About Tumble Bee
Tumble Bee, the first children’s record from the prolific Laura Veirs (whose last release, July Flame, was dubbed “a perfect Sunday afternoon record” by The Oxford American and “sweet and irresistible” by Rolling Stone) inspires listeners to lean in close and hit replay. The youthful innocence in Veirs’ voice lends itself well to the jaunty spirit of the album. The recording covers a wide range of folk songs, from early 20th century work songs to the ballads of Jimmie Rodgers, Woody Guthrie, Peggy Seeger and Harry Belafonte.
Veirs and renowned record producer Tucker Martine, her long-time collaborator on seven of her eight records, have created a piece of art that is sure to appeal to children as well as adult fans of Veirs’ previous work. The album features guest appearances by Colin Meloy (Decemberists), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Bela Fleck and Brian Blade (drummer for Bob Dylan) among many others. As Smithsonian Folkways recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell says, “This is a luminous, smart, essential and truly extraordinary album.”
Inspired by the birth of her son and by countless fans who’ve told her over the years how much their kids love her records, Veirs became curious about the history of American children’s music. She and Martine listened to hundreds of songs from the past several centuries, including Harry Smith’s famous Anthology of American Folk Music. They selected what Veirs calls, “a sampling that reflects our richness as a people.” Tumble Bee was recorded at home in the spring of 2011.
“Many of these songs have been forgotten throughout the years,” says Martine. “We wanted to bring these beloved songs to a new generation with an instrumentation that both honors their traditions and creates something unique.”
A joyous testament to this collective history, Tumble Bee embodies both the uplifting and fearful moments of childhood. Much more than simply a record for children, Tumble Bee defies category to stand on its own as a vibrant, sonically beautiful recording; listeners of all ages will revel in Veirs at her prime. “I love this record,” says acclaimed songwriter Sufjan Stevens. “Laura’s folk songs for children prove that the best children’s music never gets old.”
Laura Veirs grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she often spent summers camping with her family, which gave her much of her songwriting inspiration. Veirs has said that she didn’t seriously listen to music until she was in her 20s; instead, she just heard what was in her environment. She listened to folk, country, classical and pop music around the house and on the radio during her youth.
Attending Carleton College in rural Minnesota, Veirs latched onto feminist punk rock from the Pacific Northwest, eventually starting an all-female punk band called “Rair Kx!”. Laura studied geology and Mandarin Chinese. After college, she embraced older country and folk music. Her first foray into songwriting started with a geological expedition in China, where she served as translator. She was miserable and immersed herself into writing lyrics as a way of coping.
She put out her own self-titled album Laura Veirs, recorded live and featuring just her and guitar, in 1999. She has since made five highly acclaimed records with producer Tucker Martine. 2003 saw the release of Troubled by the Fire, a full-band effort that found the artist sharing the studio with such luminaries as Bill Frisell and violist Eyvind Kang. She signed to Nonesuch Records the following year with the atmospheric follow-up Carbon Glacier. Year of Meteors followed in August 2005. She collaborated with The Decemberists on “Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)”, from their 2006 album The Crane Wife. Her sixth record, Saltbreakers, was released worldwide on Nonesuch Records in April 2007.
Veirs’ seventh album, July Flame, will be released in January 2010 on her own record label, Raven Marching Band Records (in North America) and on Bella Union (in Europe and the rest of the world).
Veirs tours frequently in Europe, North America and Australia both solo and with a backing band consisting of a rotating cast including Karl Blau, Steve Moore, Tucker Martine, Keeley Boyle, Nelson Kempf, Eric Anderson, Kate O’Brien-Clarke and Alex Guy.
Veirs and Martine now live in Portland, Oregon.