Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Introducing The Hello Strangers: The Chace sisters with some sweet attitude

I love these photos by Ryan Smith: Brechyn and Larissa Chace

The music of The Hello Strangers takes me into another decade, maybe into a black and white movie set in the Appalachians or Hill Country of Texas, where the women are tough and passionate. It's spooky, got some gorgeous harmonies and just the right amount of twang.

Sisters Brechyn (Breh-ken) Chace and Larissa Chace Smith started writing tunes together in South Austin after Larissa completed her Master's degree in Ethnomusicology at The University of Texas (that's where I met her). Soon, however, the mountains of their Central Pennsylvania home beckoned the sisters North. So they packed up their lives, dogs, and Larissa’s husband, and drove to their two-stoplight hometown of Mercersburg (factoid: birthplace to President Buchanan). In Pennsylvania the sisters were joined by Dave Holzwarth (bass), Kevin Shannon (guitar), and Katie O’Neil (drums) to fill out the sound into a full on rock band.

With songs titled "Pregnant in Jail," (supposedly based on a true story, that's something I have to remember to ask about) "Oh He'll Drown," and "Poor Dear," I wonder where the Chace sisters get their inspiration. I mean REALLY get their inspiration. I know Larissa's husband. I was at their wedding, he's a sweetheart. It seems that the local lore of Pennsylvania, Texas and good ol' country music steeped into their creative consciousness.

The musical influence of folks like
Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, Johnny Cash, Conor Oberst and The Weary Boys is evident. But so is the rich musical traditions of Austin, Texas. It's the voices and vocal harmonies of Brechyn and Larissa that really make this band for me. I can't tell them apart and it sort of freaks me out!

I'm looking forward to hearing the full-length album when it comes out sometime in the next couple months. Until then, check out their EP "Introducing Max Schmidt." And if you're in the Pennsylvania/Maryland area, The Hello Strangers are playing a bunch of gigs you can check out:

Jan 15 2010 7PM - The Ragged Edge Coffee House Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Jan 23 2010 8:30PM - Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill Hagerstown, Maryland

Feb 13 2010 9PM - The Broad Axe Hagerstown, Maryland

Feb 19 2010 9PM - The Local Beat: Millennium Music Conference New Cumberland, Pennsylvania

Feb 26 2010 8PM - Unique Bar and Grill Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania

Apr 2 2010 8PM - Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill Hagerstown, Maryland

May 8 2010 9PM - The Broad Axe Hagerstown, Maryland

Jul 31 2010 9PM - The Broad Axe Hagerstown, Maryland

Sep 18 2010 8:30P - Hempen Hill BBQ Bar & Grill Hagerstown, Maryland

You can take the girls out of Texas but you can't take Texas out of the girls

"Poor Dear" by The Hello Strangers

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