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Rachel Harrington: Bio

:: bio ::

Reared among the Pentecostal pines of Oregon, Rachel Harrington has been doing things in the wrong order for quite some time. She'd had extensive radio play before performing her first live show, and she was opening for Grammy winners before releasing her first record.

From families of Danish dairymen and Irish lumberjacks, Rachel's only exposure to music as a young child was gospel - that, and her father's secret Stax/Motown collection he'd amassed since his return from serving in Vietnam. She especially loved the black gospel groups and the secular Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.

"I remember being a little girl, 8 or 9 years old, and my folks would leave to go to church in the evenings and I'd beg to stay behind at home. When they left I'd turn out all the lights and put on the Otis Redding records and stand in front of the big window in the living room, singing into this broken little microphone I'd gotten somewhere."

At the age of 12, after a stay with family in Montana, she fell in love with horses and began to ride in rodeo events. Out on the ranch one day, she met an old cowboy named Dutch who spent many hours giving the novice rider lessons - during which he listened to his favorite radio station that described itself as "stone country." This provided critical exposure to the likes of Hank Williams Sr., Loretta Lynn, and George Jones.

"Hearing Loretta Lynn changed my life. Finally, I had someone I could actually sing like. And it was then I also realized the connection between country and soul. First time I heard Hank Williams I knew he was coming from the same place as Ray Charles - I could just hear it."

As a sixth generation Oregonian, Harrington feels a strong connection to place and to creating music that captures some of the stories and heritage of The West. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Pacific Northwest Bioregional Studies from Fairhaven College at WWU in Bellingham, Washington, and a Master's in Environmental Conflict Resolution at NAU in Flagstaff, Arizona. During her college years, Rachel also studied creative writing with critically acclaimed author Ann Cummins. "If anything, I think I'm actually a short story writer. The story always comes first."


:: discography info ::

Rachel's 2007 debut, The Bootlegger's Daughter, (featuring guest musicians John Reischman and Danny Barnes) went to #1 on the Euro-Americana Chart and landed the Seattle siren smack in the center of the UK Americana scene when legendary BBC dj Bob Harris proclaimed Bootlegger's Daughter one of the best albums of the year. The following year of aggressive touring saw Harrington playing festivals in a dozen countries with some of the top names in bluegrass and country music.  4 stars in Mojo.

Harrington's 2008 follow-up record, City of Refuge, featured several guests including Tim O'Brien and Pieta Brown.  The album was produced by Evan Brubaker and mixed by David Ferguson (Johnny Cash's American Recordings III & IV), released on Rachel's own SkinnyDennis Records. City of Refuge reached millions of listeners through in-store airplay at Starbucks throughout the US. Four stars in Q Magazine.

In 2009, after two years spent mostly on the road touring internationally (including headline spots the Glasgow Americana Festival (Scotland) and the Maverick Festival (England)), Harrington was touted as the hardest working woman in Americana. She put out a limited edition live album, In The Woods: Live In The Netherlands, (2009).

In 2010, Rachel spent 3 months touring abroad with UK legend Rod Clements (of Lindisfarne fame), and played Scotland's Celtic Connections for the first time.

2011 saw the release of her 3rd album, Celilo Falls, which garnered sweeping 4-star reviews in major music publications (Mojo, Q, Songlines). The album debuted at #3 on the Euro-Americana Chart and reached Top-40 on the Americana Music Association radio chart, #5 on the Folk-DJ chart, #9 on the Roots Music Report chart, and #12 on the Freeform American Roots chart. Harrington was a 2011 winner in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest, a finalist in the Dave Carter Songwriting Contest at Sisters Folk Festival, and had official showcases at both the western regional and international folk alliance conferences.

Harrington's fourth outing was a marked departure. Wanting to let her hair down with some friends for a while, she put together an all-girl honkyband, The Knockouts. The result was "cosmic American music" as Gram Parsons had envisioned. Makin' Our House A Honkytonk released in 2012 and was a cult favorite for hard-core classic country fans. Q magazine said, "Harrington makes Neko Case sound like Olivia Newton John."

Rachel's lo-fi covers album, I Wish I Was In Austin (spring 2019), whose title is taken from a Guy Clark tune on the album, is a compilation of some of Rachel's favorite songs written by some of her favorite songwriters. "Shawn Colvin's covers cd, Cover Girl, has been a go-to record for me 25 years now. I've always admired her song selection and the awesome ability of hers to put her unique stamp on a song. Her interpretative skill is mind-blowing and inspirational. I've always aimed for her high bar when I play covers in a live show. And now I finally recorded them."

A new album of original songs, Hush The Wild Horses, is in the works for a 2019 release. Stay tuned!


:: notable awards & achievements ::

* 2011 Chris Austin Song Contest, Merlefest, Winner
* 2011 Finalist, Sisters Folk Festival songwriting contest
* 2011 Top 5 Finalist, Belfast Nashville Songwriting Competition
* 2006 Emerging Artist Showcase, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival 
* 2006 Honorable Mention, WCS International Song Contest 
* 2005 Winner, Gig Harbor Songwriter Competition 
* 2005 Winner, Old No. 9 Music Scholarship


:: notable festivals ::

* 2010 Celtic Connections (UK) 
* 2010 Broadstairs Folk Week (UK) 
* 2009 Naked Song Festival (Netherlands) 
* 2008 Crawley Folk Festival (UK) 
* 2010 & 2008 Perth Southern Fried Festival (UK) 
* 2009 & 2008 Glasgow Americana Festival (UK) 
* 2008 Devon Folk Festival (UK) 
* 2008 Larmer Tree Music Festival (UK) 
* 2008 Stamford Guitar Festival (UK) 
* 2009 & 2008 Leigh-on-Sea Folk Festival (UK) 
* 2008 Bluewaters Bluegrass Festival (WA) 
* 2008 Rivercity Bluegrass Festival (WA) 
* 2007 & 2005 Gig Harbor Folk Festival (WA) 
* 2007 Bainbridge Bluegrass Festival (WA) 
* 2006 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (NY) 
* 2006 Not Yer Daddy's Grass (bluegrass festival) (OR)  
* 2005 NW Pickathon (OR) 
* 2004, 2005, 2006 NW Folklife (WA)


:: notable tour support spots ::

* Guy Clark
* Iris Dement
* Eliza Gilkyson
* Jim Lauderdale 
* Todd Snider  
* Fred Eaglesmith 
* Jesse Sykes