truly unusual instruments. Klein, the band’s principal lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and van der Voo, double bassist, are joined in the current Orpheum Bell lineup by multi-instrumentalist Michael Billmire and two newcomers, Henrik Karapetyan on violins and Katie Lee on vocals, and a variety of string and percussion instruments. And, by the way, all members contribute some singing.
The quintet recently recorded a third album, The Old Sisters’ Home, released locally in December 2011 and nationally on May 8, and they’re excited to bring their new music to the Ark on June 23, where they’ll play a double bill with Chicago’s Eastern Blok. While the new album contains much of Orpheum Bell’s distinctive Eastern sound, much has changed, too. Perhaps the most noticeable difference from the band’s two prior albums--2007’s Pretty as You and 2009’s Pearls--is the female vocalist. Lee replaces Merrill Hodnefield—which is no easy task. Fortunately, instead of trying to imitate Hodnefield, Lee quickly found her own voice. Guest drummer Michael Shimmin plays on most of the ten tracks, while Terry Kimura adds trombone and Sipkje Pesnichak adds oboe and French horn on select numbers. Billmire has added xylophone to his lengthy repertoire of instruments, which include accordion, mandolin, pump organ, trumpet, shepherd harp, and glockenspiel.