When my friend Ken of Inkling Media suggests I check out a band, I listen, and so I came to love the music of this modern folk group, The Beggar Folk. Their sound is simple and broad with these harmonies that seem to resonate with the universe, like the best folk of the British isles. It makes me want to eat a pastie and drink strong tea.
I hope you love their answers to my questions and their music as much as I do.
How would you describe your music? Who are your influences?
I think our music is some form of deep folk. A lot of it is very story based and meant to portray some strong emotion, whether that’s pain, love, or joy. At our core, we’re just singing harmonies and playing acoustic guitar. Even when adding more instruments (violins/cello), we really prefer to keep our music simple enough to keep the main focus on the lyrics.
Some of our biggest influences are Bonnie Prince Billy, Damien Jurado, J. Tillman, Horse Feathers, and Denison Witmer.
What does music (and other art, if you’d like) mean to you? Why is it important?
Music has always played such a big part in our lives. Sort of like how listening to a movie without a soundtrack makes the movie less powerful, I feel the same way about us. We have a huge music collection and listen to it: while we eat, while we cook, while we clean, while we drive, while we fall asleep… We’ve got certain bands/songs for certain emotions we feel and for certain seasons. Music has the ability to help us transcend our cars and living rooms and connect with something much bigger. It is one of the best things when even the simplest song can give you goosebumps because you’ve made a personal connection to it. Then there’s pop music…that’s just for parties or staying awake while driving.
If you were a spice, what spice would The Beggar Folk be?
I’m not sure whether it’s considered a spice or not, but we’d be Yakuma Applewood Sea Salt. It’s very natural and simply made, but it’s got an incredible flavor that attracts even the most sophisticated palates.
What is the most beautiful thing you have ever experienced?
The most beautiful thing we’ve ever experienced? I can’t pinpoint the MOST beautiful thing, but one of the biggest and most beautiful things is feeling the love of my wife/of a spouse…just knowing that this person cares for me, has committed their life to me, and smiles so perfectly…we are very lucky to have found each other.
If you could tour with any singer or band, who would you tour with and why?
If we could tour with anybody, it would have to be the Fleet Foxes. (1) We could listen to their music every night and still love hearing them. (2) They have got a huge following. (3) They seem like people I would actually enjoy hanging out with, not just putting up with.
A lot of my readers love books, so what 5 books would you recommend they read?
(1) Harry Potter (start with the first and treat yourself to the rest; the movies are decent, but there’s a reason the books are so popular)
(2) What Would You Do?– John Howard Yoder
(3) Redeeming Love– Francine Rivers
(4) Food Rules (An Eater’s Manual)– Michael Pollan
(5) Abba’s Child– Brennan Manning
If each of you were an animal, which animals would you be?
Trista would be a house cat, just so she could see what our cats are thinking while they do the wild things they do. I think I would be an eagleâ€”not only do you get to fly, you get to fly over some of the most gorgeous nature in all of creation while eating what you’d like…that’s the life.
Where do you see your music going in the future? What are your dreams?
We hope our music peaks by the end of this year, then plateaus for a year, and then fizzles out somewhere in 2013 so that we can finally chase our dreams of holding a steady office job. In all seriousness, we can’t wait to get to that spot where people are contacting us to come play at their venues instead of vice-versa. We can’t wait to get to a show and have people (even if it’s only 10) waiting outside to see us play, even though we’d never been to their city before. Our dreams are to do this passionately enough and long enough that people are familiar with us and that someday we might be able to get paid enough to save up for a house. We really just want to move people’s hearts with our music. I hope they leave ours songs feeling encouraged to think over what they’ve heard and let it speak to them.
What is the most important piece of wisdom you have ever received?
The best piece of wisdom we’ve ever received has to be to put Jesus first in our lives, and I mean absolutely first. We hope that everything we do is an example of us following him. We’ve based every major decision (even the one to move to Lancaster and pursue music) on prayer, and we’ve found that our lives are so much more enjoyable (not necessarily easier) when we give it all up and ask God to direct us.
If you were to make a mix-tape for my readers based on how you feel today, what 10-12 songs would you include?
I love this question!
(01) “Ballad of Treason”- Abigail Washburn
(02) “Masterswarm”- Andrew Bird
(03) “Wolves”- Josh Ritter
(04) “Troubles Will Be Gone”- The Tallest Man on Earth
(05) “Harlem River Blues”- Justin Townes Earle
(06) “The Chorus In the Underground”- Great Lake Swimmers
(07) “Carry the Weight”- Denison Witmer
(08) “Rambling Man”- Laura Marling
(09) “You Should’ve Seen the Other Guy”- Nathaniel Rateliff
(10) “Window”- Damien Jurado
(11) “Red Red Rose”- The Weepies
(12) “Ocean and a Rock”- Lisa Hannigan