With impeccable musicianship throughout, Natalie Padilla’s latest effort Fireweed takes old-time string band porch music and presents it with classical virtuosity. Padilla and her ample crew of guests take the approachable material and transform the songs into beautiful examples of picking perfection.
Born into a family of acclaimed roots musicians, Natalie Padilla was immersed in fiddle and violin music at a very young age. Initially, she studied Texas-Style fiddle under the tutelage of her mother, award-winning fiddler Nancy Padilla, and began winning contests at the age of six. She was named Montana State Pee Wee Fiddle Champion and went on to become the 1994 National Small Fry Fiddle Champion at the National Old Time Fiddler’s Contest. Fast-forward a bit and in 2015 she won not only the RockyGrass Fiddle Championship, but also took home the trophy at the National Young Adult Fiddle Championship, the National Twin Fiddling Championship and the Rocky Mountain Regional Grand Championship. That same year, she founded the original acoustic band Masontown, who released their debut EP later that year, followed by a full-length in 2017.
The University of Northern Colorado teacher — part of the school’s new Folk and Bluegrass Studies program — focused her old-time, classical and roots backgrounds on Fireweed by sifting through nearly 60 originals to find the balance for the album, before inviting some of her favorite players to join on the recording session at Henhouse Studio in Victor, Idaho.
Fireweed may have been recorded elsewhere, but the record is chock-full of references to Colorado, particularly Padilla’s town of Lyons. The opening track “Goose” is named after a roommate’s excitable Lyons-based terrier, while “Piggy Piggy Pie” was inspired by the pig farm about one mile south of Lyons on Highway 36, and the title track “Fireweed” was written in honor of a bloom she witnessed in the town of Crested Butte.
The confluence of metronome precise playing, and comfortable, approachable material is the magic that allows Fireweed to shine over and over again.
Altona Grange Hall | Sept. 6