- Kevin Shiramizu
Style of music, in 10 words or less: "Music for people"
Three artists they owe everything to: Willy Tea Taylor, It's True! and Madeline
Members: Inaiah Lujan (vocals, guitar, banjo), Desirae Garcia (vocals, baritone ukulele, kazoo), Chela Lujan (vocals, banjo, guitar), Mike Clark (vocals, mandolin, guitar, banjo, harmonica, concertina, fiddle)
Debut performance: 2006
Recordings: Ballad of the Winds (2006), An Evening With (2007), Verse Visa (2008), Honey Moonshine (2010), Live at the Western Jubilee (2011)
Why they matter: Don't give up your day jobs, goes an old adage that's offered, all too often, to potential starving artists. Happily for the Haunted Windchimes, they've managed to put aside that concern and embark on extensive cross-country tours. It didn't happen overnight: Back in 2008, when they first appeared as a trio on the cover of the Indy, the Pueblo-based musicians were working a string of starter jobs to put themselves through college. It took a half-decade and a management deal with Scott O'Malley & Associates — as well as a high-profile appearance on A Prairie Home Companion — to change all that. Along the way, original members Desirae Garcia and siblings Inaiah and Chela Lujan picked up two bandmates, multi-instrumentalist Mike Clark and bassist Sean Fanning (who left the Windchimes earlier this year to focus on a new band with his brother Aaron). The four remaining members, all active songwriters, continue to craft original music that crosses the boundaries between old-timey folk, traditional country and blues. And while they may not yet be living "The American Dream" — to borrow a title from one of the earliest songs Inaiah wrote while doing a hitchhiking tour of the U.S. — they are, by all appearances, well on their way.
2nd place: Edith Makes a Paper Chain
3rd place: Changing Colors