BENNINGTON -- The Meetinghouse Café of the Bennington Unitarian Universalist Fellowship will open its 2012-13 season with Hungrytown, the musical and marital duo of Ken Anderson and Rebecca Hall, with special opening act Vellamo from Finland, on Friday, Sept. 14, with the music starting at 8 p.m.
Hungrytown have been making music full time since 2004. Since then, the couple has been touring extensively, and has released two CDs, "Hungrytown" in 2008 and "Any Forgotten Thing" last year. Before Hungrytown, Hall made two well-received CDs under her own name, with help from Anderson behind the scenes, "Rebecca Hall Sings!" in 2000 and "Sunday Afternoon" in 2002.
According to supplied material, Hall learned to sing in church when she was five years old, and had developed into a skilled interpreter of jazz and blues standards by the time she was in her 20s. Her discovery of roots music coincided with the reissue of the Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music in 1997, and inspired her to write her own material. She soon developed a reputation for creating simple, melodic and achingly beautiful songs, weaving modern themes into traditional song structures.
"Hall's original compositions hark back to the earliest traditions of acoustic Americana, tracing a sepia-tinged line from the Carter Family to the contemporary lo-fi classicism of Gillian Welch," Steve Bennet wrote in Acoustic Magazine.
Anderson is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist as well as a talented producer and arranger. He learned to play drums and organ as a child, and has since moved on to bass, guitar, mandolin, banjo and harmonica. He also has a remarkable gift for musical harmony, and is responsible for Hungrytown's luxuriant vocal stylings.
Having produced all of their recorded works, his artistry has been singled out for praise: "Anderson has a knack for crafting rich arrangements that don't clutter things up," Casey Rea writes of Seven Days magazine.
When not touring with Hall, Anderson is often upstairs in their home studio, called Song Catcher Recording, working with other songwriters and instrumentalists.
Hungrytown tours both the United States and abroad. Their recent overseas travels have included the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Finland.
And speaking of Finland ... In Finnish mythology, Vellamo is the goddess of the sea. Based in Vaasa, on the western coast of Finland, the folk duo Vellamo has been performing in Europe since 2008.
Pia Leinonen, originally from the arctic region of Lapland, is Vellamo's lead singer. Her moving and evocative stylings have been compared to those of other story-centric performers such as Joan Baez and Marlene Dietrich.
Joni Tiala, originally from the Finnish port of Kokkola, began playing guitar at the age of 11. He is now a master of several stringed instruments. His eclectic musical background includes writing and performing for theater, progressive and alternative rock and Finnish and western folk.
In addition to his work in Vellamo, Tiala is an accomplished theater and session musician, and is founding member of the renowned Finnish progressive rock band, Moonwagon.
Vellamo, according to the band's website, combines the rich tradition of Finnish folksong with an appealing "retro" sensibility (recalling the likes of Judy Collins or Richard and Mimi Fariña), creating an exotic and magical acoustic experience. Pia and Joni have even been known to sneak in a "Vellamo-ized" Jethro Tull song now and then.
The complete Meetinghouse schedule for the season includes:
* Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. -- Michele Choiniere, an award-winning Smithsonian Folkways recording artist, with Franco-American music overlaying a raw authenticity.
* Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. -- Christopher Shaw, singer and teller of songs and stories from the Adirondacks.
* Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. -- Woods Tea Company, returning for annual local crowd favorite.
* Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. -- Claudia Schmidt the remarkable singer of original and folk stories and songs, returns.
* Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. -- The Modern Grass Quintet, a Vermont group, which includes Steve Light, an award-winning banjoist and a staple of the Northeast acoustic scene.
* March 15 at 8 p.m. -- Dafé Brudäjo, the Williamstown, Mass., plays an eclectic mix of contemporary folk, jazz and original compositions.
* April 19 at 8 p.m. -- Singer/songwriter Chuck Brodsky, whose songwriting pokes fun at political corruption, road rage, mischief he made as a kid. The UUF Meetinghouse is located at 108 School Street. Tickets are $15. For information visit uubennington.org.