Childsplayers: Aoife O’Donovan & Lissa Schneckenburger

On Tuesday, I told you about Childsplay, a group primarily composed of musicians united by the fact that they all play violins crafted by the same man… Bob Childs. I also promised to share with you some music from a couple of the musicians involved in the project. That’s why we’re here today.

We’ll start today with Aoife O’Donovan. O’Donovan (in the center of the picture above, wearing glasses) is the voice of Childsplay, but is most widely known as the vocalist for the contemporary bluegrass band Crooked Still. She actually founded the band in 2001 when she was asked to assemble a group for a concert at the New England Conservatory of Music.

The band has made quite a name for itself over the last decade by bringing their own unique sound to traditional stringband music. Their sound is defined by unique instrumentation that, in the early days of the band, often consisted of only banjo, cello, and double bass. A recent line-up change added Brittany Haas on fiddle and Tristan Clarridge on cello to go along with original members O’Donovan, bassist Corey DiMario, and banjo virtuoso Greg Liszt.

Here are two tracks from Cooked Still. The first is Bill Monroe’s “Can’t You Hear Me Calling,” the lead track from their 2006 album Shaken By a Low Sound. It showcases the band in its original configuration of bass, banjo, cello, and vocals to stunning effect. I’m also sharing the traditional “Tell Her to Come Back Home” from 2008’s Still Crooked. This showcases the band in it’s current incarnation and lets the fiddles run a bit. Tim O’Brien provides guest vocals.
Crooked Still: Can’t You Hear Me Calling (Buy Album)
Crooked Still: Tell Her to Come Back Home (Buy Album)

The second artist I’d like to share today is fiddle player Lissa Schneckenburger. Like O’Donovan, Schneckenburger is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and a member of Childsplay.

Schneckenburger hails from Maine and has been playing the fiddle since she was six years old and is now an accomplished singer/songwriter and a true student of the instrument she wields. Her primary influences come from the traditional music of New England and the Canadian coast. She recently spent time digging through the music archives of the University of Maine to try to rediscover some forgotten tunes of the region. In 2008 Schneckenberger released a collection of those forgotten ballads called Song. She is currently working on a follow-up collection of old time fiddle tunes called Dance.
I was first introduced to Schneckenburger’s music in 2005 when I received a copy of her self-titled release. I immediately fell in love with an instrumental track from the album called “Melissa without the Me/Eric’s Birthday.” I played it constantly on Americana Crossroads at the time, and I’d like to share it with you here. I’m also sharing one called “Like the Snow” from her 2001 album Different Game (with thanks to Cover Lay Down for introducing me to the tune).
Lissa Schneckenburger: Melissa without the Me/Eric’s Birthday (Buy Album)
Lissa Schneckenburger: Like the Snow (Buy Album)
Just for fun… here’s some YouTube goodness from both artists…

2 Responses to “Childsplayers: Aoife O’Donovan & Lissa Schneckenburger”

  1. Thanks for the link, and good tunes as always…I just received the Childsplay album myself, LOVED it…and note a few other musicians whose names stand out in addition to Aoife and Lissa's, so look for my own take on it soon…

  2. Can't wait to see it. I'd like to hear some more from some of the players

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