With a fresh take on traditional American music, Northampton, MA-based newgrass band Mamma’s Marmalade transforms the conventional bluegrass experience into a raucus barnyard party that refuses to let you sit. Since their formation in 2014, the five piece string band has been fusing diverse musical backgrounds into a sound that bursts at the seams with energy, exuding a pure joy for creating music. Mamma’s honest lyrics and warm, acoustic tones invite listeners back to a time when wooden instruments and sweet vocal harmonies captivated the hearts of America. Experimenting with intricate instrumentals and lively covers, their music brings the genre to new and unexpected places.
Mamma’s Marmalade has been compared to innovative powerhouses such as John Hartford, the Newgrass Revival, Old and In the Way, and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. Over the years, members Lily Sexton (fiddle, vocals), Mitch Bordage (mandolin, vocals), Rich Hennessy (banjo, vocals), Curtis Bordage (bass) and Sean Davis (guitar, vocals) have retained the explorative and fun-loving spirit that drew them together in the first place. The band has supported The Lil’ Smokies, Jayme Stone, Twisted Pine, Bella’s Bartok, and Yarn.
Mamma’s has made appearances on stages at FreshGrass, Podunk Bluegrass Festival, Thomas Point Bluegrass Festival, Club Passim and The Parlor Room. In June of 2017, they released their debut album “Goodbye, Black Velvet”, which The Valley Advocate called “...a burst of sunshine that makes dark clouds dissipate”. The band is currently working on a second album, which will be released in the Summer of 2018.
Offering a fresh narrative to traditional acoustic music, Mamma’s Marmalade provides a window to the future of bluegrass while keeping the flavor of Americana and Rock n’ Roll alive. Experimenting with songs from classic hitmakers such as The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix, these scrappy musicians weave technical ability and a rowdy spirit to create a sound laced with a touch of mischief. The band’s high energy shows belie a universal spirit that compels fans to dance and revel in the love of authentic music.
Banjo, Lead & Harmony Vocals
Rich Hennessy grew up in Oakham, Massachusetts listening to his parents playing folk songs at home, and singin’ sweet harmonies in church. The home being constantly filled with sound, it was almost expected when at the age of 11, Rich asked his father to teach him how to play the guitar. He played the guitar for 13 years, and in the summer of 2013, picked up his first banjo. He’s kept that banjo by his side ever since, taking it from the streets of Provincetown to the Rockies in Colorado. Rich discovered his love for bluegrass music in 2014 at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival. Since then, he’s been working on his Scruggs style pickin’ while also trying to reconstruct his brain, after the discovery of John Hartford blew it to pieces.
Curtis has been playing bass since he was twelve. He had grown up listening to his dad play old country songs on the guitar and he was inspired to play himself. Curtis got his first bass on his twelfth birthday and hasn't stopped playing since. A year after he began teaching himself, he started teaching himself guitar too. Although his roots are in country he branched off into rock, funk, jazz, and hip-hop. Curtis joined the band in the summer of 2015 and fell in love with the genre. When he’s not playing bass for the band he is practicing his flat-picking in hopes that he will someday become Sean Davis. Curtis continues to sprinkle in elements of jazz and funk in his playing.
Guitar, Lead & Harmony Vocals
Sean grew up in Holden, MA listening the high lonesome sounds of his father's bluegrass band, SloGrass. Exposed at an early age to the works of Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, The Beatles and various country acts such as The Dixie Chicks and Emmylou Harris, he developed an ear for quality songwriting and improvisation. His first attempts at playing music began when he, as a toddler, would steal his dad's dreadnought guitar and play it vertically like an upright bass. In middle school, he accidentally figured out how to play a G-chord and began teaching himself The Beatles and Eric Clapton acoustic classics that he heard when he was young. In his teenage years, he began studying blues and psychedelic music icons Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan on an electric guitar and amp set-up his uncle loaned him. Sean dallied in classical bassoon briefly in high school before taking off to college. Finding himself once again with only an acoustic guitar to hold in his hands, Sean discovered flatpicking phenom Tony Rice. After spending most of his early college years skipping class, listening to bluegrass and jamming with friends to folk songs, Sean fell in love with acoustic music. After moving to Amherst in the summer of 2016 and through numerous late-night jams and festival excursions with Mitch and Lily, Sean happily accepted an invitation to join Mamma’s Marmalade. Sean continues to find ways to bring the energy and style of his Blues, Country Rock, Psychedelic rock, and Jazz heroes into his flatpicking and believes that the future of acoustic music is bright as ever. Sean also believes Curtis Bordage is the handsomest and most charismatic member of Mamma’s Marmalade.
Fiddle, Lead & Harmony Vocals
A violinist since the age of four, Lily Sexton began her studies in classical music with The Suzuki School of Westport. Her mother, an accomplished vocalist, encouraged her to sing, first in church and then later in chorus ensembles and as a soloist. Entirely self-taught in the fiddle style, Lily found traditional American fiddle music while studying sustainable agriculture at The University of Massachusetts and became immediately enthralled (some say obsessed, semantics). Since then she has devoted many hours and many miles on her car to seeking out teachers of all kinds, from the collective education of the bluegrass jam to old masters of the American fiddle to illuminating recordings of (and performances by) the great sages of bluegrass and beyond. In each song she writes or performs, Lily strives to bring to light the profound connection that exists between us all when we share in the music making experience. When she isn’t playing, she is teaching classical and traditional violin to young’uns, writing, or enjoying the peace of Hadley, MA.
Mandolin, Lead & Harmony Vocals
Mandolin wasn’t a word in Mitch’s vocabulary until age 19, when his family discovered his great uncle’s old mandolin. A guitar player since he was in middle school, Mitch’s musical roots come from picking tunes out of the Americana skillet of country, rock, blues that he, his brother and his Dad played growing up. Years later, when that old mandolin was dug up from the dank, cobwebby corners of his basement, Mitch was still invested in learning guitar, but fortunately after months of toying around with a few chords, his world exploded while at an uncle’s jam session. It was here where a well bluegrassed cousin proceeded to melt his face off, ripping lead after lead. Feeling as though a challenging yet promising path was opening up ahead of him, Mitch took the mandolin by his side and set a course to brave the mysterious eight stringed land. Having found a home in Mamma’s Marmalade, he passionately explores music (the good and the bad) with his best friends. As a player of a few years, Mitch continues to learn by standing on the shoulders of his heroes David Grisman and Sam Bush while incorporating fresh ideas from his own experience with funk, jazz, and psychedelic rock. By day Mitch enjoys computers, botany, and dank memes. The dank.