As REUNION ROAD, Carol Hausner and Eleanor Ellis mix and match their rich, emotive blend of voice and guitar with songs in the bluegrass and folk roots traditions.
The two first met and began singing together in the musical haven of Takoma Park Maryland during the 1980s, in the early days of the Takoma Park Folk Festival. When festival founder Sammie Abbott was mayor he and his wife Ruth hosted many musical parties where members of this vibrant community met and exchanged songs and ideas.
Eleanor was raised around New Orleans and, entranced by the local sounds, sang and played guitar in formal and informal settings, weaving together and exploring many melodic roots and genres. As well as solo gigs on Bourbon Street and various uptown venues, she played bluegrass and country with Luke Thompson and the Green Valley Cutups and with Dr. Bill Malone and the Hill Country Ramblers, and performed as a duo with Hazel Schlueter. Upon moving to Maryland and meeting local blues legends like John Jackson and Archie Edwards, she gravitated toward blues, while always keeping in touch with the variety of music and song which brought her there. Eleanor says, “Although I’m more known now for playing blues, I’ve always been drawn to many styles of music and I love to sing these songs with Carol from my folk and bluegrass days.”
Carol’s home was filled with music. Her mother sang and her father was drawn to the folk and traditional music scene in Greenwich Village which he brought home with his guitar, records and the radio. He gave Carol her first guitar when she was seven and taught her how to play and they often played and sang together at home. She began performing while in high school when she joined a bluegrass band started by her history teacher, an accomplished bluegrass musician. In addition to performing, she has been a songwriter throughout. She had the honor of winning first place in the Bluegrass category of the annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest in 2009 for her original song “Love Gone By,” co-written with Colin McCaffrey. Carol and Eleanor performed the winning song together there.
The two women trade high and low leads and harmonies to excellent effect on numbers well-crafted to match their distinct voices and lyrical styles. As represented in their debut recording Short Time to Stay Here (Patuxent Records), their repertoire ranges from the bittersweet Flame in My Heart to Kate Wolf’s somber, symbolic journey Across the Great Divide, the beautifully phrased Going to the West, the Carter family’s tale of enduring friendship You’ve Been A Friend to Me and the evocative Hausner and McCaffrey original On My Mind.
As REUNION ROAD, Eleanor and Carol have come full circle on their journey from the first Takoma Park days to their reunion in song. Eleanor and Carol say “Our name REUNION ROAD comes from the fact that, even though we don’t live in the same place anymore, we still share friends and memories, and we still continue to sing together every chance we get.”