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Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards are clearly inheritors of a timeless legacy, creating music that is both original and evocative of a rich tradition. Blending distinctive voices and a wide range of accompaniment (guitar, harmonica, ukulele, clarinet, penny whistle, electric bass), their songs have been well-received by audiences around the eastern United States and Canada since 2010. Transcending the genre of folk Americana, their music echoes inspiration from traditional folk duos and singer/songwriters like Ian & Sylvia, Kate Wolf and Neil Young – combining beautiful harmonies and a lyrical intensity, while establishing a unique sound of their own.
Their latest release, Live in Manitoba (Nobody’s Favorite Records 2018), is a collection of songs and short introductions from a thirteen date house concert tour of Manitoba, Canada organized through Home Routes / Chemin Chez Nous. This album demonstrates Mark and Raianne’s close connection to their audience, as well as musical versatility. The track list includes selections from both studio albums, covers of Tom Petty’s Walls and Neil Young’s Unknown Legend, and two previously unreleased songs.
Both artists are products of central Massachusetts mill and factory towns, and for all their national exposure, they are passionately dedicated to the region and what it has to offer. Each summer for the past decade they have organized the “Massachusetts Walking Tour” where they hike the roads and trails of the Commonwealth, more than 100 miles in less than two weeks, in support of the arts in local communities along the way. Each evening they stop over in yet another Massachusetts town, putting on a free concert there, along with local performers and fellow artists who accompany them on their journey. These annual two-week treks also raise awareness of the trails and greenways in Massachusetts, using music to make important connections. It is my privilege to be able to join them each year for these annual walks and evening concerts, just as it has been my pleasure and honor to have Mark and Raianne on my radio program multiple times over the last several years. They also represented the folk tradition at WICN’s 45th Anniversary gala at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall.
With their bandmates—Doug Williamson on bass and piano and Peter Hart on pedal steel guitar—they continue to impress listeners with their heartfelt songs and to inspire in me an even deeper appreciation of contemporary American folk music.
Over the years, Mandeville & Richards have shared the stage with acts like Garnet Rogers, Melanie Safka, Eric Brace & Peter Cooper, John Gorka, Willie Watson, Pierce Pettis, Pokey LaFarge, Joan Osborne, Mustard’s Retreat, Atwater & Donnely, Antje Duvekot, and David Wax Museum – in 2015, while showcasing at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, appeared on stage with Tom Paxton.