|Origin||Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.|
|Genres||Bluegrass, Indie folk, Alternative country|
|Instruments||vocals, guitar, mandolin, double bass, fiddle, banjo, keyboard|
|Labels||Robust Records (2013 - 2017)|
Rounder Records (2019 - Present)
|Associated acts||Kate Rhudy|
Mipso is a North Carolina quartet formed in Chapel Hill and known for combining a traditional string band format with close harmony and a variety of modern influences. The band is made up of Wood Robinson (Bass, Vocals), Jacob Sharp (Mandolin, Vocals), Joseph Terrell (Guitar, Vocals) and Libby Rodenbough (Fiddle, Vocals).
UNC Years and "Mipso Trio"
While students at UNC-Chapel Hill, guitarist Joseph Terrell and mandolin player Jacob Sharp began performing at Chapel Hill open mic nights as an acoustic duo. With the idea of forming a band to play folk and bluegrass, they approached bassist Wood Robinson, with whom Terrell had previously performed in a campus party band, Funkosaurus Rex. Billed as "Mipso Trio," the group began performing in 2011 at campus events and occasionally around North Carolina.
After partnering with local Chapel Hill record label Robust Records, the group recorded the album Long, Long Gone in 2012 and began performing regularly with friend and fiddle player, Libby Rodenbough. Mipso Trio quickly became a campus staple known for its many sold-out performances at the historic Cat's Cradle in Carrboro; for bridging the divide between the UNC music community and the broader music scene of North Carolina's Triangle; and for performing with members of the Red Clay Ramblers and former Chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill, Holden Thorp, on numerous occasions.
2013 - 2018
Upon graduation from UNC in 2013, Terrell, Sharp, and Robinson traveled on a two-week tour of Japan including performances at the 43rd annual Takarazuka Bluegrass Festival and a concert at Tokyo's historic country music venue, Rocky Top. A documentary of their trip to Japan, "Mipso In Japan," directed by filmmaker Jon Kasbe, premiered at film festivals across the country in 2014, including the NYC Picture Start Film Festival, Riverrun International Film Festival, and Indie Grits.
2013 also saw them release Dark Holler Pop with the newly truncated name "Mipso." Produced by Andrew Marlin and featuring members of Chatham County Line, Town Mountain, and Mandolin Orange, Dark Holler Pop was an exploration of bluegrass instrumentation and arrangements, with most songs featuring banjo and fiddle. The album was a surprise success, appearing on Billboard's Bluegrass chart and raising the band's profile considerably.
In 2014 the group continued to develop its sound, adding frequent collaborator Libby Rodenbough as a full-time member and touring around the US. In April 2014 guitarist Joseph Terrell won the General category of Merlefest's Chris Austin Songwriting Contest.
With the 2015 release, Old Time Reverie, again produced by Andrew Marlin, Mipso expanded into richer, occasionally darker, textures, adding the clawhammer banjo and electric organ. The album debuted at #1 on Billboard's Bluegrass chart.
The band began to expand their musicality with their third studio album, Coming Down the Mountain, released on April 7, 2017. This album saw the band add drums and slide guitar to their repertoire. The album spent five weeks on the Billboard Bluegrass chart, peaking at the third highest position.
In July of that year, the band was in a serious car accident in North Carolina. Their touring van was rear-ended by a truck, and then hit a series of other vehicles on the road. Terrell's air bag didn't deploy and he suffered a deep cut on his forehead and a broken nose. Much of their equipment was destroyed.
On April 6, 2018, Mipso released their fourth studio album Edges Run. Produced by Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird, Anaïs Mitchell), it premiered two days before release date at PopMatters. The album saw Mipso return to the top of the bluegrass charts. The single "People Change" has been streamed over 72 million times on Spotify to date.
2019 - Present
Mipso released 12 new tracks on their most recent eponymous album on October 16, 2020, their first on Rounder Records. The video for their track "Hourglass" premiered on PopMatters on October 7, 2020.
Band members have also released solo projects. Robinson released a solo album, Wood Robinson's New Formal, in 2016. Rodenbough also released a solo album May 29, 2020 on Sleepy Cat Records called Spectacle of Love.
Meaning of Name
Over the years the group has claimed various origins of the word "Mipso." In 2013 guitarist Joseph Terrell stated that the members "just came up with it." In 2013 bassist Wood Robinson claimed that the name referred to a now defunct Japanese appliance manufacturer, crediting Jacob Sharp's thesis research into post-war Japan with unearthing a reference to the company. Sharp confirmed this version of the story in an interview with Bluegrass Today. In a September 2015 interview with Raleigh's News & Observer, however, Terrell revealed a new origin story, claiming to want to dispel previous rumors. "There's a phrase in Japan," he explains, "it means something familiar, but there's something a little bit off. And it roughly translates, or at least we were told, to 'a little pee in the miso.' And so we put a little P in the miso: Mipso." This story has subsequently been published and re-confirmed in various publications.
||Release Date||Peak chart positions|
|US Bluegrass||US Folk||Heatseekers|
|Dark Holler Pop||October 26, 2013||8||-||-|
|Old Time Reverie||October 2, 2015||1||20||22|
|Coming Down the Mountain||April 7, 2017||3||-||-|
|Edges Run||April 6, 2018||1||-||-|
|Mipso||October 16, 2020||-||-||-|
|Coming Down the Mountain||
|Hurt So Good||
|Take Your Records Home (D.C. Sessions)||
|Let a Little Light In||
|Hurt So Good||
|People Change (D.C. Sessions)||
|Let a Little Light In||
|Just Want To Be Loved||
- Chapman, Joseph (2011-05-05). "Chancellor Thorp jams with Mipso Trio in front of Wilson Library". The Daily Tar Heel. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
- Hill, Corbie (2012-12-12). "Will The Avett Brothers' popularity overshadow N.C.'s roots music past and sterling present?". IndyWeek. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
- Weaver Spurr, Kim (Spring 2018). "Mipso: Up-and-coming acoustic trio bleeds Carolina blue". Carolina Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
- "Mipso In Japan". Vimeo.com. Vimeo. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
- "2014 Best Short Film: Mipso In Japan, directed by Jon Kasbe". Picture Start Film Festival. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
- Weeks, Isaac (2 April 2014). "Triangle-related Films at Riverrun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem". IndyWeek.
- "Mipso In Japan". IndieGrits.com.
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- Hussey, Allison (5 November 2015). "Chapel Hill's Mipso will play aboard the KFC float during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade". Indy Week. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
- Clark, Doug (1 August 2017). "Mipso members recovering after frightening car crash". PopMatters. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
- Bialas, Michael (4 April 2018). "Mipso Willing to Go Extra Mile to Arrive at Sound Choices on 'Edges Run' (album premiere)". PopMatters. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
- Bialas, Michael (7 October 2020). "Mipso Keep Time on Their Side As a String Band on the Run (interview + premiere)". PopMatters. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
- Crone, Madeline (19 October 2020). "Mipso Makes A Grand Re-Introduction With Latest Album". American Songwriter. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
- Keough, Jessica. "About To Break: Mipso". The Bluegrass Situation. Archived from the original on 1 December 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
- Lawless, John. "Father's House video from Mipso". Bluegrass Today. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
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