Sonoma County vocalists, multi-instrumentalists and songwriters Erin Chapin, Caitlin Gowdey and Vanessa May have already made a name for themselves in the Bay Area as folk trio Rainbow Girls, garnering acclaim for their harmonious live shows and their breakout 2017 album, American Dream.
Now Rainbow Girls are gearing up for worldwide acclaim. Ahead of this month’s release of a new covers album, Give the People What They Want, the group found a massive online audience with their homemade music video cover of Alvin Robinson’s 1964 hit “Down Home Girl,” which was viewed more than 6 million times on Facebook in six months.
“It’s very exciting,” says May of the group’s viral success. “You ask yourself, ‘How does that happen?'”
Originally, the group’s viral video was simply a one-off cover song filmed to promote a local show last September, recorded with an iPhone on the back porch of the band’s west Sonoma County home.
“All of a sudden we were getting requests for that song from all over the place,” says May, who says they even received an email from a radio station in Austria asking to play the song.
From that video, Rainbow Girls were inspired to create a full LP of covers that became Give the People What They Want, available now.
“The name of the record came pretty naturally,” says May. “People wanted a recording of this song, and people have been asking for other songs that are on this collection.”
In addition to “Down Home Girl,” the trio also tackle monumental folk anthems like Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” and John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery.” Other artists that get the Rainbow Girls treatment on the new record include Gillian Welch and Nat “King” Cole.
This week, Rainbow Girls give North Bay audiences what they want, opening for acclaimed folk siblings Shook Twins in concert on March 3, at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma.
The band’s touring schedule this year is busy, including festival appearances and international tours in the works.
“We have a lot that people can look forward to this year,” says May. “We have a bunch of new music always flowing out, and it feels good to present it to our audience.”