Lost Penny is a harmony-focused string band, playing Americana, Bluegrass and Folk originals plus covers with a twist. The band originally formed as a duo with Erin Dahlby on mandolin and Nadine on guitar after they met at a local bluegrass jam in Estes Park, Colorado. Nadine had been performing solo as a singer-songwriter, and Erin had been performing in a 3-piece bluegrass band. When by chance of circumstances they were playing the same venue, Nadine spontaneously invited Erin to sit in with her. They quickly discovered they had a compatible drive and passion to make music, and that the timbre of their voices blended well. Today, Lost Penny includes Lauren Harris (aka Elle Michelle) on banjo, Derek Ray Kirkman on bass, and Caitlin Anderson on fiddle, making up a fun and energetic 5-piece band. Two members live in Estes Park, one in Loveland, and two in Boulder. They are free-range and prone to sing about dogs and Elvis.
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Bluegrass-Influenced Folk and Americana
Nadine grew up in Indiana, close to Chicago. Music was a first, powerful memory, influenced by songs she heard her older siblings and mom play, such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Dean Martin. Her grandmother, Emma, from Tennessee, was also a big influence. Emma loved Dolly and "old timey" music as Grandmother called it. She would sing songs in her high-pitched, passed down way--gospel, traditional, Carter Family, and Loretta Lynn songs. She has been performing since she was about 8 years old. Her brother, Mike (now a professional opera singer) taught her and her brother, Dave, how to sing a Capella harmony. They would often prank call people, before caller id, and sing barber shop quartet or 50s a Capella songs to an unsuspecting recipient. They would also perform in person at events such as the Orville Redenbacher Pop Corn Festival. Nadine's first instrument was the organ when she was 4 years old. In 6th grade, her school instrument of choice was the violin, which she played in the orchestra through middle school and high school. During college, while coaching gymnastics and taking art classes, she joined Billie Duncan, a poet, songwriter and singer, in duo performances in Houston, Texas. Kelly Lancaster, an award-winning bluegrass mandolinist, was her first introduction to bluegrass. Kelly even gave Nadine a couple guitar lessons. The music scene, particularly at The Boat Yard, was extremely influential in creating the draw to be immersed in the music community that seems to make the world closer and warmer. Later, in Estes Park, Colorado, she would join a rock band, where she sang lead, sometimes sang harmony, played a little keyboard, and a little fiddle. Later she would teach herself guitar so that she could accompany herself singing solo. She then discovered that she loved writing her own songs, and has become prolific in songwriting, which she brings to Lost Penny. Since 2017, she has produced SnowyGrass Music Festival in Estes Park, Colorado.
Erin Dahlby was born in Waverly, Iowa and grew up playing piano and alto saxophone, singing in choir, and listening to a mix of rock and folk music. In the sixth grade, she bought a used electric guitar with her paper route money, picked up a Guns N’ Roses guitar book, and started teaching herself chords. With the concerts, recitals, lessons, and shoeboxes full of cassette tapes, music was an integral part of Erin’s upbringing. After moving to Estes Park, Colorado at the age of 20, Erin began playing the acoustic guitar and built up a large repertoire of Bob Dylan songs, memorizing his lyrics while gradually learning new chords. A few years later, she was introduced to the local bluegrass and jam band scene. The sounds of David Grisman, Jeff Austin, and Chris Thile inspired Erin to pick up the mandolin, and she started regularly going to bluegrass jams. She also performed occasionally with various local groups, playing everything from Richard Thompson to Britney Spears on the mandolin, and the experience propelled Erin to want to perform more. In 2013, Erin gathered some musician friends who had never met each other and formed the group Ran Off The Rooster, a “women-powered string band”. The trio played shows and festivals for several years, competed in the 2018 RockyGrass band competition, and recorded a full length studio album. Erin loves roots music and the blend of traditional and contemporary styles. She is greatly influenced by the lyricism of Ani Difranco, Bob Dylan, and Gillian Welch; she is inspired by the harmonies of Shovels & Rope, Jamestown Revival, and Watchhouse; and she can’t ever get enough of the Punch Brothers. Since Lost Penny (formerly Dahlby & Nadine) started performing in 2016, Erin has enjoyed the hard work and focus they put into the intricately woven harmonies, compelling lyrics, and creative arrangements that make their sound unique.
Derek Ray Kirkman was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa, his childhood spent on the Mississippi River and at his Grandparents farm. Early on he knew he would be a musician. Influenced by all the creative spirit that the river had to offer--from Dixieland Jazz to Delta Blues, and eventually embracing the Folk and Bluegrass roots of his elders, he started performing as a teenager playing electric bass guitar in progressive rock bands, and developed his own style and approach to the instrument. Transitioning to the upright bass in his 20’s was the final key to living a life submersed in music. Everyday. Every night. Music.
Lauren Harris, better known by her stage name, Elle Michelle, is a Boulder-based clawhammer banjo musician who grew up in a musical family. Her mother is a professional classical musician, so Lauren spent many hours attending symphony and orchestra concerts. Growing up, Lauren played the flute (like her momma) and often placed first chair in school band and music camps. She also grew up in the world of theatre where she acted, danced, and worked in backstage roles; she also studied theatre in undergrad. Lauren loves to perform, entertain, and engage, but the evolution to her stage persona, “Elle Michelle” and to the banjo was an unexpected one. She picked up the banjo just before the lockdown in 2020. This afforded her hours upon hours to fall in love with the banjo, old-time, and bluegrass music. Elle prioritizes honoring the Appalachian and old-time application of the banjo by solely playing clawhammer style. She really loves crossing over genres with this style. You can catch Elle Michelle entertaining audiences with her contagious energy in Lost Penny and her band, Elle Michelle’s Grateful Holler, as well as many other collaborations.