Hannah Read

As the daughter of a renowned mycologist, Hannah Read grew up in a world steeped in fungi. But it wasn’t until her father passed away and Edinburgh University commissioned her to compose an album of fungi-inspired music that Read found her own inroad into the earth’s intricate and interconnected mycelial network. A portal to the woodwide web. Read began watching time lapse footage of bioluminescent fungal hyphae and was transfixed. The pulsing neon yellow and lime green orbs were otherworldly, delicate and compelling. With fiddle in hand, Read started translating these visuals into music—taking tempo cues from the microscopic mycelium’s organic movements. With sound and science now in conversation, she felt a deep connection to her father. The Fungi Sessions Vol. 1 is Read’s way of continuing her father’s legacy.

The Fungi Sessions was written and recorded over a two-week period at a studio on the Scottish Borders. It was early June and the doors stayed open all day to let in the breeze, pastel light and birdsong. The recording process was organic and the entire ecosystem entered the music—the rolling fields, woodlands, pink poppies and the foxgloves outside the studio windows. Read played fiddle and guitar on the session and was joined by long-time collaborator, clawhammer banjoist and guitar player, Michael Starkey. Acclaimed sound designer Charles Van Kirk added ambience from field recordings made off the Midcoast of Maine—the sounds start in the forest and slowly wend their way to the sea as the album comes to a close. The recording garnered glowing reviews in the press and amongst eminent mycologists like Paul Stamets, Giuiliana Furci and Merlin Sheldrake.

Born in Edinburgh, Read grew up in a family of string players whose parents enthusiastically took her to see trad artists like Shooglenifty and Dick Gaughan. When she was 7, they spent much of one year on the Isle of Eigg off the west coast of Scotland in a house with no running water or electricity. During this time, she was fully immersed in music and would run out to the pier playing fiddle whenever traveling musicians came to the island. At 11, she attended the City of Edinburgh Music School and vividly remembers the wild feeling of singing in the children’s choir for a Celine Dion concert in front of 60,000 people. She felt both electrified and totally at ease and knew intrinsically she wanted to do this forever.

After high school, Read moved to Paris to study jazz vocals at the American School of Modern Music but her ears perked up when she heard American roots music. She was particularly taken with the hypnotic and egoless ethos of old-time music from the Appalachian mountains. Read moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music and studied with Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky and Matt Glaser. After graduation, she settled in Brooklyn to focus on writing songs, collaborating across genres and playing with artists like Sarah Jarosz, Tony Trischka, Cassandra Jenkins, Melanie Safka, Jefferson Hamer, Mipso and more. She was invited to take part in Songs of Separation, an album of songs about separation and togetherness written and recorded by five women from England and five from Scotland, including Eliza Carthy and Karine Polwart. It won the BBC Folk Album of the Year in 2017.

“One of the finest singers of our day” (Mojo Magazine), Read is well-loved as a singer, songwriter, fiddler and collaborator. Her Hudson Records debut, Way Out I’ll Wander, features songs of self-discovery, settings of Scottish poetry and Read’s wide-minded influences. Her follow-up, Cross The Rolling Water, wades in Appalachia’s deep river of song and features Scottish banjoist Michael Starkey. Early July, her sparky new indie-pop project with Andy Monaghan (from Frightened Rabbit) is set to release Follow the Hum in October 2024 on Monohands Records. It’s raw and vulnerable with songs about love, loss, longing and the unanswerable questions of our time.

In her intimately engaging concerts, Read folds her myriad influences together with stories from the Scottish Highlands, songs from the Appalachian mountains, indie-folk ballads and tunes inspired by the woodwide web. Her touring project scales from trio to quartet, often including strings, woodwinds, percussion foraged from the forest and projections of time lapse footage of mycelium. Read has performed at Symphony Space (New York), Barbican Centre (London), Celtic Connections (Glasgow), Alaska Folk Festival (Juneau), Telluride Jazz Festival (Telluride) and Hotel Café (Hollywood). She offers workshops and educational programs (often with local mycologists) that highlight the connections between science and art. Read makes her home in Northern California.

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Videos

Shenandoah

Moorland Bare

Alexander

Apple Blossom

Press

“One of the finest singers of our day.”

Mojo

“Nine gorgeous originals deserving crossover status.”

The Guardian

“A memorable partnership between science and music.”

The Scotsman

“Listening to each of its songs is like watching the snow settle in an exquisitely crafted snow globe, revealing an image of pristine clarity.”

Folk Radio UK

“Hannah Read is one of those musicians who seem too gifted not to turn out perfection each time she records.”

Americana UK

“A wonderful album of fungi inspired music.”

Paul Stamets, mycologist

“A truly gorgeous meditative album.”

Sarah Jarosz, Grammy-winner

Photos

Press Photo

by Samuel James Taylor

Press Photo

by Mark Wickens

Press Photo

by Mark Wickens

Hannah Read

by Mark Wickens

Upcoming Dates

June 14, 2024

with Mipso

June 26, 2024

Peri's Tavern Fairfax, CA

with Deep Thicket Dwellers

June 29, 2024

with Deep Thicket Dwellers

July 19, 2024

FairWell Festival Redmond, OR

with Mipso

September 12, 2024
Events

Performance Highlights

Performing Arts Centers

Symphony Space, New York, NY Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, MA Center For Arts In Natick, Natick, MA Next Stage Arts Project, Putney VT Guthrie Center, Great Barrington, MA Barbican Centre, London, UK Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Liverpool, UK Colchester Arts Centre, Colchester, UK Stoller Hall, Manchester, UK The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, UK Pound Arts Centre, Corsham, UK Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth, UK

Festivals

Telluride Jazz Festival, Telluride, CO Ouibache Music Festival, West Lafayette, IN Celtic Connections, Glasgow, UK London Folk Festival, London, UK Fringe by the Sea Festival, North Berwick, UK Folk on the Tyne Festival, Gateshead, UK Folk by the Oak Festival, Hatfield, UK Festival on the Green, Middlebury, VT

Other Notable Venues

Joe's Pub, New York, NY Club Passim, Cambridge, MA Towne Crier, Beacon, NY The Nest, London, UK Green Note, London, UK Hotel Café, Hollywood, CA Parlor Room, Northampton, MA Levitt Pavilion, Westport, CT