Lula Wiles brings fresh take on traditional folk to The Palms on Thursday, Oct. 17

Lula Wiles will perform at The Palms Playhouse for the first time on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m.
Eleanor Buckland (left), Mali Obomsawin and Isa Burke, who perform together as the trio Lula Wiles, will make their debut at The Palms Playhouse in Winters on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21 general/$12 students. Courtesy photo

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What will we do? For Lula Wiles, the trio made up of Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland and Mali Obomsawin, the question is central to the creation of their music—and it’s the title of their new album.  “We wanted to make an album that reflected, in a current way, what we are all staying up late thinking about and talking about over drinks at the dinner table,” says Obomsawin. “What is everyone worried about, confiding in their friends about, losing sleep about?” Lula Wiles will perform at The Palms Playhouse for the first time on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21 general/$12 students.   On “What Will We Do,” the band’s sophomore album, the trio’s voices burn, twist together, mingle, and rise like smoke signaling changes to come. But anchoring that delicate touch is a mastery of folk music —and a willingness to subvert its hallowed conventions. Long before they were in a band together, the members of Lula Wiles were singing folk songs and trading fiddle tunes at camp in Maine.  “All of us were lucky to have access to the folk music community at a young age,” Burke says. “The music traditions that we’re drawing on are social, community-building traditions.”  On those warm summer nights, playing music was just plain fun. But the members of Lula Wiles carry those early lessons of community and the meaning of shared art with them to this day, as they seek to create music that questions cultural virtues, soothes aching wounds and envisions a better world. Lula Wiles came of age in Boston, in the practice rooms of Berklee College of Music and the city’s lively roots scene. In 2016, the band self-released “Lula Wiles,” a sensitive, twang-tinged collection of originals. Since then, they’ve toured internationally, won fans at the Newport Folk Festival and the Philadelphia Folk Festival and shared stages with the likes of Aoife O’Donovan, the Wood Brothers and Tim O’Brien. Now, the release of “What Will We Do” on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings places the group squarely in line with some of its deepest influences, from the protest anthems of Woody Guthrie to the trailblazing songs of Elizabeth Cotten and Hazel Dickens. The band’s name is a twist on an old Carter Family song. On “What Will We Do,” the musicians take turns in different roles––Burke and Buckland on guitar and fiddle, Obomsawin on bass, all three singing—operate in close tandem, buoyed by the nimble touch of drummer (and frequent collaborator) Sean Trischka.  They infuse their songs with distinctly modern sounds: pop hooks, distorted electric guitars and dissonant multi-layered vocals, all employed in the service of songs that reclaim folk music in their own voice. The lyrics are sharp and the melodies finely wrought, speaking to the issues of the day, even as they riff on folk music’s tropes and update traditional material. There is stinging insight, weary acceptance, growing resilience. Lula Wiles brings new perspective to age-old traditions––above all, the people’s practice of sharing their communities’ struggles through songs. The band exists in the tense space where tradition and revolution meet, from which their harmonies rise into the air to create new American music. Tickets are available online via The Palms’ website and through Eventbrite, as well as at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland and at the door if the show is not sold out.  For more information, visit and

Lula Wiles performs “Mama.”

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