“Meredith Axelrod sings and plays guitar as if she really returned to the pre-mic days. We’re not talking revisionist copy of so and so from way back when; we’re talking as if we plucked an original out of the era and time-traveled…” – JL Stiles
The Chicago native and Bay Area transplant, Meredith Axelrod is multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and avid “Songcatcher“, who envisions the limitless potential of early twentieth century music, whether it be Ragtime, Music Hall, Pop Standard, Boogie Woogie, Tin Pan Alley, String band, Jazz, Country, Blues or even Jug Band music, and embodies the spirit that brought the music into existence and drove it ahead. Ms. Axelrod learned to sing and play by listening to how folks did it a century ago – through the medium of cylinders, 78-rpm records, and from sheet music.
The dominant theme throughout her astonishingly expansive repertoire, and one aspect of her approach that sets her apart from the rest, is that, whatever the genre, these are songs she learns from the original sources which were released between the 1890s and the 1930s. Delightfully engaging and unassumingly comic, her performances draw on many of the tools of musical scholarship. Part of the allure of old time music, indeed any music throughout the history of recorded music, is hearing the original recordings as played and sung by the original performers in their heyday, loving what they’re doing and doing it because it means something to them in that moment, never because of nostalgia, and Meredith brings the same unbridled passion, earnest devotion and candid vitality to all of her music. There’s nothing to dust off in her bag of reclaimed songs, as her resourceful arrangements and heartfelt renditions prove. In her care, the songs are unmistakably inspired, infectious and relevant. Meredith Axelrod is an example to herald, someone who has found possibility and joy in the treasures of cultural folklore amidst our loud and insistent pop culture noise.
“It takes more than passion to do what Meredith does. It takes guts, conviction. She is unflinchingly committed to authentic recreation of the tunes in her repertoire–swampy blues and early American roots music… What I found was ear-opening.” – Champions
Axelrod demonstratively loves the life she leads, thriving in varied musical and performance settings. She often partners with string virtuoso Craig Ventresco; they perform at venues and festivals that include the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, West Coast Ragtime Festival and Blind Boone Early Jazz Festival. She appears in myriad cooperatives: with her own hot jazz band, her own string band, in partnership with string band solo act dynamo Frank Fairfield, and with the jug band legend, Jim Kweskin. She has also performed with Dan Hicks, Maria Muldaur, Geoff Muldaur, Ramblin’ Jack Eliot, David Grisman, Cindy Cashdollar, Bill Keith, Terry Zwigoff, Sonny Leyland, Robert Crumb, and the Cheap Suit Serenaders at favorite venues: The Great American Music Hall, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and Freight and Salvage. She has toured domestically and internationally.
Because of her distinctive vocal style and vintage rhythm playing, Meredith was featured on the weekly public radio series Voice Box with Chloe Veltman. Last year, Ms. Axelrod was on staff and performed at Centrum Voice Works in Port Townsend and at the California Coast Music Camp. Most recently she has partnered with Jim Kweskin at the City Winery in Nashville, and they will be touring and releasing a CD together, “Come On In” recorded live at McCabes, Los Angeles.
“It takes more than passion to do what Meredith does. It takes guts; conviction. She is unflinchingly committed to authentic recreation of the tunes in her repertoire–swampy blues and early American roots music… my instinct that she had faithfully reproduced the vocal qualities and string performances of this era was confirmed, and second, it compelled me to add to my library a whole new collection of rich, undeniably American, music.” – Gary Rametta