Photo by Press Herald
It’s no mere coincidence that Arcade Fire boasts two musically gifted brothers in Will and Win Butler. No, as Fergie herself has attested to on countless occasions, the siblings got it from their mother, renowned jazz harpist Liza Rey Butler.
Born of equally illustrious stock (her father and the boys’ grandfather, Alvino Rey, spent the 1930s co-developing the electric guitar), Rey Butler began performing with her mother’s singing group, The King Family, in the 1960s. More recently, she’s played the harp on several Arcade Fire efforts, most notably the Funeral and Neon Bible albums. She even allowed Arcade Fire to tear through the family farm on Mount Desert Island in Maine to record their self-titled debut EP. And to think, your mama won’t even come to your show at the local rec center.
In addition, Rey Butler is something of a solo act herself, performing in local clubs and bars around the Maine region. Don’t expect anything like the bombast of Arcade Fire, as most of her material is geared toward the fiery jazz of a Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald. There is, however, evidence in their mothers’ performance style of what makes the Butler brothers so dynamic: the certain intensity, an innate charisma, and the ability to thrust seemingly un-cool things (sorry, harp) directly into the heart of rock ‘n’ roll canon.
Below, watch her perform back in 2008.
And here she is performing and discussing her various parts on Arcade Fire’s records.