It makes sense that the Universalist Unitarian Coffeehouse, perhaps Columbia’s most misunderstood music venue, is the site for the band Harpeth Rising’s first Columbia-area performance.
That’s because just as challenging as it is to categorize UU Coffeehouse, it’s even more difficult to describe the music of Harpeth Rising, the Nashville-based trio whose work has been called everything from “newgrass” to modern acoustic Americana and even rock.
Even a quick listen makes it easy to see why they’re hard to pin down: armed with nothing more than a viola, a cello, a banjo and three glorious voices, the band covers a diverse collection of songs, from the empowered “These Boots Were Made for Walking” and the jaunty “Istanbul not Constantinople” to Led Zeppelin’s mystic “Stairway to Heaven.” Along the way, the songs are transformed into compositions that honor the originals but follow their own souls. Then there are the group’s own songs, which vary from rollicking alt-rock toe-tappers to haunting ballads and include lovely harmonies, interesting techniques like string-plucking and flat-out talent.
This spring, the group’s fourth album, “Shifted,” will be released. “Our upcoming album 'Shifted' is a collection of new, original songs inspired by our ever-changing relationship to the world around us,” said band member Jordana Greenberg. “We write about social, political and personal ideas. This album further deepens our exploration of three-part vocal harmonies, rich instrumental textures and unique percussive elements.”
Harpeth Rising plays the Universalist Unitarian Coffeehouse Saturday. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8. For more information, visit uucoffeehouse.org