Who The Hell Are… The Beggar Folk?By Jonathan Langer • Oct 24th, 2011 • Category: Features
Folk bands are slowly going the way of the emo band — cookie-cutter, predictable, uninspired, and inevitably becoming a parody of themselves because music is a business and the market dictates that consumers will always want more of what’s popular. Even in indie circles, and folk music circles, bastions of liberal free-thinking and stereotypically capitalism-wary hippies; music as a business (eventually) must become a reality unless you intend upon giving all your music away for free.
All that to say this: The Beggar Folk fall nicely into the afore-mentioned folk music genre, however their music doesn’t seem to follow suit with the folk status quo.
I believe The Beggar Folk’s music when it plays. These are ballads and hymns, carved from trees and moulded from soil. This music demands your attention and effortlessly passes any authenticity tests. It conjures up what real Americana and country music should conjure. Pastoral scenery. Familial security. Natural beauty. Faith. Stillness. It almost seems silly describing it because of the many ways it’s been self-indulgently parroted in an attempt to sell records. The Beggar Folk are the real deal.
01. Who are you?
We’re a band called The Beggar Folk out of Lancaster, PA. At this point, the band is made up of my wife and I (Josh and Trista Lamb). We’ve been married for 4 years, but the band has only been a part of us for the last 2 years. We chose the name, The Beggar Folk, to set out on our music careers as “lesser” people. It’s important to us to always remain humble and look to serve the interest of those around us over ourselves. Beggars aren’t often in positions of power, nor looking to be served.
02. What do you sound like?
We sound like a man sitting in the woods. Our music is very simple and stripped down, focused more on our story and purpose than on fitting into the world around us. Most of our songs speak about what it means to be most human and most holy.
But then again, maybe you just wanted to know that we’re mellow folk music and a bit old-timey. I play guitar and my wife and I both sing.
03. What do friends say you sound like?
We’ve heard from quite a few folks lately that we sound like Bonnie Prince Billy married to Emmylou Harris.
04. Full-time musicians or wage slaves?
After two years of working part-time jobs to support ourselves, we are finally full-time musicians! We still have a lot of work ahead, but at least it’s working for something we believe in. We love waking up and knowing our job is writing, performing, and meeting the most wonderful folks this world has to offer!
05. Current career highlight?
At this point, I think our career highlight has to be our album release party back in January. It was the first time we released a record and most of our shows had solely consisted of our friends coming out to hear us. We were only expecting around 50-60 people, but we had 130 people show up, cram shoulder-to-shoulder, and share the evening with us! It was honestly the first time that we realized people were actually in into our music, and not just out of politeness. I’m not sure why, but having fans has been a tough thing for us to accept. It’s both a very humbling and honouring thing at the same time.
06. Favourite decade for music?
Not sure what decade we’re currently in, but we love the indie/folk music that’s coming out now. Fleet Foxes, Denison Witmer, Gillian Welch, The Welcome Wagon…so much good writing and so many good places to find it!
07. Best mood for songwriting?
We usually write best when in a sombre mood. We tend to write only about things that weigh heavy on our hearts, so it’s rare that I write a goofy song with a huge smile on my face.
08. The last song you/the band wrote?
The last song we wrote is called “I Am Going To Build That Kingdom” and it’s a sort of hymn. We’ve never had a sing-along song, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything. We’ve been teaching people the chorus before we play and having them join us during the song. I have to admit, engaging with the crowd and singing out together is one of the best feelings in the world.
09. Which 3 musicians would you invite round for dinner?
If we could invite any 3 musicians over for dinner, we’d have to choose Rosie Thomas and her alter-ego Sheila Saputo to tell us all jokes and set the table, Gillian Welch to say grace and pour the drinks, and Chris Thile to do the dishes.
10. Worst gig ever played?
We played at place called ______ up in Spring City, PA. The announcer made fun of us by calling us the “self-proclaimed” finest folk duo in PA and rolling his eyes when introducing us. Even though we brought out nearly as many people as the local headliner, they had the audacity to ask us to pay them for not bringing out enough people! We just walked away…
11. Favourite band anecdote?
Our merch girl and opening act might have accidentally fed someone’s dog an entire bar of chocolate…and left without telling the owners. Again, she might have.
12. Five favourite albums?
1) Denison Witmer- Little Flowers
2) Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago
3) Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes
4) Great Lake Swimmers- Lost Channels
5) Rosie Thomas- If Songs Could Be Held
13. Your biggest rock and roll fantasy?
Wild, I know, but we would love to make enough money to pay off our school loans.
14. Goals for the next 12 months?
Tour, find some full-time band mates, record a new album, play loads of festivals, and get booked on a late night talk show…and maybe get booked on a folksy cruise ;)
15. First time listeners, where should they start?
First time listeners should head over to www.thebeggarfolk.com, click on the first track, and just listen straight through while reading the lyrics. Then, I’d recommend hosting a house show for us!