By Ken DeLaat
This has been an outstanding year for music in our area as the Dogwood has tossed out a sumptuous series of compelling concerts for our listening pleasure.
This week however you absolutely need to go to the Black Box if you want to hear a duo that produces some of the most unique music to have hit these ears since our musically astute friend Tom Bland told us about a group called Donna the Buffalo years ago and turned us into lifelong fans.
The Rough & Tumble will be bringing their innovative and exciting sound to The Box this Thursday night and from all signs and omens being put forth this looks like an evening you will not want to miss. Mallory Graham and Scott Tyler took to the road awhile back to embark on an extended tour and exploration adventure. In doing so they have shared their music with folks throughout the country while continuing to develop new sounds and forging ahead into new musical territory.
To call their sound unique is a bit of a misnomer. They have a style that reaches inside, with songs that ring of honesty. Music that relates to others in a subtle way.
We caught up with them as they were grabbing a quick coffee in Traverse City on the way to their upcoming gig in Bellaire. They were facing the prospect of trying to park the camper they call home (along with their canine companions and sometime collaborators Pud and Butter) on a Saturday morning during the peak season in that town, a rather formidable task.
The duo engages in conversation similar to how they perform, playing off each other and engaging in a lively dialogue tinged with the delightful sense of humor both seem to possess,
N3-Describe your music to those who might not be familiar with your sound.
S- We are an acoustic folk Americana duo.
M- We used to call ourselves hillbilly grunge but that doesn’t really fit anymore.(laughter)
S- Yeah, we have this odd collection of odds and ends and musical instruments,that help accompany our folk songs so it’s kind of a unique sound I’d say
M- And story based. Our instruments are part of our telling the story in the song. Whenever we add an instrument we talk to each other about what it might add to the story.
N3-In listening to your music it comes across rather fearless. You seem unafraid to put whatever you’re experiencing into your performance.
S- Thanks.You know,here’s a lot of fear out there and when you write songs and go out there and perform them with strangers you’re actively working through that fear
M- And hopefully inspiring other people to do the same.
N3-Most of the songs are written by the two of you. How does that collaboration work.Is there a back and forth kind of process to the writing?
M-When we started working together sometimes we couldn’t tell when one person stopped and the other started so we decided at that point whatever song happened when we were in the same room it’s a 50-50 split.Even just a week after we’ve written a song we can’t remember who wrote what. We’re happy about that though sometimes it feels like if we ever stop writing together I’ll probably never be able to write another song.
N3-Where do you get your inspiration
S Early on we were kind of taking stories from our friends and turning them into songs ...and then, you know, our friends ...well... they kind of got tired of us (both laughing).
M- Yeah we had to get real honest with ourselves on that one.
S-So we bought this camper headed out and then as cliche' as it might sound,we started getting our inspiration from the road.
M_ And from our relationship too. like there might be a song about a fight we had last week.
N3-I can only imagine how that plays out on stage.
Both-(Laughter) Yeah it can be pretty interesting
S- One would be Will Gray who was a songwriter we knew who unfortunately passed away. I remember him telling us ‘You need to be more honest. Your songs are good but they’re not good enough.’
M- Yeah I don’t think he would have said that if he didn’t think we could do better. I think we’ve also had what I would call accidental mentors along the way. People we’ve met who have influenced us.
S- When a song is done right it can really just communicate so much more and getting it right is what we strive for.
N3-Who have you been listening to?.
S-Regina Spektor Esme Patterson, and lately some older folk songs.
M-We just started doing this Wednesday live podcast (http://www.theroughandtumble.com/) where we pick an older folk song and perform it.It helps us learn our roots.
S- The music is inspiring. We recently came up with an arrangement for the old folk tune “The Water is Wide” and afterwards I had my guitar out and Mallory came up with a line and we started writing and in an hour and a half we had a song.
N3-If I were to tell people to listen to one song of yours on Youtube which would it be.
M- 'Cicada'. We did it on an earlier record and just included a newer version on our latest. I think it’s a good example of what we do.
N3- Nowadays many performers are taking political stands. Is there an obligation as an artist to do so?
M- Hmmm... We’ve been talking about that a lot lately.
S- I don’t believe there’s an obligation to align with a specific political party but people’s lives are political and as we tell the stories of the people around us and what they’re going through...well...
M- The obligation might be to be a voice for people who don’t have a voice.
N3-I described your music as fearless but there’s also an obvious innate kindness in it
S- Yeah, we maintain a pretty strong belief in people as a whole.
N3-Lastly, why should people come?
S- It’s going to be a really fun show.
M- And it’s live music. I mean... you can Netflix a show any night of the week and our show is a chance to have a group experience. A pleasant group experience because we really try to interact with the audience and create a relationship with them.
S- And we’re excited to be playing at the Dogwood. We’ve heard so many great things about the venue.
M- Yeah, like Scott said it will be a lot of fun, so maybe Netflix a different night and come out to see the show.
Mallory and Scott are a charming, funny, insightful and candid pair of performers who pour out their music with a cavalcade of sounds from a number of sources and lyrical stories woven into a most intriguing pattern.
As we opined earlier it has truly been a banner season for concerts at the Dogwood to be sure.
But catching performers such as this...in the fun club-like setting that is the Black Box…. on a mid-summer night?
Yeah, don’t miss this show.
Click here to purchase tickets! $12.50. Black Box. General admission seating. 7:30 p.m. Tables can be reserved with the purchase of eight tickets. Call the Dogwood to reserve yours at 231-924-8885!
Dogwood Box Office hours are Tuesday - Friday from 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. and two hours prior to an event. For more information please contact Dogwood Box Office at 231.924.8885. You may also purchase tickets from the Dogwood Center Facebook page!
Tickets may also be purchased at the NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont. Hours are Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Thursday, 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. For more information please contact NCCA-Artsplace at 231.924.4022.
Features and Fun
Concerts, Plays, Happenings, Local Recipes, Gardening, Entertainment, Charities, Fundraisers, upcoming events, Theater, Activities, Tech, and much more.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”
- Eric Qualman