By Karl Malgiero
If you are new to the Ladybug Music Festival scene, then you can be somewhat forgiven if you are unaware of multi-instrumental rock’n’soul twins Nalani and Sarina.
The New Jersey-based sisters have been intimately involved with the festival for 6 years now, and in that time they’ve grown from a harmony-based acoustic duo to a romping full-band. In many ways their success has coincided with that of the Ladybug Festival brand, and during that time, the two entities have formed a bond that can only be considered familial.
“The Ladybug Festival has been huge for helping female independent artists get their music heard by people who will appreciate it,” Nalani Bolton observes. “They kind of started when we did, and we grew up with them.”
The sisters’ association with the organization has led to more admirers at close proximity to their home base, making the short trip down here from New Jersey always a fruitful and gratifying venture.
“We were nobodies from New Jersey doing a Wilmo Wednesday songwriters night,“ Sarina says of the roots of their Ladybug link. “For them to encourage artists—especially with us being from out of town—then seeing the audience grow from it, is remarkable, because we would be nothing in Delaware without them.”
While certainly no strangers to lower Delaware, the Milford area itself is new territory for the twins, “especially with our full band,” Sarina notes. And that potential for new fans of their music is motivation for their continued creativity.
“For us it’s always a new challenge,” she adds. “We like to think that because we have old influences, but that we also try to make it sound current in today’s world, we cross a lot of boundaries. So all we can do is play our music as honestly as we can and watch it translate.”
“One of the most rewarding things is to see people’s responses and see them react favorably,” Nalani continues. “But our main goal when performing is to make people have a good time and get away from their problems in the world. That’s when we’re doing our job.”
In response to their flourishing fanbase in the First State and elsewhere, in addition to the potential for new ears, the duo have certainly raised their game. Their latest musical output has them stretching the boundaries of pop/soul music, with some butt-kicking flare added in for good measure.
“Rowdy is one way to put it,” Nalani deflects. “We like to think of it as rocking more intently.”
Perhaps it’s modesty, or perhaps it’s pride that results in a reticent reaction to that notion. But even their liveliest songs wouldn’t sound out of place anywhere in the vast canyon that lies betwixt roadhouse and opera house, let alone an outdoor stage in Milford.
The exposure to new things and the idea of female empowerment are the best parts about the diversity of Ladybug’s past and present lineups. As is Nalani’s personal vision of the festival’s intent, almost certainly shared by an abundance of others.
“We’re really looking forward to showing that chicks can rock as hard as dudes.”