6/4 St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
6/5 Kansas City, MO @ Czar Bar
6/6 Colorado Springs, CO @ Fuel/Friends House Concert
6/7 Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre w/ They Might Be Giants
6/8 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot w/ They Might Be Giants
6/9 Boise, ID @ The Egyptian Theatre w/ They Might Be Giants
6/11 Bozeman, MT @ Live From The Divide
6/12 Sioux Falls, SD @ Old Skoolz
6/13 Minneapolis, MN @ Nether Bar
6/14 Milwaukee, WI @ Shank Hall
6/15 Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
6/16 Chicago, IL @ Township
6/18 Pontiac, MI @ Vernor’s Room at Crofoot

6/19 Maumee, OH @ The Village Idiot

6/22 Arlington, VA @ IOTA Club & Cafe
6/23 Washington, DC@ Smithsonian Luce Unplugged Series at Luce Foundation Center
6/23 Arlington, VA @ Stone Room House Concerts

Stream ‘Omie Wise’


To their credit, the DC-via-Kentucky folk act Vandaveer understand how dark this old, weird America can be. Their new album, Oh, Willie, Please…, is a collection of “traditional murder ballads and songs of self ruin” that succeeds because the prettiness of the music only heightens the ugliness of the actions. There’s a matter-of-factness that makes the slicings, stabbings, stranglings, suffocatings, drownings, hangings and shootings all the more grim. Heidinger doesn’t shy away from the horror of “The Banks of the Ohio” or “Down in the Willow Garden” nor does he wallow in their gruesomeness. Singing about stabbing his lover and drowning her in the river—on both songs even—he trusts the material to deliver its shock. – PASTE
CRITIC’S PICK … Beauty and precision is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Vandaveer’s brainchild Mark Charles Heidinger. Featuring a lovely/spooky balance of murder ballads (“The Banks of the Ohio”) and Southern gothic character studies (“Pretty Polly,” “Poor Edward”), the record is mainly a showcase for the great harmonic interplay between Heidinger and his female foil Rose Guerin. If you fancy the discography of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, you should give Vandaveer a shot. – NASHVILLE SCENE
Song of the Day: ‘Pretty Polly’ by Vandaveer. In the annals of folk archetypes, “Pretty Polly” is perhaps the most searing, mysterious and infamous song of all. The melody is inexhaustible, the story unforgettable. Vandaveer takes hold of that essence and wrings out the full, threatening power of this ageless murder ballad. – KDHX RADIO / ST. LOUIS
Chilling gems. If death by drowning, stabbing or blunt objects is your forté, then this is for you, with the arrangements and harmonies of Heidinger and Guerin sure to send a shiver up your spine.” – LEO WEEKLY
“Mark Charles Heidinger is a masterful wordsmith, penning heartfelt tunes about life and death.” – ATLANTA EXAMINER
“STANDOUT TRACK: ‘Pretty Polly’ is an England-by-way-of-Appalachia folk song about a murderous young man who kills his fiancée. The combination of clawhammer banjo and cello, along with the haunting vocals of Vandaveer members Mark Charles Heidinger and Rose Guerin, lends a macabre twang that distinguishes the song from previously recorded versions by The Byrds and Chicago bluesman Otis Taylor.” – WASHINGTON CITY PAPER
“Vandaveer has kept these songs grounded in tradition, and that classic approach holds up. These are unrequited love songs, after all, with understated arrangements and melodies contrasted by the grim details.” – THE COURIER-JOURNAL
“Vandaveer offers up melodic Americana that is both haunting and easy, forlorn and welcoming, with stories as universal as the songs they inhabit.” – ANN ARBOR CURRENT
Vandaveer revisit the ghastly tale of “Pretty Polly” with a haunting and gorgeously spare arrangement on their new album of murder ballads, Oh, Willie, Please… using subtle restraint and carefully chosen notes from banjo and cello to perfectly create an atmosphere of foreboding and pain. – POPMATTERS
Musically masterful. LA.COM
Vandaveer’s gorgeous video “Pretty Polly,” directed by Jared Varava, evokes the tone of HBO’s Deadwood in trademark Vandaveer slo-mo. – HOMETOWN SOUNDS DC

“A great record in 2013.” – FOLKADELPHIA: WXPN


“Interesting new treatments of old-time murder ballads.” – THE ROANOKE TIMES


“Fresh takes on the dark side of traditional folk.” – THE DETROIT NEWS

Oh Willie Please… is ‘a collection of traditional murder ballads and songs of self ruin’ dug up from the faded graves and abandoned mines of Americana. Ravens croak cheerfully and everything smells sweetly of wildflowers, rawhide, burnt timber and blood. Good stuff. – THE DELI NEW YORK


We love this record.” – SIRIUSXM’S THE VILLAGE

Vandaveer combine the harmonic power of The Avett Brothers with the honest instrumentation of contemporary acts like Trampled By Turtles and The Devil Makes Three. This is Americana in its most candid form: earthy, acoustic guitars sway, banjos twang, and playful pedal steels dance on top of it all. The combination of Heidinger’s voice with Guerin’s gives way to full-bodied harmonies, much like a modern-day Johnny and June Carter Cash. The lead single “Pretty Polly” pits the two singers against each other, and a funky banjo line, held together by some rousing stomping and clapping, portrays Vandaveer at their best. – IN YOUR SPEAKERS
These tragic, timeless ballads are played and sung impeccably, with intricate harmonies between Heidinger and Guerin, and lots of beautiful interplay between the string instruments. – WHEN YOU MOTOR AWAY
Possibly the only good thing to come out of Kentucky other than Bourbon is the macabre song makers of Vandaveer. – YANKEE CALLING
It is the voices of Oh, Willie, Please… that deliver the album’s sheer power. From the voices of those singing to the voices of those for whom they sing — the murderers, their victims and those affected by such loss — Oh, Willie, Please… is a testament to the original power of these voices that they have lingered for generations. – BUCKETFUL OF NAILS

VANDAVEER: (photo left to right): J. Tom Hnatow, Mark Charles Heidinger, Rose Guerin, Phillips Saylor [photo credit: Sarah Law]

The macabre has long held uneasy sway over the human condition. From ghost stories to creation myths, from CSI to Shakespeare, from cable news voyeurism to Edgar Allan Poe, the subjects of death, murder and all things ghastly have fascinated and frightened for centuries. Songs are no exception. From Old World roots to more recent incarnations in America, the murder ballad has traversed, shapeshifted and persevered. Despite our collective desire to be good and virtuous, people do very bad things. And then we sing about them.
Death, murder and ghosts have long been underlying threads coursing through Vandaveer‘s original songs, but instead of weaving their own shadowy tales into their latest studio effort, Oh, Willie, Please…, the DC-by-way-of-Kentucky alt-folk collective have tapped into the wellspring of traditional folk’s darker side.
Oh, Willie, Please… finds the group operating in a more collaborative spirit. In addition to the core duo of Mark Charles Heidinger and Rose Guerin, the talents of J. Tom Hnatow (These United States, The Mynabirds) and Phillips Saylor (Stripmall Ballads, The Shiftless Rounders) helped expand the project into a formidable ensemble, armed with steel string, resonator and pedal steel guitars, banjos and pianos, voices galore, and a common belief in the quality and relevance of the word ‘folk.’
Inspired by their recent participation in The 78 Project, the group gathered in a majestic old home on a picturesque horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky in the spring of 2012 and set to work re-imagining a collection of age-old murder ballads & songs of self ruin plucked almost entirely from the public domain. With longtime producer Duane Lundy once again at the helm, Vandaveer moved swiftly through the selected catalog, recording most of the tracks live in the manor’s great room. The result is a spacious, honest album that balances reverence and respect for the source material with a healthy coat of contemporary color.

Vandaveer’s Oh, Willie, Please… is now available on CD, limited edition vinyl and digital formats, courtesy of Quack!Media.

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