The Signature Series--Eight Years of Collaboration and Growth 


In our third decade together, lots of circumstances affected our repertoire and configurations.  One very fruitful circumstance was our partnering with Falcon Theatre of Newport, KY and the Campbell County Public Library on a new series entitled Signature Series.  The collaboration was originally the brainchild of the adult programming librarian at the main branch, Janet Arno.  She had worked with Raison D’Etre on ArtsWave programs, plus attended Falcon’s productions and hosted their shorter productions…

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Historical Sets and Venues, Big Band Singing, and the Wild, Wild West 

History Homework 

From the very beginning, our trio has been challenged to learn historical sets and to perform at historical venues.  We started out with Simon Kenton Days at Historic Washington, KY, moved on to perform Shaker and pioneer tunes for Cincinnati Museum Center, eventually performed a cappella swing at the “Cincinnati Goes to War Exhibit” for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day, and then added Civil War songs for another CMC exhibit, “Liberty on the Border.” New Richmond, OH has commissioned us twice…

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New Beginnings, 2008-2010 

Between 2008-2010, Raison D’Etre would continue playing at many venues around home like Edensong, Summerfair, The Coffee Cup Concert Series, and even the Appalachian Festival at Coney Island.  But starting in 2008, we ventured out of our regional territory to travel to our first Southeast Regional Folk Alliance conference in Arkansas. And while Roberta had been traveling to Wildacres Retreat Center in NC for a few years to do some songwriting workshops with the likes of Pierce Pettis and Marshall Chapman,…

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Songs, Sidemen, and Sessions--the Middle Decade 

Once we were juried into the Kentucky Performing Arts Directory, we traveled to many music venues in Kentucky.  But we also began to write more of our own songs thanks to a grant from Kentucky Foundation for Women that afforded us several songwriting retreats in Kentucky, Ohio, and even North Carolina.  And once we’d created those new songs and arranged some of our older ones for three-part harmony, we couldn’t wait to record them on our fourth album, “Queen Anne’s Lace.” 

By the time we were ready to…

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Documentation, Performing Arts Directory, and a New Direction 

1999 was a turning point for the trio.  We finally finished our first studio album, Better Medicine, which our engineer, Bruce Ellis, assured us was a “documentation” of all the styles of music we’d performed since 1990: singer songwriter tunes, swing, Shaker, and pioneer ballads. It really did constitute a portfolio of sorts.  When one of us joined the planning committee for a new concert series at Covington’s Behringer-Crawford Museum, the wheels of change began to spin for Raison D’Etre. 

The Coffee Cup…

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A Correction, Recording Frenzy, and End of the First Decade 

One of the perks of attempting to document a thirty-year history for this folk trio is finding unexpected artifacts in the “archives.”  While I won’t share any photos of the haphazard files that contain scraps of Raison D’Etre history, I can tell you that part of that filing system is a side drawer in my old metal office desk.  The previous owner of our ranch house ran a real estate office out of our closed-in porch.  When he left for his newly-built home, he “threw in” this heavy piece of office furniture…

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From Shaker to Swing--Doing Our Musical Homework 

For the first couple of years, we built up our set list with originals and any singer songwriter covers that allowed us to expand our three-part harmonies.  So, where does a folk trio play with that brand of repertoire?  The answer is folk festivals, coffee houses, a few select funky bars, and any folk club/association that would have us on their stage.  While our friend, Steve Young, who had hosted us on his public radio show, invited us back to Morehead, KY for an event entitled “Folk Fest,” we also made…

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Friends and Folk: a Demo, a Direction, a Name 

All three members of Raison D’Etre are Morehead State University grads.  That’s not where Violet Rae and Roberta met, of course.  When asked the question, “how long have you been playing with your sister?” Violet’s standard answer is “all my life.”  That’s to let everyone know that Roberta is older.  But Violet and Vickie met each other through MSU’s Theatre Department—some three years after Roberta arrived as a freshman who divided her time between Baird Music Hall and the Combs Building(back then, the…

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From a Set List to a Name 

After stepping off BB Riverboat’s Hoedown Cruise for the final summer, Violet Rae, Vickie and I had decided to keep playing together as a trio.  We knew that would mean becoming less commercial in our song choices, more acoustic in our guitar playing and more dependent on Vickie to provide keyboard leads for our arrangements.  We’d also learned from our previous experience in the family band, Mudpuppy, that playing songs you really like that are not well-known is not exactly the recipe for constant bar…

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30 Years Together Began in 1990 

It all began after two summer seasons playing on BB Riverboats' "Hoe Down Cruise."  We were the front women for a band named-- just for the occasion of party-barging up the Mighty Ohio River--Runaway Stage. We played a mostly country setlist of harmony favorites from Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and the Forester Sisters backed by the country rock sass and slap of Don Clare on drums and vocals and Dan Wilson on bass and vocals.  I'm pretty sure we slipped in a few country rock originals…

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Falcon Flip

Falcon Theatre, Newport, KY

Falcon welcomes patrons back for some pre-season celebration. We're performing some music with the actors from COAL TOWN PHOTOGRAPH.--CANCELLED DUE TO RISE IN COVID CASES IN OUR AREA.