"Come in ... take off your shoes ... stay awhile!"
It’s a trademark phrase in the South and, while the shoes part depends on the visitor, the members of the band The Barefoot Movement take it seriously.
"Unless there’s some kind of occupational hazard, like glass or freezing temperatures, it’s kind of weird to not perform barefoot at this point, because it’s just kind of a part of the way we do things," said fiddle player Noah Wall. "We really want our audiences to be relaxed and have a good time, and being barefoot is sort of of a symbol of that in the South."
The Nashville-based band will headline a concert Friday at the Oxford Performing Arts Center. Called "Celebrate Freedom: A Celebration of American Music," the show will also feature Lindsey Hinkle, the Ransomed Band and Kelli Johnson.
The show will be recorded and televised throughout July on WEAC/TV 24.
Wall, a native of North Carolina, began playing professionally with mandolin player Tommy Norris back in 2006, and expanded to become The Barefoot Movement in 2008. Bass player Hasee Ciaccio joined the band in 2011, and Alex Conerly joined in 2013 as a guitarist.
Their sound is a mix of old-time string band music and traditional acoustic music. "We do some blues, but the originals that we write are just rootsy Americana songs filled in with the instruments and the voices that we have," said Wall.
Wall is the primary songwriter for the group. "I just like to write about mostly feelings that I have," she said. "Most of the time somebody’s probably felt the same way you have and lived through it."
The band has released two albums, "Footwork" and "Figures of the Year," as well as a six-song EP, "The High Road."
The Barefoot Movement was named "Band of the Year" in the Momentum Awards category at the International Bluegrass Music Awards last fall.
Last year, the group had the opportunity to perform in Burkina Faso, Africa, at a Fourth of July party at the American Embassy. "They wanted a very American band — especially because the ambassador’s wife was from Kentucky," said Wall. The two-week stay also involved playing for orphanages, primary schools and homes for women. "It was a really, really rewarding experience."
Right now, the group is both on the road and in the studio, working on a live album and a Christmas album.
"In our world of acoustic, kind of folk-y, music, there’s sort of a whole underground community where people have been making a living for years and years, but the mainstream might not know exactly who they are," Wall said. "We’re just going to try and make as many fans and go as big as we can, and then hopefully in the end we’ll have enough of a fanbase to keep us going throughout the years."
But, Wall said, there is a fallback plan.
"We all have degrees, so if all else fails, we can just go back to school and get our masters, I guess."
Erin Williams is a freelance writer for The Anniston Star.