“Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers owes much of its sound to the lilting country and bluegrass melodies of its forebears, but its musical palette is diverse enough to include a touch of New Orleans Dixie clarinet and some gorgeously resonant cello playing.”
– The Boston Globe
Annie and the Beekeepers is a folk and country inspired quartet that met at Berklee College of Music in December 2006. When Annie Lynch (lead vocal, guitar), Ken Woodward (upright bass), Alexandra Spalding (cello, vocals), and Mat Davidson (mandolin, guitar, accordion, clarinet, vocals) first began playing together in living rooms and basements around Boston, the mysterious disappearance of bee colonies throughout the world was receiving a great deal of attention in the media. As the group built the foundations of their band in coffeehouses and clubs around the Northeast, the collapse of the bee colonies fascinated them and gave them their name. The Bee has long been a symbol for hard work and community, and the Beekeepers were inspired to preserve and promote those same qualities in their music. To that end, the songs on their first album, 2008’s Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers and the forthcoming EP, Squid Hell Sessions (May 12, 2009), are honest, collaborative efforts, drawing on the sounds of Joni Mitchell, Gillian Welch, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and The Beatles.
The members of Annie and the Beekeepers came to Berklee from across the country with different musical backgrounds – Annie is a self-taught guitarist and the Beekeepers’ principal songwriter from Cape Cod; Ken is from Charlottesville and plays acoustic bass and sometimes stomps on a snare at the same time for fun; Alex grew up playing cello in orchestras in Northern California; Mat is a multi-instrumentalist from Virginia’s Rocky Mountain who started playing music on a broken violin. Annie met Ken and Mat in various attempts to learn bluegrass and saw Alex playing in a Berklee Joni Mitchell ensemble. One brief rehearsal later, the group of four gathered in Ken's frigid basement apartment with producer and peer, Frank Charlton, for two days of recording. Though the work was never titled or released, those two days in December of 2006 gave birth to a band that would go on to build a reputation for their unique instrumentation and lyrics, evocative layered harmonies, and heart warming live performance.
In the summer of 2007, Annie and the Beekeepers joined Grammy-nominated producer, Jack Gauthier, at his lakeside studio for the recording of their debut, self-titled album, Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers. The album was released in January of 2008 and was played frequently on WERS Emerson Radio and WUMB Boston Folk Radio, and earned fans at The Boston Globe, The Tripwire, and various other regional publications and blogs. Annie and the Beekeepers went on to play 2008’s Boston Folk Festival, CMJ and South By Southwest in 2009.
Nearly one year after the inaugural release, Adrian Olsen, a friend and producer from Berklee, invited the band to use some studio time he had at Squid Hell in Jamaica Plain, MA. Without plans or expectations, the band laid down new songs and live favorites and found what Lynch calls “ some of the most gratifying creative moments we’ve shared.” The songs recorded that afternoon would lay the foundation for Squid Hell Sessions, and in the fall of 2009, the band finished recording at Garth Stevenson’s home-studio in Brooklyn, NY with engineer and pal, Kyle VandeKerkhoff. The group produced the work with the help of Stevenson, Olsen, and Vandekerkhoff. Woodward says of the process, “The recording experience was in many ways similar to what this record is about. Squid Hell Sessions is about facing life's suffering, confronting that pain, and ultimately passing through it. The sounds on this record are dark, rich, and deeply satisfying." Spalding notes, “There's been a lot of change to get used to. Annie expresses herself through her lyrics and voice and the rest of us express ourselves by bringing those emotions to life through the voices of our instruments.” Lynch concludes, “Though the EP contains a lot of sorrowful emotion, it is, in essence, a celebration of music as a positive outlet. There is something strangely comforting in the sharing of one's hardships. Though we all know that each person feels pain, having songs in our lives that reflect these common emotions help us to feel a sense of unity in the times when we need that the most.”
Annie and the Beekeepers will embark on a brief northeastern tour in May for the EP release, with more dates to follow in the summer.
“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!” –Einstein