LOST AND NAMELESS ORCHESTRA
Artist: Lost and Nameless Orchestra
Event: Horseshoe Bay Resort Wine and Dine Festival
When: Saturday, November 21st at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Live Oak Event Lawn, Horseshoe Bay Resort
Genre: Jazz, Grass-Band
They may call themselves Lost & Nameless, but all it takes is a few notes for listeners to recognize this foursome is anything but. With original compositions featuring complex, turn-on-a-dime arrangements and performing histories dating to childhood, the members of this Austin-based band are seasoned professionals who whip up an unforgettable sonic whirlwind wherever they play. On their new release, Empty Spaces (March 18, 2014), there’s a song title that sums up their contemporary folk-rock sound perfectly. It’s called “Little Tornado.” Filled with staccato rhythms and instrumental intrigue, it’s a charmer — just like the band that performs it.
Lost & Nameless can be traced to St. Louis, where Arkansas fiddle champion Chris E. Peterson, then a member of the band Wagon, met vocalist/guitarist Patrick Conway in 1993. They began jamming together and did some busking and recording in Europe, then went their separate ways. Peterson eventually moved to Austin to attend graduate school, and in 2006, Conway followed.
“On my second day of living in Austin, we were onstage playing together,” Conway recalls. They decided to form “a great live band” and within a week, found keyboardist Nathan Quiring. Vocalist/fiddler Kimberly Zielnicki, winner of the 2012 Old Settler’s Music Festival Youth Talent Competition, became a full-fledged member in 2008, at age 11 — just two years after she began studying fiddle and classical violin with Peterson.
Together, they imbue their originals (and the occasional cover) with a playful energy and soulfulness. Their sound simultaneously evokes Ireland and Appalachia, old-time folk and timeless pop, with an orchestral fullness. And with Conway and Zielnicki trading lead vocals (and harmonizing beautifully on “Monsters We Become,” among others), while everyone performs on multiple instruments, they deliver a dizzying array of surprises. (Conway also plays bass, banjo and harmonica; Zielnicki plays bass, ukulele and piano; Peterson also handles mandolin, lap steel and vocals; and Quiring adds accordion, glockenspiel and vocals.)
In August 2013, they headed to Grammy-winning producer Bil VornDick’s Nashville recording studio to craft Empty Spaces. Peterson, Conway and Zielnicki penned five of its six tunes; there’s also one conjoined cover (Gary Haggerty’s jig, “Coffee,” and the traditional fiddle tune “Lime Rock”). VornDick, whose credits include Alison Krauss, Jim Lauderdale and T Bone Burnett, calls the collection “refreshing.” He’s convinced it will carry them around the world.
For this band, that won’t be much of a stretch. Peterson began playing professionally at age 4 in the Peterson Family Band, which performed all over Missouri, Arkansas and Texas, and even toured Germany and France. He also played with the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra and in scores of dance bands, as well as a high-school rock band. With Wagon, he toured the states and recorded an album with revered producer Lloyd Maines.
Conway began performing and writing songs at 13, and made his solo debut opening for the Cowboy Junkies. He also worked in California as a producer and player; two of his own recordings earned widespread commercial-radio airplay throughout that state, and one of his songs, “Brave Goodbye,” was on the soundtrack of the hit TV show “Roswell.”
Quiring’s background includes playing both classical and rock, from bands and small orchestras to musical theater productions. (He’s even played in the Trump Tower penthouse.) He also plays pipe organ — and has performed on one of the world’s largest, in Ocean Grove, N.J., as well as the tiny one at Sainte Marie de La Tourette, a Dominican monastery in France.
Zielnicki learned classical violin and fiddle simultaneously from Peterson, and studies with Hot Club of Cowtown frontwoman Elana James. Since joining the band in 2008, Zielnicki also has studied bass, piano and voice, and attended several string camps, including Mark O’Connor’s, while increasing her focus on songwriting. In addition to her Old Settler’s win, she also placed in the top 1 percent of all University Interscholastic League violinists in Texas for the 2011-12 school year.
Peterson marvels at her progress, saying, “I am honored to have witnessed one of the coolest transformations as Kimberly continues to develop from that kid excited to play a few tunes on her new instrument into a mature, smart, musically sensitive, inspired and talented multi-instrumentalist and singer.”
The band’s growth, he says, parallels her own. Together, they’ve toured several pockets of the country, including Chicago, New York and Portland, Ore., and played an ever-growing list of festivals, one that’s sure to get longer as VornDick’s prediction starts to come true. They already had a “Good Morning America” audience literally dancing on tables. We recommend a more stable surface, however — something solid to hold onto when their musical tornado starts to blow you away.