Following time living in the western US and eastern Europe, Burlington, Vermont musician Colby Crehan has returned to the stage with Marsh Lights. The former vocalist and songwriter for the Bluegrass Gospel Project and PossumHaw reunites with PossumHaw bandmates for the new 5-piece acoustic project.
“What we create is so different from when we started back in 2004, the time finally came to acknowledge that with a new name,” says Colby. “Marsh Lights frees us to try new things and venture into new stylistic territory.”
Marsh Lights’ new songs explore bravery, darkness, spirituality, and grace with lyrics that often employ metaphoric places and female heroes and perspectives. And Marsh Lights pulls from the old songbook of PossumHaw, particularly the songs found on their last recording, the live 2017 album Limberpine.
“While I don’t write autobiographical songs,” says Colby, “I can always relate to the characters and stories in the songs in a deeply personal way. I hope our listeners will feel the same connection.”
In addition to Colby’s lyrical pieces, the band also plays instrumentals written by banjoist Ryan Crehan and mandolinist Stephen Waud. “The instrumentals are high-energy, expressive and a lot of fun. They provide a great contrast and really set the stage on fire” says Colby.
Marsh Lights plays acoustic folk-grass music with a hyper-literate edge and beautiful execution. Colby and her band-mates have received accolades, including Vermont Vocalist of the Year and Vermont Song of the Year (Tammie Awards, Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus). Stunning past performances by the Bluegrass Gospel Project and PossumHaw have included appearances at premier venues such as Flynn Mainstage and Higher Ground, and have reached thousands of audience members around the Northeast. The group’s strong rapport built over years of performing together makes for a band that can go light and heavy, solemn and joyful, fast and slow.
Colby is joined by her husband, Ryan Crehan, who provides warm harmony vocals and banjo playing that is sometimes plaintive and other times hard-driving. Ryan also draws the audience in as front man for the group.
Also on the stage is Charley Eiseman, long-time friend and musical collaborator. Charley’s equally warm vocals join Colby and Ryan’s for hauntingly sweet three-part harmonies. Charley plays lead acoustic guitar with nuanced blues and jazz inflections.
Stephen Waud brings amazing mandolin chops to the stage, equally equipped to fire up the crowd or mine tender turns of musical phrase. Stephen previously performed with the Modern Grass Quintet.
Mitch Barron, a long-time essential presence in the Vermont folk music scene, brings his skilled upright bass playing to the stage, along with deep, rich vocal backup.