Sarah steps out of the comfort zone

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SHE’S the new hot kid on the bluegrass block.

SHE’S the new hot kid on the bluegrass block.

But barely out of her teens Sarah Jarosz is already showing the kind of musical maturity that seasoned artists crave.

She picked up the mandolin at the age of 10 and by the age of 14 she was already making waves on the music scene, jamming onstage with bluegrass icons David Grisman and Ricky Skaggs.

She started writing songs on the guitar and soon afterwards took up the banjo.

While her instrumental talents are formidable, Sarah is also a singer and songwriter of immense talent. Her first CD, Song Up in Her Head, was released by Sugar Hill Records in 2009, rapidly earning her a Grammy Award nomination for her instrumental track Mansinneedof.

She said: “I definitely could have just made a follow up record that was similar to the last one—pretty rootsy. That would have been a representation of a side of me. But I have all these new sounds and ideas and I just didn’t want to hold back.”

But instead of going straight to work as a full-time musician, she left home and headed to Boston’s New England Conservatory to study contemporary improvisation on a NEC Presidential Merit scholarship.

“I wanted something to push me out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I wanted to be playing things that I might not normally play.”

Of that journey beyond her comfort zone, she added: “It’s all so fun and exciting.

“Being exposed to all of that and learning it and absorbing it, it becomes part of your musical language and something you can use in your own way to make what you do more unique.”

The two years following the release of her debut album was a heady time with audiences and plenty of old-time and bluegrass luminaries alike discovering her formidable talent.

For Jarosz, all this has meant lugging around four instrument cases, while keeping up with her tonal harmony and American lit classes.

In the midst of this heady season she once again teamed up with acoustic guru Gary Paczosa as co-producer of her follow-up album Follow Me Down, which was released earlier this year just a few days ahead of her 20th birthday.

Jarosz and Paczosa did a session with the Punch Brothers in New York, covering Radiohead’s The Tourist, a musical influence that is felt throughout the record.

It retains connections with Jarosz’s bluegrass and old time roots but seeks out new shades and sounds.

SARAH Jarosz is at the Greystones, Greystones Road, Sheffield on Sunday, July 17.

A CONCERT featuring the region’s finest folk musicians will be held in Sheffield next Wednesday to celebrate the British and Irish Volunteers who served in the XVth International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. Itis at Sheffield Trades and Labour Club, in Duke Street, with tickets £8 on the night or £6 (£5 concessions) in advance: call Mike on 0114 201 6350.

DAVE Burland is guest at the Rock@Matlby, Wesley Centre, Blyth Road, Maltby, tonight. Next Friday’s guest will be Anna Shannon.

CHESTERFIELD Folk Club hosts a Summer Festival at this year’s Cutthorpe Carnival, beginning next Friday following the village’s Well Dressing.

HOBO Sapiens, featuring Mike Tinker and Washboard Pete are joined by Katriona Gilmore and Frank Grime at Live@215, in Sharrow Vale Road, Sheffield, next Friday.