Slaughter Daughters find joy in darkness

Performing a darker brand of bluegrass or folk they’ve dubbed “Gothgrass,” the Slaughter Daughters combine gypsy folk with an ominous take on Appalachian roots music.

Performing a darker brand of bluegrass or folk they’ve dubbed “Gothgrass,” the Slaughter Daughters combine gypsy folk with an ominous take on Appalachian roots music.

Slaughter Daughters are a small trio with the makings of something soon to be huge. Emerging from Wichita, Kansas, the act constantly tours, and the quality of its first demo belies the fact this is a first band for two-thirds of the group, which has been together just more than a year.

Performing a darker brand of bluegrass or folk they call “Gothgrass” (more commonly known as blackgrass), Slaughter Daughters combine elements of gypsy folk with an ominous take on Appalachian roots music, something along the lines of 16 Horsepower. However, tossing in a sultry, vocal punkiness akin to Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, these dive bar divas have constructed a modern musical rarity — something unique.

“Cece (Honey, guitar/vocals) and I met each other in a basement at a pickin’ party in Wichita about a year and a half ago,” recalls Ari Rose (banjo/vocals). “Neither of us had ever been in a band before. We’ve been through several other members and a name change — folks that couldn’t handle the stress of the road, how much we are on the road. Now we have Ster D (upright bass/vocals) and are very happy about our current state. We just started playing music together because we love it, and when we found that others liked it, we quit our job and got in a van and have been in that van for about a year now. We play because it’s what makes us happy, and others find happiness in it too.”

While the band’s music seems to generate mutual happiness for its players and listeners, there is presently very little thematic sunshine in the trio’s insidious subject matter. With nocturnal motifs throughout its first recorded outing, Slaughter Daughters say they have incorporated some more upbeat aspects in recent material.

“Our songs are often influenced by our lives,” says Rose. “All of my songs are based off of real people and situations. They are clearly all stories but have real life peppered throughout. And yes, there is a pretty constant theme of killing, sex and Satan But we have recently introduced a new brighter song into the mix. So I think it could be expected that we’ll be adding some happier songs into our set before too long but keeping with our aggressive feel.”

“The comment I’ve received most after people see us (is), ‘I never would’ve expected that from you.’ We wear dresses and are two-thirds majority female. People have certain ideas of what to expect from such a group. But as soon as we play, we show them something different.”

Forming in what Slaughter Daughters describe simply as a “struggling scene” in Wichita, the trio intends to eventually set up shop elsewhere, and unsurprisingly are keeping to the road in the meantime. Where the band will end up is anyone’s guess, but major markets aren’t the shoe-in you’d expect for a new act with this much potential. Although the group’s demo was recorded in California, its nomadic ventures have devoted significant time to sparsely populated states such as North Dakota, Montana and Alaska (the latter of which will be fully explored throughout the month of August).

“This tour is about a four-month run, started the beginning of July (and) going until the end of September.” Rose explains. “Our goal is to constantly be on the road. Touring can be very hard and very tiring, but it’s the most beautiful thing in our lives. All the wonderful experiences we have, they make all the hard times worth it — things we could never experience sitting in a town.”

Wednesday night The Slaughter Daughters stop in Knoxville to perform at The Well with Jon Worley. This free show starts at 9 p.m.

BOTTLED UP FOLK: Preservation Pub hosts a gig by Big Country’s Empty Bottle and Ga-Na-Si-Ta Friday at 10 p.m. Admission is $5.

ROCK-ABYE BABIES: Jen Rock and the Crybabies (not to be confused with Crack Rock and the Crack Babies) take the stage at The Pilot Light Tuesday night, joining a bill that also includes Judson Claiborne and Marisa Ireland. Music is slated for 10 p.m. and costs $5.

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