Folding Mr. Lincoln
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Folding Mr. Lincoln

San Diego, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

San Diego, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Folk Americana

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"Rush is on for Folding Mr. Lincoln after three-decade slow ride"

It only took 35 years for the San Diego folk combo Folding Mr. Lincoln to record its first CD.

Mind you, founders Harry and Nancy Mestyanek weren't just spinning their wheels during those decades. They dated, got married, raised two daughters, started a business and moved from Orange County to San Diego.

So perhaps they can be forgiven if recording a CD wasn't top of the priority list.

"When the kids moved out of the house, we had some more time on our hands," Harry Mestyanek said last week of the genesis of their CD, "Within My Reach."

"At about that time, Nancy's mom was getting real ill. She passed away in February of 2006, and it was literally then that Nancy and I were looking at each other and saying, 'Let's do this music thing together again.' That right then and there was the beginning of this Folding Mr. Lincoln thing."

As Nancy put it, music is their midlife creative outlet as well as their social life.

"This is our tennis or golf. We've always loved doing this, and all of a sudden to get the opportunity to do it together with other wonderful musicians and get these songs out there ---- we've gotten such nice support from it," she said.

Folding Mr. Lincoln, which plays Friday at Wynola Pizza Express just outside Julian, started off as just the two of them playing acoustic open mic nights at coffee houses near their San Diego home in spring 2006.

"We told ourselves we'd try to be a band and get our duo thing together and real tight. And that took about a year, or maybe not quite a year. We just played hard, Nancy started playing drums at that point, hand drums, congas and djembe and an Irish drum. We sort of just woodshedded ourselves and played real tight here at night," Harry said.

At the same time, they also began to write their own songs.

"I wrote songs in my 20s," Harry said, "and, of course, they sucked because I didn't know what I was talking about and didn't have much command over the English language ---- but I always thought I'd write songs again.

"In 2006, one of the things we wanted to do was work on the craft of writing. I started writing, she started writing, and we started performing and practicing those songs," he said.

The writing of new music led, indirectly, to the CD, he said.

"When we had 11 or 12 of them, I purchased some entry-level recording software here at home. I wasn't thinking of a record, but wanted some demos thinking it would help us get in some clubs or festivals.

"A year ago, we hunkered in and recorded here at home and we were thinking maybe we could do a home EP, and it kept growing and evolving."

"I thought I was doing a pretty good job recording the instruments, but when we got to the vocals, I wasn't liking what I heard. I didn't have the right mics or the knowledge or savvy to do it right," he said.

At that point, they hired Jeff Berkley to engineer and produce their CD, and he brought in other musicians to fill out the sound ---- which created a challenge for the Mestyaneks.

"Folding Mr. Lincoln went from two to five from November to December," Harry said. "At that point, we'd made the decision that if we're going to go out and play this record, we're going to go out and add some more people."

In addition to Harry, who sings and plays guitar, and Nancy, who sings and plays hand percussion, the band now includes Jeffrey Joe Morin on guitar and backing vocals, David Ybarra on bass, and Alicia Previn (daughter of noted conductor Andre Previn) on fiddle.

The roots of the band, though, go back to a jam session in La Habra in 1973.

"A mutual friend of ours was having a sort of musical get-together. I'd see Nancy maybe four times a year at these things," Harry said. "It took me a few years to get the courage up to ask her out.

"We married in '77. I was just about to get out of college, she was still in college.

"We still played music together then ---- we were a sort of acoustic duo, and would do weddings."

Harry said he and Nancy pretty much gave up performing in public once their oldest daughter was born in the late '70s.

"We continued to play after that, we just didn't perform much. It was barbecues with friends, on the couch with the kids," he said.

Now, they're having the most success they've had with their music.

"We're having fun with this five-piece," he said. "Some of our goals for 2009 are to play bigger and better gigs, maybe play some festivals. Keep working on the next record."

Nancy added, "It's definitely been an interesting journey.

"All the green flags are up, so we're just going with the ride," she said.
- North County Times - Jim Trageser - February 19, 2009


"Rush is on for Folding Mr. Lincoln after three-decade slow ride"

It only took 35 years for the San Diego folk combo Folding Mr. Lincoln to record its first CD.

Mind you, founders Harry and Nancy Mestyanek weren't just spinning their wheels during those decades. They dated, got married, raised two daughters, started a business and moved from Orange County to San Diego.

So perhaps they can be forgiven if recording a CD wasn't top of the priority list.

"When the kids moved out of the house, we had some more time on our hands," Harry Mestyanek said last week of the genesis of their CD, "Within My Reach."

"At about that time, Nancy's mom was getting real ill. She passed away in February of 2006, and it was literally then that Nancy and I were looking at each other and saying, 'Let's do this music thing together again.' That right then and there was the beginning of this Folding Mr. Lincoln thing."

As Nancy put it, music is their midlife creative outlet as well as their social life.

"This is our tennis or golf. We've always loved doing this, and all of a sudden to get the opportunity to do it together with other wonderful musicians and get these songs out there ---- we've gotten such nice support from it," she said.

Folding Mr. Lincoln, which plays Friday at Wynola Pizza Express just outside Julian, started off as just the two of them playing acoustic open mic nights at coffee houses near their San Diego home in spring 2006.

"We told ourselves we'd try to be a band and get our duo thing together and real tight. And that took about a year, or maybe not quite a year. We just played hard, Nancy started playing drums at that point, hand drums, congas and djembe and an Irish drum. We sort of just woodshedded ourselves and played real tight here at night," Harry said.

At the same time, they also began to write their own songs.

"I wrote songs in my 20s," Harry said, "and, of course, they sucked because I didn't know what I was talking about and didn't have much command over the English language ---- but I always thought I'd write songs again.

"In 2006, one of the things we wanted to do was work on the craft of writing. I started writing, she started writing, and we started performing and practicing those songs," he said.

The writing of new music led, indirectly, to the CD, he said.

"When we had 11 or 12 of them, I purchased some entry-level recording software here at home. I wasn't thinking of a record, but wanted some demos thinking it would help us get in some clubs or festivals.

"A year ago, we hunkered in and recorded here at home and we were thinking maybe we could do a home EP, and it kept growing and evolving."

"I thought I was doing a pretty good job recording the instruments, but when we got to the vocals, I wasn't liking what I heard. I didn't have the right mics or the knowledge or savvy to do it right," he said.

At that point, they hired Jeff Berkley to engineer and produce their CD, and he brought in other musicians to fill out the sound ---- which created a challenge for the Mestyaneks.

"Folding Mr. Lincoln went from two to five from November to December," Harry said. "At that point, we'd made the decision that if we're going to go out and play this record, we're going to go out and add some more people."

In addition to Harry, who sings and plays guitar, and Nancy, who sings and plays hand percussion, the band now includes Jeffrey Joe Morin on guitar and backing vocals, David Ybarra on bass, and Alicia Previn (daughter of noted conductor Andre Previn) on fiddle.

The roots of the band, though, go back to a jam session in La Habra in 1973.

"A mutual friend of ours was having a sort of musical get-together. I'd see Nancy maybe four times a year at these things," Harry said. "It took me a few years to get the courage up to ask her out.

"We married in '77. I was just about to get out of college, she was still in college.

"We still played music together then ---- we were a sort of acoustic duo, and would do weddings."

Harry said he and Nancy pretty much gave up performing in public once their oldest daughter was born in the late '70s.

"We continued to play after that, we just didn't perform much. It was barbecues with friends, on the couch with the kids," he said.

Now, they're having the most success they've had with their music.

"We're having fun with this five-piece," he said. "Some of our goals for 2009 are to play bigger and better gigs, maybe play some festivals. Keep working on the next record."

Nancy added, "It's definitely been an interesting journey.

"All the green flags are up, so we're just going with the ride," she said.
- North County Times - Jim Trageser - February 19, 2009


"Musical Richness with Folding Mr. Lincoln"

by Bart Mendoza
April 24, 2008

What’s in a band name? Most give a small taste of what an act might sound like, but the best leave things open to conjecture and intrigue.
Such is the case with Americana-based combo Folding Mr. Lincoln, which performs at Desi ’n’ Friends on Tuesday, April 29. The name allows the group, based around the music of husband-and-wife team Harry and Nancy Mestyanek, to escape preconcieved notions about their sound. Its origin, however, is of a more of an off-the-cuff nature.
During a lunchtime band meeting in February 2006, Nancy asked what the proposed band should be.
“Right when I was folding up a $5 bill to put back in my wallet. I said, ‘How about Folding Mr. Lincoln?’” Nancy said.
“Voila!” Harry Mestyanek said.
The core of Folding Mr. Lincoln is the married pair with bass assists from Dave O’Connell and occasional guests. Although they have been playing local stages for more than two years, their roots go back more than three decades.
“Nancy and I have been married for a little over 30 years,” said Harry Mestyanek. “(We) met through playing music together back in 1973. We married in 1977 and played a bit as an acoustic duo for a few years up in Orange County, mainly weddings, funerals, that sort of thing.”
Raising a family, their career paths put their performing interests on the back burner for several years, though they continued to play and sing together casually at home and with friends now and then. It was after Nancy’s mother passed away in February 2006 that it was decided to officially form a band and give the music another try.
Surprisingly, though Harry Mestyanek started playing guitar at age 10, his wife only began playing a decade ago, adding drums and percussion to her repertoire when Folding Mr. Lincoln was launched.
The group includes folk-rock singer-songwriter and other acoustic-based music in its repertoire, though “we probably lean more towards Americana,” said Harry Mestyanek. He cites Uncle Tupelo, Joni Mitchell and Ryan Adams as influences.
“For both of us, our general interest in listening to music and wanting to understand and engage the songs we listen to inspired us to become musicians and songwriters,” Harry said. “We both have great respect for singer-songwriters. They are at the top of our list, more than athletes, actors, fine artists or politicians.”
Harry feels that music must balance good-time vibes and more message-oriented material.
“I write both types of songs and we play covers in both of those dialogues as well,” he said. “Most of my songs are message oriented, but others are light and humorous. When we play a set of originals, the message-laden songs can get a bit static, so it’s nice to lighten a set like that up with some humorous observations now and then.”
Folding Mr. Lincoln is currently in the studio working on its debut album. Though touring is always an option, Harry Mestyanek plans to keep things local. He considers the state of the local music community to be thriving.
“It seems to be really bustling right now, with lots of places to play and lots of bands and solo acts to see,” Harry said. “It’s a community and we are happy to support it at whatever level we can.”
According to Harry Mestyanek, though the musical portion of Folding Mr. Lincoln is important, it’s actually the secondary reason for the group. The first?
“It’s the fact that Nancy and I, as a couple, can put energy into this band and share it together. We do enjoy singing and playing together and have done it for a long time,” he said.
Harry points said the couple doesn’t indulge in other typical couples activities, such as sports.
“We spend all of our money on gear, practice a lot and try to get better at it. So Folding Mr. Lincoln is sort of like our golf,” Harry said.
Folding Mr. Lincoln performs at Desi ’n’ Friends, 2734 Lytton St., on Thursday, April 29. The show begins at 8 p.m. and is geared toward ages 21 and up.
For more information, visit www.myspace.com/foldingmisterlincoln. or www.foldingmisterlincoln.com
- Peninsula Beacon News - San Diego News


"Folding Mr. Lincoln - 'Within My Reach'"

...from the Local Music Issue; March 4, 2009

Folding Mr. Lincoln - 'Within My Reach'. Nancy and Harry Mestyanek have been making music together for 35 years, and their synergy is apparent on their latest full-length. It's the kind of modern country-rock that belongs on the radio, even if it'll be overlooked in favor of overproduced American Idol finalists. Particularly impressive is the bluegrass twang of "The Cuckoo," which wouldn't sound out of place alongside Alison Krauss, OK, maybe it's not that good, but there's plenty here to enjoy.

-Todd Kroviak - San Diego City Beat


"Folding Mr. Lincoln - Within My Reach"

Folding Mr. Lincoln is the name of the group built around the married singer/songwriters Harry and Nancy Mestyanek. Though they have been combining their talents since 1973, Within My Reach is their debut disc. The CD features the two performing in a variety of styles, most often soft pop-rock with some tasty folk and country influences, through 14 tunes that show their skills as writers and collaborating partners. Harry wrote 11 of the songs here, Nancy two, and the production by San Diego's Jeff Berkley makes the most of each song's potential. Using a cadre of strong session musicians (Berkley on guitar; Dennis Caplinger on banjo, fiddle, and mandolin; and Sam Johnson on upright bass are prominent), the blend of instruments lets the vocals have the spotlight while lending just the right twang to the country and folk pieces, and kicking up the tempo on the rockers.

"It Happened Just the Other Day" starts things off, a catchy pop tune with Harry singing lead that blossoms into choruses with soaring backing vocals by Nancy. Harry is not an overpowering vocalist, but his delivery has an immediacy that creates a personal connection with the listener on this song and others on the disc. For the traditional folk song "The Cuckoo," Nancy takes the mic for a rousing, Appalachian-style hoedown, featuring her impressive vocal chops and the ace talents of Caplinger on fiddle and dobro fills. Harry is back to rock things up with "Pretty Soon," a mid-tempo pop churner that makes good use of Hammond organ and layered guitars. Nancy's original "Rain Down" is a soft, spiritual ode that follows. Like many of the tunes here, it sounds like it would sound good performed with just acoustic guitars, but the understated performance on the disc is perfect. Harry keeps things in a spritual vein for the more brisk "Lay It All Down," with the Hammond back aboard along with banjo for a tune about inspiration. "On Wings" takes flight with a full band, with banjo and organ again pushing things forward while the pair sings the disc's catchiest song with memorable harmonies.

This disc took a long time to become a reality, and no moments are wasted. The music here is friendly and accessible and (especially after a few listens) keeps bouncing in the listener's head long after being heard.

"All the Way to Redwood" is a sing-along country stomp that is two minutes of fun. The disc's title cut is a ballad that ranks along with "On Wings" as the highlights on the disc, a personal testament from Harry about how he will "Change the world/Within my reach." It features a stirring melody, very memorable hooks, and flawless production that gives his vocal a heroic feel.

The overall feel of Within My Reach is something like being invited into Harry and Nancy's living room to hear their labor of love, one that took a while to get here but is well worth the wait.
- San Diego Troubadour - written by Frank Kocher


"Folding Mr. Lincoln - Within My Reach"

Folding Mr. Lincoln is the name of the group built around the married singer/songwriters Harry and Nancy Mestyanek. Though they have been combining their talents since 1973, Within My Reach is their debut disc. The CD features the two performing in a variety of styles, most often soft pop-rock with some tasty folk and country influences, through 14 tunes that show their skills as writers and collaborating partners. Harry wrote 11 of the songs here, Nancy two, and the production by San Diego's Jeff Berkley makes the most of each song's potential. Using a cadre of strong session musicians (Berkley on guitar; Dennis Caplinger on banjo, fiddle, and mandolin; and Sam Johnson on upright bass are prominent), the blend of instruments lets the vocals have the spotlight while lending just the right twang to the country and folk pieces, and kicking up the tempo on the rockers.

"It Happened Just the Other Day" starts things off, a catchy pop tune with Harry singing lead that blossoms into choruses with soaring backing vocals by Nancy. Harry is not an overpowering vocalist, but his delivery has an immediacy that creates a personal connection with the listener on this song and others on the disc. For the traditional folk song "The Cuckoo," Nancy takes the mic for a rousing, Appalachian-style hoedown, featuring her impressive vocal chops and the ace talents of Caplinger on fiddle and dobro fills. Harry is back to rock things up with "Pretty Soon," a mid-tempo pop churner that makes good use of Hammond organ and layered guitars. Nancy's original "Rain Down" is a soft, spiritual ode that follows. Like many of the tunes here, it sounds like it would sound good performed with just acoustic guitars, but the understated performance on the disc is perfect. Harry keeps things in a spritual vein for the more brisk "Lay It All Down," with the Hammond back aboard along with banjo for a tune about inspiration. "On Wings" takes flight with a full band, with banjo and organ again pushing things forward while the pair sings the disc's catchiest song with memorable harmonies.

This disc took a long time to become a reality, and no moments are wasted. The music here is friendly and accessible and (especially after a few listens) keeps bouncing in the listener's head long after being heard.

"All the Way to Redwood" is a sing-along country stomp that is two minutes of fun. The disc's title cut is a ballad that ranks along with "On Wings" as the highlights on the disc, a personal testament from Harry about how he will "Change the world/Within my reach." It features a stirring melody, very memorable hooks, and flawless production that gives his vocal a heroic feel.

The overall feel of Within My Reach is something like being invited into Harry and Nancy's living room to hear their labor of love, one that took a while to get here but is well worth the wait.
- San Diego Troubadour - written by Frank Kocher


Discography

1. Our debut CD (March 2009); "Within My Reach" received a 2009 San Diego Music Award nomination for 'Best Country / Americana Album'. Jeff Berkley (Berkley Sound) - producer and engineer. Gavin Lurssen (Lurssen Mastering) - mastering.

2. Folding Mr. Lincoln 'Live' (October 2010); recorded May 22, 2010 at Old Time Music, San Diego, CA by Dave O'Connell. Mixed & mastered by David Ybarra (The Modern Bakery Music).

3. Our third CD (April 2013); "Two Rivers" received a 2013 San Diego Music Award nomination for 'Americana Album'. Jeff Berkley (Berkley Sound) - producer and engineer. Gavin Lurssen (Lurssen Mastering) - mastering.

Photos

Bio

Folding Mr. Lincoln is: Harry Mestyanek, Charlie Loach, Jeff Stasny, & Omar Ramirez.  Folding Mr. Lincoln is based in San Diego, California. We are a folk / Americana / acoustic band. We perform mostly original songs as well as some covers. The songs we cover are often very special to us. We choose them because they evoke a feeling, express a certain tone, or contain a message we understand and wish to share with our audience.

Folding Mr. Lincoln draws upon a wide range of musical influences. From established singer / songwriters such as: John Prine, Shawn Colvin, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Gram Parsons, and The Subdudes, to more contemporary artists such as: Peter Mulvey, Catie Curtis, Richard Shindell, Kris Delmhorst, Dar Williams, Jimmy LaFave, Ellis Paul, and Jeffrey Foucault.

www.foldingmisterlincoln.com
www.reverbnation.com/foldingmisterlincoln

Band Members