Bibi and the Bull perform live in The Sound Room at WEEU, 830 AM in Reading, PA. Set includes “Walnut St. Rag” at 0:00, “Darlene” at 5:30, and “Promise you won’t sign your name” at 9:28.
Bibi & the Bull, a band hailing from the Philadelphia area, consists of five musicians — Beatrice Ferreira, Dariel Peniazek, Nate Petley, Keaton Thandi and Drew Gaunce. They describe their music as “New Philadelphia Soul,” with some jazz influence.
Berks Country Fest has Lyons prideSaturday June 20, 2015 12:01 AM
By Don Botch
It’ll be like a Lyons Fiddle Festival all-star jam has broken out when the first three acts take the stage for a Berks Country Fest concert Sunday at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in West Reading.
Called Singin’ and Strummin’ Sunday, the afternoon of music is being headlined by Easton singer-songwriter Mary Fahl, who is featured on the PBS special “Mary Fahl: Live From the Mauch Chunk Opera House.” But before Fahl strikes a note with her band at 2:30 p.m., the audience will be treated to the local triple threat of the Martin Sisters Texas Swing Band, the Hannah Violet Trio and Bibi and the Bull.
The latter, performing at 1:30 p.m., is fronted by 21-year-old Kutztown native Beatrice Ferreira, who has been named grand champion fiddler at Lyons a record three times, in 2008, 2009 and 2014.
This past September, she unseated defending champion Christy Martin, who will take the stage at noon Sunday with sisters Emily Roeder and Melissa Martin, plus guitarist Butch Imhoff and bassist Eric Fisher. All three sisters have been fiddling since age 5 and performing with their family band, the Celtic Martins, for 10 years.
The space in between those two acts will be filled by a trio fronted by Lyons Fiddle Fest judge Hannah Violet, performing with her father, Dave “Mitch” Miller, also a judge and past champion at Lyons, and guitarist Phil Pilorz.
“All of the band leaders, Hannah, Beatrice and the Martin sisters, were all champions of the Lyons Fiddle Festival,” said Berks Country Fest organizer Dave Kline, who has been booking bands at Lyons since 2008. “This is a chance for people who enjoy the Lyons Fiddle Festival to come and see its daughters, in a sense, on Father’s Day.”
Only now, those daughters are all grown up.
“You’re now seeing these women have evolved and matured into people who are organizing and leading bands,” Kline said. “That’s as good as it gets. I think it’s something we can all be proud of, that this (area) is a breeding ground for this kind of music and musician.”
Kline said that nurturing local musicians and putting them on bills with established, touring acts will remain one of the key components of the Berks Country Fest as it evolves.
He has seen Ferreira grow from a 14-year-old aspiring fiddler into a young woman who fronts a band that blends jazz, soul, classical, world and pop. It is a true collaboration, with Ferreira backed by musicians she met in Philadelphia, where she attended college.
That the five performers with such diverse interests came together at all was serendipitous.
Ferreira said she was riding her bike home from the grocery store in a driving rain last summer when she accepted a ride from a woman who turned out to be guitarist Daniel Peniazek’s mother. One thing led to another, and a month later she and Peniazek, whose jazz guitar drives the songs, got together to jam and decided “this is a pretty cool sound that we have; let’s start a band.”
The role of lead singer is new for Ferreira, a classically trained violist who was former assistant concertmaster with the Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra and studied music at Kutztown University as a dual-enrollment student while still in high school.
She said her musical studies combined with her love of poetry led to songwriting, with singing a natural outgrowth, especially given the “pretty personal and pretty quirky” nature of her lyrics.
“It’d be cool to have a better vocalist sing them,” she said, “but they’re so unique to my experience that I guess it makes sense for me to sing them.”
Videos of a couple of the band’s songs, “The Weather Song” and “Broken,” which are posted at vimeo.com, reflect the way each members’ influences contribute to the band’s unique sound.
Ferreira said “The Weather Song” (which isn’t about the weather at all) combines a medieval harmonic technique called “Fauxbourdon,” or false bass, which was used frequently in chant music, with a 20th-century jazz scale, all played over tabla rhythms by drummer Keaton Thandi, who is of Indian descent.
“I know that for me it’s liberating to sort of draw from multiple genres and make something that combines sounds in your life,” Ferreira said.
She looks forward to Sunday’s homecoming and taking the same stage as some longtime acquaintances. She said she and the Martin sisters grew up attending and competing at many of the same events: the Kutztown Folk Festival, the Early Bird Fiddle Festival at the Berks County Heritage Center and, of course, Lyons.
“I love Texas swing music, so I’m excited to hear that,” Ferreira said. “And I think Hannah Violet was actually my judge at Lyons for a couple of years. I’ve never played with her before, but she’s probably heard me a lot (as a judge), so it’ll be great to hear her own work.”
And for his part, Kline is thrilled to have been able to piece together a show featuring rising talent he got to know on local stages.
“You expect bigger and better things from all of them, and they’re sort of like Berks County’s own,” he said. “Each one of them is so unique, and each one is so talented and has her own approach to music.”
Contact Don Botch: 610-371-5055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.