Lucy Kaplansky races to success with Red Horse collaboration

By Ed Hannan,
Sun Correspondent
Updated: 08/11/2011

Lucy Kaplansky is a mainstay on the New England concert scene and she's no stranger to Lowell, but when I caught up with her recently I couldn't help but think of Phoebe Buffay.

Perhaps you remember the character portrayed by Lisa Kudrow on Friends, but for those of you who didn't watch the show, Phoebe loved to play the guitar at the Central Perk coffeehouse.

When I called Kaplansky to chat about her role in the acoustic folk supergroup Red Horse (with Eliza Gilkyson and John Gorka) and their concert on Saturday night at Boarding House Park as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series, she was meeting friends at a New York City coffeehouse.

That's where the similarities end, though, as Phoebe was not much of a musician whereas Kaplansky is a critically acclaimed singer and songwriter. She told me about how the collaboration came together. "

John and I have been friends for years and are huge fans of each other, but we've never been at a festival together and never toured together. We've each worked together, but all three of us have never worked together. Eliza sent me an email a year and a half ago asking me to gig with her and John. I thought it would be fun, so I mentioned it to my husband. He said, 'Why not do a CD?' I thought that was a good idea so I mentioned it to John. Eliza had a cool idea to do some of each other's songs, which no one had done before."



The resulting CD, Red Horse, has been featured on NPR's Weekend Edition, topped the folk charts for several months, and has been the biggest-selling folk album on Amazon and iTunes. The album features each artist doing a solo on songs the others have released.

"The whole point was to do gigs together and we thought it would be fun," Kaplansky says of the collaboration. "The CD has done really well and we're getting gigs we never got before, lots and lots of gigs. It's a win-win for everybody."

She resists the "supergroup" label. "I don't know what that means. We're three people with pretty established careers. This is a whole new experience for us musically. I don't know if that's a supergroup, but maybe it is."

Kaplansky says she prefers to collaborate with other artists. "If I had my druthers, I would be playing with other people every night of my life. Usually the problem with collaborating is there isn't enough money. So far, this has been enough of a success where that hasn't been a problem."

Red Horse, featuring Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka and Lucy Kaplansky, will perform at Boarding House Park in Lowell on Saturday night as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. For information or to purchase tickets, visit


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