The Gals

Several years after graduating from MTSU, Jessica wondered how she would use her music industry degree in the “real world” as she taught students of all ages how to play plastic ukuleles and wrote songs structured around wicked kazoo breaks. Shawna, only 20 miles away, was stuck re-working solo fiddle breaks that seemed broken and staring at partially written songs. 10 miles in the other direction, Meade cut biscuit dough with a jar lid - consoling herself and battling her aversion for the things she should want at this stage in life: another degree and/or a permanent position in the second violin section of the local symphony.

One night in July 2012, a connection was made that would forever change Jessica, Shawna, and Meade. Jessica played a string of major 7th chords on her National, as the eager listeners gazed on. Shawna and Meade exchanged glances, and at the close of the song, names. Most of the guests left the house concert around 11:00 p.m., determined to get 8 hours of shuteye before returning to their day jobs, but not Shawna or Meade (along with a few other musicians). Shawna ingenuously picked up her fiddle, Meade clumsily grabbed a bass (sort of like a violin, only backwards, right?), and Jessica tuned her banjo (for a really long time). Something super unexpected filled the living room: music.

It is now 2013, and Shawna, Jessica, and Meade are still playing together. When they're not playing in public venues, you can often find them playing on a porch in North Knoxville. If you want to know what these girls sound like, come to a show. If you want an excuse for a band description, here it is: Red Shoes & Rosin is a string band hailing from Knoxville, TN. RSAR can be categorized as (but is not limited to) folk, country, americana, and/or alternative.

Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson

Jessica Watson

enjoys singing harmony lines and has a weakness for instruments that never stay in tune. She was raised in lovely Lenoir City, TN where she started playing the guitar at age 10, with every intention of becoming a country music superstar. This failure to achieve superstardom still haunts her dreams. She did, however,  enjoy other accomplishments. For instance, she has received an honorable mention award for several art contests, recognition for "clutch hitting" on her high school softball team, and has been a member of the clean plate club since 1993. Deciding to give music another go, she attended Roane State Community College, where she studied voice and pretended to play jazz on the mandolin. After Roane State, Jessica  attended Middle Tennessee State University, where she studied classical guitar and began developing her skills as a songwriter. Jessica continued to write what unintentionally turned out to be unconventional or just plain ridiculous love songs after moving back to East Tennessee. Turns out someone liked 'em when she took first place in the 2011 Listen Up Knoxville Singer Songwriter Competition. In addition to being one-third of Red Shoes & Rosin, Jessica is a full-time guitar, banjo and ukulele instructor, teaching private lessons at numerous studios in and around Knoxville, TN.

Meade Armstrong

Meade Armstrong

Meade Armstrong

grew up in Knoxville, TN. Her first musical memories include donning a leotard, mounting Arthur Fiedler’s Encore or Greatest Hits of 1790 on her parents’ turntable and dancing like a jaybird. When she was 6 years old she discovered a beat-up, deep mahogany-stained, ⅛ size fiddle in her mom’s closet. It was beautiful, smelled like mothballs, and according to her teacher, sounded like C-R-A-P (Ms. F didn’t know at the time that Meade was pretty good at the whole phonics thing). Meade spent a large portion of her grade school years playing violin with her brother (on piano) and her sister (also on violin), playing in youth orchestras, attending string camps and Governor’s School, and starting a few of her own students by the time she was 14. Meade loved her violin and loved studying it so much that she went to college (University of Tennessee) to study it some more. She also studied how to share music with kiddos effectively (Suzuki Association of the Americas) and spent her summers playing in orchestral festivals (Interharmony International Music Festival, Hot Springs Music Festival, Orford Academy Orchestra) and lifeguarding. After a heavy dose of the Classics and the not-so-Classics, Meade yearned for that raw, unadulteratedly American sound of the fiddle. It was at this time that she also found herself surrounded by some of the most lovely Knoxville musicians who let her play/”jam” with them - thanks to introductions from Jessica Watson - banjoist, guitarist, co-worker, teacher, double bandmate, and dear friend. When Meade isn’t forcing her housemate Jessica to listen to new fiddle licks or really rough lyrics, she’s usually teaching someone else how to hold a violin shaped instrument and understand the difference between major and minor 3rds, making biscuits, or practicing the spoons.


Shawna Cyphers

Shawna Cyphers

Shawna Cyphers

began singing at an early age at well known venues such as 'Grandparents Front Porch ' and the well known 'Pulpit' in her fathers church. However, singing took a back seat to violin around age 5. This decision may have been due to her mild dislike for the backing tracks or the epic battles she would have with her mother over curling her hair before a church performance, but whatever the reason violin lessons along with school and youth orchestras became her musical focus for many years. After majoring in music for the first few years of college, Shawna's school career took an unexpected turn as she switched her major to geology. Several years of musical famine followed. Luckily Shawna reconnected with some high school friends who were playing tunes and they formed a band and started playing around Knoxville. After playing fiddle and singing backup in a few bands in the Knoxville area, she eventually met up with Jessica and Meade and BAM! RSAR was formed. There may have been some other steps involved in this process, but she has decided to save these details for her upcoming book entitled 'RSAR: A Band Emerges'. Due on bookshelves and devices sometime in the next 2-30 years. Preorder options will be posted any day now.