Ida Mae Specker

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Ida Mae Specker is a rising force in American roots music. The daughter of legendary fiddler John Specker, 'the Mick Jagger of old-time music,' Ida Mae is a multi-talented instrumentalist and vocalist on a mission to share her unique style and passion for traditional music with the world.

A 3rd generation fiddle player, Ida Mae was born in a one-room cabin in the woods of Vermont. Along with her older sister, Lila June, she learned to play the fiddle at a very early age. The trio began performing as The Speckers in 2005. The Speckers became renowned for “playing a rambunctious version of old-time music that owes as much to punk rock as Appalachia, at least in attitude.” (Seven Days VT). With her family band, Ida Mae has recorded multiple studio albums and performed at festivals including GrassRoots, The Shakori Hills Festival, FloydFest, The Champlain Valley Folk Festival, the Brown University Festival of Dance and at Caffe Lena. The Ithaca Times writes,“What sets the Specker sound apart from other regional styles is a heavy back beat and a tendency toward syncopation derived from various styles of African-American music—blues, soul, R&B and reggae. When Ida Mae Specker deploys scratch triplets she does so in such a relaxed and natural manner that the effect is more like a bent note in the blues, like a little slingshot that throws the tune forward to make it swing a little. There is as much Mississippi Sheiks in her style as there is Appalachia.”

In 2009, Ida Mae graduated from Brown University with a BA in Anthropology. During her time at Brown, she performed professionally with New Works/World Traditions Dance Company, a troupe that fused Malian dance and drumming with original narrative and world music. After graduation, she spent a summer in Mali studying traditional arts and culture, gathering inspiration for her blossoming musical career.

From 2011-2014, Ida Mae played with the all-female, original folk-rock band The Break Maids. The Break Maids quickly rose to regional fame and have been featured at the Roots on the River Festival, the Mount Snow Brewer's Festival, and the Ludlow Folk & Blues Festival. As a Break Maid, Ida Mae showcased her skills as a singer, fiddler and percussionist.

Ida Mae released her first solo album, entitled 'Single Girl,' in 2013. The album features her on fiddle, guitar, washboard, and drum, singing lead and harmony vocals. Critics lauded her visceral, woozy grit, and her ability to “make time-worn classics seem like they were written just for her.” (Seven Days VT). Reviewer Dan Bolles compared her version of the classic 'In The Pines' with the definitive Leadbelly and Bill Monroe versions, and went on to state that, “much like her father, Ida Mae Specker is a profoundly gifted and technically sound fiddler. Her multifaceted bowing technique is particularly impressive...In terms of raw energy, Single Girl stands about a country mile from the majority of bluegrass and old-time releases.”

Solo album in hand, Ida Mae is intent on bringing traditional American music to the next level. She devotes part of her time to musical outreach through private instruction, as an artist-in-residence in local schools and by offering free concerts to the community. At heart, though, she is a performer. Her live show synthesizes her diverse influences and features original, contemporary lyrics set to old-time melodies with a rock n' roll backbeat. A powerhouse on stage, she fiddles, drums and sings simultaneously in a whirlwind of passion and virtuosity. Ida Mae Specker carries old-time music squarely into real time, back into the stream of contemporary music where it surely belongs. [+]
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Created: March 7, 2016, 2:48 p.m.
Last Modified: June 12, 2016, 2:57 a.m.