Best String Band
The Stairwell Sisters
The Stairwell Sisters, an all-woman acoustic bluegrass ensemble, pay homage to old-time music in a thoroughly modern way. The Berkeley band draws musical inspiration from the old days of country and bluegrass, but its sound and subject matter almost has a punk-rock edge to it. Live shows tell all — the sisters come out on stage in their trademark red and black and often start things off with some wild buckdancing and a capella songs. All five band members have strong singing voices and powerful skills with their string instruments — the dobro (slide guitar), banjo, bass, guitar, and fiddle — and the vocal and instrumental harmony they forge is so tight and energetic you can't keep from movin' along with their tunes. They've just released their third CD, Get Off Your Money, which was produced by country music giant Lloyd Maines (father of Dixie Chick Natalie Maines).