THE WELL PENNIES are a Folk/Pop duo from Los Angeles consisting of husband and wife team Bryan & Sarah Vanderpool. The pair met in Boston while supporting each other’s solo sets at popular venues like Club Passim, Lizard Lounge, and The Middle East. They fell in love, ran away to California and released their debut EP that was met with critical acclaim from press like Interview Magazine, Under the Radar, Daily Unsigned, and countless others. Taking influence from Mumford & Sons, The Civil Wars, and Nickel Creek, the band explains, "Our goal is to write songs that inspire something - however simple - to smile, to love, to get out and experience life." The Well Pennies can be seen touring up and down the west coast while they prepare for their next record. Their release was recently nominated for an Independent Music Award and a Los Angeles Music Critic Award for "Best EP".
Bryan (guitars, banjo, percussion, vocals) grew up in Massachusetts spending the majority of his childhood obsessed with music. He began studying jazz percussion at the age of 9, continuing on through high school involved in jazz ensembles and leading the drum line in marching band. At 17, he taught himself guitar and quickly developed his own unique rhythmic picking style - a combination of tradional folk picking and frailing clawhammer.
Sarah (pianos, accordion, vocals) spent her childhood in Des Moines, Iowa listening to Doo-Wop records and 70's rock. Classically trained in piano from age 13, she began writing music and performing locally in her teens along with traveling throughout the country in chamber choirs and vocal ensembles. Being a multi-instrumentalist, she learned guitar and has also been known to break out an accordion during shows.
2012 Notable Highlights:
-Featured in Interview Magazine, Under The Radar, Whoa Magazine, and acclaimed music blogs: Daily Unsigned and Direct Current Music
-Recently nominated for the 12th Annual Independent Music Awards - Best EP
-Recently nominated for the 2012 Los Angeles Music Critics Award - Best EP
-Album charted on the CMJ Top 200 charts for 4 weeks and is currently being played on over 150 radio stations nationwide
-Voted "Best Band" by Pasadena Magazine's Best of Issue
-Named on of the top 10 indie folk bands in Los Angeles by Reverbnation
-5/5 stars by IMR Magazine
-Hired by ABC Family to write songs for their upcoming fall schedule
-Won the Sonicbids slot to play the main stage at The Four Corners Folk Festival
-Endorsed by Deering Banjos
-Packed out legendary Los Angeles Clubs: The Roxy, The Bootleg Theater, The Mint, Molly Malones, Amplyfi, The Grove, and Cafe Cordial
-Played the 2012 NAMM show on The Fender Stage for Fender Guitars
-Featured band for the ABC Family Holiday Showcase
Bryan Vanderpool - Banjo, Vocals, Guitar
Sarah Vanderpool - Vocals, Piano, Accordion, Wurly
Tony Green - Upright & Electric Bass
Tim Weed - Violin, Viola
The Well Pennies [EP] - 2012
Whoa Magazine features The Well Pennies
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"Los Angeles-based husband and wife duo, Bryan & Sarah Vanderpool, self-titled manages to create the..."Los Angeles-based husband and wife duo, Bryan & Sarah Vanderpool, self-titled manages to create the perfect amount of happy fused with just the right amount of folk. The bands stunning harmony and melody blends are enticing."
Daily Unsigned - The Well Pennies Feature
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Sometimes we jump to greener pastures looking for something more special than we currently have. Whe...Sometimes we jump to greener pastures looking for something more special than we currently have. Whether it is for new love, new job, new music, or even for someone who we think will connect with us better.
I spent last week in a different country looking for some “better” amazing music knowing full well that it was already in my own backyard…and guess what? Here I am back home and embracing that very music in my own backyard.
No matter where you go in life…I wish you the happiest of times!
Today’s Fresh Pick on Daily Unsigned, The Well Pennies delivers music that will always be there for you in good times and those bad times.
Music that is edible enough to replace your comfort food!
- Rob Daily
Interview Magazine (Discovery: The Well Pennies)
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They perform in their Sunday best, often slotted into bills featuring Los Angeles's finest screamo, ...They perform in their Sunday best, often slotted into bills featuring Los Angeles's finest screamo, rock, and noise acts. Their defense? Lush folk harmonies and crystalline male/female vocals, set against a wash of banjo, guitar, piano, violin, and the occasional suitcase-based percussion kit. Meet The Well Pennies, husband and wife team Bryan and Sarah Vanderpool, who—for the record—enjoy their position as musical outsiders.
"We get great responses from the most random places," laughs Sarah. "When you bring the banjo out, or the mandolin or something, they'll literally cheer when you take it out of the case. I have had that with the accordion. Really? You're cheering for the accordion? Okay! I like it!"
We recently joined The Well Pennies for a meal at their favorite cheese shop. Over sandwiches, they told us about discovering that they were musical soulmates, trading life in Massachusetts for the West Coast, and why their self-titled debut EP proves that they'll always be a pop band at heart. They also provided us with the premiere of their video for Coldplay cover "Viva La Vida."
HOMETOWN: Northborough, MA
CURRENT CITY: Pasadena, CA
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?: Bryan Vanderpool: Sarah was working at a coffee shop in Northborough, Massachusetts that I would frequent every day. Frequent? I basically lived there.
Sarah Vanderpool: It was like a bookstore coffee shop. We would do different events and things there. I tried to plan the events. So I was helping with some event; I don't remember what. I was supposed to do music for it. It was happening the next day, and I hurt my wrist, so I couldn't play guitar or piano. It was just going to be me. I could do a cappella, which would be weird. I was at the store, and I was telling the guy in charge that I didn't know what I was going to do. He asked, "Don't you know anybody?" and Bryan was standing down the hallway. I said, "Well, he plays stuff!" We played that day, and it was really good. We actually spent more time playing on each other's solo stuff for a while. It took us longer than it should have to realize that we should try writing music together. Our first song was written with accordion, and it was a lovely song. We realized it was really good.
Bryan: It clicked right away. We could write very easily together.
Sarah: The romantic relationship was always there. I mean, look at him! [laughs] I think we had an instant connection. I had known his family for a while. We're both the kind of people who are completely obsessed with music. I grew up in Iowa, and he grew up in Massachusetts. You don't always find people who understand that obsession. They treat you like you're weird. There's things beyond music, and we're like, "Really?" So when you meet someone who gets it, and it's in their veins the way it is with you, you instantly click. It's even better that we also play well together.
HEADING WEST TO SEEK THEIR FORTUNE: Bryan: We were playing New England, New York shows. As much as we loved it, it's a great environment, it's a supportive community, but there's really not the opportunities out there. The Boston folk scene is so encouraging and supportive. You need that. It's very much like playing for your parents.
Sarah: Where do you go from there? We were playing in Manhattan, but Manhattan is like LA—saturated. There's live music every single night from six to two in the morning. How do you stand out? We felt like if we're going to do it, let's go for it. Start in a brand-new place. We literally packed up the Honda Civic with some clothes and some instruments, and that was it. We didn't have jobs; we just came out here to see what happens.
IT'S INSTRUMENTAL: Sarah: We get great responses from the most random places. When you bring the banjo out, or the mandolin or something, they'll literally cheer when you take it out of the case. I have had that with the accordion. Really? You're cheering for the accordion? Okay! I like it! And the kazoo. We've gotten the biggest cheers for the kazoo. I think it's that appreciation of thinking outside the box.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?: Bryan: We're huge Tom Waits fans. So we were thinking about a Tom Waits-inspired name. Real Gone, he's got this song called "The Fall of Troy." It's a dreary song—as most Tom Waits songs are. In the last line he says, "My heart aches, my legs ache, my heart is sore and the well is full of pennies." It's kind of this sad but hopeful thing, of something dirty like an old penny being attached to all these dreams. That makes it beautiful somehow. We thought it was perfect; we have to be The Well Pennies. Even though it's a little twee.
Sarah: We had a different band name before. We were Portico, from an Anna Kamienska poem. But a bunch of landscaping companies have that name.
Bryan: We didn't have the domain name; the online presence is all landscaping. We moved to LA, so we figured the project deserved a new name.
Sarah: But then we had another name. Everyone hated it! They were very verbal about how much they hated it.
Bryan: We were Nortic Portic. I love it!
Sarah: Everyone hated it! We loved it. So to stick it to everybody, that's our publishing company.
TELLING THEIR STORY IN SONG: Sarah: Some of [the EP] is really autobiographical.
Bryan: "Feels Like Home" is about us moving to Los Angeles in the car. "I Hope You Notice Me" is the feeling we had back when we first met each other.
Sarah: It's like when you don't have the guts to go walk over to the person, but you hope that they notice you instead. We feel like everybody has probably had that moment. Sometimes you're inspired by someone else's life. "Nothing to Do" was inspired by Shel Silverstein. We could never do it justice. But it's that thought that if you take something simple and childlike, there's something so beautiful underneath it. I feel like he was always trying to give hope and inspiration to these little kids. The poem that I love is "Listen to the mustn'ts child, listen to the don'ts." I love that poem so much. It's a simple idea. Get up and embrace life. Go out your door and explore. Get off Facebook! It's important to us. Life's short.
OF MARRIAGE AND MUSIC: Sarah: You're essentially working with this person like a job.
Bryan: I don't play well with others when writing music. I have a very hard writing with other people. I'm very opinionated. It's my way or the highway kind of thing. It's this melody, or this way that the song wants to go, or I have a hard time focusing on it. [To Sarah] You're the first person to help guide. It was a shock that we wrote so well together.
Sarah: It was to me too. I've actually tried to write with other people before. Usually one dominates over the other. Half the time, if it's the other person dominating, you're not happy with it. You're like, "This is crappy, but okay I'll just keep writing it or whatever." This is totally a weird, equal collaboration. It's very yin and yang.
THE NAMING OF THINGS: Bryan: We name all our instruments. They're like children to us. We have a 1979 Gibson J-50 named Knuckles O'Tool.
Sarah: That was my Dad's guitar. He bought it when I was a month old. I was there in the guitar shop. He learned on it, and then I learned on it.
Bryan: And then the bread-and-butter guitar that I use for everything is a Gibson J-35 that's a little tweaked. She named it Debbie, after Debbie Gibson, because she hates '80s music. It just stuck after awhile! And then we just got endorsed by Deering banjos. Steve Martin is endorsed by them, and Punch Brothers. They're getting us a banjo. I already have a name picked out: Sir Kensington.
Sarah: And the accordion is Tallulah. One day I woke up and said, "I have to have an accordion. I just have to." So I researched accordions on Craigslist and I found one. It had a picture. It was cream-colored and sparkly. I was like, "I want this one, and her name is going to be Pearl!" I went with my friend to go pick it up. I think this woman might have been a drug addict. I was feeling strange about that. I talked her way down. She gave it to me and ran off. Pearl didn't work with her. She's had a tough life. I need the name of someone who has been in a brothel or something. Tallulah!
Bryan: We name everything, even our car, who is named after George Costanza. Georgie Porgie.
NEXT UP: Bryan: We're writing new material as we speak. Right now.
Sarah: It's in our brains. Telepathically. Part of this conversation is in it. There's music. And songs involved. There are two participants.
Bryan: There may or may not be instruments.
Sarah: We could do a cappella.
Bryan: [Sings] "This little light of mine!" No. We were almost there with this EP with our style.
Sarah: How rootsy we go, I'm not sure. We'll have to see. But the pop stuff will still be there.
Bryan: We love writing pop music. It sounds goofy. Maybe that's a bad thing to say. I love pop music.
THE WELL PENNIES IS OUT NOW. FOR MORE ON THE WELL PENNIES, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE.
Slideshow photo credits
Photography: David Studarus
Grooming: Angie Peek
IMR Magazine (Indie Acoustic Featured Artist: The Well Pennies)
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There has been a common theme in many of the Indie Acoustic artists. Adjectives like upbeat, fun and...There has been a common theme in many of the Indie Acoustic artists. Adjectives like upbeat, fun and uplifting pepper the articles for these musicians throughout this issue. The Well Pennies personify those three words and wear them proudly.
The husband and wife duo of Bryan and Sarah Vanderpool hit every note and sing every key in their six track self-titled EP. Met while working solo in the Boston music scene, they have found a perfect fit in their harmonies while they trade back and forth throughout the album.
It is Sarah’s voice that will knock you off your feet though. Imagine Norah Jones’ with more body. The composition and the musicianship are quite impressive, and you can hear the Bryan’s background in percussion coming through. Each song is layered with such texture that beat can be felt without their being a drummer to provide it.
Whether it is in the hopeful song “I Hope You Notice Me,” or the love song “You Make It Easy,” you can feel the heartfelt lyrics and emotions that are projected through. In the first you are the young boy or girl at the junior high dance with butterflies in their stomach. The second, you are skipping on cotton candy clouds, holding hands with your loved one, while eating a lollipop.
It always amazes me how often we find music that blows what is being pushed at us on mainstream away. “Nothing To Do” is one of those songs that that just make you love being a fan of music. One of those cross-over tracks that could easily rise on multiple charts, it just has that perfect combination of beat, hook and message that draw a crowd.
“All the Pretty Girls” and “Feels Like Home” are pure showcases of Sarah’s voice. Imagine Zooey Deschanel and Feist for the first and add a country flair to the second. As with each of these songs, it will have you bouncing in your seat. “String Around My Finger” is a classic country song with nice fiddle work and finger pickin’.
Currently making Los Angeles their home, The Well Pennies worked with producer Michael Woodrum (Joss Stone, BC Jean) to record and release this first release this past January. The duo provide an amazing combination of vocals, musicianship, music writing and emotion that is hard to find elsewhere. They are truly a hidden gem.
Rating: 5/5 Stars!
Under the Radar Magazine (The Well Pennies Premiere)
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The Well Pennies hail from Los Angeles—not that you’d know by the pair’s sweet harmonies folk harmon...The Well Pennies hail from Los Angeles—not that you’d know by the pair’s sweet harmonies folk harmonies and banjo-driven tunes. Today we’re pleased to premiere “Nothing to Do,” a cut from the duo’s self-titled debut EP. Grab it above; it’s the perfect cure for that dreaded rush hour traffic
Working Brilliantly with The Well Pennies - Artist Spotlight
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This week's spotlight focuses on indie folk/pop duo The Well Pennies. These guys just cut an excelle...This week's spotlight focuses on indie folk/pop duo The Well Pennies. These guys just cut an excellent EP filled with comfy lyrics and lush instrumentation. The standout for us is "All The Pretty Girls" which we are proud to say is our exclusive give away! Just click HERE to be transported to a temperate summers night in the city of your dreams.
The Well Pennies are fiercely independent and have been making a splash on their own terms. With this classy EP under their belt and a show lined up at The Roxy, things are looking very promising for these guys... Their lovely voices and well executed recordings are almost as impressive as their positive outlook on life & success....
Read the rest of the interview by clicking attached link
Direct Current Music RADAR: The Well Pennies
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Husband and wife Bryan and Sarah Vanderpool make up the creative nucleus of The Well Pennies, an aco...Husband and wife Bryan and Sarah Vanderpool make up the creative nucleus of The Well Pennies, an acoustic indie pop outfit that keeps their spry, buskery songs loosely tethered to folk and Americana influences. After meeting up in the Boston songwriter scene and kicking around clubs in New England and New York's Lower East Side, the Vanderpools packed up and headed west to L.A. The Well Pennies self-titled January debut EP reminds us a bit of The Weepies, Brit duo Paper Aeroplanes and even a touch of The Civil Wars and Nickel Creek, tight harmonies wrapped around a memorable folk/pop melody, songs that are less about navel-gazing introspection and more about hanging your musical hat on sharp, radio-friendly hooks. Lead track "Nothing To Do" begins with a banjo/guitar jangle but quickly accelerates with a bracing rhythmic shot and a chorus that's meant to be sung along to. "All The Pretty Girls" lures us in with a Sarah's honey-coated vocals and jaunty music hall appeal.
SOUNDCHECK: The Well Pennies
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"a refreshing folk/pop blend...a talented duo who create music that’s light, upbeat and joyous....Th..."a refreshing folk/pop blend...a talented duo who create music that’s light, upbeat and joyous....The result is an EP that’s sound is clean, unencumbered and easy to listen to."
CD Blender on The Well Pennies
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Huge thanks to The Well Pennies for the Q&A! Good stuff… Q: What spiked your interest in music? A:...Huge thanks to The Well Pennies for the Q&A! Good stuff…
Q: What spiked your interest in music?
A: “Nothing spiked our interest; music spiked us. We were both born with the bug. From very early ages we were obsessed with music to a weird degree and nothing about that has changed. It’s the reason we get up in the morning.”
Q: Who do you look up to in the music world?
A: “We definitely look up to a lot of producers; we’ll buy albums just because they’ve produced them. T-Bone Burnett, Ethan Johns, Jon Brion, and Danger Mouse, they’re masters of vibe. There is a fluidity to the albums they produce and very few can accomplish that. They take risks and have a knack for capturing the human element which is rare in this day and age. For the Raising Sand record, T-Bone had Plant and Krauss each pick songs that they wanted to sing and then made them sing each others songs; what a bad-a**!
As far as songwriters, melody writers, and players that we look up to – Chris Thile, Noam Pikelny and the rest of The Punch Brothers are some of the best players in the world right now, and we’d include The Bad Plus in that category as well: the god-tier of instrumentalists. They are masters of their instruments and not just in a virtuosic way. Anyone (not everyone, mind you) can play fast, but these bands know how to use their talents to really shape songs and bring out the best in the music in a mind-blowing way. Randy Newman, Dolly Parton, Ray LaMontagne, Ralph Stanley and Sam Beam are probably our favorite songwriters and melody writers ever. And we have to throw Tom Waits in there too, because he’s just cool.”
Q: How would you describe your music?
A: “Pop music with folk instrumentation: Iron & Wine with more banjo; Sufjan Stevens with less banjo; Mumford & Sons with the same amount of banjo just with an extra ‘X’ chromosome.”
Q: Where is the best place to find your music?
A: “iTunes (to purchase the EP), but we also have music on our Facebook page, Reverbnation, and, soon, on our website. YouTube and Vimeo also have videos of us with more coming in the future.”
Q: What song(s) do you wish you had written?
A: “Don’t get us started! To name a few:
“The Wild Hunt” by The Tallest Man on Earth
“Little Person” by Jon Brion
“I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today” by Randy Newman
“I Know You Know” by The Punch Brothers
“Jolene” by Ray LaMontagne
“Bundah” by Christina Courtin
“The Sandman, the Brakeman and Me” by The Monsters of Folk
“From the Morning” by Nick Drake
“Tick of Time” by The Kooks
“Shiny on the Inside” by Leona Naess
and of course
“Cheer up Murray” by The Flight of the Conchords”
Q: Anything new?
A: “We just put out our first EP called The Well Pennies [EP]. And we’re playing shows around Southern California this summer: The Roxy, Amplyfi, The Gypsy Den, Molly Malones, all over the place. Check out our Facebook for a calendar.”
Thanks again, Bryan and Sarah!
Vents interviews The Well Pennies
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Tell us more about you guys? How you guys got started in the music scene. It’s the only thing eit...Tell us more about you guys? How you guys got started in the music scene.
It’s the only thing either of us ever wanted to do. From early ages we were playing instruments and writing songs. We tried the solo thing for awhile but nothing clicked until we found each other on the east coast. We moved out to LA and haven’t looked back since.
What are the instruments you guys play?
Sarah is a trained pianist and Bryan has played drum-set since he was a kid. But in the studio and on the stage Sarah will play accordion, Wurlitzer, and mandolin, while Bryan plays guitars and banjo. On our EP we played everything except bass (played by our trustee sidekick Tony Green) and Fiddle (played by Leah Zeger, and Asha Sukumar)
Have you guys ever thought of playing another type of music?
Not really, it doesn’t get much better than playing folked-up pop music.
What are your music influences?
We’re kinda all over the place when it comes to our iTunes library. You’ll find Led Zeppelin, Doc Watson, Iron & Wine, Radiohead, Johnny Cash, Bill Evans, Joni Mitchell to name a few. But we’re obsessed with discovering new music so we’re constantly enlightened with new amazing talent. Have you heard The Tallest Man on Earth? That guy is nuts!
We also really appreciate producers and will often buy albums just because they produced them. We have catalogs of T-Bone Burnett, Ethan Johns, and Jon Brion. They really inspire our vibe. All their records have beautiful tone throughout the recording and that really influences how we record.
The Well Pennies EP. How was the process recording and writing the album?
We’re songwriters first and foremost so we are constantly writing new songs. For this EP we picked some of our favorites and went from there. As for the recording process, it was the coolest few weeks of our lives, we got to record with Michael Woodrum at this beautiful studio with every toy imaginable
How was it working with Michael Woodrum?
Fantastic! We’ve never worked with anyone so willing to experiment and explore different musical ideas. The studio was such a creative stimulating environment instead of a sterile music lab. We would throw out some crazy idea and Michael would be like “ok, let’s try it!” He was the perfect fit for us.
What has been the funniest moment you have been or took part while touring?
I think some of the funniest moments on tour have been when we’ve been booked with other bands with a completely different style. We once followed a hard core growl rock band, Marshall stacks, the whole bit. Then we get up there with our banjo, upright bass, and mandolin and have to awkwardly transition through our set. Although we’ve found that hard rock crowds are pretty down with roots music.
Are there any plans for the near future?
We’d love to get involved in music licensing and as for performing we’d love to get into the festival circuit. We’ll just keep pluggin away!
Do you feel you are moving on the right direction?
Something seems to be working, six months ago we could barely book a local coffee shop, and now we’re playing all over LA. Last Saturday we played The Roxy in Hollywood! And we have a bunch of shows lined up for this summer.
The Well Pennies self/titled ep
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The Well Pennies offer up a delightful mix of folk pop, much in the vein of Donovan and others. The ...The Well Pennies offer up a delightful mix of folk pop, much in the vein of Donovan and others. The simple approach works well for the band as their vocal harmonies intertwine on the tracks into an easy going relaxing style. The vocals blend wonderfully together and each making the other vocals stronger.
Though described as folk the Well Pennies are much deeper that a folk band with their rich tight pop vocal harmonies that blend the rich warmth of their vocals into a weave of happiness, joy, pain and fun.
The catchy sound of Nothing To Do could easily be used in many of the TV or movies made today and it would be an excellent track to use. This band is putting out some fine enjoyable easy listening folky pop music. All the Pretty Girls is another wonderful folky pop ditty that would also work well in TV or movies. There warm and inviting sound is light and airy like such modern artist as Lindi Ortega with her track Angels. As this band continues to grow, they will forge a place in the music world for themselves and will have many fans to follow along.
However I don’t’ believe the Well Pennies will have a hit record because their music does not fit the Top 40 of today. But they are producing excellent music that deserves to be on the charts and would have been in the sixties when there was no music formatting. I can imagine the song Nothing to Do following the Mamas & Papas, Or the aforementioned Donovan on the radio, maybe right before It’s a Beautiful Morning by The Rascals.
Pretty lofty company if you are a fan of that era of music, so don’t wait enjoy the new sounds of the Well Pennies and you can hear excellent music again.
Click the pick to purchase.
Sunday Music Refill: The Well Pennies
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The Well Pennies are an indie folk/pop duo from Los Angeles consisting of husband and wife team, Bry...The Well Pennies are an indie folk/pop duo from Los Angeles consisting of husband and wife team, Bryan & Sarah Vanderpool. With a sound that blends 60's folk, 70's pop and a little Americana, The Well Pennies strive for a vibe that is new and old at the same time; taking influence from Feist, Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine and Nickel Creek.
In the last four months they have played all over California including The Roxy, The Mint, The Largo, Molly Malone’s, The NAMM Show for Guild and Gretsch Guitars, and have gotten press in Under the Radar Magazine, IMR Magazine, Vents Magazine, Pasadena Magazine etc. all available to read on their link. Recently they were also endorsed by Deering banjos and will be on the artist roster along with Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers.
Some of these...
You Make it Easy
All the Pretty Girls
Nothing to Do
String Around my Finger
Feels Like Home
I Hope you Notice Me
If You Were Mine
Over and Over
Call Her Home
All I Ever Ask For
We've also been known to cover Phoenix, The Beatles, Coldplay, Ralph Stanley, and Radiohead from time to time
There are no upcoming dates at this time.