by Sayre Miller
Between now and Rogue Festival 2014 we will be featuring several of the performers who will be at this year’s festival, so keep watching for more! Also, next week we will have a preview of the Festival itself. And if that wasn’t enough, we will have show reviews and video interviews during this year’s Rogue Festival.
She travels on cruise ships and scenic trains, jamming all hours of the day. He’s hauled his guitar around the world on his back, entertaining locals and fellow travelers. She’s lain awake in a converted monastery in Spain, constructing a song in her head about jet lag and moonlight. Together they are Highway 41, the local folk band.
What these three have in common is a lifetime of desire to return to music with dedication and passion after successful careers. They make their public debut at Rogue Festival 2014, playing in the Spectrum Art Gallery [608 East Olive Avenue, Fresno] on March 1 and 2 at 4:00 p.m., March 7 at 9:00 p.m., and March 8 at 1:30 p.m., admission $5 in Rogue Bucks.
Formed in the spring of 2013, the trio consists of Elaine Fetterman on fiddle, and Bill Jirsa and Sari Miller on guitar and vocals. Jirsa characterizes their sound as “evoking memories of the past with an eclectic collection of sweet melodies and memorable tunes anchored in traditional Americana.”
“We identify with the rural nature of the Central Valley and our small town roots,” he says. “Highway 41 traverses iconic California countryside, winding through mountains, crossing rolling hills, passing fields and small towns, reminding us of an enduring rural lifestyle.”
The band’s material springs from folk, old standards, country, bluegrass, and original songs from Jirsa and Miller. Growing up in Merced, Jirsa picked up his first guitar at the age of 14 amid the folk craze of the 50?s and 60?s, gravitating to country, folk, and the rock-and-roll of the day. Active statewide in bluegrass events, he jams and performs in a broad array of venues where he also teaches beginning bluegrass guitar workshops. Throughout the years he has composed tunes based on life experience, accumulating a portfolio of songs inspired by folk, country, and bluegrass.
Born and raised in Clovis, Miller learned to play folk guitar in the 60’s during summers on Carmel Beach. She says her mother bought her a guitar at age 13 as encouragement to set aside her noisy violin. The guitar was an instant fit, and she went on to perform in Claremont during her college and post-graduate years, and later in Honolulu. She has documented events in her life in a storytelling style, capturing memories in a collection of songs.
Fetterman played the violin early in life in her hometown of Bishop, recently picking it up again to polish her skills as a fiddler. An award-winning horsewoman throughout the U.S., life is busier than ever with music and the rural Clovis property where she stables her animals. Talent and dedication make her a rare commodity within the local music community as she brings the same intensity that formerly won blue ribbons to the mastery of fiddling.
Available for fundraisers, socials, family gatherings, cafés, and other venues, Highway 41 can be followed on Facebook (Highway 41 Band), on their website, or contacted through Bill Jirsa at billjirsa@hotmail[dot]com or (559)269-3060.