Music has been a constant in Ali's life. Her childhood soundtrack was her moms singing and her dads cello playing, in addition to being well-steeped in their favorite music of the 60s and 70s, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor. Once Ali discovered her moms vinyl copy of Song to a Seagull in 7th grade, she began to sing and harmonize her way through the whole... more
Music has been a constant in Ali's life. Her childhood soundtrack was her moms singing and her dads cello playing, in addition to being well-steeped in their favorite music of the 60s and 70s, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor. Once Ali discovered her moms vinyl copy of Song to a Seagull in 7th grade, she began to sing and harmonize her way through the whole album and then flip it over and do it again.
Her love of music, combined with a passion for theatre, brought her to Syracuse University where she studied musical theatre and got her BFA in acting. Writing songs as a hobby during these years, she spent some time in New York after college to pursue acting. At a point when she had relocated to Chicago, and the music-creating side of her was gaining traction, Ali had the opportunity to audition for a band in Nashville, Tennessee. Family friends of hers were putting together the all-girl group Sweetwater Rose and Ali had a feeling that her life path was about to be altered. She literally drove the U-haul from Chicago straight to the first SWR rehearsal.
Now, nearly four years later, she has released her debut solo project Storybook and she and the Family Vacation are embarking full-steam-ahead to play this music in clubs, theatres, homes, coffee shops, bookstores and bowling alleys all across the country. The band loosely formed in January of 2012, when this group of friends gathered together in the studio to record Storybook. When Ali was first preparing for the album, she had no plans of putting together a band, she just asked her most trusted and dear musical compatriots to get involved with the project, and they did. It was the force of their combined energy and creativity that made these songs what they are, how they are meant to be heard.
Violinist Kristin Weber and bass player Chris Miller go back to their first week of freshman year at Berklee College of Music. They relocated after college to Nashville with their band, The Young Republic. Among others, Kristin has toured with the Greencards, the David Mayfield Parade and has played with Eric Church, Langhorne Slim, the trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Kree Harrison. Chris has also played with Brooke Waggoner, Ferraby Lionheart, Natalie Prass and others.
Alis path crossed with Kristin's via a craigslist add seeking a roommate. From the first shy meeting, in which the girls showed up to the designated coffee shop in matching pants, they knew they were soul sisters. Fast friends, Kristin and Ali would sometimes have roommate jams at home, and Kristin introduced Ali to her circle of musician buddies, which included Chris, as well as Wes Langlois and Sarah Wilfong, who also appear on Storybook. Both Kristin and Chris sat in with Sweetwater Rose on several occasions.
Producer of Storybook, and multi-instrumentalist Kyle Ryan, had also migrated from Berklee to Nashville , but he didnt know Kristin and Chris until they had all moved to Nashville and had many mutual friends. When Storybook was first being conceived, it was a combination of friendship and intuition that led Ali and Kyle to confidently commit to creating it together. Ali had and has great respect for Kyle as a musician and suspected that he would be as tremendous a producer as he is musician and person. In the end, she couldnt have been more thrilled with the arrangement. Kyle's gentle but confident steering of the studio ship put everyone at ease and created the perfect atmosphere for this labor of love. While Kyle still appears with The Family Vacation from time to time, he spends most of his time touring with country artist Kasey Musgraves.
Jamie Dick came on the scene just in time. He and Ali met in December at a yoga class she was teaching and hit it off famously. He attended the class with his roommates, Brittany Haas and Kai Welch, who have since become Ali's beloved friends and sometimes-members of The Family Vacation. Jamie, Kai and Brittany are musical collaborators with Abigail Washburn and The Village, and were freshly back from their latest tour in China. At a Christmas party they were hosting, Ali and Jamie discovered one anothers musical tendencies and Ali casually asked Jamie if hed want to play on her record. Jamie agreed enthusiastically, even though neither of them knew anything of the others music. Ali recalls the first time Jamie was over at her and Kristins apartment and with beet-red cheeks, she played her song Sweet Afternoon for him, so hoping he would like it. The first time Ali witnessed Jamie playing drums it was accompanying Kai at a Tom Petty cover night at The Five Spot. She was moved by the strength and tenderness that came through in the way he played.
Scott Hardin is the newest member of the Vacation, but he and Jamie have worked together for years and when there was an opening for a guitarist in the group, Jamie knew that Scott would be the man for the job. Everyone knew right from the get go that Scott brought the right vibe to the party. Having played guitar since he was 11, Scott has performed in many bands and now spends a great deal of his time as a recording engineer and producer in Memphis. Scott is also producing Ali's upcoming EP.
"I cant think of anything more joyful", says Ali, "than the act of making music with people who I love as friends and deeply admire as musicians. There is no company I would rather be in."less