SONG PREMIERE: Sinner Friends Add Accordion and Harmonies to Hamilton Camp’s Haunting Folk Classic “Pride of Man”

Steeped in the traditions of the early American music catalog, Sinner Friends— multi-instrumentalists Grace Van’t Hof and Conner Vlietstra—draw on their collective backgrounds in bluegrass and old-time, ragtime, vintage country, and gospel to deliver savvy interpretations of forgotten classics and offer up a collection of classic original songs. The duo has a progressive vision and is committed to preserving and progressing country music, not just replicating it.

Grace’s proficiency in playing bluegrass and old-time banjo, guitar, and ukulele, as well as singing lead and harmony vocals, gives her performances one-of-a-kind authenticity and conveys her depth of knowledge of these musical styles. Her extensive performing and touring resume includes being a founding member of supergroup Della Mae, and also internationally acclaimed old-time group Bill and the Belles. She currently tours with bluegrass veteran Chris Jones as a member of Chris Jones & the Night Drivers.

Conner is currently a student at East Tennessee State University’s esteemed Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Program, and recently received the invitation to play guitar for Rebel Records recording artists, The Price Sisters.

Van’t Hof and Vlietstra share a special kinship that captures the essence of blood harmonies, good fellowship, and bad influence. The duo raises their voices in the redemptive power of song, smash stereotypes, and hold accountable a world in which sinners do good, and saints, without doubt, behave badly.

Today Glide is premiering the duo’s new single “Pride of Man,” which perfectly captures the musical chemistry between these talented young musicians. Their version is a reimagining of Hamilton Camp’s vivid 1964 folk classic, taking its stripped down acoustic arrangement and incorporating accordion alongside the driving guitar. The addition of accordion adds an element of mystery to a song that is already haunting in its own way. Grace Van’t Hof’s are given an echo of sorts, giving the song the feel of being played in a darkly lit alleyway in Paris or New Orleans, and together the duo offer a unique approach to harmonies that is both beautiful and raw. 

Grace van’t Hof describes the inspiration and process behind recording this tune:

The first time I heard this song it took my breath away. It’s timeless. It could have been on the lips of a civil war soldier, or lifted from the pages of Holy scripture, or have given time to the marching steps of the American Civil rights movement. I think now is the time for us to hear it again. The lyrics of this song span politics and religion, just like we hope our instrumentation and harmonies span genre. This song speaks a warning about how fragile the works of man are when they on a faulty foundation. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that even the best laid plans can fall to pieces in a moment and pride often comes before the fall.

In Sinner Friends’ take on Hamilton Camp’s “Pride of Man”, we stripped away everything we could to showcase the beautifully written verses. Conner Vlietstra’s spare but driving guitar playing along with the drone of accordion forms a nebulous backdrop for the no-frills vocals. This song is clear in it’s message, but like a biblical verse or a spread of tarot cards, the rich metaphor allows plenty of space for interpretation. 

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