful creativity of starting from scratch. Whether rendering a traditional tune or one of their many original compositions, the duo infuses each song with musical imagination, haunting harmonies and instrumental artistry on fiddle, banjo, mandolin, jawharp, and plain-old foot stomping. “We love pushing the boundaries of what a traditional song can be,” says Beauchamp. “It informs how we write our original songs. There’s a real energy exchange between the old and the new.”
This two-way connection takes center stage with Red Tail Ring’s first pair of recordings released in April 2011 on Earthwork Music, Middlewest Chant and Mountain Shout. The set forms a complete picture of Red Tail Ring’s blending of old with new. Middlewest Chant is comprised of all original songs, while Mountain Shout features Red Tail Ring’s interpretations of Appalachian ballads and melodies. “We tried to weave the music on these two albums together not only with similar musical treatment, but with running lyric lines and shared songforms,” Premo says.
In May 2013, Red Tail Ring released their third full-length album. The Heart’s Swift Foot presents 10 original songs with two acoustic standards that stretch the confines of what two people can create sonically. The duo’s signature style, of layered, intricate instrumental lines over close vocal harmonies, shines on this new collection. “We crafted the recording to be as close to our live performance as possible,” Beauchamp says. “We feel we’re at our best when we’re playing together, listening and reacting as we go along.” As a whole, the lyrics of The Heart’s Swift Foot explore changes that come without warning, and the malleability of relationships and friendships.
In 2014, Premo and Beauchamp collaborated in a wider circle and produced two joint releases. The New Roots Exchange is a vinyl project created with the marvelous bluegrass band Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys. The Right Hands Round is a recording of energetic square dance music with the stringband Bowhunter.
Since the release of their 2011 double-album, Red Tail Ring has remained busy, playing as many as 130 shows a year, with tours to both U.S. coasts as well as Denmark and Germany – “exporting some Midwest sounds,” as Premo puts it.
For Premo and Beauchamp, Red Tail Ring encircles their present and future – a place where expansion and creativity meet tradition, and thrive.