Rosy Nolan brings her old time country to the Cinema Bar

(Mike Dunn)

Singer and songwriter Rosy Nolan describes her sound as “old-time country,” and that pretty much nails her blend of bluegrass, country and roots. She’s performing at the Cinema Bar on Friday, July 15, so she spoke to the News about her career so far.

When did you start singing, writing, playing and performing, and when did it start to get serious?

I learned how to play music in a riot grrl band in Berkeley, Calif. back in the ‘90s. I was playing drums back then, not because I knew how but because my brother had a drum set. We were all about 15-16 years old and would frequent an all ages club called Gilman (it’s still go- ing). Oftentimes, we’d ask the bands on stage if they’d let us jump up and play a song. I think we were quite disarming so oftentimes they’d say yes. I knew I was hooked the first time I sang and played guitar on stage. I told my bandmate, “This is it. This is what I’m gonna do with life.” It’s the only thing I’ve known to be true my whole life. Eventually, I found my way to country music, in New York of all places. Since then I’ve been honing in on all those sub-genres: old- time, early bluegrass, country, roots. It’s not too far off from punk rock really. It’s all folk music. Simple 3-chord progressions full of angst and longing and lots of hollering.

How do you describe your sound/style now?

When I’m feeling fancy I call it California Gold Country, other- wise, Old-Time Country. Since I started playing clawhammer banjo in 2015, I started delving into a lot of old-time music, pre-recording era stuff, all passed down orally. What I love the most are those old haunting melodies and those songs of heartache and redemption. That’s what I try to recreate in my music.

What are your musical career highlights so far?

This past spring we performed at Stagecoach in Indio. We were invited to play on Nikki Lane’s Horseshoe stage with so many wonderful other country musicians. It was definitely a dream come true. A couple days before that we went into Palomino Sound to record my upcoming record, Between Me & Mayhem. I had so many top notch players on the record, like Taylor Kropp on guitar, Kenny Feinstein onfiddle, Dave Baine on mandolin and piano, Ryan Posner on bass, and Kevin Brown on drums. The record was engineered by Jason Soda and produced by Taylor Kropp. I couldn’t be happier to be working with such a talented group of artists. These are the best of the best in Los Angeles. The record is due to be released in February 2023.

Have you released any prior recorded material?

Yes, my most recent release was my 2019 EP Footprints and Broken Branches produced by Tim Armstrong and Kenny Feinstein and engineered by J Bonner at Shiprec Studio in Los Angeles. We used all acoustic instruments, classic old ribbon mics, and recorded everything live. It has a real natural old- timey feel which was exactly what I was going for.

Previous to that I hadn’t had a release since 2010. Black Out Nights was a full length album recorded while I was living in Brooklyn, New York. This record had more of an alt-country sound. I was listening to a lot of Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle at the time so a lot of the feel and instrumentation of the record was informed by what they were doing.

Have you performed at the Cinema Bar before?

This will be my third time performing at the Cinema Bar. The first time was in January of this year, opening for Patrolled by Radar. I just love the feel of this place. It’s such a cozy, well-loved venue. As a performer, it puts me at ease playing the Cinema Bar. It’s familial and warm. I always perform better in that kind of environment. Also, Rod and Melania are incredibly wel- coming and lovely folks to work with.

What can we expect from the set this time?

This Friday July 15th is the second installation of our Women in Country night. It will feature female artists from the Los Angeles area who write and perform country music. As a woman and a performer, I was getting tired of getting booked as the opener on male-dominated line-ups so I got together with my friend and country music promoter, Grande Ole Country Bunker, to curate an event that highlights women country performers. We have Smoky Mountains opening the night at 9:30p, then I’ll be playing 2 sets of music with my string band. We are lucky to have some really wonderful guest performers coming up on stage with us, such as Phoebe Silva, Haylie Hostetter, Rah Rah Rabbit, Holly Bernt, and Lauren Vahdani. Each act will be performing songs of their country women icons. You’ll be hearing The Carter Family, Emmylou Harris, Hazel Dick- ens, Dolly Parton, Linda Ron- stadt, Wanda Jackson as well as original music by Smoky Mountains and myself. Music goes from 9:30p till 1:30am. Our last WOC night with Lil Sue and the Cowtippers was such a success. We are expecting another great turnout.

Finally, what else do you have going on this year?

As for the rest of the year, I’ll be working on finishing the record and planning a tour for spring of 2023 for the album release. In the meantime, I’ll be playing shows as much as I humanly can and continuing to produce more Women of Country events. I think every artisthas to find a way to give back to their community and I think I’ve found my way.

Rosy Nolan performs at Cinema Bar at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, July 15. Visit for more info.