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The Nields are one of the most exciting of the new breed of contemporary folk-rockers. A review of a Nields concert described their music as "equal parts Beatles, Cranberries and Joni Mitchell." Although they began as an acoustic trio in 1991, the Nields have evolved into a high-energy quintet. While Nerissa Nields' songs, sung by her sister, Katryna, successfully fuse intelligent lyrics with heartfelt sensitivity, arrangements are kept at a feverish pitch by the Pete Townshend- and Adrian Belew-influenced guitar playing of her husband, David, and the ultra-solid rhythm section of Dave Chalfant on bass and Dave Hower on drums.
Natives of New York who grew up in Washington, D.C., the Nields sisters have been singing most of their lives. Nerissa (born June 2, 1967), who wrote her first songs at the age of seven, and Katryna (born April 30, 1969), who was taught to sing by her father, spent hours singing together in the kitchen of their home and in the back seat of the family car. They strengthened their singing abilities after taking a class with Revel Singers director John Langstaff at the Potomac School.
Nerissa and Katryna continued to sing together until separating to attend college. Katryna pursued an education in religion at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, while Nerissa studied English at Yale University. After meeting David Jones, a graduate student and talented guitar player, Nerissa fell in love. After their marriage in 1990, Jones took his wife's maiden name.
Following college, Nerissa, Katryna, and David Nields played at folk music coffeehouses in Washington, D.C., as an acoustic trio. In 1991, the Nields temporarily relocated to Windsor, CT, where David worked as an English teacher and theater department chairman at the Loomis Chaff Boarding School.
The Nields' 1992 debut album, 66 Hoxsey Street, and second album, Live at the Iron Horse Music Hall, released in 1993 and recorded during a performance in Northampton, MA, spotlighted their three-way collaboration. The Nields expanded to a quintet prior to recording their third album, Bob on the Ceiling, produced by bassist Dave Chalfant (born January 31, 1968, Barcelona, Spain) in 1993. Although drummer Dave Hower (born January 8, 1967, New York) only played on five tracks, he became a full-fledged member of the band soon afterward. The Nields' fourth album, Gotta Get Over Greta, was produced by Kevin Moloney, who previously oversaw recordings by U2 and Sinéad O'Connor. Released byRazor & Tie in 1996, the album was reissued by EMI/Guardian the next year with three additional tracks. Play followed in 1998, and in the spring of 2000 the group issued If You Lived Here You'd Be Home Now.
In addition to their work with the Nields, Nerissa and Katryna Nields have sung harmony on Dar Williams' albums The Honesty Room and Mortal City.