Zoe & Cloyd’s music highlights their emotive songwriting and signature harmonies, with albums that showcase the breadth of their collective musical spirit, seamlessly combining original folk, country, old-time and bluegrass with sincerity and zeal. Now, Zoe & Cloyd are beginning a new project inspired by their grandfathers’ musical histories in bluegrass and klezmer music. Setting the tone for the full and upcoming Songs of Our Grandfathers album, Zoe & Cloyd’s twin release of “Rainbow of my Dreams” and “Bulgar Sigansky” highlights their musical heritage and their unique take on modern roots music.
For Natalya Zoe Weinstein and John Cloyd Miller of Organic Records’ semi-eponymous Zoe & Cloyd, tradition is less a choice in musical styles than it is a family legacy — or, to be more precise, a pair of legacies: Miller is the grandson of original bluegrass fiddler Jim Shumate, while Weinstein’s grandfather, David, was a klezmer musician who made his living with flute, clarinet and saxophone. The duo have woven these musical strands together before, but now they’re taking the fusion to a new level in an entire project — including two new singles, “Rainbow of My Dreams” and “Bulgar Sigansky” — inspired and informed by a legendary collaboration from the last century.
“Songs of Our Grandfathers is inspired by the 1995 album by David Grisman and Andy Statman entitled Songs of Our Fathers, a beautiful project composed of Jewish and klezmer music,” they offer. “We conceived our album in a similar vein, albeit with klezmer and bluegrass, as an homage to our grandfathers and their unique musical stories.”
“Both Jim and David have had a profound influence on our musical development individually and as Zoe & Cloyd. Interestingly, bluegrass and klezmer are actually more similar than they may first appear. Both styles of music were born in working class communities, incorporating regional and popular influences of the time; bluegrass absorbed elements of jazz and blues into its old-time stringband framework, while klezmer music, with its genesis in the Jewish community of Eastern Europe, often included tunes from a wide variety of countries and ethnic groups. Both styles are melting pots and it is fitting and natural for us to combine them in our music.”
Backed by their longtime collaborators, Kevin Kehrberg (bass) and banjoist Bennett Sullivan, Zoe & Cloyd launch the project with a pair of singles that embody their distinctive approach to these twin legacies.
“'Rainbow of my Dreams' is a wonderful and rare Tommy Scott composition that bluegrass fans may recognize from a live 1948 Flatt & Scruggs recording on the WCYB Farm & Fun Time program,” says Miller. “My grandfather, Jim Shumate, was the fiddler on that session and this song was one of his favorites that he continued to play (and sing) throughout his life. It's a fun, lighthearted number and Natalya does a great job recreating Jim's iconic, swingy fiddle break from that radio show so many years ago."
"’Bulgar Sigansky’ is an obscure klezmer tune that I found in my grandfather, David Weinstein's, handwritten music notebooks,” Natalya adds. “David was a professional musician who played clarinet, flute and saxophone here in the US after emigrating from Russia. In homage to David, we were thrilled to have the amazing Andy Statman add clarinet to this track. Throw a bluegrass banjo into the mix and you get a whole new sound, we call it klezgrass!"
Setting the tone for the full Songs of Our Grandfathers, Zoe & Cloyd’s twin release of “Rainbow of my Dreams” and “Bulgar Sigansky” highlights their musical heritage and their unique take on modern roots music.
About Zoe & Cloyd
Zoe & Cloyd spring from deep roots in American music. Founding members of the acclaimed Americana trio, Red June, and long-time veterans of the Asheville, NC music scene, Natalya Zoe Weinstein and John Cloyd Miller released their second full-length album, Eyes Brand New, in spring of 2017, their third, I Am Your Neighbor in 2019 and their latest, Rebuild, in 2021. Highlighting their emotive songwriting and signature harmonies, this album showcased the breadth of their collective musical spirit, seamlessly combining original folk, country, old-time and bluegrass with sincerity and zeal. Zoe & Cloyd’s debut recording, Equinox (2015), was met with high acclaim and the pair has continued to gain momentum with a 1st place win at the prestigious FreshGrass Festival Duo Contest along with performances at MerleFest, Music City Roots and more. In 2020, Zoe & Cloyd were the first artists featured in Will & Deni Films' Pandemic Arts Series, and they will appear in Season 5 of the nationally syndicated PBS show, David Holt's State of Music in 2021.