Nerissa & Katryna Nields
Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Folkrock, contemporary folk, alternative country
Most recent release, The Full Catastrophe (2012)
The Nields Web
The Ectophiles' Guide's page for The Nields
The Nields sisters debut as a duo after the breakup of the band The Nields.
Comments about live performance:
I saw seeing Katryna and her sister Nerissa here in New Haven, doing their last show together before Katryna's maternity leave.
It was a hastily-set up show, with next to no publicity, it turned out, save the e-mail notice about it I had forwarded to the New Haven Folk Alliance's e-mail announcements list. As such, there was hardly anybody filling up the pews in the church where the concert was held.
Katryna and Nerissa did a wonderful set. There wasn't as much between-song banter as usual, but what they did toss about was hilarious, as usual. (Best line: "I'm not a Catholic, but I occasionally play one in my songs."—Nerissa.) Overall the show seemed rather bittersweet: both sisters seemed a bit subdued, and Katryna's voice broke a bit at the very end as she introduced the very last song, an un-miked version of "Easy People" that was stunningly gorgeous in the incredible acoustics of the room. (They also stepped in front of the mikes for the classic "This Happens Again And Again", which Nerissa wrote while she was still in college.) At this point I don't think I need to say how much I love how their voices weave together, but last night, in those acoustics they sounded more beautiful than ever.
One surprise inclusion in the set was "Georgia O", which I hadn't heard in a while. They played it in honor of tonight's Academy Awards, where a film featuring the song is nominated in the Best Short Film category. It's called Seraglio, and it was made by two friends-of-a-friend who became Nields fans and named the lead character in the film Georgia, after the song.
I'm kind of bummed at how long it's going to be before I get to see my favorite band (and variations thereof) perform again, but on the other hand I'm really happy for Katryna and Dave and their pending new addition. That kid's going to have one hell of a cool family life. :) (3/01)
Last night I saw Nerissa and Katryna Nields do their first shows as a duo at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA. It was billed as "Nerissa and Katryna Nields And Friends", and the friends turned out to be Dave Chalfant on guitars and bass, Ben Demerath on guitar, bass and vocals, a fiddler named Alicia (at the early show) and cellist extraordinaire Gideon Freudmann (at the late show). But mostly it was just the two sisters on stage, with Nerissa on acoustic guitar and the two of them creating their gorgeous harmonies.
Each show was quite different, with the only overlaps being the holiday songs: their contribution to Signature Sounds' new Wonderland compilation; "Merry Christmas, Mr. Jones"; and two old-time carols, "Wassail, Wassail" and "The King". They also did two homages to George Harrison during the evening: "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Here Comes The Sun". They should record the former—it was a stunning version, with Dave Chalfant doing gorgeous guitar work.
It was five years and one day since the infamous "blizzard show" there, when the power went out and the band did the late show completely acoustic by candlelight. To commemorate that, they ended each show by standing at the top of the stairs on the top level and singing "This Happens Again And Again", one of the oldest Nields songs. Beautiful. As in 1996 it was snowing again...but this time the power stayed on. (12/01)BR>
Nerissa and Katryna Nields were next. They'd brought Dave Chalfant and Lorne Entress with them, who played bass and guitar and drums, respectively. The result was a refreshingly rocking full-band Nields sound, that created transcendent versions of songs like "Love And China" and "The Sweetness". Pete and Maura Kennedy also joined in on a couple songs, and as usual every performer hanging around backstage showed up to sing along on "Keys To The Kingdom". I've really enjoyed the duo performances I've seen in the past year, but man, was it great to hear those voices backed up by a band again. (7/02, email@example.com)
Recommended first album:
Love and China
Nerissa Nields—vocals, acoustic guitar, guitar on "Eulogy for Emma"
Dave Chalfant—bass, electric guitars, acoustic guitar, Dobro, all guitars on "Yesterday's Girl", all instruments on "Christmas Carol"
Lorne Entress—drums and percussion
Ben Demerath—acoustic guitar, background vocals and yodeling on "He Loves the Road"
Gordon Stone—pedal steel guitar
Jim Henry—electric guitar, acoustic guitar, dobro
Alicia Jo Rabins—fiddle
Kevin Barry—electric guitars, electric mandolin
I'm on my first listen but so far I like it. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
One of my favorite albums of 2002. It's hard to say how the Nields as a duo differ from The Nields as a band, except that there is a subtle difference. The high energy level and the stunning vocal harmonies that fit perfectly together are still there, but they don't sound like a band now (cause they aren't anymore). If you like one, you'll like the other. This album is more country-influenced than previous albums, but not overwhelmingly so. A chronicle of love in its many stages and forms, including its demise. (JoAnn Whetsell)
The CD has immediately taken up permanent residence in my car. It's a very twangy record, complete with prominent steel guitar on some tracks, but I think even the most rabid anti-twang crusader would crack under the pressure of the sisters' gorgeous harmonies. And the title track is addictive. I'd love it even if its first line weren't "Sky is gray coming into New Haven".
If you're ever wondering what it's like to have your marriage dissolve from under you, first listen to Suzanne Vega's Songs In Red And Gray, and then put in Love And China. Nerissa and David Nields' divorce wasn't acknowledged publicly until well after the release of this CD, but the news can't have come as a surprise to anyone who had really listened to "Tailspin", "I Haven't Got A Thing" and "Yesterday's Girl". (The album ends on a note of hope, however, with the forward-looking "New State of Grace".)
Dave Chalfant's production makes this CD shine. Some have complained that it's "too twangy", but Nerissa's been listening to a lot of Hank Williams and Willie Nelson lately, and it shows. The music fits the subject matter well, and provides ample opportunity for Nerissa and Katryna to show off their gorgeous sibling harmonies. (And the title track, "Love And China" mentions New Haven twice!! What's not to like? ;) I will always mourn the passing of my favorite band The Nields, but I'm perfectly happy to follow the sisters Nields wherever their musical journey takes them next. (email@example.com)
I've always been infatuated with Nerissa's and Katryna's voices and the way they work together with beautiful harmonies and spine-tingling voice gymnastics and inflections, the best of any two voices working together I've ever heard. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Love and China is the master creation of these two talented sisters. At first listen it seems to have a heavy country feel, but further on as you try to pigeonhole it (I don't know why I do that), you realize, this ain't country, it's got a country flavor, but it's just pure Nerissa and Katryna genius. (email@example.com)
2004—Zoë Records—011 431 042-2
Nerissa Nields—vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Katryna Nields—vocals, keyboards, piano
Dave Chalfant—baritone, electric guitars, bass, 12-string acoustic guitar, percussion, keyboards, dobro, acoustic guitar
Gordon Stone—pedal steel, banjo
It's wonderful—where Love and China was more of a country album, this has more of a rocking, full-band-Nields sound. ("When I Let You Into My Closet", which starts with Nerissa intoning, "let's rock", has become one of my all-time favorite Nields songs ever.) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
There is some of the country element to This Town is Wrong too, though—particularly in "Sara, With Your Ring" and a couple others.
Anyway, it's a top-notch album. My favorites include "This Is The Work That We Do," "Haven't I Been Good," and the opening track, "The Day I Let Glory Steer." Oh, and "When I'm Here" as well. All of those are, in my book, right up there with Nields classics like Gotta Get Over Greta and Easy People. I've only had the album for a month or so, but the above-mentioned songs have already worked their way near the top of my Most Played playlist in iTunes. (email@example.com)
The songs on This Town Is Wrong relate to Nerissa's book of the same name. I don't think each song is by a different character (as I first thought when I read reviews), but rather the songs are by different characters, and some have more than one. Not that it makes any difference. You can enjoy the album without having read the book or even knowing about it. The sisters go back to their rocking days, and the album sounds more like The Nields band than the duo's release. The country influence is still there, even stronger on songs like "When I'm Here" and "Sara, With Your Ring" and present, but in more country-folk format on other songs. Overall it's grown and continues to grow on me, though the roughness the sisters' voices sometimes have grates on me a bit more than usual. I'm happy to have a whole album full of their insights on teenagers (from the perspective of both teenagers and adults.) The Nields have brought us so many great songs about teenagers (much of Gotta Get Over Greta springs to the top of my head; there are many others) it seems like they're the right people to do it. Right now it's my least favorite of any of the Nields releases I've heard, but considering how much I love their music, it's the difference between a "B" and an "A." I still like This Town Is Wrong a lot and heartily recommend it. (JoAnn Whetsell)
2007—Mercy House Productions—8 80336 00458 9
Nerissa Nields—vocals, vocal orchestra, acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, guitar
Ben Demerath—vocals (1, 7, 10)
Stephen Kellogg—vocals (1)
Todd Martin—vocals (1)
Pete and Maura Kennedy—vocals (1, 7); cool clapping (7)
Dave Hower—drums, kick drum ownership and sound production (2)
Dave Chalfant—guitars, acoustic guitar, strum stick, basses, keyboards, drums, percussion, dobro, lap steel
Dar Williams—vocal orchestra (2); vocal extravaganza (8); vochestra (11)
Dave Dick—mandolin, banjo
Jay Mosall (The Primate Fiasco)—trumpet
Dave Dellorusso (The Primate Fiasco)—banjo
Steve Yarbro (The Primate Fiasco)—clarinet
Will Choe (The Primate Fiasco)—tuba
Jim Henry—dobro solo (9)
"Good artists borrow; great artists steal" is the motto of this album. The foreword talks about borrowing and stealing over the centuries, and melodies that recur through the ages. The 13 new songs penned for this album are all derived from pre-existing songs. In keeping with the theme, however, these ARE new songs, so their sources of inspiration are unnamed (though the liner notes say "Moonlighter" came from an old Irish drinking song).
Of course, you don't need to know any of this background to enjoy the album. But it's kind of fun to guess where the songs came from (though the only song I recognize is "Scarborough Fair" and, of course, the melody that Nerissa stole from herself.) The album is more like the sisters' debut than This Town Was Wrong (musically, not thematically)—folk, a splash of country, and a good heaping of New Orleans on "Ain't That Good News." The album itself is good news: new (and old), joyful, wistful, and great. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Nerissa brilliantly puts together her own take on several folk songs that came before, under the aegis of "good artists borrow/great artists steal"...and our own Jeff Wasilko did the photo shoot! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.