The Little Stevies’ lives truly are like a little folk song. This traveling trio from the land down under have not only mastered the laidback strums and effortless harmonies that contribute to that feel-good folk sound, but whether or not they know it, they coincidentally have an upbringing and ongoing narrative that re-assures they are in the right genre.
Sisters Sibylla and Bethany Stephen were blessed with heavenly voices and gusto for performing that might have been influenced by their own Mother and her musician yesteryears. The siblings grew up experimenting with their natural vocal talent – an activity they preferred to do without Mom and Dad hovering around – and now can admit it was probably in their favour that Mom’s former bandmate is the father and dear friend of their current bassist, Robin Geradts-Gill. Continuing the family pastime, the friends grew up close knit and musically curious – perhaps the golden ticket to the delightful and breezy folk harmonies that now make up The Little Stevies’ live performances.
“It’s wonderful that our parents kept really great friends, and then had babies who were us,” laughs Beth through her charming Aussie accent. “They understood what we were trying to do – whether it was childhood dance routines, choirs or forcing them to be our audience members. They got it.”
The brood of next-generation music spawns picked up their instruments later in life and learned from scratch how to make those heartfelt folk melodies ring from them. “It’s really beneficial to learn with someone, because you actually go through every single step of the process together,” says Beth.
The inexperienced strums and goofy sing-a-longs lead to the official birth of The Little Stevies, a band that now exudes confidence and not an ounce of amateurism after their nearly six years playing stages. Combining their artistic talent with Sibylla’s (or “Byll’s”) music business degree, Robin’s filmmaker background and Beth’s years spent studying music – it seems as if the power trio has all the ingredients to continue their rise to folk fame.
The release of their sophomore album ‘Love Your Band’, which first highlighted the threesome’s cheery lyrics and minimalistic instrumentals, led them to the US for their first dip of the toe in North American music waters. Overwhelmingly positive responses and buzz caused the Stevies to pull out the bigger guns during their second album’s recording session in LA; guns that included uppity melodies, larger percussion, complex harmonies and undeniably catchy concepts.
The album release launched an extensive North American tour that supported stops all throughout the US and Canada, a cross-country drive from Vancouver to Ontario (that came with observations of strange Canadian traffic lights, how often we say “anyway” and the magnificent Rockies), and a multi-festival line-up that included the Ottawa Folk Festival.
“Walking onto the concert grounds, it was just such a big space and we were unsure how we could fill it,” Bethany remarked at the Hog’s Back Park setting, where the band played a live afternoon set and an inviting 25-minute acoustic performance last Saturday evening. “But, it was fantastic to see how at the end of the day we actually did.”
According to Stephen, the festival atmosphere was also a wonderful introduction to meeting other bands, seeing what they do, and discovering new music for their own pleasure.
“The more you play live music, the more you find yourself comparing and thinking about other bands critically as opposed to actually just enjoying them,” says Bethany. “The festival is a great way to sit back, take in and appreciate new things.”
Their sunny and modest demeanor most likely attracts fellow festival musicians to discover and befriend the kindhearted threesome themselves, considering their humble and infectious on-stage presence. Almost constantly exchanging knowing and friendly smiles with each other and the audience throughout a given set, it’s impossible not to fall in love with their impeccable harmonies and bond.
The bond which they call natural after “unconsciously working together and reading each other’s movements” for so many years, is one that comes across as refreshing and genuine in an age of rock star mentality and flash.
Although as we speak the trio is jet-setting back to their homeland for a rest after an album and video release, the storyline of their Australian folk song is certainly not nearing an end. Their “marriage”-like relationship is one that will sustain, despite all of the cutthroat ins and outs of the industry, because they’ve got a sound that grows bigger with every release, and an anything-but-flighty connection. After decades of learning about music and now re-teaching it to the masses, the jolly folk-family will keep singing for whoever will listen, because blood, in this case, is much thicker than fame.