Skillet Licorice is the latest project from San Francisco Bay Area roots-music luminaries Elise Engelberg and Matt Knoth. Essentially a musical consortium, Matt & Elise are the core of an All-Star lineup featuring Julay Brooks, Kelly Marie Martin and Mike Lewinski. The result is a full fledged proto-swing ocrhestra which draws on their diverse experiences playing in numerous string bands over the years in a dizzying array of folk genres. Whether they’re playing hot fiddle breakdowns, slinky blues, sparkling banjo breaks, ragtime or dreamy waltzes Skillet Licorice displays an impressive command of styles and techniques that comes from deep study and loving dedication to America’s folk traditions. With the help of their talented friends they’ve put together an incredible repertoire that is essentially traditional, yet with a modern approach that is anything but a clinical archival music. Skillet Licorice is hot, sweet, and just a bit greasy!
Elise Engelberg (fiddle, banjo) a Kentucky native, has recorded with the Crooked Jades, The Mercury Dimes and has toured with the Stairwell Sisters.
Matt Knoth (banjo, guitar, vocals) hails from San Jose, CA where he grew up playing bluegrass music and has shared the stage with Peter Rowan, Danny Elfmann and Chris Thile.
Julay Brooks (guitar, mandolin, vocals) is the west coast's secret weapon in the war against boring guitar playing. A true master of all things musical, Julay teaches piano, guitar, mandolin, voice, ukulele, banjo. Julay has been focusing her keen musicality on the study and performance of traditional American music since about 2003, playing western swing, bluegrass, Cajun, country, old-time, and rebetika. She is also a trained classical pianist and studied piano performance and musical analysis in college.
Mike Lewinski (banjo, fiddle, vocals) did not grow up down south, and his grand pappy never played the fiddle. Mother never sang the mountain ballads to send him to sleep, and square dancing is not an old family tradition. This suburban born skater-kid got into old-time after he aged out of punk - and since square dances are the perfect place to hear old time music live, Mike started regularly attending square dances, until it broke up his relationship, sent him to grad-school classes hung over, and Suzy Thompson started referring to him as "Mike-Swing Your F@#king Partner - Lewinski. True Story.
Kelly Marie Martin (Bass) is an interdisciplinary artist, musician and activist. She sings, plays bass and guitar for LA's favorite old time band Echo Mountain. For over ten years, she played guitar and sang in old time trio Triple Chicken Foot. She hosts monthly jams and a square dance. Kelly is also a founding member of the annual festival the Los Angeles Old Time Social, a three day all-volunteer event in May of family-friendly concerts, workshops, cakewalk and square dance dedicated to old time music.
Katy Harris Hill (guitar, vocals) Katy's timing is so impeccable, you'd probably guess think she works in a watch factory or something.... and you'd be right! In addition to lending her sweet vocals to the Licorice sound, Katy's bluesy phrasing is key to keeping the skillet good and greasy.
Erik Pearson (guitar, uke) has been an integral part of the Skillet Licorice sound since the beginning and tours the US with master storyteller Diane Ferlatte accompanying her on banjo and guitar.
Allegra Thompson (bass) started out on the path to early country music earlier than most, being the daughter of old time legends Eric and Suzy Thompson. Allegra has inherited both her parents’ love of traditional music as well as her mother’s powerful singing voice. She backs up her singing with a strong rhythm section, playing both standup bass and rhythm guitar.