Jon Neufeld and Martha Scanlan’s unique alchemy on stage started when they first played together at Portland’s Indie-roots festival Pickathon ten years ago. It was an immediate musical connection and friendship that has only deepened with time and miles spent touring venues and festivals across the country.
While their collective accolades are impressive- they have shared the stage and collaborated with artists as diverse as Levon Helm, Jim James, Emmy Lou Harris and Peter Buck, and played festivals from Merlefest to Bonnaroo- it is that unique alchemy, that sense of adventure and improvisation on stage and in the studio, that most characterizes their work together and what has earned them a loyal following world wide.
When so much began to shift and live shows ground to a halt, what began as a loose plan to work on a new record seemed to become a musical journey of it’s own, a necessary sort of refuge.
They began passing songs and music back and forth from their respective studios; Martha in Western Montana and Jon in Portland Oregon, often in the early hours before the world was awake, often waiting to listen to the track until tape was rolling, almost as though the improvisational live interaction onstage was occurring over time and space, in slow motion.
The result is a continuing collaborative project in motion, an unfolding story. The first installation, Last Stars First Light, is due out autumn 2022 on Jealous Butcher Records.
Jon Neufeld lives in Portland, Oregon and plays with a variety of musicians there including longtime bands Jackstraw (bluegrass) and The Kung Pow Chickens (Gypsie jazz). Well known for his innovative guitar playing, he is also a multi-intrumentalist, producer and mastering engineer. He has appeared on The Tonight Show and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert with his former band Black Prairie and toured Europe in an impossibly small rental car with famed Portland Indie band Dolorean. He recently co- produced and engineered Smithsonian Folkways Roll Columbia: Woody Guthrie’s 26 Northwest Songs.
Martha Scanlan is an award winning songwriter based in western Montana. Her writing comes out of some of the deepest roots of Americana, winding between the mountains of East Tennessee and some of Montana’s most remote landscapes including a 120 year old cattle ranch where she spent years living and working. She appeared on TBone Burnette’s Cold Mountain soundtrack with former bandmates Reeltime Travelers. Her songs have been covered by Sarah Jarosz, Andrew Marlin, Amy Helm and Solas and have found their way into books by celebrated American authors Rick Bass and Joyce Carol Oates.
Tour highlights include Jon being mistaken for Jon Bon Jovi while leaving a hotel bar so depressing that “Happy Hour” was written in quotations on the chalkboard at the entrance.