Voices on the Verge is a four performer folk quartet featuring Beth Amsel, Erin McKeown, Jess Klein, and Rose Polenzani. Voices on the Verge was intended to be a showcase for up-and-coming musicians to perform together in a live setting.
Each accomplished folk musicians in their own right, the four joined forces for a mini tour in November 1998. Although originally intended to have a rotating roster of performers, the four have stayed together, putting their individual careers on hold for each mini tour.
On stage, each performer sings their own songs, while the others perform backup vocals, play percussion-like insturments (amazing the sound a metal brush can make on a wine glass), acoustic guitars, electric guitars, egg shakers, a clarinet, and more.
When the four began their mini-tour, they realized that they did not have any merchandise to sell as a collective group (each had their own CD's that they were selling.) Beth Amsel suggested a lyric book containing the songs that the group was performing. Rose wrote a fairy taley thing about how the group got together:
"On the eve of a vivid storm, the young professor, half-crazed by his own foolishness, the sweat of inexperience on his brow and on the cuffs of his yellowing shirt, huddled close to his cauldron, scuffing his feet backwards in an alternating pattern to avoid singing his modest leg hairs. Under his arm was a rumpled paper bag, freshly stolen from the homes of four fair maidens. In the pot were a purposeful quartet of twisting, boiling mandrake roots; one long, one short, one sinewy, one soft. They surfed the rolling boil like great space coasters. As their limbs softened, their tendrils began to link, to intertwine, to drag each other in what became a cyclonic chain, a mesmerizing ribbonic dance, and the professor couldn't tear his eyes away from it. His lashes grew heavy with the gathering steam, and plopped heavy on his thin, pale cheeks. From out of a bag he drew the remains of a busted mandolin, painted white. It slipped into the water like a splinter slips into a thumb. As the white paint began to soften and cloud the cauldron, the rosy brown of the the wood swelled and choked. A foul smoke rose from the pot, a stinging hiss was heard, and the professor leapt away, blinded. A hum began, a buzzing, a soft voice and then a hard voice, it seemed to swing, it seemed to cry out, and it rose in a drone, and it counted itself...one two three four five six seven... little golden weights hung from its pelvis and big round balloons tugged at its head. It hovered and yet it moved. The last time I saw it, it was on the verge."
In March of 2000, Voices on the Verge recorded their first album in two live studio performances at Indre Studios in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 22 songs were recorded in those two sets, with 12 songs being included on their debut album Voices on the Verge: Live in Philadelphia.
The debut CD was released in October, 2001 on Rykodisc Records
- Heaven Release Us
- House You're Living In
- Didn't They
- Thom II
- Little White Dove
- Softly Moses
- Long Island Sound
- You Don't Know
- I'll Be Alright