Long before they were in a band together, the members of Lula Wiles were singing folk songs and trading fiddle tunes at camp in Maine. “All of us were lucky to have access to the folk music community at a young age,” Burke says. “The music traditions that we’re drawing on are social, community-building traditions.” On those warm summer nights, playing music was just plain fun. But the members of Lula Wiles carry those early lessons of community and the meaning of shared art with them to this day, as they seek to create music that questions cultural virtues, soothes aching wounds, and envisions a better world.
Lula Wiles came of age in Boston, in the practice rooms of Berklee College of Music and the city’s lively roots scene. In 2016, the band self-released Lula Wiles, a sensitive, twang-tinged collection of originals. Since then, they have toured internationally, winning fans at the Newport Folk Festival and the Philadelphia Folk Festival, and sharing stages with the likes of Aoife O’Donovan, the Wood Brothers, and Tim O’Brien.
Now, the release of What Will We Do on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings places the group squarely in line with some of its deepest influences, from the protest anthems of Woody Guthrie to the trailblazing songs of Elizabeth Cotten and Hazel Dickens. (Even the band’s name is a twist on an old Carter Family song.)
Lula Wiles brings new perspective to age-old traditions––above all, the people’s practice of sharing their communities’ struggles through songs. The band exists in the tense space where tradition and revolution meet, from which their harmonies rise into the air to create new American music.