Q&A: Joy Kills Sorrow’s Emma Beaton on the Band’s Breakup & Final Show

Joy Kills Sorrow - Photo by Shervin Lainez
Joy Kills Sorrow – Photo by Shervin Lainez

Back in February, Joy Kills Sorrow, one of our favorite northeastern string bands, announced on Facebook that its members would soon go their separate ways. The band has played a few shows since then, but on May 1st the quintet made up of Emma Beaton (vocals), Wes Corbett (banjo), Matt Arcara (guitar) Jacob Jolliff (mandolin) and Zoe Guigueno (bass) will play its final show at Boston’s Lizard Lounge (Tickets: 6:30 Show, 9:30 Show).

While the breakup sucks for fans, it’s not a nasty one and each of the band members are already getting fired up about their next projects. For a look back and what’s ahead, here’s a quick Q&A with Emma. Gonna miss these guys.

1. How long have you been with Joy Kills Sorrow? What’s it like to see the band come to a close?

Joy Kills Sorrow
Emma Beaton & Jacob Jolliff at the grass clippings Holiday Hootenanny.

I joined when I had just turned 18, right in the last couple months of high school. It’s pretty crazy for it to come to a close – it’s a huge lifestyle change for me, since I’m not moving straight into another touring band, and playing that music and being on the road has been my reality for so long. That being said, the “disbanding”, if you will, feels like such a natural and painless choice that the transition, so far, has been easy. I think the whole thing has just made a lot of sense, and we’re all still super good friends and proud of everything we’ve accomplished, but also looking ahead to all the possibilities that are now open to us.

2. Any stories from the road that we should all know about?

So many. Ha! We had a ton of fun on the road. I guess my favourite memories are generally times when things went awry, but we laughed it off, pulled it together, and got through it. One time in Denmark, we had a beater of a car, and a random part fell off into the middle of the road as we were driving. The car kept functioning, so we just kept going… Who knows what it was.

JKS at the 2013 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
JKS at the 2013 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

3. New seasons bring new opportunities. Are there some short- or long-term next steps for you and the other band members?

Yeah, we all have various irons in the fire. I think that’s part of what made us make the decision we did; we all have other things we want to try. Matt’s been building beautiful guitars for years, but has never really had a ton of time to devote to it, so he’ll be working pretty hard at that. Other folks are playing in different projects and doing more teaching – Wes has also been teaching for a while at Berklee and is continuing with that. I’ve just started a new job in music business that I’m really excited about. Music business has always sort of been in the back of my mind as something that I’d like to head towards.

4. What are you most excited about in your post-JKS life?

Well, I moved to New York over a year and a half ago, and it’s only now that I’m starting to feel really a part of the city and get to know it well. I’m super excited to explore around the city more. And obviously (or maybe not so obviously), I’ve never had a day job where I work the same hours and get to sleep in my own bed at night. Touring is so, so awesome and fun, and traveling is great, but I’m pretty excited to be a “normal person” for a little while…ha!

5. What will you miss the most?

So much. Jake, Zoe and I were riding the bus back from our last couple gigs the other day, and had a little recap session of our top four most missed things, things we’re excited to do, etc, etc. It was really nice to go back and think about all the awesome things we’ve done. Bittersweet, but great. I love everyone in the band so much. The band and my experiences with them (all of them – past members included) have really shaped who I am – I grew with them through very formative years. I definitely am who I am because of Joy Kills Sorrow, and though I’m excited for my own and everyone else’s futures, I’m going to miss everything that came and went with the band.