What do neo-folkies love? The desert, of course! And particularly remote saloon Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, a tumbleweed joint popular with outlaws, permanent dropouts and weekend trippers alike. This weekend Pappy & Harriet's (along with the Joshua Tree Saloon) will be hosting the New L.A. Folk Fest for a two-day minifest featuring Mia Doi Todd, the Driftwood Singers, He's My Brother, She's My Sister and local folk scene staple Amanda Jo Williams. Williams sings songs about animals, childhood and nature, generally accompanied by stage sprite Feather (née Lauren Fay Levy), who twirls around with bells on her boots as she holds wind chimes in one hand and a mallet in the other. Feather in many ways epitomizes the hazy whimsy of the whole neo-folk scene.
L.A. WEEKLY: How did you decide to wear bells and carry wind chimes?
FEATHER: I went with what I liked and started building until it became an actual setup, and then it's been kind of like finding new toys, new bells and whistles, until it became more of a routine.
What style of music would you say you play?
I don't play any particular style of music — I play Latin bongos, but the way I play them, they don't sound Latin at all. I play them with mallets. Before I did that, I used to play whatever I found. I don't really play music, aside from getting my start with [Amanda Jo Williams], so I don't really know the terms for what everything is called. I just do what feels natural.
What do you feel you add to the band?
Atmospheric sounds, and bells. It's just fun, and [Williams] does the kick drum.
How did she decide to have such a nontraditional setup?
I think one day she decided not to decide. And once you open yourself up to the limitless possibilities of all the people in the world and everyone's experiences and learn you don't have to be a musician to be a musician, and that it's about whoever inspires you, well ... !
What's the weirdest instrument you have?
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I used to play buckets and then I broke those. I had wood blocks and then I broke those. I like using things as shakers — putting sand in a bottle, and using that.
What's your dream instrument?
I have this thing I always wanted to do — one day I was playing with a Kool-Aid packet and it made such a great noise. I want to make a body suit and sew Kool-Aid packets to it and have your whole body be a shaker. I think that any time people use their whole body as an instrument, it's a fascinating thing. I mostly like to wear my instruments and let myself dance. I don't have any drums right now so I play the stage.
NEW L.A. FOLK FEST'S DESERT WEEKEND | Sat., Feb. 26, Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, and Sun., Feb. 27 at the Joshua Tree Saloon