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Della Mae show marks triple homecoming for Spokane’s Kimber Ludiker

After a yearlong hiatus, Della Mae is working on its next album, which the quintet hopes to release next summer. (Courtesy photo)
After a yearlong hiatus, Della Mae is working on its next album, which the quintet hopes to release next summer. (Courtesy photo)

Nashville-based bluegrass/Americana band Della Mae’s upcoming performance in Spokane is a triple homecoming show for fiddle player/vocalist Kimber Ludiker.

Ludiker is a Spokane native, the daughter of the late legendary fiddle player Tony Ludiker and champion fiddler and teacher JayDean Ludiker.

The band will perform at her alma mater, East Valley High School, as part of the Northwest Regional Fiddle Contest, which Ludiker grew up competing in and won three times.

“My family’s always had a lot to do with the organization of the contest throughout the years,” she said. “It’ll be so surreal to be back with my band playing at the fiddle contest after growing up in that world.”

Della Mae will perform at the school on Saturday as part of the 50th annual contest, which takes place Friday through Sunday.

Since the band formed in 2009, Della Mae has cemented its status as one of the top Americana acts around with the release of three albums, including the Grammy-nominated “This World Oft Can Be,” and by performing more than 200 shows a year for five years straight before taking about a year off between 2016 and 2017 so members could pursue other projects.

Della Mae – mandolin player/vocalist Jenni Lyn Gardner, bassist/vocalist Zoe Guigueno, guitarist/banjo player/vocalist Courtney Hartman, Ludiker and vocalist/guitarist Celia Woodsmith – has also become internationally known thanks to its work with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ American Music Abroad program.

The band’s first trip, in 2012, took them on a 43-day trip to Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan; the quintet recently returned from a 10-day stint in Russia.

“It’s pretty easy to accidentally be on the road all the time and say yes to everything, but these experiences are so different,” Ludiker said. “Getting to see the world and do something to help promote diplomacy has been really special for us.”

Back in the States, Della Mae will spend some time writing its next album in Portland before heading up to Washington for a quartet of shows across the state.

Ludiker said the band hopes to enter the recording studio in the fall and have an album out before next summer.

The band’s decision to take a yearlong hiatus, Ludiker said, was the right one because it allowed each member to spend time with family, have a “normal life,” work on solo projects and return to Della Mae refreshed.

“Everyone’s bringing a new energy back to the band,” she said. “It’s incredible to see how everyone has grown musically.”

Ludiker herself started a band called Ms. Adventure with Avril Smith, former guitarist and founding member of Della Mae, and singer/bassist Vickie Vaughn, who has toured with Patty Loveless.

After Smith, Vaughn and Elephant Revival member Bonnie Paine filled in for members of Della Mae during an American Music Abroad trip to Barbados, Antigua and St. Kitts, Ludiker and Smith performed with Vaughn during a few of her headlining shows.

Those shows were eventful for all the wrong reasons, mainly an epic storm that chased them off the stage, and car troubles, but nevertheless the trio had so much fun they decided to form an official band.

Ms. Adventure will release its debut album this spring.

“(Della Mae) used to tour over 200 days a year but now that we’ve established ourselves in the string band/bluegrass/Americana world, we realized we don’t have to work that much,” Ludiker said. “We can work a reasonable amount and then have time and space for other life things.”

But a touring musician at heart, Ludiker said she starts itching for the road if she’s home for more than a week at a time.

She’s has embraced the wanderlust lifestyle for now, but in the future, Ludiker could see herself returning to Spokane full-time.

Each time she visits, she’s impressed by how much the music and art scenes have grown and by venues like the Bartlett and its monthly Americana series Northwest of Nashville.

“It’s fun every time I come back to see everything that’s happening,” she said. “Maybe one day I’ll be able to actually live there and tour out of Spokane. That would be a dream.”

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