Salt of the Earth finds its groove with new live record unspoken

 Riverfront Times 

Christian Schaeffer    October 27, 2016 

Salt of the Earth Finds its Groove with New Live Record Unspoken 

While many bands use the recording studio as another instrument in their arsenal — spending countless hours crafting and honing and tinkering — there are plenty of groups who need the shared, communal experience of a live performance to make their songs shine. 

For Salt of the Earth, a long-running folk quartet whose songs tend toward the spiritually ruminative and slice-of-life introspective, the stage has proven a more conducive environment from which to share its songs and stories. Its newest album, Unspoken, presents thirteen new original songs as recorded in concert at the Riverfront Cultural Society in New Haven, Missouri. 

Lynne Reif, who plays guitar and, along with Mike Schrand, splits lead singing and songwriting duties, describes the venue as "one of our favorite places to play." Not unlike Maplewood's Focal Point — where Salt of the Earth recorded its last live set in 2012 — Reif calls the Society "a music listening room. People come there to listen. It's this old rustic space, with wooden chairs and wooden floors, and it has that earthy, down-home feel to it. The crowd couldn't have been more receptive." 

click to enlarge 

That friendly crowd and welcoming space had an uplifting influence, according to Reif. She says that while the band has no trouble communicating regardless of the setup, the back-and-forth between artist and audience has a palpable effect on the songs themselves. 

"I think we relate to each other the same, which is this incredibly comfortable relationship we have at this stage of the game," she says of the band's interpersonal interactions. "[Studio recording] is a little more artificial, to be in different sections of a room and listening through headphones. That's the barrier — those pieces you have to have in place to record. In these last two live records, I feel that the songs get better. There's a groove that happens." 

The groove asserts itself more in the good vibes and audible warmth with which the band performs. Reif and Schrand have been playing together since 2003 and this current lineup, with Jake Brookman on cello and Jim Hieger on guitar, congealed in 2005. Its vibe is resolutely mid-tempo and genteel, emphaszing the song's lyrics and letting the instrumentation — Brookman's cello especially — offer a resonant counterpoint. 

Reif's songs often contain some emotional heft but carry the burden well; many of her offerings address a spiritual thirst or existential yearning while staying rooted in the here and now. "The whole time I've been writing, I've been moved typically by a moment in time, where I am present for something that I feel a strong reaction to, and it starts to form an image in my mind," she says. "They certainly have a spiritual sense to them in searching for the meaning in whatever the moment is. When it started, it was moments of hardship. As the years have gone on, it's been more the power of moments and relationships." 

On the album, Reif's "Sine Nomine" is a standout that deals with the kind of clarity that comes with age and experience. "I was reflecting back on choices I've made all the way back to childhood," says Reif. "It was like I had a clear view that those choices that seemed weird, they were the absolutely the right choices for me." In the chorus she intones "so we pray," less as a traditional religious offering, Reif says, but as a reminder to unburden ourselves. "In the song there's soul-searching, and then there's trusting that things are unfolding the way they are supposed to." 

Reif and Schrand trade songs back and forth throughout Unspoken, and they're different enough songwriters to give a mild sense of whiplash as they pass the mic. Schrand's songs are more up front with wry, often self-lacerating humor. As the disc progresses a few of his tracks — "Put It Down" and "Spot on a Hill" in particular — take a long, wizened view of middle age and the insight that it has brought. 

"I used to say that his songs were like rambling ranch houses — they kept turning corners and I never knew what corner was coming up," Reif says of Schrand's songs. "Today, when I hear his songs, they are in some centralized location within him." 

That the two songwriters have found their concerns at a point of convergence may not be surprising for a band nearing its fifteenth year together. And on Unspoken, the without-a-net aspect of live recording serves to underline the wordless communication between these musicians. 

"We're older, and I don't know if we're wiser, but we have more life experience," Reif says. "What you're hearing is more reflection than struggle. It's contemplative — we're on the other side on a lot of these paths that we've walked." 

Salt of the Earth Record Release 

8 p.m. Saturday, October 29. The Gaslight, 4916 Shaw Avenue. Free. 314-496-0628.



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Events on July 18 celebrate the 260th anniversary of Mary Draper Ingles’ daring escape

Boone County Recorder 

Amy Scalf    July 16, 2015 

Events on July 18 celebrate the 260th anniversary of Mary Draper Ingles’ daring escape

UNION – When Lynne Reif wrote a song about Mary Draper Ingles, she didn’t know it was going to propel her to a long and close personal friendship with one of Ingles’ descendants and many visits to the area where Ingles escaped from the Shawnee in 1755. 

Reif’s song, “Mary’s Hope,” recounts Ingles’ true adventures and a journey of courage and strength that took her 800 miles from Big Bone Lick State Historic Site to her home in Virginia. 

To mark the 260th anniversary of her journey, on Saturday, July 18, Friends of Big Bone are hosting a day of programs at the park, and a home concert featuring Reif’s band Salt of the Earth. 

The free park events include a walking tour and presentation about the “Salt of Life” by park interpreter Ossana Wolff at 10 a.m., and a chance to meet Mary Draper Ingles’ descendants, including Patty Hons, who is also the author of the childrens’ book “Mary Draper Ingles: A True Story of Courage and Family.” 

The day will include many chances to learn about Ingles’ story with Matt Langford, who sculpted the statue of Ingles at the Boone County Public Library’s main branch; Eleanor Lahr, author of “Angels Along the River: Retracing the Escape Route of Mary Draper Ingles”; and James Alexander Thom, author of “Follow the River.” Their books will be available for purchase and autographs. 

Reservations, made with a $20 donation, are required for the outdoor picnic 7 p.m. concert. More information is available at The event is a fundraiser for Friends of Big Bone to support ongoing renovations at the park’s visitor center.

Thom’s novel inspired Reif to write the song that brought her and Hons together as friends. 

“We still kind of marvel at the whole thing. We email every single day. This woman has become like my sister,” said Reif, who lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Her band doesn’t travel often. 

“Really we only go to visit Boone County. It’s our spiritual home away from home,” Reif said. “We’re not a traveling band. The traveling we’ve done has been because of ‘Mary’s Hope.’” 

Since coming to the 250th anniversary of Ingles’ escape and meeting more than 100 of her descendants, Reif and her band have come to Boone County several times: for park events, to play in the Rabbit Hash barn, and to visit and sing with their friends. 

Hons’ husband, Rob, plays banjo with the band when they visit, which led Reif to write a song named “Key of G,” which tells the story of their growing friendship. 

“So many people have heard Mary’s story and are inspired to create something. Mary’s story takes a life of its own and it just goes on and on. That’s pretty cool I think,” said Hons, a ninth-generation descendant of Ingles through her oldest son, Tom, who lived with the Shawnee until he was 17. 

“We’re so excited that Salt of the Earth is coming out. We are super close. They’re like a second family to us,” said Hons. 

“Events like this remind us of the significant history of the area and that Big Bone sometimes doesn’t get the respect it deserves.”



The gateway - st louis public radio podcast

Terry Perkins    August 04, 2011 

Playing this summer: Salt of the Earth 

By Terry Perkins • Aug 4, 2011 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 4, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 4, 2011 - PROFILE: The phrase, Salt of the Earth, has its roots in the Bible and, these days, is used as an idiom to refer to people who have a basic, fundamental goodness. It's also the name of a St. Louis area band that performs its own original music with a distinctive, fundamental appeal. The members of Salt of the Earth -- Lynne Reif, Mike Schrand, Jim Heiger and Jake Brookman -- have a definite focus on acoustic-based music that is primarily composed by Reif, but with musical contributions to the finished sound by everyone in the group. 

Both Reif and Schrand worked together for several years in Belle Starr with well-known St. Louis musician and songwriter Kip Loui. After Loui's band, Belle Starr, broke up, Reif decided she had enough original material to start her own band and asked Schrand to join on bass and vocals. The addition of guitarist Doug Carson completed the original trio version of Salt of the Earth. The band expanded to become a quartet with the addition of cellist Brookman in 2005. Heiger replaced Carson on guitar in 2006, and the group has had the same lineup ever since. 

Over the years, Salt of the Earth has recorded three CDs: "Against the Muse" in 2005, "These New Days" in 2007 and "So Sing To Me" in 2009. The group is planning to record a live CD later this year. But you don't have to wait until that comes out. You can catch the band live this Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Kirkwood Farmers Market Tunes At Ten concert from 10 a.m. to noon. Check out Lynne Reif's answers to some questions about herself and Salt of the Earth - and find out more info about the Tunes At ten series. 

HOME: St. Louis (Richmond Heights) 

AGE: 44. I've been singing professionally for about 18 years -- oh my God! 

INSTRUMENTS: I play acoustic guitar, harmonica, foot tambo (tambourine) - not the official name but what I like to call it - as well as cajon (Peruvian box drum) and occasional mandolin. 

HOBBIES: Writing songs, swimming, hiking, yoga, coaching girls basketball, cooking (and eating :-), photography, being with good friends, enjoying simple pleasures and impersonating strange animal calls. 

LAST CONCERT ATTENDED: Hmmm. it's been awhile, but it was probably Shawn Colvin at the Sheldon. Nope, it was Girlyman in Mascoutah in a little chapel/concert hall. 

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Salt Of The Earth winning the Webster Groves Art and Air Idol Competition! 

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: There is an incredible chemistry in this band - a genuine appreciation and respect for each other, and a love of creating and playing original music and having fun in the process. We are good friends and we each contribute our own personal touch to every song, so the end product is truly a group expression that morphs and gels a little bit more each time we play together. I think the good energy comes through when we perform, and allows us to connect and have a blast with audiences wherever we go. It truly is a labor of love... 

QUOTE: "He [or she] who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once" - Robert Browning 

(I put in the "or she" part which is probably illegal somehow!) 

Check out Salt of the Earth on Facebook for more info and the band's upcoming schedule. 

Tunes At Ten Concert Series 

Kirkwood Farmers Market and Greenway hosts Tunes At Ten concerts on select Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. The market is located just off Kirkwood Road across from the Amtrak Station at East Taylor and Argonne. Now in its 35th year of operation, the market features fresh produce from a variety of vendors as well as an array of flowers and plants for sale. You can get a great snow cone from Tropical Moose, and there's BBQ and kettle corn for sale as well. Plenty of nearby restaurants, too. Bring chairs if you plan to settle in and listen to the band. For more info, go to 

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer who has long covered the St. Louis music scene.

Meet art and air idol winner salt of the earth


 The Patch 

Eva Connor    June 03, 2011 

Meet Art & Air Idol Winner Salt of the Earth 

The local band will take the stage Saturday at the Art & Air festival.

Meet Art & Air Idol Winner Salt of the Earth 

The local band will take the stage Saturday at the Art & Air festival. 

By Eva Connors, Neighbor

Meet Salt of the Earth, the winner of this year's . The band will play Saturday at the on the main stage from 1:45 - 2:30 p.m.  

Genre: Roots-pop. 


Lynne Reif - Guitar, Harmonica, Cajon, Vocals; 
Mike Schrand - Bass, Baritone Guitar, Vocals; 
Jake Brookman - Cello; 
Jim Hieger - Guitar, Banjo. 

Years Playing Together: 8 

Number of Albums: 3 


Where you can get them: Music Folk, and iTunes. 

What makes Salt of the Earth work? 

Jim Heiger: "I think it's great because we all have so many different things, different genres of music that we all bring together." 

Schrand: "Yeah, we've always been about playing songs that we like. I mean, we play almost entirely originals. It's always been about finding the original song that really speaks and putting our own pieces to it." 

"I've played in a lot of bands in my life, and this is the first band where there's no egos, which is really weird, so it's kind of nice 'cause we all get along and when it's time to craft a song we all put ourselves aside and just start the song. It's kind of what we're about." 

Reif: "We kind of like to rehearse almost as much as we like to play. We find ourselves very amusing, so we crack up a lot. It's very fun." 

What's next? 

Rief: "A lot of shows, more new songs, hopefully a new recording. Maybe a live recording."

Meet Salt of the Earth, the winner of this year's . The band will play Saturday at the on the main stage from 1:45 - 2:30 p.m.