Village Voice

Maybe growing up in Nottinghamshire is what sets Jan Bell apart from the run of local lady folkies. Or maybe its the slide guitars, harmonicas, mandolins and banjos. Dark, old timey spareness......gorgeous Chuck Eddy

Perhaps because of her British heritage, Jan Bell is more of a traditionalist than anyone in either Nickel Creek or the Duhks....never once sinks into mere bluegrass reverence. A triumph! Mikael Wood

Nashville Scene

Bell's music isn't strictly bluegrass, but her reworking of old-time country and jug-band blues is remarkably nuanced. It embodies the wide-open spirit of what has become an antic, hybrid genre.

The Times, London.

NOW Toronto - NXNE Critics Pick

4 **** STARS - Wonderful chiller thriller of a new album, Jan Bell and company are the real deal

Time Out NY

Jan Bell leads The Maybelles in up tempo, soulful country songs.

New York Music Daily

Beautiful, haunting, evocative...It’s not a stretch to imagine future generations of Americana musicians referencing the Jan Bell versions of many of these songs: this album secures her place among the finest and most individualistic musicians in that world. New York Music Daily

The Argus, Sussex UK

An unlikely Americana star. A Barnsley lass, bold as brass and the grand daughter of a coal miner. Her new album features rare traditional songs from both sides of the Atlantic, pitting tracks from Appalachia alongside originals from Yorkshire.

Brooklyn Country Music

Brooklyn Paper, NY Post

A new festival of Americana music, debuting in Dumbo and Red Hook Sept. 25–27, comes from the brain of a Brit. Why is a native of the U.S.’s former colonial oppressor organizing the Brooklyn Americana Music Festival, dedicated to fiddle-and-banjo songs, the blues, and gospel spirituals from the New World? It may seem ironic, but the show’s founder says that if you dig deeper, you’ll find that the taproot of American roots music goes all the way back to Britannia.

amNew York

For 15 years, Jan Bell curated the music at the Dumbo Art Under the Bridge Festival, which focused largely on showcasing visual artists in the neighborhood. Although the art festival closed up shop for good last year, Bell decided the music must go on. That’s why she created the first annual Brooklyn Americana Music Festival, which features folk, blues, country, bluegrass and jazz acts, with a heavy focus on local musicians and free performances.  

Brooklyn Americana Music Festival

“If you hear twangs of mandolin or fiddle wafting across the East River, it’s not carrying up the coast from Nashville — it’s the Brooklyn Americana Music Festival, taking place on several stages in Dumbo.”  -The New York Times

Dumbo Dozen Award

Americana UK

A mighty fine album! Simple, well sung songs,the way it should be.

Sing Out!

Jan Bell completely won me over! Her melodies are rich and album of deceptively layered depth, really fine songs, creative arrangements and crisp playing.

3rd Coast Music, Austin TX

Dreamy, beautifully modulated and exquisitely arranged folk country blues

Village Voice

Melissa Carper and Jan Bell lead Brooklyn's Maybelles. Despite (or maybe because of) Bell's English heritage, she's much more of a traditionalist than anyone in Nickel Creek or the Duhks; her and Carper's harder-faster is a triumph for equal-opportunity bluegrassers. Yet they give such an unsentimental melancholy to the mostly self-penned material that you remember their art, not their science.

The Great Gray bridge, NY

Samantha Parton (The Be Good Tanyas)

"In Jan's songs and stories there is the strength and struggle of all humanity. She is a truth teller, a true troubadour, heart breaker and heart mender"

Ithaca Journal

GO Magazine, NYC

Twisted South magazine

Despite being a Yorkshire Lass transplanted to Brooklyn, singing Appalachian folk songs, Jan Bell suffers from no crisis of identity. Dream draws threads from across time and distance to weave a gently devastating tapestry of life in mining communities.

Jolie Holland

One of the best singer songwriters...soulful, beautiful

Oneida Dispatch, NY

Fayetteville Free Weekly, Arkansas

Its country blues all the way - in a delivery that'll knock yer' socks off!

President, NY State Women Judges.

Jan exceeded my hopes and expectations - the inmates truly loved her music. Wonderful!

Songs from the Shed

Who would think there'd be so much buzz is about a garden shed in England? Over 180 sessions so far and counting, featuring top touring artists.

So Elsewhere

Jan Bell: Music That Speaks To The Lone Traveler. Once in a while you stumble upon music that miraculously guides your travels and eases the pain of the unknown. Here is an artist who is not only incredibly talented, but who has inspired many of the writers of So Elsewhere to explore.

Time Out, NY

Jan Bell's stage was the highlight of the Dumbo Arts festival.

New Jersey Folk Festival

WINNER Singer Songwriter 2008

First Place, New Orleans Sam Adams City wide Singer Songwriter Contest 2004

Jan really makes you feel each note...I was speechless that such soul and volume could come from one little lady. I'd rank Jan Bell in the top that i saw at NXNE.

Alt.Country Netherlands

Dutch review (translation by Myshkin)
Jan Bell lives in the new Austin, namely Brooklyn, New York, from where hundreds of of musicians and artists try to take on the world.Where the rent is (was?) still affordable Where there are enough (folk) clubs to play. Jan Bell plays those gigs solo, with her Cheap Dates or with the Maybelles, a group of women that play Old Time County music. No Old Time on "Songs for Love Drunk Sinners", produced by Samantha Parton of the Be Good Tanyas, at least not in the pure sense, but plenty of dark nostalgia. The same kind of nostalgia heard in Jolie Holland's music, who also sings on this cd. Country Folk on a whispering boat. But Jan Bell is good, and the music is fresh, for all the nostalgia. She lets her heart speak, even in songs written by others, such as "Miners" by Wilfred Owens: There was a whispering in my heart Sigh of a coal Grown wistful of a former earth (uit: Miners)

Editor's Choice/Critics Picks

Recommended Live Music Event: Village Voice (Feature) The Nashville Scene (Feature) New Orleans City Life Magazine (Feature) Night Flying, Arkansas (Feature) Fayetteville Free Weekly, Arkansas (Feature) Lovely County Citizen, Eureka Springs Arkansas (Feature) Americana UK (Feature) Austin Chronicle - Shortlist San Antonio Express News, Texas 3rd Coast Music, Austin, Texas Off Beat, New Orleans Time Out, New York Ithaca Times, NY The Spectator, Utica, NY The Gazette, Schenectady, The North Devon Journal, UK. Time Out, London,UK The Argus, Brighton, Sussex, UK

The Nashville Scene at IBMA

Bell's music isn't strictly bluegrass, but her reworking of old-time country and jug-band blues is remarkably nuanced. It embodies the wide-open spirit of what has become an antic, hybrid genre.

Cover Lay Down

The guest stars on Jan Bell‘s newest album Dream of the Miner’s Child belie the Brooklyn-based musician’s broad stylistic approach to altfolk and Americana: the list includes two founding members of The Be Good Tanyas (Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton). Bell’s voice and arrangements here are notable for their ragged tenderness, with weary voices, soft guitar, and fiddle strains that clamber out of the darkness to scratch and paw at the soul. The songs span generations, following the movement of songbook fragments and tunes from the UK to Appalachia, making the title track – a Welch song which found its way into the hands of Ralph Stanely and Doc Watson via the blind Alabama Evangelist Rev. Andrew Jenkins, who re-arranged it in 1925 – the perfect centerpiece; from there, the strains of Jean Ritchie, Watson, and others mix well with the originals and traditional tunes, creating a seamless album of true beauty. To argue over whether this sort of music is country or folk is to miss the point: these haunting acoustic arrangements may be new, but they call to a time before the distinction made sense, when all the world was folkways, and they evoke the best of that history.

Village Voice

Not Just Bluegrass San Diego emo-grassers, funky fresh Canucks, old-timey Brooklynites transcend their fiddles and banjos By Mikael Wood. A friend remembers working as an extra on the set of a Nickel Creek video a few years ago. Chris Thile, the band's mandolin player and one of its singers, was wearing a sweater with a small RC emblazoned on it. My friend asked Thile what the letters signified, thinking the garment might be a vintage RC Cola item "Oh, it's Roberto Cavalli," my friend says Thile told him. That's when he says he knew Nickel Creek wasn't just a bluegrass band. Why Should the Fire Die, Nickel Creek's third album, is not just a bluegrass record. Like Thile's sweater, it's much sleeker, sexier, and more carefully assembled than work by the competition—in Nickel Creek's case, pop-bluegrass heavyweights like Alison Krauss (who produced the band's first two discs) and adult-pop scenesters such as Jesse Harris. The San Diego trio have accomplished something new here, something much more reflective of their station as twentysomethings toiling in an old person's field: "Emo-grass," I'd recommend calling it, if that were anywhere near as catchy as "newgrass" or even the fairly despicable "soulgrass." You can hear the clippings of emo-grass in both Fire's sound and spirit. When Thile and his bandmates—singer-guitarist Sean Watkins and his singer-fiddler sister Sara—sing about romance, they do it just like self-victimizing emo frontmen do: "You said you'd love me always truly," Sean seethes sweetly in "Somebody More Like You," a tangle of single-string acoustic-guitar lines. "I must have changed." In their imagery as well, they're only a September evening or two away from a co-headlining tour with Mates of State. "You're staring down the stars, jealous of the moon," Thile sings in a tune he wrote with the Jayhawks' Gary Louris. Musically, Nickel Creek transcend here their previous attempts to circumvent bluegrass orthodoxy (essentially, a baby-faced enthusiasm and a Pavement cover). "Can't Complain" is a lushly arpeggiated ballad with a peculiar key change; a pretty version of Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" is Iron & Wine in all but name. Producer Eric Valentine (Good Charlotte, Smash Mouth) gives "Best of Luck" and "When in Rome," the album's most distinctive cuts, a dramatic slash-and-boom that rubs intriguingly against bluegrass's intrinsic small-room charm. With any luck (and some marketing muscle), this excellent album will find the Dashboard Confessional fans it deserves. The Duhks, a funky-fresh five-piece from Winnipeg, do some transcending of their own on their self-titled disc, though their blend is more rarefied than Nickel Creek's. If you were an extra in one of their videos and asked shaved-head singer Jessica Havey what the insignia on her cowgirl shirt referred to, she'd probably spin you a long yarn about generational crosscurrents and the impermanence of time. And it would involve hemp. The best tracks on The Duhks find a rhythmic elasticity in the Celtic and Caribbean musics the band fold into their banjo-and-fiddle-based repertoire. Their arrangement of "Death Came a Knockin' " throbs with a lithe sensuality that belies the tune's many "hallelujah"s; "True Religion" bumps and grinds beneath requests for a properly made deathbed. And in "The Wagoner's Lad" Havey and fiddler Tania Elizabeth challenge bluegrass's implied harder-faster imperative by harmonizing gorgeously about the miserable "fortune of all womankind." Melissa Carper and Jan Bell, who lead Brooklyn's Maybelles, sound like they've known that (mis)fortune. On White Trash Jenny they play sweet-and-sour old-timey music about keeping it in the family and being someone's wife. Despite (or maybe because of) Bell's English heritage, she's much more of a traditionalist than anyone in Nickel Creek or the Duhks; her and Carper's harder-faster is a triumph for equal-opportunity bluegrassers. Yet they give such an unsentimental melancholy to the mostly self-penned material that you remember their art, not their science. Don't expect a video.

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