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JBM Promotions and tSGHR present
THE SECRET SISTERS with Tyler Ramsey
Fri May, 17 @ 8:00 PM (Doors: 7:00 pm )
The Southgate House Revival - Sanctuary , 111 E Sixth Street, Newport, KY
Ages 18 and Up
$30 - $25
 Enhance your concert experience with the this special VIP Add-On opportunity:
  • VIP early entry into the venue
  • Exclusive meet & greet The Secret Sisters
  • Personal photograph with The Secret Sisters
  • Access to a private pre-show soundcheck performance with The Secret Sisters
  • Q&A session with The Secret Sisters
  • One tour poster, autographed by The Secret Sisters
  • Commemorative meet & greet laminate.
  • Merchandise shopping opportunity before doors open to public
  • Limited availability
Note:  The VIP Add-On does not include a ticket to the show.  You must have purchased a ticket in either section of the venue before you can purchase the VIP Package.
The Secret Sisters
Since their 2010 self-titled debut, The Secret Sisters have brought their spellbinding harmonies to songs that untangle the thorniest aspects of life and love and womanhood. In the making of their new album, Mind, Man, Medicine, Alabama-bred siblings Laura Rogers and Lydia Slagle found their songwriting transformed by a newfound sense of self-reliance and equanimity, threading their lyrics with hard-won insight into the complexities of motherhood, commitment, compassion, and self-preservation in an endlessly chaotic world. Centered on a kaleidoscopic sound that boldly blurs the edges of country-folk, the duo’s fifth full-length ultimately confronts many of modern life’s harshest challenges while leading the listener toward a more open-hearted state of mind.

“In our previous records there was a feeling that we had something to prove, but now we’re leaning toward a place of peaceful acceptance and trying to stay immersed in the present,” says Slagle, noting that their shared experience in parenting young children greatly informed that shift in perspective. “There are definitely still moments of frustration and anger on this album, but there’s also a little more light,” Rogers adds. “I think a lot of that came from getting older, and from letting go of the pressure we put on ourselves in the past. We finally reached the point of saying, ‘Let’s just write the songs honestly as we can, and trust that they’ll reach whoever they’re meant to reach.’”

The follow-up to Saturn Return—their 2020 Grammy-nominated LP co-produced by Brandi Carlile and lavishly praised by the likes of Rolling Stone—Mind, Man, Medicine finds The Secret Sisters co-producing alongside Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes, St. Paul & the Broken Bones) and John Paul White (formerly of Grammy-winning duo the Civil Wars). “On Saturn Return we’d gotten much more confident as far as directing the sound of the record and knowing how to capture our voices in the most honest way, so it felt like the right time for our first foray into production,” says Rogers. The latest in a series of critically lauded releases, the album came to life at FAME Studios (the historic spot in their hometown of Muscle Shoals) and at Sun Drop Sound in nearby Florence, with contributions from such esteemed musicians as Alabama Shakes bassist Zac Cockrell and legendary multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell (Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Levon Helm).

Referring to The Secret Sisters’ latest chapter as “one where we seek, savor, and settle,” the duo lifted the title to Mind, Man, Medicine from a lyric in “Same Water”: a gorgeously bluesy meditation on the search for healing in a profoundly troubled world, channeling both weariness and empathy with soulful conviction. “There’s a line in ‘Same Water’ that says ‘Mind or man or medicine/I have tried them all,’ which feels like it encompasses everything we were trying to say on this record,” Slagle explains. “In a lot of these songs we’re struggling with our own minds and emotions, with our relationships, and with whatever we’re using to try to cope and find relief.”

In a lovely introduction to the album’s expansive sound, Mind, Man, Medicine opens on a hypnotic number called “Space.” With its stark yet sprawling arrangement of luminous piano, otherworldly synth, and moody guitar tones—achieved in part through Slagle’s performance on rubber bridge guitar—“Space” infuses an element of dreamy psychedelia into The Secret Sisters’ contemplation of human connection and all its intricacies. “It’s about recognizing that loving someone isn’t always going to be easy, especially when they have a belief or a political leaning that you disagree with,” says Rogers. “It’s so simple to project your desires onto someone else, but in the end you have to hold onto what you love and value about them, even when it gets tough.”

In its lived-in exploration of what holds us together and tears us apart, Mind, Man, Medicine delves further into nuanced social commentary on “If the World Was a House.” “We’ve all heard about moments in history where people collectively experienced something very challenging, but ended up coming out of it stronger,” says Rogers. “When I look at the world around us, it seems like the pandemic didn’t have that effect—if anything, it feels like we’re even more divided now. That song is wrestling with a longing for everyone to take better care of each other, and to recognize that every person you share the planet with matters just as much as you do.”

Astute observers of the heart’s most intimate dimensions, The Secret Sisters also offer up such wildly effusive love songs as “Paperweight”—a prime showcase for their deep-rooted country sensibilities, graced with galloping rhythms and a bit of exquisitely nimble fiddle work from Campbell. “I tend to go with the flow in a way that can be unhealthy, where I sometimes hold back from speaking up for myself because I don’t want to ruffle any feathers,” says Slagle. “But one thing that’s always made everything feel solid and stable is my relationship with my husband, so I wrote ‘Paperweight’ about having that person who keeps you grounded when you feel like you might just float away.” Meanwhile, on “All The Ways,” singer/songwriter Ray LaMontagne lends his raspy vocals to a slow-burning track touched with all the sublime simplicity and low-slung grooves of classic R&B. “I love those moments in a live show when everyone sings together and there’s a feeling of the artist and audience sharing in the song’s performance,” says Rogers. “I wanted to create a chorus like that—something everyone can sing at the top of their lungs—and eventually it evolved into a song about feeling strong and powerful in your own femininity.”

Elsewhere on Mind, Man, Medicine, The Secret Sisters bring their layered introspection and boundless sensitivity to such complicated subjects as fractured friendships (“Never Walk Away”), the interconnectedness of love and advocacy (“I’ve Got Your Back”), the loss of identity often experienced in the early stages of motherhood (“Bear With Me”), and the singular joy of truly conditional love (“I Can Never Be Without You Anymore”). “Through our experience in raising children, Lydia and I have both had the realization that there’s nowhere we could go on this entire planet where our hearts won’t be with our kids,” says Rogers in discussing the inspiration behind “I Can Never Be Without You Anymore.” “That can be a difficult reality at times, but it’s glorious as well. I’m really proud of that one, and of the fact that we were able to write a love song that comes from a less painful place than many of our love songs in the past.”

Looking back on the creation of Mind, Man, Medicine, The Secret Sisters reveal that the immense support of their fans played a major role in their willingness to tread previously uncharted emotional terrain. “I remember playing a show last fall and expressing my gratitude to the crowd that they’d come out to see us, because as mothers of young children we now understand how challenging that can be,” says Rogers. “Later on that night a woman came up to us with her daughter and husband and said something like, ‘I know it’s so hard to leave your babies—but you leaving your babies at home for a little while is what makes moments like this happen for other families.’ It was so gratifying to hear that, and reminded me of the whole purpose behind the music that we make: it’s to benefit the hearts of other people, anyone who needs that healing or validation or connection, or even just the space to cry. That’s why we keep doing this.”
Tyler Ramsey
As the naturalist John Muir wrote, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” It is for this reason that musician Tyler Ramsey goes into the woods when he is writing, and why he and his wife have settled on a plot of land many miles outside of the nearest city of Asheville, North Carolina, to raise their young daughter. For Ramsey, living deliberately and with a little space, removed from distractions and the allure of needless consumption, is how he feels most creative and at ease. And while writing For the Morning, his first album since 2011’s The Valley Wind, Ramsey tapped into that insulated world where imagination flourishes and sounds for mining are plentiful to create his most realized and regal work yet.
The Ramsey home is surrounded by mountains, fields, and trees, and a small river winds through it all. Wild animals live in the family’s forest, paying daily visits to sing their own songs. Ramsey’s hand-built music studio affords him a shelter from the cacophony or a chance to join the chorus, depending on whether or not he has the windows open. The things he does at home are the things he sings about in his songs—neither costumed nor fabricated—and in keeping with his deliberate existence, he clarifies that his lifestyle is not a badge to be worn but simply his preference.
“Spending my time here in North Carolina, swimming in the stream and walking around in the woods, it’s part of my character as a musician,” Ramsey says. “We live out in the country, I built my own studio. Out here, you have the ability to take your time and work on things slowly and comfortably. These are reasons why the music I make sounds like it does.”
For the Morning is filled with instrumentation connecting the listener to this setting: radiant acoustic piano and stark, dexterous guitar fingerpicking; lilting, poignant pedal steel and gentle, babbling beats that mosey rather than rush. We are transplanted to Ramsey’s woods even before any words can take us there. But, as he reveals, the process that brought the album to life wasn’t just one sunny stroll in the pines—a newborn baby and a professional musician’s touring schedule create their own challenges. So, it was up to Ramsey to find a balance, and he learned to take advantage of any fleeting moments of stillness whenever possible, while also using his time on the road as its own form of inspiration.
He wrote what would become the first song for the record just after the birth of his daughter. As a way of keeping her calm during the long nights he would wear her on his chest in a baby carrier while playing piano, and the gentle, rhythmic chords would lull her to sleep. Of course, the family rooster, Pip, did not help matters, but such is life in the wild. Despite his exhaustion, a melody and words came to Ramsey quickly, written abstractly about coming to terms with his own sleeplessness, and he called the song “For the Morning.”
“I’d never been a morning person, but I became one because I had to,” he says. “Our daughter was up all the time, and our rooster starts crying at 4:30 in the morning. It’s just our world now, everything starts before the sun comes up. But that shift in my life created a song I was happy with, and the other songs came pretty quickly after that.”
While at home on the musician’s equivalent of paternity leave, Ramsey took to the woods whenever possible, finding inspiration in his familiars as well as in his footsteps. Carrying a notebook and humming guitar lines into a recorder, he worked the songs out viscerally in nature before returning to his studio to record home demos. And oftentimes, once there, his playing would transcendentally transport him back to where he’d been. “I do find the rhythm of walking helpful for working out song ideas, and the only thing anywhere close to the meditative aspect of hiking for me is playing acoustic guitar,” he says. “I can sit and play guitar for a couple hours, or go for a hike, and take myself to another world. Some of the images from these songs are visual cues that turn into parts of stories I’m trying to tell. When I’m singing them on tour, I have that visual in my head; it gets attached to the piece and never really separates.”
But for as much as he prefers to spend his time at home, his past decade was spent largely away from it. As guitarist for and co-writer with the rock group Band of Horses, Ramsey found himself on the road constantly, forced to make temporary shelters inside of hotel rooms and bus bunks. After ten years with the band it was time for a change, and Ramsey seized the opportunity to pour all of his creative energy into his solo work. It became natural, then, for some of his new material to explore that dynamic of being away and creating a respite wherever possible.
“Parts of this record were written on the road, back and forth and on airplanes and in hotels while traveling,” he says. “Some of it comes from the endless touring and that feeling you get after a while of not knowing where you are, and longing for your home and child.” The song “A Dream of Home” is a product of that perspective. On a day off during a Horses tour, Ramsey holed himself up in a hotel room outside of Nashville and began writing about that familiar tug of greener grass on the other side, wondering if following every musician’s dream of touring the world to play for huge audiences was actually all it was cracked up to be. “A lot of people see the touring life as glamorous, but there are plenty of times where it’s hard to keep up. It becomes difficult to miss your family that much, and you want to be around your newborn child rather than sitting in a room ten hours away while knowing you won’t be home for three more weeks.”
And so, following his exit from the band and free to follow his own music full-time, Ramsey took an album’s worth of demo songs to La La Land studios in Louisville, Kentucky, where he, studio engineer Kevin Ratterman, and Ramsey’s longtime friend Seth Kauffman, the crack session and touring musician (Jim James, Lana Del Rey, Ray LaMontagne) who fronts the North Carolina band Floating Action, set out to record. The trio fulfilled the majority of all sonic duties during this tracking phase, with Ramsey’s demos serving as blueprints as they pieced songs together during the first weeklong session. Ramsey, Ratterman, and Kauffman would return to the studio again for another shorter period to flesh out those recordings, and one final day in friend and former Band of Horses bandmate Bill Reynolds’s Nashville studio finished the job. The process was complemented by spots from several guest musicians, including Joan Shelley, Thad Cockrell, and Molly Parden singing harmony on various songs, the pedal steel player Russ Paul contributing several solos, and Gareth Liddiard from The Drones on guitar. “I’ve learned through the years that calling the right person for the right part is so important,” Ramsey says. “While I love picking up an instrument I don’t know how to play, bringing in someone who really knows how to play it can make something far cooler happen. The guests filled these songs out perfectly.”
For the Morning comes together seamlessly as a cohesive work from a master songwriter and musician. “Breaking A Heart” joins the aforementioned “Dream of Home” as a standout, with sublime piano chords and beautiful guitar playing urged along by upbeat drum tracks, Ramsey’s pristine vocals left hanging in the air like mist. The lament of the former tune is one not uncommon in Ramsey’s work, and he notes that many of his favorite songs—his own or by others—are dotted with sadness. “I do gravitate toward sad music, and heartbreak is a part of the songs I write,” he says. “Writing a song is this huge emotional release and it can be very intense. There’s a lot of melancholy in what I do.”
“Firewood” is one such number, a somber song written in suites with a heaviness that gradually lifts as it moves through its parts. Written on guitar, it came out of what was an instrumental piece before Ramsey found its vocal pieces and story while in Ratterman’s studio. “It’s a heavy, dark song with a positive twist at the end,” Ramsey says. “It comes from that feeling of winter and things falling apart and trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” The song took on a different energy when the trio played it in the studio, and in turn branched out to become the instrumental song “Darkest Clouds,” which precedes “Firewood” on the album. “I always like to have a long instrumental piece and then a song to come in as its companion,” he says. “It can create a cool arc and is an interesting way to tie an album together.”
And yet, bright moments and Ramsey’s optimistic outlook abound. “White Coat” is a shining example of the way Ramsey uses visual imagery from his walks in the woods to write. The specific place he mentions in the song (“You went out across the river to lay down in the sunlight where it filters through the pines”) is an exact spot on his land where he sat while writing it. The song highlights Ramsey’s skill as a fingerpicker and creates space for his haunting voice to climb higher and higher. Elsewhere, “Evening Country” is an updated, country music version of the song “Evening Kitchen” he wrote for the Band of Horses album Infinite Arms and swings with gorgeous harmonies and pedal steel. “For the Morning” ends the album like a sweet, soothing lullaby, transporting the listener—and, as we know, the singer—to a peaceful place of beauty and sanctuary.
For Ramsey, the receiver of far more than that for which he has sought, that space is not some rented respite, nor some transient fabrication. It is home, and it is perfect.