Great Falls Coffeehouse hosts ‘kinetic Celtic’ duo
Eloise & Co. say fans refer to their music as “kinetic Celtic music” because of the danceable joy it brings them at live shows. With a description like that, how can you resist checking out this duo when they perform at the Great Falls Coffeehouse at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls on Friday, May 12, at 7 p.m.
Eloise & Co. is the Brattleboro, Vermont-based duo of piano accordion player Rachel Bell and fiddler Becky Tracy.
They are in-demand traditional acoustic musicians who play various dances, festivals, concerts and workshops nationwide.
You may be familiar with Bell and Tracy if you have attended any dances at the Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield, the popular venue where they frequently play at contra dances, French Bal folk (French dance music) and others. Sometimes they play together and other times they work with other musicians. Bell will play at the Grange on Friday, May 5, providing music for waltzes and other couples’ dances.
These various types of dance music deeply inform the duo’s work. They said that at the Great Falls Coffeehouse show, expect to hear Celtic reels, gritty French groove tunes, beautiful waltzes, energetic Quebecois melodies, captivating originals, mesmerizing Breton tunes and heartfelt vocals.
“We’ll do some singing in the concert, and we’ll play a bunch of instrumentals, a combination of styles drawing from the contra dance, Celtic and French traditions,” Bell wrote in an email.
She added that Bal folk music is one of Eloise & Co.’s major obsessions. Bal folk is traditional folk dancing that is popular in France and other European countries, with a growing following here in the United States. Bal folk is lively, infectious music that begs to be danced to.
“We just started a series of dance events right outside of Brattleboro, once a month at the Broad Brook Community Center in Guilford, Vermont,” said Bell. “Our next one is May 14, right after the Turners Falls concert. We’ll play some of that music at the concert. The tunes are so much fun!”
Eloise & Co. came together in 2015, when the two met while playing a contra dance.
Tracy led the contra dance portion of the evening and Bell led the French dance.
They later played together, discovered they had great musical chemistry and started booking gigs as a duo.
In the beginning they were mostly playing contra dances, but they eventually began playing at festivals and concerts like the one at the Great Falls Coffeehouse.
When it came time to choose a name for their new musical partnership, they were inspired by the fact that they were playing a lot of French music. They started looking at different Frenchsounding words, and one day Tracy showed up at a gig with a list of flowers, food and women’s names that she liked. Eloise was on the list.
“My immediate reaction was ‘No way’ because my middle name is Louise and I thought it would be weird somehow to have a band name that was kind of like my middle name,” Bell recalled.
“But then Becky said, ‘Really? Mine, too! So we discovered that we have matching middle names, Louise, and then it felt like ‘Eloise has to be the band name.’ Eloise instead of Louise because it sounds more French. We use the ‘& Co.’ because we often play as a duo but also frequently play with various guitar and piano players. They are our ‘& Co.’” There was one little problem when the pair first started working together — Bell lived seven and a half hours away in western Pennsylvania, making getting together to rehearse rather challenging. But she eventually found a solution.
“I couldn’t resist moving to Brattleboro in 2018 so that I could live up the street from Becky and rehearse with her all the time,” she said. “We love rehearsing together and digging through really old tunes, as well as new compositions that we’re currently writing — coming up with all kinds of ideas and then figuring out how to fit those ideas together.”
In 2018, Eloise & Co. released “More, Please,” a collection of original and traditional tunes. You can give it a listen at eloiseandco.bandcamp. com. They are currently putting the finishing touches on a follow-up album that will be a collection of Bal folk tunes and have been working on music videos that can be viewed on YouTube. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to hear this lively, versatile live music.
“We’re delighted to get to play in Turners Falls,” Bell said. “We haven’t played at the coffeehouse before, but we were originally scheduled to play in 2020, and then everything shut down. That makes it feel even more special to finally get there.”
The Great Falls Coffeehouse is offered in the historic hall of the Great Falls Discovery Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is by a suggested sliding-scale donation of $6 to $15. Children are admitted for free.