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With songs as sweet and biting as the nectar and venom in her voice, Rachel Sumner has been captivating audiences throughout the northeast with her exciting new band Traveling Light. While their instrumentation and textures show roots deep in bluegrass and traditional folk music, Sumner’s lyric-forward writing and penchant for snaking chord progressions demand something beyond folk conventions, highlighting the acrobatic range of her brilliant bandmates Kat Wallace (fiddle/harmonies) and Mike Siegel (upright bass).
Sumner is no stranger to the stage. She spent her early career on the bluegrass circuit, singing and writing with the genre-bending Boston group Twisted Pine. Since setting out on her own, Sumner’s songs have been critically acclaimed, winning the Lennon Award in the folk category of the 2021 John Lennon Songwriting Contest for her song “Radium Girls (Curie Eleison);” earning her a spot in the Kerrville New Folk Competition; and being chosen two consecutive years by WBUR/NPR as one of the top Massachusetts entries in the Tiny Desk Competition.
Originally a classical flutist from the dusty Mojave desert, Sumner relocated from California to Boston a decade ago intending to study Composition and Film Scoring at Berklee College of Music. While at school, she found herself in the orbit of roots musicians like Molly Tuttle, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, and John Mailander who introduced her to a trove of traditional music, started her off with a few chords on the guitar, and encouraged her to write her own songs. In the short time since, Rachel has become one of the most vital voices in Boston’s thriving roots music scene. Rachel Sumner & Traveling Light will release their debut LP in the summer of 2022.
Maxfield Anderson is an American roots multi-instrumentalist, teacher, writer and music director, currently living in Somerville, MA. As an artist, Maxfield aims to bring new light to honored traditions and to share the joy of making music with others.
Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Maxfield’s home was filled with an array of musical styles. After years of playing violin, his attention was taken hold by bluegrass and western swing fiddle, quickly leading him to discover the mandolin. He moved to Boston to study mandolin and American roots music at Berklee College of Music. Additionally, Max is a proficient guitar player, and after a year of isolation, finally broke down and added clawhammer banjo to the repertoire.
Teaching music has always been a big part of Max’s artistry. He believes that traditional music is an excellent vessel for understanding an instrument and finding your own voice as a musician. Teaching at Club Passim since 2020, Max has taught group courses in Beginner & Intermediate Mandolin, Bluegrass Ensemble (co-taught with Trevin Nelson), and Intro to Tune Writing. He also offers private instruction on mandolin, fiddle, guitar, music theory, and tune writing out of his home studio.
In addition to performing and teaching, Maxfield recently wrote and music directed the ‘Homegrown Stringband’ roots trio at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, OH. The trio performed authentic bluegrass, folk, and old time string band music throughout the summer season of 2022.
Maxfield graduated from Berklee College of Music with a BFA in Music Performance. He is an active gigging musician in the Boston music scene, and has toured throughout the Northeast playing listening rooms, ball rooms, bar rooms, back rooms, front porches and festival stages.