The Country Heart and Jazz Mind of Sierra Ferrell


Meeting Sierra Ferrell was nothing like I expected. The scene was somewhere backstage at the Albino Skunk Music Festival this spring, and in her orbit were several new faces, one of whom was holding an elderly Boston Terrier. As I would soon find out, it was Jeremiah Jenkins whose main gig is booking Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Virginia who was holding onto the pup named, appropriately enough, Boston. However, it was not his dog. Sierra Ferrell had brought Boston, but Boston was not her dog either. She was just taking care of him for a friend by bringing him to South Carolina where the air would be better for his allergies, and holding him a lot — or in this case, getting someone like Jeremiah to do the holding. Before long many people came to know Boston, and a charming, eccentric story within the larger charming eccentricities of the festival itself was born. It seemed that almost as many people knew of Boston as there were those who got to experience the magnetic set of western swing, golden era country and fiery originals from Sierra and her band.

After her performance, she stayed through the next day to catch more of the music, which was when we took time to talk. Here, she tells us about her long awaited album debut on Rounder, titled (you guessed it) Long Time Coming, her musical upbringing and early, more rocking tastes, her new band, how the forests of her native West Virginia can be heard in her songs, and more. Many songs that Sierra Ferrell and her band played at the festival are here as well, which include several from her new collection. The music and conversation are lively and free-spirited, and hint at greater things to come in a moment when Sierra is already emerging as a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist to be celebrated.

Sierra Ferrell with Boston in the green room at Albino Skunk Music Festival 05-14-21

Sierra Ferrell with Boston in the green room at Albino Skunk Music Festival 05-14-21

Boston, the elderly, blind and allergic Boston Terrier who practically stole the show

Boston, the elderly, blind and allergic Boston Terrier who practically stole the show

Songs heard in this episode:

“Lonesome Woman Blues” by Sierra Ferrell live at Albino Skunk Festival 05/14/21

“I’d Do It Again” by Sierra Ferrell, live at Albino Skunk Festival 05/14/21, excerpt

“T For Texas” by Sierra Ferrell, live at Albino Skunk Festival 05/14/21, excerpt

“Whispering Waltz” by Sierra Ferrell, live at Albino Skunk Music Festival 05/14/21, excerpt

“Why’d Ya Do It” by Sierra Ferrell, live at Albino Skunk Festival 05/14/21, excerpt

“In Dreams” by Sierra Ferrell, live at Albino Skunk Music Festival 05/14/21

Thanks for visiting! I hope you enjoyed the podcast, and might tell someone you know about it. You can follow the series on podcast platforms everywhere. And once you do that, could you take a minute and give us a top rating, and a review? In almost no time you will help make all of the topics and artists covered on this series more likely to be found by more people just like you. Southern Songs and Stories is a part of the podcast lineup of both public radio WNCW and Osiris Media, with all of the Osiris shows available here. You can also hear new episodes of this podcast on Bluegrass Planet Radio here. Thanks to Mark Johnson for supplying the live audio from Albino Skunk, and to Zig and everyone there for being so generous and accommodating. Thanks also to Corrie Askew for producing the radio adaptations of this series on public radio WNCW, where our former intern Joshua Meng wrote and performed our theme songs. – Joe Kendrick