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Sunday October 24th

'Americosmic': The sounds of Violet Bell come to Cat's Cradle

Violet Bell, a progressive bluegrass group, is coming to Cat's Cradle on Oct. 11 to debut their most recent album, "Honey In My Heart." Photo courtesy of Kendall Bailey Atwater.
Buy Photos Violet Bell, a progressive bluegrass group, is coming to Cat's Cradle on Oct. 11 to debut their most recent album, "Honey In My Heart." Photo courtesy of Kendall Bailey Atwater.

On Friday, Oct. 11, Violet Bell  performed their album release show for “Honey in My Heart” at Cat’s Cradle.

Violet Bell is a progressive bluegrass duo consisting of Omar Ruiz-Lopez and Lizzy Ross from the Chapel Hill-Durham area. Ruiz-Lopez has experience writing music for groups such as the Durham Symphony Orchestra. He also taught music for Kidznotes in Durham and worked with artists including Crystal Bright and Steph Stewart and the Boyfriends.

Local band Violet Bell will perform at Cat's Cradle Friday to celebrate the new album release.

Ross, a UNC alum, published music under her own name soon after graduation. She lived in Nashville before returning to the Triangle and meeting Ruiz-Lopez through mutual friends, where they began touring and working on new material under the name Violet Bell. 

Violet Bell incorporates a variety of traditional and contemporary styles. Touching on elements of roots, Americana, classical and psychedelic music, Ross and Ruiz-Lopez created their own sound that they like to call “Americosmic”.

“They are very much grounded in folk and bluegrass tradition that you hear a lot in Chapel Hill,” said Rachel Despard, a student at UNC that also publishes and performs original music. “But they add some kind of psychedelic element and almost like a jazzy thing which is very unique about their sound. They do a lot of interesting things sonically that you don’t usually hear. They’re pretty complex.”

Ross said Violet Bell goes beyond the conventional categories of music styles. 

“We’re not centered by the genre boxes,” Ross said. “We really try to mix more influences and go beyond the boundaries of our own cultural heritage and make music that is something new and more inclusive.”

The duo has performed over 400 shows, including the Cat’s Cradle backroom. While many of their shows have been just Ruiz-Lopez and Ross, the album release for “Honey in My Heart” will bring together several guest artists that have helped to record the album, including Rissi Palmer, Matt Phillips, Daniel Chambo and Carter Minor. 

“The band sound is a really natural evolution of the duo sound and the duo chemistry,” Ross said. “It’s really exciting for us to be in a space where we can really serve these songs with that fully fleshed-out sound.”

The group began recording the album in May of 2018. Ross said many of the tracks were recorded live rather than isolating each of the musicians, reflecting the real sound and capability of the band as they play together. 

“I think that, as artists, all we can do is bring our hearts and bring our joy and leave it all on the stage,” Ross said. “We just have to trust that that’s like a magnet and it’ll bring people that resonate with that.”

Ross said that the band wants this show to be a celebration of the album. It is a performance to finalize over a year of hard work, and now they can include the audience in the music-making experience. The members of Violet Bell have played hundreds of shows, but they always value their audience and the energy that they bring.

“The audience is part of the journey with us,” Ross said. “We offer the shared experience of making music.”

After Cat’s Cradle, Violet Bell will continue on tour through the fall and return to Cary in November. They are in the process of making vinyl for their current records as well as music videos to be released soon. 

“Making this album was a powerful journey where we got to express all these things from the heart," Omar said. "I hope that this translates on the stage." 


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