This week we open the chute for a fabulous Americana Duo comprised of Tommy Byrd and Kathy Street. I'll give you more of my take on this talented couple. For now, let's see what they have to say.
1. Fans and journalists have described you and your music in so many ways. How would you describe Byrd & Street? Tex-Americana with male/female harmonies
2. The two of you have an almost ‘sibling’ harmony. The tone is magic. Did you feel as if you had been touched by a magic wand the first time the two of you sang together? .
We absolutely did. We both like the way our voices blended and we’re please that other people like it as well.
3. Americana is really seeing an upsurge in popularity. What do you think the listener is listening for in the genre? What do they want or expect that differs from other ‘country’ music?
Americana music encompasses more of a variety of sounds with the various “hybrids” of country, folk, blues, roots and maybe a little pop. Country music is good dancing music. Some but not all Americana music lends itself to that, but most is more of a “listen and be still” genre so that your heart can hear and feel the message in the lyrics. It’s a form of art that allows people to access their own special place in their heart.
4. The two of you have an awesome approach to your audience that I think sets you apart from the majority of artists. You want people to experience Byrd & Street. Why do you think this is important?
It’s gratifying to hear that we have touched a lot of hearts. It has turned out to be reciprocal where we feel the connection with them, too. Often someone will tell us that a particular song was just what they needed to hear that night because of the ups and downs of their week. Or because it was a gentle reminder of where they needed to put their perspective. Or because it reminded them of their father who they will always miss but they still appreciate moments to revisit their love of him. Or because the light-hearted silly song lifted their spirits. And in these conversations with them we get to know and care about them, and we become friends. Tommy also likes to tell the stories behind the songs, and our audience often chimes in with comments. All of us have a good time together.
5. Aside from artists of the music variety, you are both talented artists on canvas. Do you draw inspiration for both mediums from the same well?
Kathy: Both of us were partly inspired from our grandmothers who were artistic. My parents saw that I was the child in the family who loved to draw the most, and so when I was a teenager, my birthday gift was a boxed set of oil paints, canvases, brushes, and some sit-down lessons with my grandmother who always had an oil painting going in her dining room. I often take a photo of a scene when I travel, and it becomes my next subject. I think that wanting to create art comes from a gene that wants attention.
Tommy: My grandmother painted and worked with ceramics. I began experimenting with ink brushes and pens about 10 years ago and have done a lot of commissioned portraits. I’m also inspired by the story of the American Indian and so many of my images reflect that.
6. Who have been your biggest influences?
Laura Nero, The Eagles; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; the Everly Brothers; Lyle Lovett; Peter, Paul and Mary; the Beatles, the Beach Boys
7. What is the most important lesson each of you has learned in this business?
Kathy: There are great moments in the sun, and there are times when you feel disappointment and rejection. Being chosen for recognition, for jobs and gigs is often political, random or disorganized. If your fans keep growing in numbers, and you receive praise from some DJ’s and venue operators, then that is an indication that the work you are doing has merit, so keep plowing on. Your grandest “trophy or plaque” will be the memory of the conversations you had with fans who “absolutely love your music.”
Tommy: Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you. There are many silver linings along the way. Stay with it.
8. What is the most important thing to keep in mind when writing a song?
…that there isn’t only one thing to remember. Keep a focus in mind. What do you want? If it‘s a groove song, then aim that direction. If it’s a sing-along, write a simple melody and chorus. A slow, thought-provoking song has its own set of guidelines. Whatever the focus, play from the heart and be conversational.
Thank you to Tommy and Kathy for taking time from their busy schedule to talk with us today. Tomorrow, I have a special treat for you. We'll be talking about their new CD!