Anna Mae Mitchell & G. Pat Harris
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Anna Mae Mitchell & G. Pat Harris

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Folk

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"Mitchell & Harris - Traveling By Moonlight"

by Chuck Dauphin

The duo of Anna Mae Mitchell and G. Pat Harris first became acquainted with each other while working in a Bluegrass band in Michigan. After that, time would have them relocating to different parts of the United States before they crossed musical paths again. Their style is very eclectic – with elements of Folk, Country, and Jazz all filtering together to comprise the music they make.

And that music is quite wonderful, thank you very much. Mitchell proves to be a song interpreter on many levels, while Harris shows himself to be the consummate tunesmith. Each of these cuts bring to mind a respective mood, and together, these two pull off this mission very eloquently.

Of the cuts presented here, arguably the most “Country’ of these cuts is the traditional “Run From The Ocean,” which Mitchell sounds like she is having fun with. She also conjures up her “Inner Emmylou” on the powerful “Let Me Like You,” but really seems to hit her stride on the remarkable vocal showcase “Glue.” More than any cut on the album, I think this might be the cut that could very well put this duo’s name in the thoughts of music fans everywhere – and of all styles. It’s that good!
- Music News Nashville


"Anna Mae Mitchell & G. Pat Harris’ “Traveling By Moonlight" is precisely the style of music that helped to put Austin on the map as a major music town"

This one almost snuck right by me, when I noticed it was to expire in a couple of days from my Review Shine in-box. I actually noticed a couple in my in-box that I’m going to need to get too pretty quick, or forever be lost! Not to worry, the weekend is coming up and I’ll get to them.

However, when I finally listened to this little gem all the way through, I literally tried to kick myself. Then I got up off me, stopped metaphorically beating myself up, and began to write. It was not too late, it was just in time, and music like this just about writes its own review.

Anna Mae Mitchell & G. Pat Harris have been playing together for quite some time and call Austin home, and why not? This is precisely the style of music that helped to put Austin on the map as a music town, and eventually the “Live Music Capital of the World”.

Mr. Harris wrote every superb tune on the record as well as producing it along with playing bass and harmonica. He is the creator of this eloquently sounding record. Anna Mae is the voice that gave it life.

The talent on the record includes some fantastic Austin talent. Paul Glasse is known as a mandolin genius and has played with some major heavy weights (Allison Krauss, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson). World-class violinist James Anderson (Austin Piazzolla Quintet, 16 Strings) appears on a tune or two. Wayne Salzmann (Eric Johnson) and Graeme Francis (Austin Symphony Orchestra, American Repertory Ensemble) bind the music together on drums and percussion. Finally, Aaron Goldfarb (Leah and the Moonlighters) and Downbeat award winner Carter Arrington (Malford Milligan) play guitars on several tunes that varying from restrained acoustic finger picking to shredding unaccompanied processions.


You get the picture; there is a wide array of music from varied backgrounds who come together to create some masterfully written music for this debut album containing twelve original songs immersed in what a lot of folks refer to as Americana these days.

I’ve written it before, many have, but I believe we call it Americana when we just don’t quite know where to place the music and cannot seem to categorize it. I just prefer to call the music on “Traveling by Moonlight” as some extremely high-quality music.

Anna Mae’s voice is silky soft; her performance on the record is very close to flawless. Even though her voice is smooth, it is filled with the necessary emotion to hold the tune. She performs every tune masterfully whether it is up or down tempo. If she were a high performance motor vehicle, she could literally turn on the proverbial dime. She is absolutely an extremely talented young woman who has surrounded herself by just as intensely talented musicians.

A fine example of her abilities and her special talent of switching gears on this record would be the tune (one of my favorites on the album) “New Day” then she on the very next tune, the downbeat “Home”.

The artists do this time and time again through out the album creating an almost seamless account of music about lost love, home, heart, darkness and just about anything else you would expect to find on a folksy record such as “Traveling By Moonlight.

The record released on November 8 on Wiggle Stump Records. ‘Rebel’ Rod says to check it out!


- "Rebel Rod's" From Under the Basement


"Mitchell & Harris podcast interview about "Traveling By Moonlight," and much more."

Follow the URL to listen to the interview with ATX Architects. - ATX Architects


"Album Review: Mitchell & Harris - "Traveling By Moonlight""

Mitchell and Harris’ debut album, “Traveling By Moonlight” is steeped in a simplistic, acoustic guitar-driven style that harkens back to a simpler time.

The group consists of alumna Anna Mae Mitchell on vocals and acoustic guitar and G. Pat Harris on the bass, vocals and harmonica. Most songs open with the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar and take off from there. Some of the songs, like “Lost at Sea,” have a more rock ‘n’ roll flavor, especially with the electric guitar riff and Mitchell belting out lyrics.
Going into this review, judging by the album cover alone, I had a more stripped-down notion of what the album would sound like. I envisioned just an acoustic guitar, Mitchell on vocals and Harris contributing bass. What I’ve come away with is a group that takes on a certain model, acoustic folk/roots music, then applies their spin on every song to make them sound a bit different. This keeps the album from being straightforward and boring.

“New Day” is an amalgamation of the jam band style via the repeating electric guitar riff. It still maintains the rock style with the acoustic guitar and Mitchell’s lyrics and vocals.
The interplay of acoustic guitars on “The Canyon” is the closest this album gets to a singer-songwriter style, which I would have loved to hear more of. The violin solo is a nice touch. The lyrics seem to tell the story of an outlaw on the run. Mitchell sings “my shot, I’ll take my life before giving it to the law” with an almost confessional and sincere vocal.
“The Overgrown Graveyard” is by far the album’s standout track. In the first three seconds of the song, I immediately recognized the Mumford and Sons influence. Mumford’s smash hit “Little Lion Man” and its quickly strummed minor key acoustic guitar came to mind.

I loved the ho-down drum beat with a light snare tap keeping the beat. The electric guitar adds a bit of twang and texture along with the violin solo later on. These kind of flourishes add to the musical depth seen elsewhere on the record. Again, Mitchell’s vocal takes center stage here. “You’ve got a choice in my grandfather’s voice/You better not grow up to be the same” she belts with a great urgency and command.
Her ability to maintain range, although not particularly high, gets her props here. She gives an emotive performance.

“Traveling By Moonlight”
Wiggle Stump Records
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars - Central Michigan Life


"New Listen: Mitchell & Harris' "Traveling By Moonlight""

Artist: Mitchell & Harris
Album: Traveling By Moonlight (2011)

This particular New Listen is a real treat for me as it’s personal. G. Pat Harris – a dear friend and first musical soulmate with whom I heavily collaborated in 2003-6 – is half of this wonderful duo along with Anna Mae Mitchell. Pat and Anna’s collaboration began in bluegrass while we were all classmates at Central Michigan University. Since then, they’ve developed a continually expanding original repertoire and are both now based in Austin, TX.

While the obvious core is Mitchell (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Harris (basses, vocals, harmonica, songwriting), don’t be fooled – Traveling By Moonlight (artwork by Ashleigh Wisser) is a full-on sonic experience. The band includes a full rhythm section – drums, acoustic and electric guitars, bass (of course) – and also features piano, mandolin, violin, and percussion. I hesitate to simply label it “Americana” for fear of pigeonholing. Though that’s definitely the starting point, rock, folk, pop, country, jazz, and various other elements also blend together to create what matters most: a solid album of great original songs.

Though I doubt it was their primary aim, Mitchell & Harris carefully observe Rob Gordon’s song order advice with their first three numbers. Opening with the bluegrass-tinged “Run From The Ocean,” Anna’s voice and Pat’s lyrics calmly welcome the listener bit by bit, gradually adding each instrument/voice until you finally get the song’s full ensemble halfway through. ”New Day” certainly takes it up a notch, offering an upbeat, electric, 90s-pop-rock feel that gets you out of your seat. Then, almost as splitting the difference, the ballad “Home” combines acoustic and electric elements while Anna’s voice gradually grows in intensity, nicely contrasting the restrained solo electric guitar.

Such diversity is a hallmark of this album. For example, the album’s “rockers” all do so differently: “New Day” is optimistic and electric; “The Canyon” reminds one of country rock from decades past; “Lost At Sea” is electric, unapologetic arena rock (and in mixed meter, no less); and “The Overgrown Graveyard” is an example of a hybridized pop-bluegrass that’s often attempted on the airwaves but rarely works (in this case, it does!). Beyond stylistic decisions, the orchestration offers much variety and keeps the listener engaged throughout. Pat, who also served as producer, does a great job of economically showcasing a relatively standard instrumentation, using instruments only when needed and cutting out the sonic fat. Case in point: the violin’s debut in “The Canyon” (track 5) is a welcome timbral change almost halfway through the album, nicely complementing the harmonica and electric guitar. It then doesn’t appear until its cameo four songs later in “Glue,” drunkenly mimicking Anna’s cries, remaining for “Before the Rain” and “The Overgrown Graveyard.” And yet, those songs with violin (or any other auxiliary instrument) don’t stick out as “those fiddle tunes” – all twelve songs are complementary pieces to the same aural pie.

The album’s conclusion is a delightful closing paragraph, summarizing what Traveling By Moonlight is all about. The penultimate “The Overgrown Graveyard” is a bluegrass romp including most of the instruments and sonic elements heard up to that point. And “Waiting For Tomorrow” is an appropriate farewell, distilling the ensemble down to its core – the duo.

It’s been a slightly longer New Listen than normal, but I’m proud of my friends and colleagues for offering up such a quality original contribution. This is a truly independent release, self-funded with everything but the actual packaging process taken care of in-house, making this a great opportunity for everyone to support independent, original music. It’s available today through CD Baby, iTunes, and local Austin retailers, and I highly encourage you to pick yourself up a copy. Mitchell & Harris of course perform in Austin and surrounding areas regularly, but they’ll also be performing in the Midwest in December (and will be joined by yours truly for a couple shows) and in the Northeast and Appalachia in the spring. Consult their website for more information, and check them out if they’re in your area.

And finally, to reference one of this blog’s running themes: pay for what you like. - MT-Headed Blog - Michael Teager


"CMU grads to release new album"

Singer Anna Mae Mitchell made a lot of friends during her years as a student at Central Michigan University.

Little did she know, one of those connections would one day be a crucial part of her career.

The 2007 CMU graduate, now based in Austin, Texas, has teamed up with fellow CMU alumnus G. Pat Harris to take their careers in a new direction. Their debut album, “Traveling by Moonlight,” is set to be released Nov. 8.

The 12-track album, described as folk Americana, will be available on iTunes and eventually in some music stores. All of the songs are written by Harris, who also does upright and electric bass, vocals and harmonica. Mitchell is the vocalist and acoustic guitarist.

The daughter of Kevin and Angela Mitchell, Mitchell graduated from Shepherd High School in 2002. She graduated from CMU in 2007, having studied vocal music under the direction of Nina Nash-Robertson and Mary Kiesgan. She married Ben Aldridge in 2009.

Harris, from Bay City, also graduated from the CMU music program, having studied under Edward Fedewa in the bass studio.

Harris and Mitchell are planning a tour to promote the album, with a focus on listening rooms, house concerts and a few festivals. Mitchell said they will be in Michigan in early 2012, before heading to New England, primarily Massachusetts and Maine.

“We are really trying to tour in places where we already have followings,” Mitchell said in a phone interview last week during a return visit to Michigan. “We’re independent artists and we don’t have a lot of capital behind us to tour.”

House concerts will be a big part of it.

“With this genre, there’s a trend of house concerts and it’s really cool,” Mitchell said. “People will host a concert in their home for 30 or 40 people. It’s just this folk community across the United States that are very open to new music, generally it’s folk music, Americana, stuff like that.”

House concerts are a cozy setting, which is just fine with Mitchell.

“It was a little weird, starting out to do that,” she said, referring to going into people’s homes. “But you really get to know people. You don’t just have these faceless fans out there. You really know who likes your music and you get to know them personally. It really takes away that celebrity status. A lot of independent musicians aren’t out to be big stars, they just want to make a living playing their music.”

The music of “Traveling by Moonlight” is a departure from Mitchell’s earlier work, which was bluegrass.

Mitchell and Harris both were in the MountainTown Moonshiners while at CMU. It was a group put together by music students who simply liked bluegrass. “We all just had an appreciation for it and really liked it, so we put this little band together,” Mitchell said. “We were kind of tethered to school, we weren’t touring, we just loved it. It was a style that we had a place in our hearts for.”

When she and her now-husband Aldridge moved to Maine, she decided to try a music career.

“It was kind of like well, I’m here, I better start doing something, so I started a band and started recording and touring as a bluegrass artist,” Mitchell explained of her previous bluegrass work. “It got to the point, where I was touring a lot and I found it really hard to make my bottom line living in a corner of the country where I couldn’t easily tour. We sold our house and relocated to Austin, Texas, where we are now, which is more centrally located and has more resources for us.”

Meanwhile, Harris was also in Austin, and was part of a jazz trio.

The two reconnected and discovered that they had had similar experiences in the music industry since leaving CMU, including the fact that being in a band doesn’t always go as smoothly as it had for them with the MountainTown Moonshiners.

They decided to work together.

Mitchell was ready to try something other than bluegrass. Before this venture, she estimates 50 percent of her work was new material, now it’s 100 percent.

She’s enjoying the change.

“We’re doing all original music” she said. “Pat writes all of the songs. It’s just so different from bluegrass, which is a genre that’s kind of in a box. There’s a lot of rules to make it sound like bluegrass. The songs in this album are very heavily influenced by jazz and classical music and some of our other influences in our training that we’ve had.

“The material was just so exciting to work on and it was just really what I needed at the time. We’ve been playing the songs for two years now and they are still new and exciting.”

In particular, Mitchell likes the song “The Overgrown Graveyard.”

“It’s just a great song,” she said.

Mitchell cites Tom Petty as having a big influence on her, as well as Paul Simon, Bruce Hornsby and Bob Dylan. In bluegrass, she calls Alison Krauss “a big hero of mine.”

Besides Mitchell and Harris, other musicians contributing on “Traveling by Moonlight,” are James Anderson, violin; Carter Arrington, electric guitar; D. R. Commander, piano; Graeme Francis, percussion; Aaron Goldfarb, acoustic and electric guitar; and Wayne Salzmann II, drums. - Morning Sun


"Anna Mae Mitchell & G. Pat Harris live in studio"

Live performance- November 2010 - WABI TV5 Bangor Brewer


"Bluegrass to take Brewer stage"

Sometimes the original idea is the best one, after all. Anna Mae Mitchell, a Winterport resident, learned that over the past few years, as the bluegrass ingenue grew as a musician and eventually struck out on her own.

“It took me a little while to figure out just what exactly I wanted to do,” said Mitchell, 26, who formerly performed with the local band Rising Tide. “I’m definitely at that place now, though.”

It wasn’t until a chance encounter with an old musical friend last year that she really found her voice. That friend was Pat Harris, an upright-bass player with whom Mitchell performed while both were students at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

“Those were some of my best memories of playing music,” said Mitchell. “We always clicked really well.”

Upon graduating in 2006, however, the two parted ways, with Harris gravitating toward musical mecca Austin, Texas, and Mitchell making her way to Maine with her husband, Ben, to teach music at Hampden Academy and at Main St. Music Studios in Bangor.

Last year Mitchell and Harris reconnected while meeting up and eventually performing together in San Antonio, Texas. Their old musical chemistry reignited, and within a few short months, Mitchell and Harris’ new band, the Uninvited Guests, was born.

Anna Mae Mitchell and the Uninvited Guests will perform at 7 p.m. Nov. 26 and 27 at the Next Generation Theater in Brewer. It’ll be one of the last chances to see Mitchell perform locally, as she and her husband are moving to Austin in January, so Mitchell can play with the band full time.

“I always really enjoyed playing with Anna, and playing together again that time in San Antonio really sealed the deal for me,” said Harris, who plays both bluegrass and jazz full time in Austin. “We had such a great time.”

For the past year, Mitchell and Harris have been trading recordings and ideas by e-mail, with Harris recording a song on Apple’s Garage Band software and sending it to Mitchell. Mitchell then put her own spin on it, adding new vocal elements to Harris’ melodies, and e-mailed her recordings back. Eventually, a six-song album, “The East Coast EP,” came out of their long-distance collaboration. The CD will be available at this weekend’s performances.

“We spend a lot of time on Skype,” said Mitchell. “That’s a big part of the reason we’re heading to Texas, is so we can actually work together in the same room.”

It’s clear Mitchell is a young, up-and-coming bluegrass powerhouse, with her stage presence and vocal chops, honed after years of singing in church and in musical theater. Mitchell’s clear, powerful soprano is a dream for the soulful kind of bluegrass that Harris composes.

“I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, but I like to be able to write songs that could just as easily have been written at the turn of the century as in 2010,” said Harris. “I like that timeless quality.”

Though Austin is a hub for all kinds of music, from bluegrass and country to indie rock and metal, Mitchell leaves Maine with nothing but love for the Pine Tree State.

“Oh, I love Maine. I just want to be able to have the resources I need to make a career,” she said. “I don’t really care about being hugely famous or popular. I want to maintain that kind of intimate feel that I’ve had here in Maine, where you can go out into the audience and talk to the crowd afterwards. I love that. That’s really all I want.”

Anna Mae Mitchell and the Uninvited Guests will perform at 7 p.m. Nov. 26 and 27 at the Next Generation Theater in Brewer. Tickets are $15 at the door. For information, visit www.annamaemitchell.com. - Bangor Daily News


Discography

"Traveling By Moonlight" - Mitchell & Harris (2011)
"The East Coast EP" - Mitchell & Harris (2010)

Photos

Bio


Having performed together on and off since 2004, Anna Mae Mitchell and G. Pat Harris have finally teamed up to release their debut album, "Traveling By Moonlight". Containing 12 original songs steeped in Americana, and recorded at Austin’s own Greenhaven Studios, "Traveling By Moonlight" will be available in local stores and online retailers on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

From the opening newgrass stylings of “Run from the Ocean,” to the back porch closing of “Waiting for Tomorrow,” Traveling By Moonlight displays Harris’ songwriting and production skills though a cohesive listening experience, from spacious ballads like “Home” to the arena rock anthem “Lost at Sea.” On tracks like the reflective “Dry Your Eyes” and outlaw tale “The Canyon,” Mitchell employs a restrained elegance in her delivery, while on rockers “New Day,” and the bluegrass tinged “Overgrown Graveyard,” she unleashes her full vocal prowess. With a refreshingly live and spontaneous feeling throughout, these hook heavy songs capture the sense of the players delighting in each other’s musical company and convey a sense of optimism even on the album’s most somber songs.

Mitchell and Harris are joined by some of Austin’s finest musicians to bring this collection of original music to life. Mandolin virtuoso Paul Glasse (Allison Krauss, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson) and ace violinist James Anderson (Austin Piazzolla Quintet, 16 Strings) make appearances while Wayne Salzmann (Eric Johnson) and Graeme Francis (Austin Symphony Orchestra, American Repertory Ensemble) drive the music forward on drums and percussion. Aaron Goldfarb (Leah and the Moonlighters) and Downbeat award winner Carter Arrington (Malford Milligan) provide the guitars that range from subtle acoustic fingerpicking to ripping solo lines.

Anna Mae Mitchell and G. Pat Harris bring a unique excitement to the world of roots music. Their superb musicianship, captivating songs, charming stage presence, and love of performing create a lasting connection with every audience. Their music maintains a tie with traditional Americana while creating a freshness through musical curiosity and exploration with the inclusion of jazz, classical, and world music influences, and they have been getting positive attention from music lovers and critics though playing some of the best rooms in central Texas. "Mitchell’s clear, powerful soprano is a dream for the soulful kind of songs that Harris composes." – Bangor Daily News