The Hello Strangers
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The Hello Strangers

Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | INDIE

Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Americana Folk




"30 Great Country Albums of 2015 You Probably Didn't Hear"

From Austin's fertile music landscape via the mountains of rural Pennsylvania come sisters Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace, indie-spirited folk singers with a quirky sense of humor and some spine-tingling harmonies. Highlights include a spooky-as-hell version of Jim Lauderdale's "What You Don't Know" and a sweet, twangy take on the Doris Day standard "Que Sera Sera," (a tribute to their grandfather, Ronald Chace, who sang with Day). But the album also boasts 11 impressive originals, all of them set to a cool Carter Sisters-meets-Indigo Girls vibe. Stephen L. Betts

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Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook - (Stephen L. Betts/Rolling Stone)

"Billboard's The 615 Review"

“You might take a listen to the folkish harmonies of sister duo the Hello Strangers and put them in the Americana brand. That would be the correct classification, given today's musical climate. However, if you listen very closely, you will hear a sound that is similar to that of Emmylou Harris or Sweethearts of the Rodeo -- both of whom were regulars on the country radio airwaves back in the late 1980s.” - Chuck Dauphin, Billboard's The 615

"The Hello Strangers Screw Up Again in “Ruined”"

After spending some time writing songs and waiting table in Austin in the mid-2000s, the sister duo known as the Hello Strangers headed back home to Pennsylvania. However, rather than settling into a familiar routine, Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace were inspired to create more music — and to figure out new ways of getting it out there.

In 2012, the duo won a recording session in a contest sponsored by Airplay Direct. They headed to Franklin, Tennessee, and spent three days recording their new, self-titled album with producer Steve Ivey. Offering a satisfying mix of smart songwriting and memorable melodies — not to mention the undeniable sibling harmonies — the duo’s music usually falls into the folk-pop realm but without alienating avid Americana listeners. As for “Ruined,” it’s 100 percent honky-tonk.

“To be honest, I wrote this after I got in an argument with my fiance,” Brechyn tells CMT Edge. “It was a really stupid argument, and I don’t recall what it was about, but it was one of those things that happens when you and someone you love — whether it’s a friend, your significant other or a sibling that you are in a band with — just aren’t hitting on all cylinders, and you take things that are bothering you in other parts of your life out on them.”

She continues, “Well, we got in this argument, or as we like to call them, ‘discussions,’ and I felt like I had ruined the evening. The song is a little more dramatic than what actually happened. No one was trying to show someone to the door or left out in the cold, but what better way to harness those feelings after a fight than to write a honky-tonk song?”

As Larissa explains, “Our fandom surrounding classic country didn’t truly begin until we moved to Austin, Texas, in 2003. Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, we weren’t exposed to anything aside from pop country on the radio. When we moved to Austin, we both waitressed at a restaurant on South Congress Avenue called D&L’s Texas Music Cafe. It was all about Texas cooking and Texas music. Dale Watson was a regular, and it was right next to the Continental Club.”

She adds, “The music on the sound system made its way into our psyches as we served customers, as did the live music they had regularly there. As Northerners, the laid-back swagger of classic country went perfectly with the Southwestern environment we were suddenly inhabiting — the city of Austin but also the vast desert of West Texas. And then we learned to two-step at the Broken Spoke, and we were hooked on honky-tonk and that classic country sound. We’ve never looked back.”

The Hello Strangers have several shows coming up in Pennsylvania in the coming weeks, including a record release party on Nov. 8 in Shippensburg. Raise your bottle and check out “Ruined.” - CMT Edge (Craig Shelburne)

"The Hello Strangers – Self Titled"

Music has changed a lot to my ears over the years. When I was growing up, the lines between genres were very decided and kind of easy to decipher. Nowadays. it’s not that simple. What was “Country,” back in 1988 might still be Country, but it might also be known as Americana. That’s where you have The Hello Strangers.

Hailing from Pennsylvania, the sister duo of Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn certainly wouldn’t have been considered mainstream in 1988, as folk-ish cuts on this disc like “Conococheague” hints at. But, there are moments here – like “Runaway,” “What It Takes To Break A Heart,” or “Ruined,” where these ladies conjure up memories of some of the great work of acts like Emmylou Harris and Sweethearts of the Rodeo.

But, all in all, The Hello Strangers don’t need classifications. They are just – for lack of a more sophisticated term – Damn Good. Take a listen to a cut like “Chances,” and if you are not totally hooked by their spellbinding harmony, your hearing must not be working right. It’s a sonically brilliant cut – from start to finish, one that simply needs to be heard. Ditto that for the Appalachian feel of “The World Knows Far Better,” where the harmony is chilling, as is the harmonica work from Brechyn. The sisters even match musical wits and talent with the incredible Jim Lauderdale on his gem “What You Don’t Know,” which they keep as haunting as his 1990s original.

You know what? After thinking about it, we are not defined by what radio plays or doesn’t play anymore. This album is just brilliant…..and deserves to be heard – and heard often. Listen and see if you don’t agree! - Music News Nashville

"Lee's Listening Stack: Another Lucky Seven Reviews for Mid-October - The Hello Strangers"

Sibling outfits always stand out whenever it comes to harmony and synchronicity. It’s a forgone conclusion really that no matter what the style -- from the Everly Brothers to the Clancy Brothers, the Andrews Sisters to the Secret Sisters, encompassing practically every family bands that’s made its name while crafting pure pop. The latest pairing to prove their mettle are Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith, a duo that calls themselves The Hello Strangers. Even if they hadn’t been sisters, they would still be worthy of praise; as demonstrated on their eponymous debut, they boast a classic sound and style that already finds them sounding like country royalty. In fact, there’s not a single song here that doesn’t already feel like a barroom standard. Remarkably, they seem to have emerged fully formed, and on songs like “Runaway,” “Ruined” and “Holy Unholy” they demonstrate the kind of credence that only happens when worldly experience is paired with shattered sentiment. Jim Lauderdale guests on his own original “What You Don’t Know,” but even though it may constitute a nod in their favor, these two ladies certainly stand out on their own. Country credence is assured, and with it, a very promising future indeed. ( (Lee Zimmerman) - No Depression (Lee Zimmerman)

"On What It Takes To Break A Heart"

"Bluesy, rhythmic and completely captivating. The rockabilly groove is spiced with acoustic passages and quasi-shouted vocal moments. Feisty females on the rampage." - Bob Oermann, Music Row Magazine

"Concert Picks: Quebe Sisters / The Hello Strangers"

Quebe Sisters / The Hello Strangers
Sisterhood will be doubly powerful Saturday in Sellersville. The headlining trio is the Quebe Sisters, the fiddling Western swing act of Burleson, Texas, siblings Hulda, Sophia and Grace, whose last name rhymes with "maybe." Since elementary school, the sisters, now in their 20s, have been honing their skills and the harmonies heard on their 2014 album, Every Which Way.

They'll be joined by openers the Hello Strangers. The team of Larissa Chace Smith and Brechlyn Chace advertise themselves as "Pennsyltucky Fried." Their more honky-tonk-flavored, self-titled 2014 album features a guest-vocal turn from Jim Lauderdale. - Dan DeLuca

Read more at - Philadelphia Inquirer (Dan DeLuca)

"Folk Alliance 2016: 
Elders and Upstarts Share Music, Wisdom"

Among the talents that impressed, in addition to the afore-mentioned: The just-out-of-high-school Accidentals; the Bombadils; the Hello Strangers; LeE HARVeY OsMOND, aka Tom Wilson (also of Blackie & the Rodeo Kings), and his beautifully voiced son, Thompson; Sultans of String; Tarraband; the Suitcase Junket; Hot Buttered Rum; the Grahams; and Travis Linville. To name a few. - American Songwriter (Lynne Margolis)

"Lee Ann Womack, Los Lobos, Patty Griffin to Headline AmericanaFest 2015"

This September, just as the dust from the summertime festival season begins to settle, the Americana Music Festival will descend upon the bars, clubs, record stores and parking lots of Nashville, bringing more than 200 bands and 20,000 fans with it. Held every year, the six-day event celebrates a genre whose popularity has exploded since the inaugural AmericanaFest in 2000, back before the Grammys (who added the Best Americana Album category in 2009, handing the first award to Levon Helm's Electric Dirt) and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (whose 2011 edition was the first to define "Americana" as a style of music rooted in early folk and country) recognized the music's existence.

Brothers Landreth Americana Fest Greatest Musical Moments From Americana Fest »
The 16th annual Americana Music Festival and Conference will kick off September 15th and run until the 20th, extending its usual length by one day. Released today, the initial lineup includes A-listers like Los Lobos, Patty Griffin, Lee Ann Womack, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, along with such favorites as honeyhoney, the Bros. Landreth, John Moreland, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen. (Read the full list of performers below.)

"So much about this event is about discovery," says Americana Music Association president Jed Hilly, whose festival has tripled in size since he joined the organization in 2007. "You'll have these great moments involving the legends, like the time we saw Ry Cooder and John Hiatt reunite for the first time since Little Village broke up. That was cathartic and just beautiful. But when you have more than 175 bands in town, you can go into any club any night of the week and see something that'll knock your socks off, even if you aren't familiar with the band onstage. I'm really busy all week, and time and time again, I'll show up at a club and need to be somewhere else in 20 minutes, but I just can't be — not until that particular set is over. That's an awesome feeling."

Ben Jaffe, one half of the roots-rock duo honeyhoney, agrees.

"We played the festival when we first moved to Nashville," he says of his band, whose third album is due out several months before the 2015 AmericanaFest, "and it felt like our welcoming party to the whole Americana world. We were on right before Buddy Miller and Lee Ann Womack, and as you walked into the venue, you could put a song request into this glass jar for them. We saw them going through the requests backstage, and they knew all the songs in there. It was incredible to be around musicians of that level — people who could just do whatever they were asked. One of the requests was 'After the Fire Is Gone' by Conway and Loretta, and when they played it that night. . . it just floored me. It kind of fucked me up. It basically opened the library and gave me a new perspective into that kind of traditional American music."

This year will also mark the AmericanaFest debut of Los Lobos, the long running "barrio band" whose music takes its cues from both sides of the American/Mexican border. Active since the Seventies, Los Lobos played Americana music long before the genre had an official name, mixing rock & roll, American country, Spanish folk and Texas blues into the same pot.

"I guess we hung around long enough for us to get a category," jokes horn player Steve Berlin, adding, "As limiting as these categories can be, Americana is one of the good ones. We welcome the attention. We're glad to be Americana artists."

Wristbands for the festival are available today, giving attendees access to all nighttime showcases for $50.

Here's the initial lineup for September's AmericanaFest:

Anderson East
Andrew Combs
Anthony D'Amato
Barna Howard
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Billy Bragg & Joe Purdy
Birds of Chicago
Brian Wright
The Bros. Landreth
Caleb Caudle
Caleb Klauder Country Band
Carly Ritter
Carsie Blanton
Christopher Paul Stelling
The Contenders
Corb Lund
Dead Winter Carpenters
Dom Flemons
The Dustbowl Revival
Emma Swift
Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen
The Freightshakers
The Grahams
Grant-Lee Phillips
Guthrie Brown & The Family Tree
Hackensaw Boys
The Hello Strangers
Henry Wagons
Horse Feathers
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Hugh Bob and the Hustle
Jackie Greene
James McMurtry
Joe Pug
John Moreland
John Paul Keith
Kingsley Flood
Kristin Diable
Kristin Andreassen
Laney Jones and the Spirits
Lee Ann Womack
Legendary Shack Shakers
Lera Lynn
Leyla McCalla
Lilly Hiatt
Liz Longley
Los Lobos
Low Cut Connie
Lydia Loveless
Martin Harley
Mary Gauthier
Nikki Lane
Nora Jane Struthers
Oh Pep!
Packway Handle Band
Patty Griffin
Pokey LaFarge
Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen
Ray Wylie Hubbard
River Whyless
Sarah Borges
Sean McConnell
Shemekia Copeland
The Show Ponies
Session Americana
The Steel Wheels
Stephen Kellogg
The Stray Birds
Tall Heights
The Vespers
Water Liars
The Whistles and The Bells
Whitey Morgan and the 78s
The Wild Reeds
William Elliott Whitmore

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Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook - ROLLING STONE (Andrew Leahey)

"What Your Onstage Look Says About You"

The Hello Strangers - These lovelies are cute, sweet, and stylish. My instant response? There might be some twang or a country element to their music, with just a dash of retro sass. Their presentation is delightfully retro, which makes me think that, sonically, they will remind me of an era gone by. - Sonicbids Blog (Amy Sciarretto)

"Can Music Career Success Happen in a Rural Town? Here's Why This Indie Band Left Austin"

Can Music Career Success Happen in a Rural Town? Here's Why This Indie Band Left Austin

Musician Success Guide, Sonicbids Success Stories

Feb 5, 2016 06:00 AM

Sam Friedman

Austin, TX, is widely considered to be the live music capital of the country. So what motivated folky sister duo the Hello Strangers to move from Austin back home to the small rural town of Mercersburg, PA?

Most bands are planning to leave their small town for a music city like Austin, but it was actually homesickness that took the Hello Strangers away from the live music mecca. Through a contest-won record contract with IMI Records, they found their identity in their small hometown and honed their music exponentially. We had a chance to catch up with them to learn just what it was about being in a smaller music scene that helped them find their identity and grow their audience.

With your band taking off in Austin, TX, what inspired your move to the small, much less music-centric city of Mercersburg, PA?

We grew up in Mercersburg, which is a two-stoplight town with a very small surrounding local music scene. Indeed, it was an unexpected move for musicians living in the live music capital of Austin, TX. The initial reason was simple: we were homesick. However, once we moved home and subsequently formed a full band, we realized in many ways it was easier to find our own identity as musicians outside of the larger pool of musicians in Austin. All our major successes have happened since we moved to a rural area, believe it or not.

What are the differences between Austin and Mercersburg? Have you had more difficulty finding gigs?

Austin has a lot going on right within its vicinity, and to some extent just beyond the city limits in places like New Braunfels, San Marcos, etc. But other than that, you are essentially landlocked in the big old state of Texas. As much as we love and miss it down there, Mercersburg is within a few hours of several major US cities: Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, and New York City, to name a few. We actually have access to more venues up here and are able to play many different markets, oftentimes without having an overnight stay and extra expenses. Mercersburg is ideal in many ways because of that.

One thing we often miss, however, is a more tightly knit and accessible community of musicians. We don’t have the enclaves of creative types or meeting places at which to meet up with them in our rural area. So we have to do our best to network via social media with people we meet on the road. We also have an amazing studio, owned by our guitarist, that has become somewhat of a communal space for us in our local area at which to host parties and small performances where we can invite supporters and other musicians. You have to create your own scene up here, which we like very much.

Take control of your music career

What do you miss most about being a working musician in Austin?

We really miss the rich scene down there, which is always inspiring, enriching, and changing. However, we go down there to play every few years, and get to reconnect with our friends while we’re there, as well as the scene. So we don’t feel like we’ve completely left it for good. There will always be a part of us in Austin.

You recently put out your first LP on IMI Records – congratulations! Your relationship with them began when you won a contest hosted by AirPlay Direct. How did that come about, and how has it impacted your career so far?

Thank you! The contest with Airplay Direct and IMI was one of the biggest things to happen to us in our careers so far. It was thanks to the internet that we had access to such an opportunity while living in a rural area.

Winning the contest has expanded the scope of what we’ve been able to do outside of our regional area, beyond the successes we had already had on our own at a more grassroots level. We have expanded our touring and networking; have played well-known clubs such as the Bluebird Cafe and the famous WSM Radio in Nashville; have played with well-known musicians (such as Robert Earl Keen); have gotten great press (Rolling Stone, CMT Edge, Billboard); and have been played on the radio all over the world, including satellite (Outlaw Country, The Village). The contest, and the generosity of IMI and Airplay Direct, kickstarted our careers beyond our imaginations. Now even more, we are able to confidently expand our careers on a daily basis from the comfort of our homes and be with our families, while continuing to tour and expand in that way, all because of the internet.

If you could give one piece of advice to an independent musician preparing to make a move to further his or her music career, what would it be?

Don't assume that there is one perfect model to having a successful career as a musician. Sometimes doing things that serve your personal situation and heart, and possibly going about things in the opposite way from everyone else (such as moving away from a big music hub), work out for the best. If you use your gut instincts, don’t let fear or comparisons to others influence your decisions, and stick to your vision, you will have success in the way that is important to you. - Sonicbids Blog, Sam Friedman

"The Alternate Root "On The Radar""

The Hello Strangers (from the album The Hello Strangers) - The songwriter’s road was wide open heading out of Austin for The Hello Strangers sisters Larissa (Smith) and Brechyn Chace. The opposite side of the highway was packed with guitars and dreams staking claim for their songs in the Texas capital. The Hello Strangers had a slew of tunes written in a cottage off South Congress squeezed in the backseat of a rural Pennsylvania-bound car along with lives, dogs and Larissa’s husband (not necessarily in that order). The result is a self-titled release for The Hello Strangers. The quiet of winter and the lifeless body of a “Caribou” match the stillness as The Hello Strangers’ voices call for the peace of more snow. They admit to looking at their past ‘young naïve hands’ knowing “The World Knows Far Better”, dig deep to find their classic country inner-brawler with ‘a small part of me always looking for a fight’ in “Ruined” and roll in on a thunder cloud to proclaim “I’m a fever…before the drugs set in, before relief begins’ as they head for open ground in “Runaway”. Rather than bore you with their version of how the experiment of traveling to Austin to write songs and then heading back home worked out, The Hello Strangers offer a show-and-tell full album listen of what that sounds like.
Listen and buy the music of The Hello Strangers from AMAZON or iTunes
- See more at: - Danny McCloskey (The Alternate Root)

"The Alternate Root Top 10 Songs of the Week"

09 Que Sera Sera - The Hello Strangers (from the album The Hello Strangers) - Doris Day had so much fun with the 1956-penned tune “Que Sera, Sera” that she featured the track in three of her films. The Hello Strangers watch the song ride Americana waves as the pair gaze from an audio widow’s-walk waiting to see which way the wind will blow their fates,
Listen and buy “Que Sera, Sera” by The Hello Strangers from AMAZON or iTunes
- See more at: - The Alternate Root (Danny McCloskey)

"Top 100 Albums of 2014"

#44 – The Hello Strangers - The Hello Strangers (5-23-14) - The Hello Strangers had a slew of tunes written in a cottage off South Congress Street in Austin, Texas that they squeezed into the backseat of a rural Pennsylvania-bound car along with lives, dogs and Larissa’s husband (not necessarily in that order). The result is a self-titled release for The Hello Strangers. - See more at: - The Alternate Root

"Folk Alley Listener Poll 2014 Top 50 Albums"

#38 The Hello Strangers - The Hello Strangers - Folk Alley

"ICON Magazine - TOP 10 OF 2014"

Dave and Phil Alvin
Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of
Big Bill Broonzy
Yep Roc
L.C. Cooke The Complete SAR Records Recordings
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young CSNY 1974
CSNY Recordings/Rhino
The Hello Strangers The Hello Strangers
IMI Records
Willie Nelson Band of Brothers
Billy Joe Shaver Long in the Tooth
Lightning Rod Records
Chris Smither Still on the Levee
Signature Records/Mighty Albert
The Stray Birds Best Medicine
Yep Roc
Loudon Wainwright III Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet)
429 Records
Jesse Winchester A Reasonable - ICON Magazine (Tom Wilk)

"No Depression Top Albums of 2014 Reader's Poll"

#115 - No Depression

"2014 Top Ten"

3. 'The Hello Strangers,' The Hello Strangers (IMI Records):

This Oct. 21 CD is the debut album from sisters Brechen Chace (lead/backing vocals, accordion, harmonica and vibra-slap) and Larissa Chace-Smith (lead/backing vocals and acoustic guitar), who come from a musical family. Folks who enjoy great harmony vocals and old-fashioned country music will dig The Hello Strangers.

Read more here: - Sun Herald (Ricky Flake)

"The sun sets on another Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion"

Some of the weekend’s largest crowds cheered and hollered for festival headliners Steve Earle and Delbert McClinton Sunday as the curtain came down on the 2015 Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion.

Substantial turnouts at both outdoor stages welcomed the two roots music icons and provided an exclamation point for the festival, according to Executive Director Leah Ross said.

“The crowds and the weather couldn’t have been better,” Ross said of the three-day festival. “We’ve had great crowds enjoy the music. It’s been a pretty seamless weekend.”

Sunday provided the weekend’s only real cloud cover as Friday and Saturday unfolded under clear, sunny skies with warm temperatures but sunshine returned in time to cast a spotlight on the 74-year-old McClinton hit the State Street stage.

Last year’s attendance was 62,500 but Ross said final attendance figures haven’t yet been tallied.

“I think we’ll probably come in around where we were last year. We have a lot coming up this week so it will probably be a couple of weeks,” Ross said,

Showcasing artists with the reputation and name recognition of three-time Grammy Award winner Earle and Grammy winner McClinton represent another milestone for the 15-year-old community festival.

“To be honest, when we first started all this I didn’t think something like this [Earle] was pos-sible,” said Brent Treash, chairman of the festival’s music committee. “These are legendary people who are coming to our town that probably wouldn’t get here any other way. When they get here, they’re so happy to be here because they know the story of Bristol and what Bristol means. It’s a great opportunity to get people here and let them experience it.”

Treash also offered a glowing review of the weekend.

“When I look around at the music we’ve had up and down State Street it’s really been amazing to see all the type of people that are out here,” Treash said. “It’s a testament to all the different types of music we’re bringing and it all comes back to those 1927 Bristol Sessions. We’re trying to get people out here to hear the story of Bristol. It’s great to see how we’ve grown over the years.”

Police reported no major incidents and about 10 arrests, mostly alcohol-related.

Economic study

In the future, the music festival will be able to present detailed economic impact information.

“We have retained a firm to come in and do a detailed economic impact study. They’re doing that this weekend,” Ross said. “We’ve never had that before and been able to show the financial impact the festival has. They’re going to be able to go to the states and get some numbers we haven’t been able to. We’re really looking forward to getting that information from them later this year.”

Farm & Fun Time

In addition to music on the streets, this weekend the festival also celebrated the return of Farm & Fun Time, a Tri-Cities radio entertainment program from the 1950s. It returned to the airwaves Sunday with a live broadcast on WBCM-FM radio Bristol.

Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers, the comedic alter ego of bluegrass super group Hot Rize, hosted the hour-long show Sunday morning in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum per-formance theater. A crowd of nearly 100 looked on.

Multiple Grammy Award winner Tim O’Brien, who bears a striking resemblance to Red Knuckles, said the throwback western swing band was asked to perform.

“[Station manager] Tony Lawson asked for Red Knuckles to be the host. Maybe he thought he would be the right tone. You know Hot Rize is kind of uppity and urbane. Red Knuckles is a little more of a country man,” O’Brien said tongue-in-cheek after the performance.

The broadcast also featured The Hello Strangers, a Pennsylvania-based sister act who per-formed their brand of country, honky-tonk music.

Lawson said it’s important for WBCM, which went on the air last month, to add the show to its lineup.

“I think it’s been a staple for many years, we’re just sort of rekindling that,” Lawson said. “It’s going to be an ongoing part of what we do. Farm & Fun Time and the Radio Bristol Sessions are two of our first marquee shows.”

Throughout the weekend, WBCM has also broadcast short live shows featuring many festival artists.

“With the Radio Bristol Sessions, we’re getting three to five songs from artists. We’re recording them for audio and we’re also doing video recording for our new video channel that we’re working on,” Lawson said. “We’ll probably have a special time for the recorded ones but when we do them live it’s going to be spontaneous. We have several already scheduled into October. We’ll be letting folks know through our Facebook page and our new website.”

Among the artists who performed on radio this weekend were the Black Lillies, Balsam Range, Ian Thomas, Josh Ritter, the Suffers, Dust Bowl Revival, Sugar Kane Jane, the Hello Strangers, Dom Flemmons, Lonesome River Band, poet Susan Underwood and Boo Hakes.

Plans currently call for archiving the video performances and showing them starting in early 2016, Lawson said.

O’Brien praised the effort to make live performances a part of the programming.

“We listened to the old recordings and live radio shows, which really give the flavor of what the times were like the way people talked in the 40s and 50s. It’s great to revive this here. It’s a venerable show. It’s in all the history books with the Stanley Brothers and a bunch of groups played here. Bill Monroe would come by and say I want to hear this guy to play with me. I heard him on the radio. It can happen again,” O’Brien said.

A Rhythm & Roots alumnus from several years ago, O’Brien praised current efforts to promote and energize the Twin City music scene.

“It’s a wonderful thing because the town can use some new enthusiasm and what better way than to bring in the music that is so renown around the world. You see the crowd coming to town here and they’ve got the museum, which means the crowd can come all year round for music,” O’Brien said. “Tony Lawson did a wonderful thing with WDVX in Knoxville and really transformed the music scene there. I can see it sort of happening here. It’s a beautiful town, a beautiful area of the country so I see no reason this couldn’t just sail right up into the sky.” - DAVID MCGEE | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER

"Thirty-four can't-miss artists and events to catch at AmericanaFest"

The Hello Strangers

The world of Americana is a spooky place sometimes, and the music of The Hello Strangers acknowledges the genre's huge debt to freak-folk and emo, not to mention old-school murder ballads and '60s folk-rock. From Mercersville, Pa., sisters Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith created compelling psychedelic faux-Appalachian music on their 2014 self-titled full-length — "Conococheague" was a pleasantly bizarre narrative, while "Oh He'll Dream" featured a slightly twisted electric-guitar solo. The sisters' voices intertwine in fascinating ways, and their songwriting explores singer-songwriter territory in strange and yes, sometimes spooky, ways. Midnight Saturday at City Winery —EH - Nashville Scene (Edd Hurt)

"21 Performances To Catch at AmericanaFest 2014"

Sisters Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace hail from the foot of the Appalachian mountains, due north of the Mason-Dixon Line , in Mercersburg, PA. They ended up in Austin where they worked their craft in the rich music scene helped hone their harmony-rich folk and roots rock spirit. - See more at: - Baron Lane,Twang Nation

"Griffith, Womack, Fleck/Washburn announced for AMA"

Thursday, May 7, 2015 – Patty Griffin, Los Lobos, Lee Ann Womack, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn and Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen are among the initial list of artists who will play the Americana Music Association AmericanaFest2015 in September in Nashville.,
The AMA announced a total of 85 of the more than 150 artists heading to Nashville from Sept. 15-20., Whitey Morgan and the 78s, John Moreland, Andrew Combs, Nikki Lane, Pokey LaFarge, James McMurtry, Nora Jane Struthers and Billy Bragg & Joe Purdy.

A festival wrist for $50 is now available, allowing admission into all showcase venues exclusively at

Other artists playing the festival are Anderson East, Anthony D'Amato, Banditos, Barna Howard, Birds of Chicago, Brian Wright, The Bros. Landreth, Caleb Caudle, Caleb Klauder Country Band, Carly Ritter, Carsie Blanton, ChessBoxer, Christopher Paul Stelling, The Contenders, Corb Lund, Crooks, Darlingside, Dead Winter Carpenters, Dom Flemons, The Dustbowl Revival, Emma Swift, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, The Freightshakers, The Grahams, Grant-Lee Phillips, Guthrie Brown & The Family Tree, Hackensaw Boys, Halfway, The Hello Strangers, Henry Wagons, honeyhoney, Horse Feathers, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Hugh Bob and the Hustle, Jackie Greene, John Paul Keith, Kingsley Flood, Kristin Diable, Kristin Andreassen, Laney Jones and the Spirits, Lera Lynn, Leyla McCalla, Lilly Hiatt, Liz Longley, Lucette, Lydia Loveless, Martin Harley, Mary Gauthier, Nudie, Oh Pep!, Packway Handle Band, Porter, Ray Wylie Hubbard, River Whyless, Sarah Borges, Sean McConnell, Shemekia Copeland, The Show Ponies, Session Americana, Steelism, The Steel Wheels, Stephen Kellogg, The Stray Birds, Tall Heights, The Vespers, Water Liars, The Whistles and The Bells, The Wild Reeds, William Elliott Whitmore, Whitehorse, - Country Standard Time

""Name That Band:" Review of Music City Roots Performance 1/28/15"

A name like Hello Strangers is going to put you in a frame of mind to hear timeless, Appalachia-tinged Americana, and sisters Brechyn and Larissa delivered just that. After Jim Lauderdale (what kind of band name is THAT?) opened the show with “She’s In A Honky Tonk Mood Again,” the duo proved they were by opening with a honky tonk feeling on “Ruined.” Quickly, the chemistry of two soaring, sisterly voices became clear and moving. I mentioned their bewitching, moody cover of Jim’s “What You Don’t Know” in my preview and hallelujah, they performed that song with Jim in one of the set’s highlights. My favorite though I think was “Rattle To Shake,” which had the gorgeous vocal harmonies as well as tight, grooving instrumentation from the three-piece band. Spencer Pheil delivered a stinging electric guitar solo here, one of several. Great to make friends with these strangers. - Music City Roots (Craig Havighurst)

"Album Review of The Hello Strangers"

Written by Duane Verh
October 31, 2014 - 12:00am EDT
4 out of 4 stars
Sisters Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith wrap their pleasing two-part vocals around a range of solid originals embracing country (“Ruined”, “Holy Unholy”), folk (“Never Roam Again”) and smart, subtle roots-bound pop (“Chances”). Guest Jim Lauderdale contributes with pen and vocals on a most likely airplay candidate- the haunting “What You Don’t Know”. - Roots Music Report (Duane Verh)

"Friday Five: October Album Previews - The Hello Strangers"

The sister duo’s self-titled album (due October 21) is one of the year’s strongest debut albums. Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith serve up a delightful collection of songs, ranging from the raucous singalong “What It Takes to Break A Heart” to the honky-tonking “Ruined” to a sweet version of “Que Sera, Sera,” which pays tribute to the sisters’ grandfather, who sang with Doris Day in the ‘40s. And there’s an appearance from Jim Lauderdale (on “What You Don’t Know”), which is always a bonus. - Engine 145 (Juli Thanki)

"The Hello Strangers: The Hello Strangers"

The Hello Strangers are a self-proclaimed Austin-influenced, rural –Pennsylvanian, indie sister-folk group. The duo, made up of sisters Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace have just released their first full length album called, “The Hello Strangers.” The record is a collection of thirteen songs that pay tribute to classic country, folk, Americana and indie rock genres of music. Despite the wide spectrum across the genres, the sisters tie them all together while creating their own unique identity and sound.

The songs come off more like stories which are told with beautiful harmonies and superb instrumentation. If you didn’t know who you were listening to and the song “What You Don’t Know,” which was written by and features an appearance by Jim Lauderdale, came on you would swear it was Fleetwood Mac. This speaks highly of the Strangers ability to craft a song from start to finish. “Never Run Again” starts off with a striking duel acoustic guitar piece and features a haunting violin throughout the song. Everything that is included in each song is there for a purpose. The music compliments the harmonies and the harmonies compliment the stories. My favorite parts of the record come when the duo shows off their ability to play a true blooded country song. “What it Takes to Break a Heart” is a country shuffle complete with steel guitar and lyrics about whiskey, wine and beer. “Ruined” is another country gem that pays tribute to country music when it was country music. It is everything that Miranda Lambert is built up to be, but fails to be.

The Hello Strangers are the real deal. In a day and age where music acts are manufactured in an office building, the Chace Sisters prove that there are still true artists out there who continue to work on the craft of creating their own sound and path. Take a break from what corporate Nashville is selling and check out The Hello Strangers. They may be strangers now, but you will be glad to say you know them after the first listen. - The Music Room (Tony Keefer)

"Midwest Record Album Review"

“And here we have a pair of sisters whose grandpa sang with Doris Day yet are hip enough to get John Leventhal to co-write something for them with producer Jim Lauderdale. The perfect pair to make post modern down home music as their influences go beyond those just stated to also intersect with the Carter Family and Jerry Garcia off shoot projects. Not sounding like something processed through a meat grinder, their Austin by way of Pennsylvania and back sound is folkie/folk-rock supreme that sounds like it’s from the heart throughout. A total antidote and tonic for jaded ears that need some organic nourishment, this set is breathing proof the heartland still has plenty of heart. Killer stuff.” - Chris Spector, Midwest Record

"The Hello Strangers-The Hello Strangers"

"This album is delightful, soulful and weaves a mystic spell with sonic beauty and storied lyrics. Great to buy this one." - Digital Rodeo

"Icon Magazine Singer-Songwriter"

The Hello Strangers ★★★1/2
The Hello Strangers
IMI Records
Sisters Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace
Smith have teamed up as the The Hello
Strangers to record one of the top debut albums
of 2014 with their self-titled CD. Their
harmonies at times recall a distaff version of
the Everly Brothers and a country-influenced
Indigo Girls.
Both women demonstrate a knack for
strong songwriting that tells a story. The
spirited “What It Takes to Break a Heart” is
an up-tempo, Saturday night on the town
song. They easily switch genres for “Ruined,”
a country-flavored, long-gone-wrong
tune that could have been recorded by Patsy
Cline. The wistful “Never Roam Again,” elevated
by Wanda Vick’s viola, has the poetic
simplicity of early John Prine. Jim Lauderdale
contributes vocals on the haunting
“What You Don’t Know, which he co-wrote
with John Leventhal.
Producer Steve Ivey keeps arrangements
uncluttered to allow the vocals to come to
the forefront. “Conococheague” sounds like a
traditional British ballad with voices intertwined
like a couple embracing. “Que Sera
Sera,” a tribute to the sisters’ paternal grandfather
who sang with Doris Day, is turned
into a bittersweet waltz that plays to the sisters’
vocal strengths. 14 songs, 51 minutes - Icon Magazine (Tom Wilk)

"The Hello Strangers"

Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith, the roots/Americana sister duo at the heart of the Pennsylvania-based The Hello Strangers, expertly blend memorable songwriting and terrific sibling harmonies on their self-titled album. The Chace sisters share songwriting credits on the 11 original compositions on this 13-song collection bouncing between compelling narratives and personal observations.

There is a prevailing feeling of self-deprecation on two of the most notable tracks. Both the album-leading "Runaway," a dusty and elegant opening statement, and the catchy honky tonk gem "Ruined" find the songs' subjects looking inward.

On the latter, the introspection is used to examine the causes of an ongoing relationship that is always destined to fail, while on "Runaway," the narrator uses introspection as a tool to proactively justify why a potential relationship won't work. This is done with simple but compelling lyrics like:

"I'm a loner/
It can feel like a crowd when there's no one else around/
But if the mood is right, I'll be downtown tonight, I'm a roamer/
With the beat of a drum, I chase the setting sun
I'm a writer, I'm a lover, I procrastinate like no other
These hats I wear could fill a motel room
And no matter what I do, it'll never make sense to you, it's true
I'll never make sense to you"

The album is also notable for narrative songs featuring strong female characters. "Poor Dear" is a first-person account of a mistreated woman finally summoning the strength and courage to leave her lover, and "Oh He'll Drown" is a song in the classic murder ballad style that finds another abused woman handing out some hot-iron justice to her tormentor.

The sisters also impress on another murder ballad, "Conococheague." Named after the Conococheague Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River that meanders through the rural Northern Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania countryside, this song has all the makings of a classic thanks to a dark and brooding arrangement, a thumping refrain, well-placed lead guitar and banjo accents that further set the mood and haunting dual-lead vocals that showcase the evocative power majesty of the sister's vocal interplay.

The surprising cover of "Que Sera, Sera," a song popularized by Doris Day in 1956 and included in a languid and understated rendition, is a tribute to their grandfather, Roland Chace, who sang with Day back in the 1940s. - Country Standard Time (Greg Yost)

"Country Music People - The Hello Strangers"

The Hello Strangers
Runaway / What It Takes To
Break A Heart / What You
Don’t Know / Never Roam
Again / Ruined / Changes /
Conococheague / Holy Unholy /
Caribou / Poor Dear / The World
Knows / Far Better / Oh He’ll
Drown / Que Sera, Sera / What
It Takes To Break A Heart (Radio
Producer: Steve Ivey
IMI Records
Sisters Larissa Chase Smith and Brechyn Chase won the making of this album with multi-award winning producer Steve Ivey in a competition. The fact it was called “Win An Americana Record Deal” suggests that the sponsors knew what they were looking for from the off and an Americana record is exactly what we have.

There are eleven original songs and two covers, one a Jim Lauderdale song and Jim joins the girls on the track, and a version of Que Sera, Sera, included, apparently because their grandfather Ronald Chase
used to sing with Doris Day. The radio mix tacked on to the end by the way merely changes one word .... on the ‘sanitised’ version the “it” is dropped from the end of “sh” - which presumably radio audiences somewhere might think implies silence rather than offence. The song in question, What It Takes To Break A Heart, is actually one of the best on the album with a strong country feel; both versions work, and personally I would have no qualms about playing the first cut. That strong country influence comes out to play again to good effect in Ruined and Conococheague.

We get off to a slowish start though with Runaway, a lyrically strong number and the first to be punctuated by “ooh-ooh’s” but I suppose if an act has two vocalists and one has no words to sing chucking in a
few “ooh’s” must be tempting.

Jim Lauderdale takes a share of the lead vocals on his own composition What You Don’t Know adding a depth and variety missing from several of the other tracks. Under this catch-all banner of Americana we do get a strong folk influence especially in Never Roam Again, Poor Dear and Holy Unholy. I did like The World Knows Far Better and Oh He’ll Drown is a cracking good song (despite the “ooh’s”) which would have made a nice finish to the album. I’m not against the idea of paying homage to long lost family members in song but that determination to do so can override the logic of what does and doesn’t work. Perhaps in the USA there may be an element of Great American Songbook acceptability but on an Americana album over here it sits as naturally as singing Jolene on the terraces at Wember-lee,
Chris Smith - Country Music People (Chris Smith)

"Honky Tonk angels sing spellbinding folk"

The Hello Strangers will release their self-titled debut album
on Oct. 21. No doubt their clever songwriting and spellbinding
harmonies will cause a stir.
The duo were born 2006 out of the Austin, Texas music scene
when Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace wrote their first
song together, “Pregnant in Jail.”
Holed up in a little cottage off South Congress Ave., they got
knee-deep into their craft. Their name is a nod to the Carter
Family and inspired by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman.
“We thought it was such a fun, folksy saying that seemed to
capture the spirit and essence of our music,” Larissa said.
These sisters would eventually pack up their lives, dogs,
Larissa’s husband and head back to their two-stop light town in
On the road they are backed by Spencer Pheil, lead guitar;
Trent Renshaw, drums and Tom Hoy, bass.
This a great folksy CD which deserves a shot.
“Our new album is #23 on the AMA Americana chart and #23
on the Alternate Root chart, and hopefully climbing! We'll keep
our fingers crossed and be thankful for what lies ahead!,” Larissa
said. - Lee County Courier (Jim Clark)

"Listening Room"

Also Out: Amaranthe, “Massive Addictive” (Spinefarm); Billy Boy Arnold, “The Blues Soul of Billy Boy Arnold” (Stony Plain); Rory Block, “Hard Luck Child” (Stony Plain); The Blues Magoos, “Psychedelic Resurrection” (Kayos); Andrea Bocelli, “Opera” (Decca/Sugar); Boyz II Men, “Collide” (BMG); Eliot Bronson, “Eliot Bronson” (Saturn 5); Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls, “Soul Brothers” (Catfood); Cold War Kids, “Hold My Home” (Downtown); Brad Colerick, “Tucson” (Back 9); Dennis DeYoung, “Dennis DeYoung and the Music of Styx Live in Los Angeles” (Frontiers); D. Edward, “Love Is” (10th & Clay); Elliott Brood, “Work and Love” (Paper Bag); Derek Fawcett, “Feels Better” (self-released); The Hello Strangers, “The Hello Strangers” (IMI); Ben Howard, “I Forget Where We Are” (Island); Jukebox The Ghost, “Jukebox The Ghost” (Yep Roc); Steed Kettles and Jeff Eno, “The Jake Leg Chronicles” (Indian Proud); Kindness, “Otherness” (Mom+Pop); Simo Lagnawi, “The Gnaws Berber” (Riverboat); Annie Lennox, “Nostalgia” (Blue Note); Little Big Town, “Pain Killer” (Capitol Nashville); Mark Lanegan Band, “Phantom Radio” (Vagrant); Primus, “Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble” (Prawn Song/ATO); Marlene Ver Planck, “I Give Up, I’m in Love” (Audiophile); Jessie Ware, “Tough Love” (PMR) - The Oakland Press (Gary Graff)


THE HELLO STRANGERS, The Hello Strangers (IMI): 3½ stars
Pennsylvania-based sisters Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith call their music “Original Pennsyltucky Fried Sister Folk,” an apt description of this solid, harmony-laden album, which twines classic country style (think Patsy Cline and Kitty Wells) with contemporary songwriter sensibilities (a la Shawn Colvin and Mindy Smith). They augment their songs with a haunting rendition of Jim Lauderdale’s “What You Don’t Know,” with Lauderdale himself joining the gospel-tinged harmonies, and a sweetly nostalgic stroll through the Doris Day hit “Que Sera, Sera.” - Pasadena Weekly (Bliss)

"Frederick News-Post's Album Review"

Actually, purity is a pretty prevalent piece of both The Hello Strangers as a band and The Hello Strangers as an album. No matter what they do, you believe them, and no matter how vengeful some of their words are, you support them. Maybe it’s the harmonies. Or maybe it’s the writing. Or maybe it’s the beauty in voice. Or maybe it’s the raw talent. Or maybe it’s all of that stuff combining to make one big pot of greatness - Colin McGuire, FREDERICK NEWS-POST

"Winnipeg Free Press Music"

'Pain Killer' by Little Big Town among new CD releases for the week of Oct. 21
Here's a list of some new CD releases for the week of Oct. 21:
Apollonia _ "Tour a Tour"
Tony Allen _ "Film of Life"
Blackjack Billy _ "Rebel Child"
The Blind Boys of Alabama & Taj Mahal _ "Talkin' Christmas!"
Rory Block _ "Hard Luck Child: A Tribute to Skip James"
Weyes Blood _ "The Innocents"
Andre Bocelli _ "Opera: The Ultimate Collection"
Liona Boyd _ "A Winter Fantasy"
Susan Boyle _ "Hope"
Boyz II Men _ "Collide"
Eliot Bronson _ "Eliot Bronson"
Elliott Brood _ "Work and Love"
The Budos Band _ "Burnt Offering"
Bush _ "Man on the Run" (Deluxe Edition)
Gary Calamar _ "You Are What You Listen To"
Caught on Tape _ "Full Bleed"
Wyatt Cenac _ "Brooklyn"
Cold War Kids _ "Hold My Home"
Cooly G _ "Wait 'Til Night"
Alice Cooper _ "Raise the Dead: Live From Wacken"
The Coral _ "The Curse of Love"
Neil Diamond _ "Melody Road"
Doc Walker _ "The 8th"
Doomsday Student _ "A Walk Through Hysteria Park"
Dorian Concept _ "Joined Ends"
Baxter Dury _ "It's a Pleasure"
Earth, Wind and Fire _ "Holiday"
Foo Fighters _ "Sonic Highways"
Aretha Franklin _ "Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics"
Rory Gallagher _ "Irish Tour '74" (Bonus Tracks)
Jenn Grant _ "Compostela"
Laura Hackett _ "Love Will Have Its Day"
The Hello Strangers _ "The Hello Strangers"
Hey Rosetta! _ "Second Sight"
Horse Feathers _ "So It Is With Us"
Ben Howard _ "I Forget Where We Were"
Ian Hunter _ "All American Alien Boy" (Re-issue)
Billy Idol _ "Kings & Queens of the Underground"
Jeff the Brotherhood _ "Dig the Classics" (EP)
Judge Dread _ "Dreadmania: It's All in the Mind"
Jukebox the Ghost _ "Jukebox the Ghost"
Kiesza _ "Sound of a Woman"
KJ-52 _ "Mental"
Mark Lanegan Band _ "Phantom Radio"
Jacquie Lee _ "Broken Ones"
Annie Lennox _ "Nostalgia" (U.S. release; worldwide on Oct. 27)
Little Big Town _ "Pain Killer"
Logic _ "Under Pressure"
Carol McCartney _ "Be Cool"
Dan Mintz _ "The Stranger"
Thurston Moore _ "The Best Day"
Oh Susanna _ "Namedropper"
Planetshakers _ "This is Our Time"
Primus with the Fungi Ensemble_ "Primus & The Chocolate Factory"
Sterling Roswell _ "The Call of the Cosmos"
Set It Off _ "Duality"
Sleater-Kinney _ "Start Together"
Slipknot _ ".5: The Gray Chapter"
Martin Smith _ "Back to the Start"
Andrew St. James _ "The Shakes"
Larry Stephenson _ "Pull Your Savior In"
T.I. _ "Paperwork"
Transit _ "Joyride"
Roch Voisine _ "Movin' on Maybe"
Jessie Ware _ "Tough Love"
Wrekmeister Harmonies _ "Then It All Came Down/You've Always Meant So Much to Me" - The Canadian Press

"Boo!-tiful music"

'The Hello Strangers,' The Hello Strangers (IMI Records, HHHH)

This Oct. 21 CD is the debut album from sisters Brechen Chace (lead/backing vocals, accordion, harmonica and vibra-slap) and Larissa Chace-Smith (lead/backing vocals and acoustic guitar), who come from a musical family. It was produced by Steve Ivey, who adds numerous instruments (along with drummer Tommy Harden and other players). The sisters' grandfather sang with Doris Day in the 1940s.The album features 11 originals and two covers, including Day's immortal "Que Sera Sera."

My current favorites include sparkling sibling harmonies throughout, the traditional-sounding "Ruined," the regretful-sounding "Holy Unholy," an Everly-flavored "The World Knows Far Better" and the slightly slowed-down Doris Day cover.

Folks who enjoy great harmony vocals and old-fashioned country music will dig The Hello Strangers.

Read more here: - Sun Herald (Ricky Flake)

"Music for Autumn: A Season of Telling Stories"

The Hello Strangers, who are sisters Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith, bring country, folk, and Americana storytelling to their songs, songs which seem to fit in well with the gathering that autumn brings. After spending time in the thriving music scene of Austin, Texas, the sisters brought their music back to what they describe as their Pennsytucky roots. Their self-titled album includes love songs, story songs, and the rather appropriate for Halloween tale they tell in Conococheaague. All this shows the sisters’ song writing skills to be as accomplished as their harmonies. Other musicians who sit in include names that may be familiar, including Jim Lauderdale on vocals, Wanda Vick on viola, and Steve Ivey on a range of instruments, from keyboards to mandolin. - See more at: - Wandering Educators (Kerry Dexter)

"The Hello Strangers Introduced Today"


“smart songwriting and memorable melodies — not to mention the undeniable sibling harmonies.” (Craig Shelburne/CMT Edge)

“spellbinding harmony…This album is just brilliant…and deserves to be heard-and heard often…Listen and see if you don’t agree!.”
(Chuck Dauphin//Billboard-Music News Nashville)

IMI Records proudly announces the release of THE HELLO STRANGERS’ (featuring sisters LARISSA CHACE SMITH and BRECHYN CHACE) self-titled debut album on OCTOBER 21, 2014.

“The Hello Strangers demonstrate the kind of credence that only happens when worldly experience is paired with shattered sentiment. Country credence is assured, and with it, a very promising future indeed.” – (Lee Zimmerman/No Depression)

Produced by multi-award winning (Grammy, Emmy, Dove, Tele) Steve Ivey and recorded at IMI Studio (the Sound Kitchen) in Franklin, TN, the album features 11 originals and 2 covers, including “What You Don’t Know” — written by, and featuring on vocals, Jim Lauderdale (co-written with John Leventhal), and “Que Sera, Sera”, an homage to their grandfather, Ronald Chace, who sang with Doris Day in the early ’40s. Joining Brechyn Chace (lead and backup vocals, accordion on “Poor Dear,” vibraslap on “Conococheague,” harmonica on “The World Knows Far Better) and Larissa Chace Smith (lead and backup vocals, acoustic guitar) in the studio are Spencer Pheil (electric guitar), Steve Ivey (electric guitar, keyboards, piano, percussion, bass guitar, dobro, bouzouki, mandolin, back up vocals), Kerry Marx (electric guitars), Tommy Harden (drums and percussion), Eddie Dunlap (pedal steel), Wanda Vick (viola), Catherine Marx (keyboards & accordion), Jim Lauderdale (lead and background vocal on “What You Don’t Know”), Cissy Crutcher (background vocal on “What You Don’t Know”), and Ethan Nichols, Cody Blonder, Dave Dinsmore, Sparky Jones (bar background vocals).

The Hello Strangers were born out of the Austin, TX music scene in 2006 when Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace wrote their first song together, entitled “Pregnant in Jail.” Based on true events, it was a preamble to a string of original tunes the pair crafted in a little cottage off South Congress Avenue. [The name is both a nod to the Carter Family and inspired by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, from their album "Not For Kids Only". On the album they perform a version of "Arkansas Traveler", and between verses do a repartee where they repeat "Hello, Stranger" between punchlines. "We thought it was such a fun, folksy saying that seemed to capture the spirit and essence of our music."] Soon, however, the mountains of Pennsylvania beckoned the sisters back north, and so they packed up their lives, dogs, Larissa’s husband and returned to their two-stoplight hometown.

The move has since proved to be a boon for the duo. The Chace sisters have created a catalogue of original music with nods to American folk traditions, modern indie rock, Texas Country-folk, and roots rock, all tied together with lilting harmonies that only siblings can create. Timeless imagery and fables are at the core of each song, from tales of a boggy creek bottom where a murdered man sleeps, to a Texas roadhouse with bawdy dancers and clinking beer bottles, to more poignant reflections on the loss of winter or a man gone wrong. In 2012, Larissa and Brechyn won AirPlay Direct’s “Win An Americana Record Deal” contest, giving them the opportunity to work with Steve Ivey of IMI, and a host of other talented industry professionals, on their 2014 album.

On the road, the sisters are backed by a dynamic and talented trio: Spencer Pheil on lead guitar, Trent Renshaw on drums, and Tom Hoy on bass.

SAT., OCT. 25 Millheim, PA Elk Creek Cafe
SUN., OCT. 26 Mercersburg, PA Whitetail Ski Resort Outdoor Festival
SAT., NOV. 8 Shippensburg, PA The Thought Lot
FRI., NOV. 14 Baltimore, MD The Creative Alliance at the Patterson Theater
SAT., NOV. 15 Chambersburg, PA The Stube at Roy Pitz Brewing Co.
TUES., DEC. 9 New York, NY Rockwood Music Hall “On Your Radar”
SAT., DEC. 13 Gettysburg, PA The Garryowen Irish Pub
THURS., DEC. 18 Wilmington, DE World Cafe Live at The Queen
WEDS., DEC. 31 Alexandria, VA The Birchmere (with The Seldom Scene, Bumper Jacksons) - Trafficbeat (Mike Ragogna)

"The Hello Strangers: Singing Sisters Play Harmonious Americana"

Mercersburg-based Chace sisters tap their time in Austin as the harmonious, Americana-leaning rock band, The Hello Strangers

While attending the University of Texas, Larissa Chace Smith called her younger sister, Brechyn Chace, and urged her to move to Austin.

The siblings grew up in the quiet town of Mercersburg, more than 1,500 miles from the country-fried honky-tonks of the Live Music Capital of the World. But their band, The Hello Strangers, owes plenty to both locations.

Once Brechyn moved to Austin in the mid-2000s, the sisters began performing together. Their first songwriting credit came with the tune “Pregnant in Jail” – a true story based on a friend who had been behind bars a few months into her pregnancy. The Chace sisters gigged for awhile as a duo, taking in all that Austin’s thriving music scene had to offer. By 2008, though, they experienced a bout of homesickness and decided to head back north.

The Hello Strangers may have been born within the bustling Austin music scene, but the band was nurtured right here in the Keystone State.

“There were definitely things we gave up for moving away,” Larissa says about leaving Austin. “Just being constantly immersed in that great, great scene. Whenever I go back, I always have this weird feeling of like, ‘Aw, we should move back to Austin.’ Then reality hits, and I think, ‘No, we like what we’re doing, and we made the choice we did.’”

Larissa, who’s six years older than Brechyn, started playing guitar around the age of 12. The sisters grew up in a musical family, so their unofficial partnership began by performing in front of relatives. By the time they decided to pursue a career together, they already had built a solid foundation as a duo.

The sisterly bond turned out to be a positive for The Hello Strangers. There are no juicy stories of Oasis proportions, and the sisters haven’t sworn off working together like Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks.

“We’re luckily very different and don’t have the same personality, and I think maybe that works in our favor,” Larissa says. “I’m good at making decisions and moving forward with things, and Brechyn’s really good at keeping a cool head and letting things roll off her back.

“We balance each other out, and I feel like we disagree very infrequently. There’s just no reason to be fighting with each other when you have this responsibility to your other band members. Emotions come up and things happen. You have to put out fires sometimes. But luckily, we don’t have to do it much at all.”

Once Larissa and Brechyn returned to Pennsylvania, they recruited a few more musicians and formed a band. Six years after starting The Hello Strangers, Larissa, Brechyn and the rest of the group scored a record deal by winning an AirPlay Direct contest for Americana artists. The competition was right in their wheelhouse.

The record deal resulted in the band’s self-titled debut, which dropped in October. The 13-track album pays tribute to the group’s origins in Austin – the folksy, roots-rock blend is rounded out with a hint of country and carried by the harmonies of two sisters working as one vocalist. The scenes around their hometown near the battlefields of Gettysburg helped inform the album’s lyrics.

Larissa points out that the “spooky murder ballad” titled “Conococheague” is named after the creek that runs near her home. And “Caribou” was inspired by dark winter imagery that Pennsylvanians know all too well.

“Oh, cold wind/Will I never see your darkest days again?” the sisters sing on the track. “Will I never hear your silent nights again?/In your gloom I watch my life unfold/I see my courage in your quiet streams/And all the beauty in your deepest snow.”

The two cover songs that appear on the album also carry great significance for the sisters. First, there’s “Que Sera, Sera,” which Doris Day made popular in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. It serves as homage to their grandfather, Ronald Chace, who performed with Day when she was a teenager.

Then there’s “What You Don’t Know.” Jim Lauderdale originally performed the tune, and he’s a big deal in today’s Americana scene. He’s recorded nearly 30 albums since 1991 and has earned the title of “the King of Broken Hearts.” Lauderdale joined the band for its cover of the song, adding his rich, deep vocals to Larissa and Brechyn’s crystalline harmonies.

“[Lauderdale’s] like the king of Americana,” Larissa says. “That was a really big deal for us. It’s a lot of pressure to take a song by someone who’s really well known and make it your own. He liked it, though.”

The Hello Strangers spent the second half of March in Austin, playing gigs around the unofficial South by Southwest circuit. They’ll hit New York and West Virginia this month, along with a handful of shows in their home state of Pennsylvania.

It’s almost as if Larissa and Brechyn are experiencing the best of both worlds at this point. They’re able to experience the seasons and be close to family for a majority of the year. Larissa and her husband, Ryan, can raise their son, Boone, away from the constant hustle of a major city.

But whenever the mood strikes, they can call up the band and hit the road for some gigs away from the cold temperatures, icy creeks and all the other Central PA imagery that inspires melodic ballads about murder.

“Musicians are a strange breed,” Larissa says. “We’re doing all this because we love to play music. Some gigs pay more than others, but you deal with the ups and downs because you’re just compelled to play and write and share your music. It’s kind of an interesting identity.”

Catch The Hello Strangers at the Lagunitas Launch Party at Central Market York (34 W. Philadelphia St., York) tonight at 7pm. Event info here. The Chace sisters return to the region on April 26 to play the Abbey Bar at Appalachian Brewing Co. (50 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg) with The Stray Birds. 7pm. $10. 21+. Click here for tickets. - Fly Magazine (Shawn Christ)

"Roots Time - The Hello Strangers"

(Translated from Dutch)
Is music changed substantially? This question is often the subject of discussion and conversation but truth in a segment where personal taste and preference play a big role is not the easiest task. With the self-titled debut The Hello Strangers add something to the history of American roots music and development, and that in itself is a feat of musical greatness and intelligent creativity. This album, recorded in Nashville and produced by none other than Steve Ivey, known for his Grammy Award and work with Dolly Parton, Aaron Neville and Vince Gill, has all the makings of a disarming, very expertly cut diamond.

They call it "Austin-influenced, rural-Penssylvanian, Indie sister folk 'and basically it is all said there. The backbone of The Hello Strangers is formed by the heavenly vocal work of the sisters Chace, but is perfected in masterly fashion by the author capacities of the two, the equally of magisterial called production, the correct choice of good musicians and sophisticated elan the arrangements. The basis of the music for The Hello Strangers situated in the ancient folk tradition, but a dose of soul, honky tonk and indie pop added to subtly allowing the mixture almost naturally start to simmer and scalding.

The band was born in Austin, Texas, but in recent years the ladies back in their home state Pens Sylvania. The soil is placed there for this breathtaking adventure stories, myths and legends, embedded in a warm structure of timeless folk and contemporary roots. There is a fantastic remake and Jim Lauderdale on the ghostly What You Do not Know where the master in the background excels at first and then the roles are reversed and Lauderdale takes the lead in the vocals. The result is a song which is pleasant drowning in soothing darkness and spooky effects. The gas is thrown out in the country stomper What It Takes To Break A Heart, including a Loretta Lynn-like uitsmijtertje at the end and in the unadulterated, brutal Texas honky tonk of Ruined. The prairies and Old West can be heard in Oh He'll Drown in which the backbeat guides you to other times. Gallop The voices of the sisters Chace sound shocking beautiful in-built pop and soul roots sharpener Chances where the organ acts as the warm coat for the sweet, fragile vocals. A vocal highlight is listen to the sound coated with appalachian The World Knows Far Better which the harmonica the icy beautiful singing guides.

The album also contains a strong, wistful version of Que Sera, Sera. Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, but made famous by Doris Day. It is precisely this which Doris Day grandfather Ronald Chace furore in the 40s as a member of the Les Brown's Big Band, so this version is an impressive tribute to the roots of the pair. Melancholy and simultaneously longingly looking forward, that is precisely the creative dilemma that makes know The Hello Strangers differentiate themselves. There is a strong sounding traditional music view, but it is constantly refreshed by more modern musical ingredients and the fascinating mood of the album. Record this album as one of the biggest surprises of 2014 and is therefore no doubt play a prominent spot for The Hello Strangers in the beckoning year list.

Ferenc Koolen - Roots Time

"DEJA RE-VU Pop Culture Classics’ Recommended CDs, DVDs and Books"

Sisters Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace, with beautiful blood harmonies and finely honed country songs, make a marvelous eponymous debut. Their voices also work well in unison passages. Among their sparkling original numbers are “The World Knows Far Better,” “Holy Unholy,” “Never Roam Again” and the poignant “Runaway.” Only two covers are included. Jim Lauderdale guests on “What You Don’t Know,” which he co-wrote with John Leaventhal. The sisters also sing a stirring “Que Sera, Sera,” in honor of their grandfather, Ronald Chace, who sang with Doris Day in the 40s. The siblings are on their way to stardom of their own. Hello ladies! - Paul Freeman

"Music: Hello Strangers to perform twice in area"

The Hello Strangers, an Americana group fronted by sisters Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace, will make their way to the Midstate for performances in Shippensburg and Harrisburg. Known for their spellbinding harmonies and smart lyrics, the group performs music influenced by American folk traditions, modern indie rock, Texas country-folk, and roots rock.

The Hello Strangers will perform at the Thought Lot Contemporary Arts Center located at 37 E. Garfield St. in Shippensburg on Friday, April 24. They will follow special guest Savannah Valentino, who will begin the concert at 7 p.m. They will also play at the Abbey Bar at the Appalachian Brewing Company located at 50 N. Cameron St. in Harrisburg on Sunday, April 26. Doors open at 7 p.m.. and the show starts at 8 p.m. The Stray Birds will also be on the bill. Both concerts will have tickets at the door. To find out more visit

The Chace siblings grew up in Pennsylvania, but moved to Austin, Texas where they began writing music together. While in Austin they performed as a duo, but after moving back to Pennsylvania to be closer to family and friends, they expanded into a five-piece unit. The band now includes Spencer Pheil on lead guitar, Trent Renshaw on drums, and Tom Hoy on bass.

“My sister and I write most of the music that we perform in concert,” said Larissa Chace Smith, the older of the two siblings. “We write a lot of storytelling type songs. Most of the songs are based on tales we’ve heard or that we’ve dreamed up ourselves. We’ve even been known to write a murder ballad or two!”

The Hello Strangers most recent official video features the group playing the song “Que Sera, Sera”, a hit made famous by Doris Day in 1956. “My grandfather sang with Doris Day and played trombone in Les Brown’s Big Band during the 1940s,” Smith said. “We wanted to pay homage to him and to also recognize Doris day’s 91st birthday, which was earlier this month.”

This tastefully filmed video features retrospective footage of the siblings growing up in rural Pennsylvania, stills of their grandfather and modern-day shots of the two women.

“We are very proud of him and all that he accomplished,” Smith said. “He’s been an inspiration to us.”

The sisters decided on the name for the group after listening to an old Carter Family song of the same name.

“We just liked the way it sounded,” Smith said. “It’s kind of folksy and friendly.”

The Hello Strangers have a self-titled CD to their credit which was recorded at IMI Records in Nashville, Tennessee. The album features 11 originals and two covers, including fan favorites such as “What it Takes to Break a Heart,” “Runaway” and the song “Ruined,” which has gotten airplay on SiriusXM Radio.

“Audiences will find a lot of variety in the songs that we play,” Smith said. “Some are upbeat, some more poignant and sentimental.”

She said that people can expect a really dynamic show with a lot of humor. “All in all the sibling thing is really what defines us.”
Jess Hayden is the executive director of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and a clarinetist with the West Shore Symphony Orchestra. She enjoys writing about all styles of music. Reach her at - The Sentinel (Jess Hayden)

"John Platt"

"I confess I'm partial to sister acts, but these women have got the goods - songs with some bite to go along with those country harmonies." - WFUV

"Folk Roots Radio, Ontario, Canada"

Every now and again I get sent an album that you want to tell the world about. - That would be the self-titled debut by The Hello Strangers. Check it out. You'll not be disappointed.
Jan Hall, Folk Roots Radio

The Hello Strangers make great roots music with incredible harmonies. I defy anyone to listen to them sing without getting goosebumps.These girls have 'it' in spades. Check them out.
Jan Hall, Folk Roots Radio

The Hello Strangers self-titled debut is an outrageously good album. Required listening for serious folk and roots aficionados.
Jan Hall, Folk Roots Radio - Jan Hall (DJ)

"WEAG Radio Station, Starke, FL"

The Hello Strangers have received a lot of requests and great feedback from the listeners. We give them 21 spins each week. They have a great sound. I like them a lot. - George Scavola, DJ

"KCCT – AM Radio Station, Corpus Christi, TX"

The Hello Strangers have a beautiful sound. There’s just something about siblings—their voices mix really well. Not only do The Hello Strangers sing so nicely, they make my station sound great! - Manuel Davila, DJ

"Rotation 11's Album Review"

The Hello Strangers (ST) 2014
Staff Rating: Crank this to 7.5 of 11
Genre: Country, Contemporary folk
Sounds Like: The Honeycutters, Dixie Chicks, The Indigo Girls
Country music is a style of folk music, as is blues, bluegrass, and Celtic. Much of the contemporary country coming out over the last decade has been infused with more pop than folk. Country has taken on the flavor of more commercial pop corporate America. Modern country essentially came off the evolution of the Nashville scene building upon rock and pop electric and repetitive hooks, while folk for the most part stayed the path of social conscience and grass roots rudimentary instruments. Every now and then a country act pops up sparking our interest to put in heavy rotation. The Hello Strangers hailing from Pennsylvania have done just that. While the backbone of their sound may of the country flavor, they do an excellent job of blending in folk.

The band's latest self-titled set is anchored by Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace. The two sisters have a very warm and inviting sound and do not disappoint in the harmony department. To be frank, the first track, 'Runaway' really roped us in here. One of the top tracks on the album with its melancholy acoustic intro reminding us of a Ray Lamontagne track. The next track, 'What it takes to break a heart' is a quintessential country mainstream tune with its repetitive melody. Pound for pound taken against any other pop country tune, they do a very nice job. Its not easy to keep our attention when carrying out this pre-packaged formula. The next track 'What You Don't Know' is a cover song and terrific cut featuring the original performer Jim Lauderdale's vocals midway through. His deeper voice works very well and the song has some very dark undertones that we enjoy. After just four tracks, you really get a sense for the diversity of music the Hello Strangers bring to the table. Slide guitar, acoustic, violin, piano, are all rolled out. Witty lyrics continue to unfold as you delve further into the album. The album also features a second cover song in 'Que Sera, Sera' apparently an homage to Ronald Chase, their grandfather, who sang with Doris Day. On “Chances,” the harmonies really hit their stride. This is another very strong track that really keeps the listener engaged. The production and crisp sound on this track are tremendous.

Overall the musicianship and chemistry amongst band members is very strong. While the spotlight is on the two sisters, there is a tremendous wealth of additional musicians:

Spencer Pheil - electric guitar
Steve Ivey - electric guitar, keyboards, piano, percussion, bass guitar, dobro, bouzouki, mandolin, back up vocals
Kerry Marx - electric guitars
Tommy Harden - drums and percussion
Eddie Dunlap - pedal steel
Wanda Vick - viola
Catherine Marx - keyboards & accordion
Cissy Crutcher - background vocal on “What You Don't Know”
Jim Lauderdale - lead and background vocal on "What You Don't Know"
Bar Background vocals - Ethan Nichols, Cody Blonder, Dave Dinsmore
Sparky Jones - Mixing keygrip

The Hello Strangers have created a nice eclectic mix of songs with a clear affinity towards the folk traditions, modern indie rock , and of course rooted in Texas country-folk. Their use of imagery and storytelling is refreshing. Themes such as tales from boggy creek, to murder, to bar room chicanery make for a varied experience.

We do not think it will take much for the Hello Strangers to catch some momentum and gain some mainstream popularity. Their very polished website and splashes of media/PR efforts will play well in keeping this momentum. It also does not hurt that the two are quite attractive and pleasing to the eye. While we are the first to admit that country music may not be in our wheelhouse, we can tell you that this is a very good album. One that has gained heavy rotation and will be a "go to" album whenever we do crave that country vibe. - 11/3/2014

1- Runaway
2- What It Takes to Break A Heart
3- What You Don't Know
4- Never Roam Again
5- Ruined
6- Chances
7- Conococheague
8- Holy Unholy
9- Caribou
10- Poor Dear
11- The World Knows Far Better Than Me
12- Oh He'll Drown
13- Que, Sera, Sera

Standout Tracks: Chances, You Don't Know - Rotation 11

"The Hello Strangers"

Hailing from Pennsylvania is a great female duo!

” The Hello Strangers” with their beautiful voices have just released this new album!

Enjoy! - We Do It For The Love Of Music

"To Americana Festival performers, we ask ... 'What is Americana music?'"

By Michael Scott Cain Special to the News-Post | 2 comments
What do Alison Kraus, Mumford and Sons, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Roseanne Cash, Muddy Waters and Bonnie Raitt all have in common?
They’ve all been categorized as Americana musicians.
If all of these artists — American, Irish and British, folkies, rockers, country and bluegrass players — can fall into the same category, then maybe it’s time to ask exactly what Americana music is. With the second Americana Festival coming to the Weinberg Center on Friday and Saturday, the question seems appropriate.
To move toward an answer, we search the Americana Music Association’s website, which takes us back to 1995 in Gilroy, California, when KFAT was operating. That station had the widest playlist in the country and when it went off the air, music professional Rob Bleetstein convinced the radio trade journal The Gavin Report that the publication had overlooked a major category of music. Bleetstein dubbed this overlooked category Americana. Gavin bought his case and hired him to edit the Americana charts for the Report. Bleetstein not only created the charts, he convinced radio stations to begin programming the format.
How did Bleetstein characterize Americana music? Born out of triple A (adult album alternative), free-form and country formats, Americana is defined by the Americana Music Association (which Bleetstein helped found) on its website as “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it might draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also uses a full electric band.”
His is a definition that draws on many sources and goes in many directions. Rather than contract, like most genres do, Americana expands the types of music it includes, thereby leading to fierce debates about exactly what it is and isn’t. According to, what constitutes Americana music is debated at length among fans, while arguing about what is or is not Americana “has become a tradition among Americana critics.”
Ian Holljes, whose band Delta Rae headlines the Saturday night show at the Weinberg festival and is solidly considered an Americana band, says being in the category is a thing the band struggles with. “Americana is a legitimate category,” he says, “but questioning Americana immediately creates the question of genre in general.
“We’re a band that loves all kinds of music,” he continued. “We draw on all kinds of music. We attended the Americana Festival in Nashville last year. It was beautiful, with all kinds of styles represented. It was frustrating for a band like ours, though, who don’t fit into a genre.”
So as large and wide as Americana’s tent is, it’s not wide enough for Delta Rae, who question the whole idea of genre.
Its leader says that what makes Delta Rae unique is not that it is an Americana band but that it’s a literary one. “I learned from Southern writers,” Holljes says. “Pat Conroy is a favorite, the early William Styron, some of Faulkner. That combination leads to the Southern tradition. It’s a tradition of beautiful, natural imagery, that what you are is a tradition, a holding onto the Southern tradition.”
Delta Rae’s folkier Saturday night supporting act, The Hello Strangers, are alert to the fact that Americana is often considered a synonym for folk music. Band member Larissa Chase Smith says, “There’s an emphasis on folk music but we aren’t just folk music. Lots of musicians extend the focus. Someone said Americana is people who can’t get played on the radio. Maybe they can no longer be played on corporate commercial radio, but it plays on radio. There are a lot of stations with an Americana format.”
What Americana really is, she says, is a club, a grouping of like-minded musicians. “As much as anything else, it’s an association. Americana is people you want to be associated with. It’s a genre and it’s also people we want to associate ourselves with. It’s a label that gives us a collection of artists to group ourselves with.”
To join the club, you don’t have to be centered in folk music. “It’s a roots thing,” Larissa says. “You recognize Americana by the fact that it is roots music. When Bob Seger sings, you feel the roots. It’s so down home, makes people feel. And John Hiatt? Classical roots musician. He makes you feel things.”
So there are two bands playing the Americana Festival that recognize the legitimacy of the genre. One of them, though, doesn’t want to be put in the category, and the other values it primarily for nonmusical reasons.
For Nora Jane Struthers, who plays Friday’s bill, Americana offers a home to people who blur the line between genres. “I make music that isn’t country enough to be country or folky enough to be folk. Americana gives me a format. It’s a line-blowing genre. We have an electric guitar and a clawhammer banjo in the band. That’s Americana.”
Trent Wagler, spokesman for Friday headliners The Steel Wheels, sees Americana as both a genre and a movement. “It’s an attempt to take back the heart of pop music,” he says. “Commercial pop is about the bottom line. Americana is not about the bottom line. At its best, it’s about the heart and soul of what a band can do. It takes the emphasis off the money and puts it back on the music.”
Is it wide open, hard to pin down? For Wagler, that’s one of genre’s strengths. “If I say I’m going to an Americana show, am I going to hear a string band or an electric band? As hard as it can be to pin down, I’m excited about hearing Willie Nelson, who isn’t quite country enough, who plays standards, jazz, blues, everything. Johnny Cash, who started out as country and moved on from there, excites me also, especially as his music gets more complex and stripped down. As a performer, I want to be able to draw from The Band; I want to pull from the best of Steve Earle. ... I love Americana both from a player and an audience standpoint. I love going to a festival and seeing a string band and then a telecaster master, all kinds of music.”
To paraphrase Robert Frost defining poetry, maybe the best definition of the genre is this: Americana music is the type of music that Americana musicians play. - The Frederick News-Post

"Getting familiar with the The Hello Strangers"

Sisters Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace have a harmony that extends beyond their vocals in the group The Hello Strangers.

The two grew up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania with their parents and two siblings, the area where they still live today.

"We grew up singing together informally as sisters," says Smith. "Doing the dishes, singing songs, putting on plays in the living room, but this (The Hello Strangers) is our first time doing something formalized and legitimate."

Smith performed in her elementary school orchestra and took piano lessons. She loved classical music, but also paid attention to her father's love of jazz.

"Thelonious Monk, Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald ... Those were common in our household."

Smith inherited her grandfather's guitar and learned how to play it.

"As soon as I started on the guitar that's all I wanted to do," she says.

In a short time she was also writing songs and paying more attention to popular music. However, it wasn't until many years later that she heard the style that would inform The Hello Strangers.

Smith and her husband moved to Austin in 2003 to attend college, with Smith enrolling at the University of Texas for graduate studies in ethnomusicology. Chace, who is six years younger than Smith, followed her sister to Austin a year later.

"We had never really been exposed to classic country, Texas country folk, balladeers," says Smith. "It was in our face all the time down there and we just fell in love with it."

The two started writing songs in that style and it stuck. The Hello Strangers officially began in 2006, but the sisters didn't actually perform a paying gig until after all three moved back to Mercersberg, Pa. It seems a little backward to leave one of the centers of independent music to start a career.

"It's when we moved back to Pennsylvania that things started happening for us."

Smith says a real highlight was performing at the legendary Birchmere concert venue in Alexandria, Va., on New Year's Eve, 2014.

"We opened for the Seldom Scene and the Bumper Jacksons," says Smith. "We'd been working so hard to get into better venues. It was our first moment to say, ‘Thank you, for giving us our chance. We knew could do it!' It was just the most magical night."

Smith says the night really inspired the group to continue moving forward. The band has a stable and dedicated lineup. In addition, the group's self-titled album, which includes a guest appearance by Jim Lauderdale, has been a great calling card for the band.

Smith and her husband have a 3-year-old son, which makes having a touring career challenging.

"We're big on our family lives up here in Pennsylvania, but our goal is to create a sustainable career where we can have our family lives, too. That's one of the good things about the music business today. It's so DIY now that you can kind of create the kind of career you want."

Hello Strangers

With: Denton Loving

When: 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26

Where: Tennessee Shines, Knoxville Visitor Center, 301 S. Gay St.

Tickets: $10, - Knoxville News Sentinel (Wayne Bledsoe)

"The Hello Strangers bring heartwarming tales of musical sisterhood to WDVX"

It wasn’t exactly a heartwarming story, but it did serve to propel the musical career of The Hello Strangers, the sister duo comprised of Brechyn Chace and her sister, Larissa Chace Smith.
“We were living in Austin (Texas), and a friend of mine was telling me a story about a friend of his who had some trouble and ended up being pregnant in jail,” Chace told The Daily Times this week. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s awful,’ but then a part of me was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s the perfect country song!’ We didn’t write it to downplay the trouble she was having, because being pregnant in jail was not awesome at all, but her name is Sunny Day, and so we played on that with the line, ‘These days ain’t sunny no more.’
“I wrote a couple of lines, then my friend who told me the story would shoot out a couple of lines, and then we brought it to my sister. It was more funny at first, but the more we sang it, we took it more seriously, because it’s actually a problem for many women. And when we let Sunny Day listen to it, she loved it and thought it was great, so we were glad about that.
“But it just one of those things where you write one line around what you think is a silly song, but then it becomes catchy and meaningful,” she added.
There’s certainly a playful side to the Hello Strangers, who perform Monday on WDVX-FM’s “Tennessee Shines” radio show. Much of that comes from the sort of closeness that sisters enjoy, even those separated by six years. The tight-knit Chace family, however, always ensured that the two girls and their other two siblings went into the world with good heads on their shoulders, as well as hearts full of music.
“Ever since I can remember, there was always music playing in our house,” she said. “We grew up more on the jazz and classical sides of things; our dad is a jazz pianist, and our grandfathers were both jazz musicians, so that was strong in the household. We would always put on records and tapes and dance and sing in the living room, and we’d put on stupid plays for our parents and make them sit there and watch. That was a huge part of our lives.”
Larissa picked up the guitar as a teen and went to school to study music; Brechyn was inspired by that, and when the two found themselves in Austin at the same time, two things happened: They started to write songs together, and they began to soak up the roots-oriented Austin music scene.
“We became wrapped in a totally different genre, and we fell in love with that scene,” Chace said. “We were just very inspired, and that’s the style we chose to start writing. Going back and listening to more of the storytelling side of it, that’s what we like to do.”
Band like the Fabulous Ginn Sisters provided a jumping-off point, and the eclectic nature of the music they began to make, as well as the sisterly harmonies and the songwriting made stronger by two sets of ideas, encouraged them to keep going. They eventually moved back home to Pennsylvania and won a contest from AirPlay Direct that allowed them made their first full-length album, released last year, with Steve Ivey of IMI. The self-titled effort is 11 songs of winsome tales, uneasy feelings and playful longing; it’s the sound of a barefoot walk along a creek at sunset, and the sisters’ vocals channel everything from the small-town childhoods they experienced to the eclectic nature of their Austin origins.
“I think a lot of our success is due to our songwriting and the storytelling that we do,” Chace said. “We just happened to be living in Austin together, and I saw the potential in what she could do and vice-versa. We knew something was there, but we knew we had to take it seriously and work together to take it to the next level.
“Luckily, I think we both have a good head on our shoulders, because the most important thing is our relationship as siblings and family members. Being in a band definitely has brought us closer, because it allows you to grow together in a way you don’t with other people. And the same goes with the other band members: With them and with each other, we’re in a family two times together.” - The Daily Times (Knoxville, Steve Wildsmith)

"Nippertown's Review of The Hello Stranger's Performance at the Linda"

Straight outta Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, the Hello Strangers rode into Nippertown last month for their Albany debut at The Linda. Following a smart opening set by Rebel Darling, the sisters Brechyn Chace (vocals, tambourine, harmonica, accordion) and Larissa Chace Smith (vocals, guitar) stepped up to the microphone and led their band through a twang-filled set of “bona fide Americana,” as they call it. From heartbreaking tear-in-your-beer ballads to rousing roadhouse honky tonkin’, the gals wove their sublime sibling harmonies into a web that entranced the crowd from start to finish. - See more at: - Nippertown

"Hello Strangers at The Linda"

There are harmonies, and then there are sibling harmonies.

The sister duo The Hello Strangers say they got their name partially from a one-off album by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, called "Not For Kids Only." On it, there is a version of "Arkansas Traveler," and the between-verses repartee includes "Hello, stranger" repeated between punchlines. Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace thought that the friendly, folksy feel to the song matched their style of music.

Hatched in the Austin, Texas, music-scene incubator, The Hello Strangers have recently moved back to their hometown in Pennsylvania, where the sisters have created a catalogue of original music with nods to American folk traditions, modern indie rock, Texas country-folk, and roots rock, all tied together with the blending of their voices.

The subject matter of the Strangers' material veers from a murdered man at the bottom of a creek to ruminations on the changing seasons. In 2012, Larissa and Brechyn won AirPlay Direct's "Win An Americana Record Deal" contest, giving them the opportunity to work with many talented industry professionals, on their 2014 album.

On the road, the sisters are backed by a dynamic and talented trio: Spencer Pheil on lead guitar, Trent Renshaw on drums and Tom Hoy on bass.

To hear The Hello Strangers, go to

— Gary Hahn

8 p.m. Friday, The Linda WAMC's Performing Arts Studio, 339 Central Ave., Albany.

To hear Hello Strangers, go to - Albany Times-Union (Gary Hahn)

"The Thought Lot will celebrate grand re-opening with local music and art"

SHIPPENSBURG >> If you haven't pondered visiting The Thought Lot lately, you might want to jot down this date — November 8. That's when organizers will host a grand re-opening, and everyone can look forward to a rocking good time.

The once-abandoned warehouse-turned-contemporary-arts-center, located in the heart of Shippensburg at 37 E. Garfield St., has undergone an upgrade in recent months. Thanks to the efforts of Michael Nawa and CeCe Serino, who formed "37 East Management," some much-needed changes have been made.

The pair tended to roof leaks, updated the electrical system, installed café seating, enlarged the stage and improved the sound system, as well as general maintenance. "We're handling the basic fundamentals of maintaining the 10,000 square-foot building. I brought in a floor scrubber and we clean several hours a week. We've dramatically improved the spaces that are now for rent," said Nawa, who became involved with the project after his daughter had a birthday party there. "She enjoyed the space," he said.

The Thought Lot holds a variety of studio spaces that artists can rent to use as work areas. Today, about half the spaces are rented out and seven are available. "We anticipate customizing more spaces in the future and envision the center eventually becoming self-sustaining. The concept is based on the Torpedo Factory," Nawa said, referring to a repurposed space in Alexandria, Virginia that features 82 studios and six galleries and is home to the largest collection of publicly accessible working-artist studios in the United States.

Scott Hibbits, Newville, set up shop at The Thought Lot a little over a month ago. "When I decided to get back into the business after taking a decade-long break, I noticed this unique space. It's run by a nice group of people and is in a good location," he said.

Time to celebrate

Artists who will be sharing their work are Rebecca Myers, artist and educator; Steve Dolbin, sculptor and professor of art at Shippensburg University; Emily Fulker, SU student; Scott Hibbits, photographer; Kate Keeley, painter and instructor at SU; Hannah Kunce, painter; artists Beck Metzbower and Jill Claire Rakowicz; and Cookie Redding, professor of art at Frostburg University.

"Everyone in the community is excited for the grand re-opening of The Thought Lot, and I wanted to put together an exciting exhibit that encompasses the spirit of the arts in our community," Redding said.

The free event begins with a three-hour reception at 4 p.m., when guests can tour the facility and enjoy light refreshments. Bands will take the stage at 7 p.m., providing four hours of musical entertainment.

Kelly Spinner of 103.7 FM will emcee the celebration, which will feature the song stylings of The Hello Strangers, a sister duo from Mercersburg who will enchant the audience with their haunting harmonies and original songs.

Also on tap for the evening are the Pale Barn Ghosts, whose members hail from Hagerstown, Maryland, and Gettysburg. The group will entertain the crowd with their unique brand of music they've dubbed "cemetery folk."

Blues fans will be delighted to learn that the Gettysburg-based Nick Andrew Staver Trio is slated to take the stage as well.

Redding said she's excited to be a part of The Thought Lot revitalization and is hoping for a large turnout. "It's such a great space for the community to get together and become involved in the arts," she said.

For more information on The Thought Lot, visit their website at - Flip Side PA (Stephanie Kalina Metzger)

"Runaway. The Hello Strangers."

Aquí os traemos a una banda capaz de combinar magistralmente lo clásico y lo moderno, algo que muchos intentan pero que solo unos pocos son capaces de llevar a cabo. Estas dos hermanas, Larissa y Brechyn Chace Smith, son el alma y el corazón de The Hello Strangers, y además suyas son unas magníficas armonías que ponen al servicio de lo más importante, unas composiciones sólidas, bellas y originales.

El grupo empezó en la escena musical de Austin, Texas, en 2006, cuando las hermanas escribieron su primera canción juntas: “Pregnant In Jail”. Este tema, basado en hechos reales, fue el preámbulo de una serie de composiciones originales que la pareja elaboró en una pequeña cabaña de South Congress Avenue, un lugar conocido en Austin por su ambiente bohemio. Pero pronto echaron de menos la tranquilidad de su hogar y regresaron a su pequeña ciudad natal, Mercersburg, en Pensilvania.

Esa vuelta a casa destapó un momento muy creativo y las hermanas crearon un buen puñado de canciones con guiños a las tradiciones populares de América, al indie rock más actual, al country folk de Texas y a las raíces. Gracias a sus increíbles armonías vocales son capaces de crear imágenes intemporales y leyendas en cada canción, relatos de noches turbias, de bares de carretera, bailarinas de tugurio y botellas de cerveza que vuelan y se estrellan con estrépito en medio del alboroto. Pero también hay lugar para conmovedoras reflexiones sobre el invierno perdido, el dolor de la marcha, la ausencia del amor.

En 2012, las hermanas ganaron un concurso organizado por la plataforma musical AirPlay Direct, dándoles la oportunidad de trabajar con Steve Ivey, del sello IMI, así como una serie de importantes profesionales de la industria para grabar su álbum en 2014.

The Hello Strangers acaba de grabar su primer larga duración, un disco titulado como la banda y publicado con IMI Records, un sello de Nashville que ha conseguido numerosos premios, incluidos algún Grammy y algún Emmy. El álbum cuenta con once temas originales, compuestos por Larissa y Brechyn, y dos versiones, “What You Don´t Know” escrita por Jim Lauderdale; y “Qué Será, Será” un homenaje a su abuelo, Ronald Chace, que cantó con la mismísima Doris Day.

Las hermanas Chace hace tiempo que viajan acompañadas. The Hello Strangers se completa con un solvente y pleno de talento trío formado por Spencer Pheil en la guitarra, Trent Renshaw en la batería y Tom Hoy al bajo. El sonido es perfecto. Las canciones son, como ocurre con “Runaway”, absolutamente redondas y emocionantes. Las voces son embriagadoras. Hola chicas, bienvenidas. Y gracias por estar aquí.

I’m a runaway
I’m a kite strung out to its last two feet
I’m a fever, before the drugs set in, before relief begins
I’m a cliché
I’ve been beat like a horse but the race has just begun

I’m a loner
It can feel like a crowd when there’s no one else around
But if the mood is right I’ll be downtown tonight
I’m a roamer
To the beat of a drum I chase the setting sun

I’m a writer
I’m a lover
I procrastinate like no other
These hats I wear could fill a motel room
And no matter what I do
This never makes sense to you, it’s true
I’ll never make sense to you. - (Spain, Pacopepe Gil)

"With upcoming release of debut album, sister act The Hello Strangers wants to be known"

CLEAR SPRING — Larissa Chace Smith would like to assure everyone that she and her sister, Brechyn Chace, are actually happy people.
As the duo The Hello Strangers, their original Americana songs have a tendency to include such things as true-life stories about being pregnant in prison or a fictional account of murder on Conococheague Creek.
“We’re not really dark, morose people, we just have fun writing,” Larissa, 34, said during a telephone interview from her Mercersburg, Pa., home.
Those who want to see their more bubbly onstage personas can have the chance when the Mercersburg-based sisters perform with their band Friday at Knob Hall Winery in Clear Spring. The concert is part of the winery’s Wine Down Friday.
The Chace sisters come from a long line of musicality. Larissa said their parents are musical — dad is a jazz pianist; mom studied classical music in college. Their grandparents, particularly their grandfathers, were musical, one of whom performed with Doris Day.
“We just always had music on the radio and on the stereo, more the stereo,” Larissa said.
But the idea of them becoming a duo didn’t happen until years later when Larissa was living in Austin, Texas, and encouraged Brechyn to move to the town.
Larissa earned her undergraduate degree from Berklee College of Music with the idea of becoming a professional musician, but decided she wanted to follow a career path that was more music-research-based. While in Austin, she was pursing a master’s degree in ethnomusicology, studying Jamaican popular music.
But there was something about Austin that seemed to kick-start their musical DNA.
“That city is the live music capital of the world, so (music is) everywhere,” Brechyn, 28, said during a telephone interview from her Fayetteville, Pa., home. “ ... It was really inspiring down there to really take the music that had been passed down to us a little more seriously.”
At the time, Larissa said another sister duo, The Fabulous Ginn Sisters, was getting radio play in Austin.
“ We heard them singing together and just thought ‘Man, we got to do something like this,’” Larissa said. “Our music is somewhat similar to theirs, but it’s different, of course. But they were an inspiration for becoming a sister duo specifically.”
The name of their group, Larissa said, wasn’t from The Carter Family song, “Hello Stranger.” It was actually inspired from a line in the song “Arkansas Traveler” by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. In between each verse starts, “Hello Stranger.”
“I liked that it was folksy and just went along with our music a little bit,” she said. “And I said, “How about The Hello Strangers.?’ And it stuck.”
Brechyn said just being in Austin laid the groundwork for Hello Strangers. The sisters wrote their first song together in 2006 titled, “Pregnant in Jail,” which was based on a true story.
“So we just started writing songs and we were really, ‘Hey, this is actually OK.’ We just kept at it and got more serious and kept writing more songs and finally formed a band,” she said.
The sisters write original music that was showcased on their EP “Introducing Max Schmidt,” which was named after the accordion used by the band.
“Since Larissa plays the guitar and she’s more trained musically, she’s better writing melodies and chords and stuff like that,” Brechyn said. “So she’ll sit down and write lyrics ... and she’ll play it out on her guitar. She’ll write out the chords and bring it to me and work on harmonies. And I’ll come up with harmonies or vice versa. When I write a song, it’s usually the melody that comes first. If I get something in my head, I’ll record it on my cellphone and I’ll just go from there.”
Their songwriting ability and strong sibling harmonies helped the women win the Airplay Direct “Win An Americana Record Deal” with IMI Music in Nashville, Tenn., two years ago.
Their debut self-titled album is expected to be released in March.
The album was slow to come together because Larissa was pregnant with her first child at the time. Then there were the contracts to sign; lawyers to deal with; band members changed. But, they said, it’s been worth taking their time.
“It’s been an awesome experience and a learning experience,” Brechyn said.
Larissa said the album will bridge the songs from their EP with their newer songs, along with their own take on some covers. One cover is a song by Americana singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale, who is also singing with Hello Strangers on the album.
Recording started last summer, early fall in Nashville. They recorded their vocals in two days, and Larissa did her guitar work in just one day.
Larissa said the experience was a little surreal as they recorded their vocals and were able to see each other in their booths.
“For two straight days, I was just looking at my sister,” she said. “You kind of have to pinch yourself. It was a great experience. We’re close with (our two other) siblings, but this was something you’ll never go through with them. It just is a unique thing to go through with a sibling.”
Brechyn said recording in Nashville was a lot of hard work, but exciting.
“Every day we woke up in Nashville it felt like Christmas morning,” she said.
And, she said, she made sure to soak every minute up.
“I’d be sitting there sometimes on hour eight and be (thinking) ‘oh, my gosh.’ I thought I would feel like I would be bored and restless, but every second, minute, hour in there was spent learning, watching and just being really thankful that we were there, and very excited to be a part of it. “
The sisters are looking forward to the final drop of their album, but in the meantime they’re continuing to perform at shows like the one at Knob Hall.
“We like to have a great time,” Brechyn said. “Our band members are great. We have a really good connection onstage. We just all really love to play for people. We love being out and meeting new people. ... It’s a thrill when we’re out playing live. We hope we put out a good energy and people enjoy our shows.”
Larissa echoes her sister’s sentiments.
“Just like our collection of songs, we have a pretty dynamic show,” she said. “It’s basically in the Americana genre, but a lot of different genres, sort of speak, are represented. There’s a little honky-tonk, a little blues, a little folk, country, alternative country, indie. We hope that we cater to a lot of different styles and different tastes. We try to keep the humor going up on stage and have fun.” - Herald Mail

"The Highballers - The Hello Strangers -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Jul20 2013"

The Hello Strangers - From the rural terrain of Pennsylvania located between Hagerstown, MD and as state park dedicated to one of the worst US Presidents, James Buchanan, comes this sister act complete with rhythm section and lead guitar. The two sisters harmonize like sisters should with one adding some acoustic guitar and the other focusing on vocals with a touch of percussion and button accordion. And they all play Country and Western music the way I like to hear it, with this focus on the Western featuring those scrumptious harmonies along with honkytonk rhythms and crisp lead guitar. They rock out at times, pull back on others while smoothly transitioning betwen the more quiet and the more raucous songs of their catalog. The quieter songs struggled to stay above the din of a typically loud Saturday night crowd and they may have adjusted their set a bit more to alleviate this. But aside from that, they did everything right and easily won this large crowd over, at least those listening. - DC Rock Live

"A Stranger Look: The Lives of Strangers"
Pg. 21

Lives of “Strangers”
By Elsie Sycamore

For the past several issues, The Direct Buzz has been following Americana duo The Hello Strangers, chronicling their AirPlay Direct “Win An Americana Record Deal” contest win in 2012, and their subsequent trip to Nashville this past October to record with Steve Ivey at Sound Kitchen Studios. Sisters Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith have come a long way since 2012, with Larissa’s new baby, all new band members, and now, a long-awaited debut album on the way.

As we await the album release planned for early 2014, The Direct Buzz wanted to delve deeper into the lives of the sisters and explore (dare we say pry into?) the array of emotions surrounding the buildup to their album release.

The Direct Buzz (tDB): Let’s dive right in. What would you say have been the most daunting aspects of your experience thus far since winning the AirPlay Direct contest in 2012?

Larissa Chace Smith (LS): Well the first initial shock was of course winning the contest and realizing that our hobbyist relationship with music was about to change and we were no longer going to be the only ones pushing our careers forward. Suddenly, we were paired up with complete strangers who were going to help us release and promote our album. There was a new level of responsibility and obligation attached to our music and careers, along with excitement, joy and pride, of course. Brechyn and I both had our moments at first where we felt that we wouldn’t be able to handle it all, whatever “it all” was, especially since I was 6 months pregnant. There were so many unknowns, and there still are today. But that’s the thrill of it.

Brechyn Chace (BC): Yes, we have definitely had our freak-out moments along the way. But the great thing about being in a partnership with your sibling is that you can each take turns coaching each other and putting things into perspective. Each of us has our breaking points and different anxiety triggers, so you just have to take one day or dilemma at a time. Our dilemmas back then involved how we were going to pay a lawyer and how Larissa was going to be able to work around having a baby. Today, the biggest anxiety is, “Will our album be well received by the music industry and consumers at large?” Not the worst problem to have, I suppose!

tDB: Give us a glimpse into what your daily trials and joys look like at this moment, just a few months before your album release.

BC: Larissa and I both manage many things at once right now, including our own “day job” businesses and managing the band entirely by ourselves. I think one of the biggest things we struggle with is how to best manage our time. What is the most important thing that we can do in a given day? That’s not always an easy decision to make because most of the time, everything is important. New merch needs to be ordered, band rehearsals, booking, getting paid, and then add to the mix recording this album with Steve and working on the ins and outs of the release with AirPlay Direct. That stuff is even more pressing. It’s quite the balancing act. We’re not 20 anymore. We have lives, a child, dogs, significant others, houses, so all of that must be balanced everyday.

LS: Some days I wonder if the modern world we live in is a boon for artists or a hindrance. I mean, I could spend the entire small window of time I have while my son naps just getting through emails and working on social media. And then I think, what did I just accomplish? Technology-driven business is so intangible, and can be very unsatisfying. But on the flip side, you have Skype and Google Chat, which is how we often communicate with Steve. I can be in the comfort of my own home in Pennsylvania discussing tracks that Steve is working on in Nashville. So there are definitely pros and cons to the way the music industry and running a business work these days.

tDB: Let’s take a little trip to the “dark side.” At this moment, what are your greatest fears?

BC: Well, I could say “I’m afraid to fail,” but it’s never that simple, is it? How do you benchmark success or failure? I guess on a basic level, one of my fears is somehow disappointing myself and everyone involved in this process. There is definitely a lot at stake at this point in the game. A lot of time and energy has been put into our album, not just by ourselves, but by Steve and everyone at AirPlay Direct. Sometimes, it’s very scary and daunting if you think too hard about it.

LS: Yeah, what if our album is a total flop? I mean, you can pat yourself on the back just for getting this far and making an album with a Nashville producer, but in the end, that’s just not good enough. We haven’t come this far on our own, and now with the team we’re working with, to see it all come tumbling down. Myriad fears run through my head every day, but in the end you just have to have faith in what you’re doing. It’s definitely scary sticking your neck out there like we’re about to do when this album comes out. We’ll never have the opportunity to release a debut album again, so we have to make it count.

tDB: Now, tell us some of the things you are most excited about with the release of this album. What are some of your hopes and dreams?

LS: I’ve never wanted anything more than to be a full-time professional musician, so it would be a dream come true if this album could propel us to that point. I really believe we have something unique to offer, and hope the album will give our songwriting a chance to be heard by a larger audience of listeners. As easy as it is to fear the unknown, at this point I couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come.  

BC: I am really excited to hear the finished product, to have something to hold in our hands, and to hear what our combined inputs with Steve have come together to make. I’m excited to see what avenues open up for us now that we will have a professionally produced album and more of a support system through AirPlay Direct. No matter what happens, we’re still going to be super proud of everything we’ve done so far. And we’ll be forever grateful that we were even given this opportunity in the first place. - The Direct Buzz/AirPlay Direct

"“Strangers” Go To Nashville"

By Elsie Sycamore
Pg. 23

The last time The Direct Buzz checked in with Americana duo The Hello Strangers (September 2013 Issue), sisters Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith were preparing for their first of several trips to Sound Kitchen Studios in Nashville to work with producer Steve Ivey on their first full-length release. The sisters were paired up with Ivey when they won AirPlay Direct’s “Win An Americana Record Deal” contest in January 2012. Since then, they have been hard at work getting everything (the contract, logistics, etc.) ready so they could get into the studio.

Finally, in early October, after a year and a half of preparations, Larissa and Brechyn made the trek from South Central Pennsylvania to Nashville where they got to meet Steve and spend three long but rewarding days in his studio. The Direct Buzz checked back in with the sisters after their trip to get the full scoop on their experience.

The Direct Buzz (tDB): So you’ve just returned from Nashville. Tell us about your trip.

Larissa Chace Smith (LS): We left on a beautiful Wednesday morning, October 9. We had our team with us: our photographer (and my husband), Ryan Smith, and our guitarist (and Brechyn’s boyfriend), Spencer Pheil. Ryan documented the whole experience through videos and photos. Spencer was there for moral support, food runs, etc. We were in good hands! We all drove down in one car, stopping in Bristol, TN on the way to check out the Birthplace of Country Music and buy some extra guitar strings. We traveled that route a lot when we lived in Austin, so it was fun to relive some of those memories.

Brechyn Chace (BC): We got to Nashville around 8 p.m. after a 12 hour drive. Being on the road always makes everything seem surreal, so checking into our motel that night we felt thrilled, exhausted, and a little strung out all at the same time. We unwound with some sushi takeout and “Kindergarten Cop” on the motel T.V. We wanted to meet Steve and get into the studio around 9 the next morning, so we went to bed pretty early.

tDB: What was it like meeting Steve Ivey?

BC: The next morning we were incredibly excited. The plan was to have Larissa record all 13 of her acoustic guitar tracks first, so she was pretty keyed up that morning. Her nerves started to get the best of her at the motel’s continental breakfast. I think she managed to get a banana down. Ryan, Spencer, and I had to give her a pep talk.

LS: I definitely had butterflies! Not just because of the pressure of recording all my guitar tracks right off the bat, but there were so many factors involved with meeting Steve, working on a creative project with someone we had yet to meet, etc. We drove over to the studio and met Steve at the front gate. Sound Kitchen is a complex of amazing studios with a beautiful entrance into a southwestern-style courtyard. As soon as Steve came out and we finally met, I felt the anxiety melt away. All of us immediately had a great rapport with Steve. His relaxed, professional attitude really made the next 3 days so fun and efficient.

tDB: Tell us about the highs and lows of your days in the studio.

LS: Well, needless to say my guitar tracks took a lot longer than I had anticipated. You know, in your head you think that it’ll take half a day and it never turns out that way. You think, these are 3-4 minute songs, it can’t take that long. But there are always factors you don’t consider, so I ended up finishing the 13 tracks at 7 or 8 p.m. that night! I definitely had moments of anxiety throughout the day worrying that it was going to take longer than a day. I knew we had a limited time down there so I was relieved to get it all done the first day.

BC: Larissa worked her butt off that day. The rest of us rooted her on from outside the isolation booth. Steve helped keep the energy up, and we just enjoyed watching the process unfold, eating copious amounts of jelly beans and jalapeño chips, and walking around Sound Kitchen. We were very excited to start our vocals the next day. We finished about half the vocal tracks the first day, taking breaks to step out into the sunshine and throw a football, eat, and chat.

LS: We each definitely had our challenges and low moments throughout the process, whether we were hungry, trying to nail a part, or stressing that we weren’t going to finish what we wanted to. But you always bounce back after you finish a track and feel like you nailed it.

BC: I had a moment where I was trying to perfect an intricate vocal part, and I just couldn’t get my head around it to sing it the way I wanted to. But Steve was calm and collected the whole time and talked me through it until I got it. He really gave us confidence in ourselves as artists. Every night after finishing up we would all just gush about the day, about Steve, and how amazing and fun the recording experience was. We were definitely pinching ourselves.

LS: Then on Saturday, the day before we left, Robert and Lynda - The Direct Buzz Magazine (AirPlay Direct)

""Stranger" Things Can Happen"

“Stranger” Things Can Happen
By Elsie Sycamore

Everything can change in the blink of an eye. For sisters, Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith of Americana duo The Hello Strangers, this happened in early January 2012 when an email from CEO of AirPlay Direct, Robert Weingartz, dinged into The Hello Strangers’s inbox telling them they had won the company’s “Win An Americana Record Deal” contest.

“I was 6 months pregnant, sitting at the kitchen table, passively checking emails,” recalls Larissa. “The email from Robert was certainly a jolt to the system.”

They were awarded the opportunity to work with Nashville producer, Steve Ivey, of IMI Music, along with many other talented industry professionals that would help the duo create a successful album through radio promotions, PR, and marketing. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for two sisters from a one-stoplight town in rural Pennsylvania.

What has changed for the sisters since their big win is by no means your typical path to success. From giving birth, changing band members, and working on the legalities of the contract, it has already been quite a journey for The Hello Strangers. The Direct Buzz sat down with Larissa and Brechyn to find out more about their background, the contest, and what can be expected from their long-awaited album.

The Direct Buzz (tDB): Can you tell us how you came to write music together?

Brechyn Chace (BC): Sure. Many people don’t realize, but I’m 6 years younger than Larissa, so even though we grew up together, we didn’t start collaborating on anything musically until we were living in Austin, TX in 2004. Being immersed in the city’s unique array of honky-tonk, country and folk music was the perfect recipe to start writing our own music. We started creating a catalogue of tunes and came up with our name, The Hello Strangers.

Larissa Chace Smith (LS): Then in 2007, after a year of writing together, we got really homesick and decided to move back to PA. It was an impulsive and potentially risky decision. No one would ever tell an aspiring musician that they should move from the Live Music Capitol of the World to a town of 1,200 surrounded by corn fields. But it has been such a boon for us. It’s cheap and there’s nothing to do here, so you make your own fun! We formed a band and started building a name for ourselves on a regional level. In 2009 we recorded an EP with our bandmates. We have come a long way since then, but it was ultimately those 6 tracks that helped us win the contest.

tDB: Larissa, you attended Berklee College of Music in Boston before moving to Austin. What was it like moving from rural Pennsylvania to downtown Boston?

LS: I started at Berklee when I was just 17, fresh out of high school. I had lived in a few cities abroad when I was a child, but this was my first time moving to a city on my own. Honestly, despite certain things being intimidating, I was so excited to go to Berklee that I was able to look past the scary stuff. It was actually the only college I applied to since it had a contemporary music curriculum. Can you believe my parents would let me do that? That trust they put in me showed me the importance of putting your faith in something and believing things will work out the way they are meant to. I had 4 great years at Berklee and learned everything from film scoring to songwriting and music business. I graduated in 2001 with a Bachelors of Music. It was a proud moment.

tDB: So you go from Boston to Austin, and back to PA. Then along comes this opportunity with APD. Tell us about your experience winning the contest.

BC: Well, we already had an AirPlay Direct DPK and were on their email list. So when we got an email from them inviting musicians to submit to win an Americana record deal, we couldn’t pass up such a genre-specific opportunity. When you are a musician working in today’s business model, you get used to managing a gazillion online profiles promising to help your career. This opportunity from APD felt different, so we beefed up our DPK and hit the submit button.

LS: Then we forgot all about submitting! I was pregnant and getting ready for another huge life-changer. I wasn’t thinking about my music career the day that email showed up from Robert. But we were totally thrilled about the prospect of winning and knew we couldn’t pass up this opportunity. We were in the process of making a new album and had started a Kickstarter campaign. But the APD contest came along just in time to kickstart everything for us in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own.

tDB: So then you had some life changes and hurdles to jump after the contest win. Tell us about that.

LS: Yes, right after the win I was into my last weeks of pregnancy, so we put a lot on the back burner temporarily. My son, Boone, was born in mid-April, and of course for several months he was my main priority.

BC: In the meantime, dynamics were changing within our band and we had - The Direct Buzz Magazine (AirPlay Direct)

"AirPlay Direct Unveils the Winner for the “APD Win an Americana Record Deal” Contest: The Hello Strangers"

AirPlay Direct is proud to announce that “The Hello Strangers” have taken home the grand prize package for the “APD Win an Americana Record Deal” contest.

“It is hard to describe how it feels to win an Americana record deal after years of gigging and self-promotion at the grassroots level,” says Larissa of The Hello Strangers. “Just being in the Top 5 with the caliber of artists we were paired with was an honor alone. We feel we have just won the contest of our lives, and are incredibly grateful and excited to work with the team that AirPlay Direct has assembled for us.”

“The Hello Strangers have such a unique sound that cuts right at the roots of the Americana genre. Fresh, innovative structures with unforgettable vocals,” says Robert Weingartz, Chairman and CEO of AirPlay Direct.

To discover broadcast quality recordings of their independent project, visit - AirPlay Direct

"The Hello Strangers, ‘Introducing Max Schmidt’"

Hell hath no fury quite like a woman scorned.
Such seems to be the mantra of Mercersburg, Pa.'s The Hello Strangers, however clich? that age-old adage may appear to be. Actually, their latest six-song effort, "Introducing Max Schmidt" (released in 2010), is Exhibit A for how easily that phrase is able to translate into the music world with grace and power. Sisters Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace aren't just mad -- they are stinkin' mad, and they have no problem with expressing such scathing anger in tunes filled with musical backdrops that are heavy on pop-country and words that are bursting at the seams with poignancy and command.

What sets these songwriters apart from other female-led local groups is their willingness to collaborate with a full band to get their point across. Kate O'Neil's drums provide a soft texture that other acoustic-guitar-driven female vocal groups in the area might lack at times, and Kevin Shannon's electric guitar is placed beautifully between verses and bridges, not over-staying its welcome, yet making an impact with its sparse tones and clean rhythms. It's a fantastic combination, really, and the result should ultimately pay dividends for these sisters, who are destined for bigger things.

It all begins with "The Same Routine," one of the more up-tempo tracks of the bunch. Here, the group shows its pop-music chops as the sisters tell a story about one of the most common themes in country music: a toxic relationship. "The same routine and I still feel alone," is sung as the chorus ends and the vocal track fades into hopelessness. It wouldn't work if these gals didn't sound like they mean it as much as they do.

"Conococheague" and "Poor Dear" are as dark as they come, the former, an off-beat, Neil Young-ish recollection of a lost lover, and the latter, a fast-tempo country-fied romp that echoes the mainstream portion of Johnny Cash's catalogue. "I had a lover/ Like no other," one of the sisters sings before proclaiming "But he's at the bottom of the Conococheague" during the song that shares the river's name. Not only does it seem like the type of morbid tall tale usually tailor-made for the Americana music world, but it also showcases exactly how well The Hello Strangers can paint a gloomy picture.

Speaking of gloomy, "The World Knows Far Better Than Me" proves to be the best track "Introducing Max Schmidt" offers as the song takes a simple waltz and transforms the combination of a few acoustic guitars, vocals and a harmonica into a staggering finale that will stick with you for days. It's the closest thing the group comes to folk music, drawing on a Bob Dylan-meets-Emmylou Harris approach that succeeds in the most memorable of ways. The refrain's repetition is striking not only for its down-and-out words but also for its defeated presentation. This track stands above the rest because of its bleeding soul.

Word has it that the sisters Chace recently won a contest that landed them a record deal and The Hello Strangers will be heading to Nashville to record the follow up to "Introducing Max Schmidt" (a release date is set for later this year). Whatever these ladies might be able to accomplish as a result of this opportunity in the future, none of us know. What we do know, however, is that The Hello Strangers have set themselves apart from most every other local female vocal group with this heartfelt, authentic and nearly perfect six-song piece of pop-country. It's a little Neko Case, though not as jagged. It's a little Amy Speace, though not as polished. And it's a little Beggar's Ride, though much more angry and full.

Most importantly, it's a lot like the sound of a couple women scorned. And frankly, it hasn't sounded this good in a long, long time.

Colin McGuire is a copy editor and page designer at the News-Post as well the music reviews editor at His blog, TV Without A TV, can be found at Submit albums to or Fr - The Frederick News-Post

"Review: The Hello Strangers - Introducing Max Schmidt"

This may be hard to believe, but the glamorous life of a music reviewer—even an obviously charming sophisticate such as myself—can sometimes be rather dreary. It involves a lot of listening to music that you’ll never listen to again but that really does deserve to be reviewed for one reason or another, trying to evaluate it on some nonexistent set of objective criteria, keeping in mind that just because it’s not your speed doesn’t mean that other people won’t find something in it and you should give it a fair shake. Every so often there’s an album release that you’re really looking forward to and which is a pure pleasure to research and review, but they’re more rare than you’d think, even for a music lover with a fairly broad range. Pretty soon, everything starts to sound very much the same.

Then there’s the random chance find that turns you onto something you really love and makes the drudgery more than worth it. That’s what happened with The Hello Strangers, an independent rock band out of the unlikely location of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, a two-stoplight town just this side of the Maryland border. They followed No Surf on Twitter (@NoSurfMusic for the uninitiated), and as with most musicians who so grace us, I checked them out, at most expecting to find another “maybe someday” review possibility to make note of. Instead, I began streaming their EP Introducing Max Schmidt and was totally flabbergasted. It was better than anything I’d heard in a long time. After several relatively insane conversations (mostly about various retro desert foods), a package arrived at my door bearing a rubber-stamped cowboy boot and a Mercersburg postmark. Like a kid at Christmas, I ravenously tore into the oddly pregnant bubble-wrap envelope to discover not just Max Schmidt, but a package of pistachio pudding mix. Ok, I admit, I liked these gals already, but I assure you this review was in no way influenced by any attempts at bribery, no matter how randomly awesome.

In addition to prodigious songwriting talents great pipes, Larissa and Brechyn have a distinctly retro vibe, evidenced by the shag carpeting, vintage Playboys, dusty 45's, rotary telephone and, yes, pistachio pudding. Photo by Ryan Smith Photography.

But enough about me (and my pudding), let’s talk about The Hello Strangers. The core of the band is a pair of sisters, Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace. The elder Larissa plays guitar while Brechyn adds harmonica and accordion. They share both the writing and lead vocal duties, giving the group the distinctive harmonies that are sure to become their trademark. The ladies’ voices are discrete enough that you can tell them apart, but match so effortlessly that it’s obvious they were literally born to sing together. They become their characters so perfectly that they can finish each other’s lines and never miss one iota of a beat, and when their voices intertwine magical doesn’t even begin to describe the effect. What’s more, their band—made up of hometown friends and local musicians—knows how to strike (literally) the perfect chord to make them shine.

The seeds for the group were actually sown in Austin, Texas, which helps explain their Americana sound. Larissa had relocated to complete a masters in ethnomusicology (yes, that’s a real subject), and Brechyn followed shortly thereafter seeking her own bit of adventure. The two grew up in a musical family—with a father who plays in a jazz band and both grandfathers professional musicians—but although they had been singing with each other their whole lives and Larissa had been writing music on her own since she started playing guitar at 13, the two never wrote a song together until 2006. “We heard The Fabulous Ginn Sisters on the radio and said, ‘We've got to do that!’" Larissa explains. “It wasn't until the music of Austin came into my life that I felt that I was writing what I was meant to be writing. And writing with my sister made it seem even more kismet.” Soon, they packed up and headed for home, carrying their sensibilities with them.

“Most of our songs start from the head of one of us separately,” Larissa continues. “Since I can accompany myself, my songs are mostly complete when I bring them to Brechyn. Then she and I add harmonies and arrangement ideas for the band, add the finishing touches, etc. Brechyn will either bring a seed of an idea that the guitar will help to bring forth, or she'll have melody and lyrics done, and we just add the accompaniment and everything else. Harmonies are always one of my favorite parts of the process. We always bring each song to the band last.” Whatever the process, it’s clear that the two know each other well enough to form a seamless joint, and they both favor tales of dysfunctional relationships, breakups, murder, and revenge.

Mr. Schmidt is prominently featured in the band's stage shows, in multiple capacities. Photo by Ryan Smith Photography.

This is all evident - No Surf Music

"Old Styles, New Voices: Young Bluegrass Musicians"

A Younger Generation of Pickers are Cropping Up, Keeping the Spirit of Bluegrass Music Alive and Well.

by Greg Yost + photos by Jamie Turner, Jason Turner and Ryan Smith, Ryan Smith Photography

• • •

The drawing wail of a strummed fiddle; the low-pitched, thumping flair of an upright bass; and the finger-plucking twang of the banjo. The stringed, acoustic sounds of traditional American bluegrass music are deeply rooted in the folk songs brought to the New World by European immigrants, many of whom settled in the Appalachian Mountain Range stretching through parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland, including Washington County.

Stirring up lonesome tales of love, hardship and years gone by, most wouldn’t expect anyone under the age of 50 to understand the influence and nuance of the style. But, a whole new crop of young musicians has embraced this traditional form of country music, adding variations on the theme and keeping this American roots music thriving in and around Washington County.

Gone Country
At 22, Hedgesville, W.Va., native Andrew Jordan is by far the youngest member of The Back Creek Valley Boys, a group who performs hard-charging, authentic bluegrass. A talented guitar player, singer and songwriter, Andrew grew up listening to his dad, Ike Jordan, The Back Creek Valley Boys’ mandolin player, jam with his grandfather, Earl W. “Uncle Bill” Jordan, and other local pickers including Randy Kenney, the band’s bass player. Even with this musical background, Andrew played drums in high school rock bands before making the switch to acoustic guitar.

Find out where you can purchase your copy of Hagerstown magazine to read this story and other articles in the current issue by clicking here. - Hagerstown Magazine

"The Hello Strangers explore musical roots at Manayunk show"

By DENNY DYROFF, Staff Writer

The band's name is The Hello Strangers, but the two principal members are anything but strangers - they're sisters.

Brechyn Chace and her sister, Larissa Chace Smith, decided to pool their musical talents a few years ago. The result of the merger so far has been a band, live dates, a move to another state, an EP and now a tour that brings them to Philadelphia on Dec. 1 for a show at the Grape Room.

"I was down in Austin, studying ethnomusicology/reggae at U.T. (University of Texas)," Larissa said during a recent phone interview. "We started writing because we were inspired by the music scene there in Austin.

"We got the name down there but only played one house party when we were still in Texas . We were getting homesick, so we moved back north - to Mercersburg, Pa."

Mercersburg is where the sisters spent their childhood while their father taught at Mercersburg Academy.

"In Austin, it was easier for us as a duo," Brechyn said. "Once we moved back and got settled in Pennsylvania, we decided to put a band together. We got two friends to play with us and found our lead guitarist on MySpace."

Larissa said, "We didn't want to remain a duo. I did solo work when I was a student at Berklee (School of Music) and I didn't want to go back to solo or duo. And even though I studied reggae, the music that I write is coming from another realm. Brechyn and I both have a touch of American soul music."

The move to a band format came in 2008. The Hello Strangers -- Dave Holzwarth (bass), Kevin Shannon (guitar),Katie O'Neil (drums), Larissa, Brechyn -- recorded their debut EP, "Introducing Max Schmidt," in the spring of 2009.

"We released the EP in spring of 2010," Larissa said. "We're going to start doing our first full-length next spring. It will be an album of alt-country, Americana and roots rock songs."

Surprisingly, the Chace sisters never write songs together.

"We both take pretty different approaches to songwriting," Brechyn said. "Larissa plays guitar, so she sits and figures out chords and melodies. For me, I don't really play an instrument. So if I get a melody in my head, I record it on my phone."

What: The Hello Strangers

When: Dec. 1, 8 p.m.

Where: Grape Room, 105 Grape St., Manayunk

Tickets: $5

Information: 215-930-0321 or - Daily Local News

"Introducing The Hello Strangers: The Chace Sisters With Some Sweet Sweet Attitude"

January 14, 2010
by Jamie Freedman

The music of The Hello Strangers takes me into another decade, maybe into a black and white movie set in the Appalachians or Hill Country of Texas, where the women are tough and passionate. It's spooky, got some gorgeous harmonies and just the right amount of twang.

Sisters Brechyn (Breh-ken) Chace and Larissa Chace Smith started writing tunes together in South Austin. Soon, however, the mountains of their Central Pennsylvania home beckoned the sisters North. So they packed up their lives, dogs, and Larissa’s husband, and drove to their two-stoplight hometown of Mercersburg (factoid: birthplace to President Buchanan). In Pennsylvania the sisters were joined by Dave Holzwarth (bass), Kevin Shannon (guitar), and Katie O’Neil (drums) to fill out the sound into a full on rock band.

With songs titled "Pregnant in Jail," (supposedly based on a true story, that's something I have to remember to ask about) "Oh He'll Drown," and "Poor Dear," I wonder where the Chace sisters get their inspiration. I mean REALLY get their inspiration. It seems that the local lore of Pennsylvania, Texas and good ol' country music steeped into their creative consciousness.

The musical influence of folks like Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, Johnny Cash, Conor Oberst and The Weary Boys is evident. But so is the rich musical traditions of Austin, Texas. It's the voices and vocal harmonies of Brechyn and Larissa that really make this band for me. I can't tell them apart and it sort of freaks me out!

I'm looking forward to hearing the full-length album when it comes out sometime in the next couple months. Until then, check out their EP "Introducing Max Schmidt." - Examiner

"The Hello Strangers band from Mercersburg releases first recording"

By Rachel Bryson
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Mercersburg, Pa. -

Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace have always wanted to be in a band.

After moving back from Austin, Texas, to their hometown of Mercersburg a few years ago, the sisters’ dream became a reality with the creation of The Hello Strangers.

Adding to their dream, the group’s first album, “Introducing Max Schmidt,” has just been completed.

Coming together

“We were inspired by the music down there,” Smith said. “All we listened to (in Texas) was country.”

After she became homesick the weekend of their one-year wedding anniversary, Smith and her husband, Ryan, packed up their photography business and moved back to Mercersburg within a month. Since returning, they have been active in the newly formed Mercersburg Council for the Arts.

“I really missed it (here),” Smith said. “It just hit me that I needed to move home.”

Moving home was the boost Smith and Chace — who followed shortly thereafter — needed to make The Hello Strangers a reality.

“We already had several songs written,” Chace said.

“It just so happened that moving back allowed us to find the people that we needed,” Smith added.

Those people were Katie O’Neil (drums), Kevin Shannon (lead electric guitar) and Dave Holzwarth (bass).

With Smith performing vocals and acoustic guitar and Chace playing the accordion, xylophone, tambourine, harmonica and singing, the band was complete.

Contrary to the group’s name, almost everyone in the band already knew each other.

“I went to school with Katie,” Smith said, adding Holzwarth and her father, Joel, worked together at Mercersburg Academy.

“We found Kevin on MySpace,” Chace said.

In November 2008, they started rehearsing as a full band.

First album

Smith describes most of The Hello Strangers music as alternative country.

“The band doesn’t play honky-tonk country. More of our influences have come from classic country,” Smith said, citing performers like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.

Their first album, “Introducing Max Schmidt,” includes six original songs written by Smith and Chace. The inspiration for the album title is the name of the accordion, which arrived in a case engraved with the name Max Schmidt.

“We recorded all of them in Kevin’s basement,” Chace said.

“The entire album is independently produced,” Smith added, including the publicity shots taken by Ryan Smith Photography, which she and her husband own.

“The most fun way of getting the news out (on a new album) is having a CD release party,” Smith said, and celebrations are planned in Mercersburg, Chambersburg and Hagerstown in the next month.

In addition to hearing the band’s music, fans can win or buy T-shirts with The Hello Strangers logo on the front and “Max is out of the box” on the back.

“We would love to be touring the country or even overseas,” Smith said. “But we want to remain grassroots.”

“We’re trying to have fun with it,” Chace said.

“It’s not about riding a mega tour bus,” Smith added.


For more information on the band contact Smith at:

or by visiting the Web site: - The Record Herald, Waynesboro, PA

"Review: The Hello Strangers – Introducing Max Schmidt"

You know, I have to confess: I actually feel lazy reviewing this. My San Fran blog buddy keeps spoon feeding me all these incredible bands, and of course I just lap ‘em up. I am her dog, and she is my Pavlov. I swear, I’ve been conditioned. Also, I don’t mind or care.
Alas … I highly suspect I will not make it to SXSW ever. Or Coachella. Or [insert multi-day music-fest here]. Well, okay … maybe not *never*, but it’s definitely a distinct possibility. Thus it is that I will probably never see as many awesome bands as she who hails from The Bay. However, that does not mean that I will not pine for such the opportunity, for to do so would be tantamount to giving up a dream. I’m not willing to do that. So I continue to hope.
Meanwhile, those who DO get to go generously and gratuitously pass on their discoveries. Such is the case with The Hello Strangers. I have two words: Love ‘em! Here’s why.
The first thing I thought of when I heard the vocals was Ani Difranco. That eventually wore off and gave way to me lapsing into a Karin Bergquist coma. The Chace sisters–Larissa and Brechyn–have been writing songs together since about 2006. They added Dave Holzwarth (bass), Kevin Shannon (guitar), and Katie O’Neil (drums) to round out their line-up in what we have in the Introducing Max Schmidt EP. Or I’m assuming it’s supposed to be an EP; there are just 6 tracks, so hopefully a full-length release is in the works.
I love the lyrics. Very Nick Cave-esque. I also love the alt-folk-country sound they have. Very reminiscent of Faun Fables, for those of you who are familiar with them. However, I *really* enjoy their vocals much, much more. Like I said–Ani Difranco and Karin Bergquist. Hard to go wrong if you sound like either of them.
One of the best tracks on the CD, in my opinion, is “Conococheague.” There’s a very western, cowboy feel to it. “I have a lover but I want another cuz he’s being chased by John boy’s brothers. I had a lover like no other, but he’s at the bottom of the Conococheague.” Interestingly enough, Conococheague Creek is located in eastern Pennsylvania. Western feel. I love it.
“Poor Dear” is beautiful and upbeat musically. Ironically, I think it’s about someone who’s been in an abusive relationship and is getting the hell out. “You laid your hand on me; why is it so hard to see by the time you light up that cigarette, I’ll be gone to Tennessee …” I dunno. Maybe I’m reading into it. I hope I am and that I’m not right. Worse, I hope it’s not based on personal experience. Tragically, we do tend to write what we know about …
Great band. I hope they put out more material soon. -


"The Hello Strangers" - 2014 (IMI Records)

"Introducing Max Schmidt" - EP, 2010
"The Hello Strangers, Acoustic in Austin" - EP, 2006



What does Austin-influenced, rural-Pennsylvanian, indie sister-folk sound like? Verbosity aside, it sounds uniquely like The Hello Strangers, a band fronted by sister duo Larissa Chace Smith and Brechyn Chace, whose haunting harmonies and original, wittingly noir songwriting style are the backbone of their sound.

The Hello Strangers just released their first full-length, self-titled album with multi-award winning (Grammy, Emmy, Dove, Tele) IMI Records in Nashville, Tennessee. The album features 11 originals and 2 covers, including "What You Don't Know," written by, and featuring on vocals, Jim Lauderdale; and "Que Sera, Sera," an homage to their grandfather, Ronald Chace, who sang with Doris Day.

In 2012, Larissa and Brechyn won AirPlay Direct's "Win An Americana Record Deal" contest, giving them the opportunity to work with Steve Ivey of IMI, and a host of other talented industry professionals, on their 2014 album.

The Hello Strangers have shared the stage with Jim Lauderdale and Robert Earl Keen; have performed at Music City Roots, The Bluebird Cafe, Philadelphia Folk Fest, and The Birchmere; spent 8 weeks on the Americana Music Chart; and can be heard on Sirius XM Outlaw Country & The Village as well as radio stations worldwide. 

The Hello Strangers were born out of the Austin, Texas music scene in 2006 when the sisters wrote their first song together, entitled “Pregnant in Jail.” Based on true events, it was a preamble to a string of original tunes the pair crafted in a little cottage off South Congress Avenue. Soon, however, the mountains of Pennsylvania beckoned the girls back north, and so they packed up their lives, dogs, and Larissa’s husband and returned to their two-stoplight hometown.

The move has since proven to be a boon for the duo. The sisters have created a catalogue of original music with nods to American folk traditions, modern indie rock, Texas country-folk, and roots rock, all tied together with lilting harmonies that only sisters can create. Timeless imagery and fables are at the core of each song, from tales of a boggy creek bottom where a murdered man sleeps, to a Texas roadhouse with bawdy dancers and clinking beer bottles, to more poignant reflections on the loss of winter or a man gone wrong.

The sisters are supported by a dynamic and talented trio: Spencer Pheil on lead guitar, Trent Renshaw on drums, and Tom Hoy on bass.


"...a quirky sense of humor and some spine-tingling harmonies. Highlights include a spooky-as-hell version of Jim Lauderdale's 'What You Don't Know' and a sweet, twangy take on the Doris Day standard 'Que Sera Sera,' (a tribute to their grandfather, Ronald Chace, who sang with Day). But the album also boasts 11 impressive originals, all of them set to a cool Carter Sisters-meets-Indigo Girls vibe." (Stephen L. Betts/Rolling Stone)

“This album is just brilliant…and deserves to be heard – and heard often. Listen and see if you don’t agree!” - Chuck Dauphin, Music News Nashville/Billboard

"A satisfying mix of smart songwriting and memorable melodies — not to mention the undeniable sibling harmonies." - Craig Shelburne, CMT Edge

"The sister duo’s self-titled album iis one of the year’s strongest debut albums. Brechyn Chace and Larissa Chace Smith serve up a delightful collection of songs, ranging from the raucous singalong 'What It Takes to Break A Heart' to the honky-tonking 'Ruined' to a sweet version of 'Que Sera, Sera,' which pays tribute to the sisters’ grandfather, who sang with Doris Day in the ‘40s. And there’s an appearance from Jim Lauderdale (on 'What You Don’t Know), which is always a bonus." - Juli Thanki, Engine145/The Tennessean 

"The Hello Strangers demonstrate the kind of credence that only happens when worldly experience is paired with shattered sentiment. These two ladies certainly stand out on their own. Country credence is assured, and with it, a very promising future indeed." - Lee Zimmerman, No Depression

""completely captivating". Robert K. Oermann, Music Row Magazine

"Drawing on their Austin and 'Pennsyltucky' backgrounds, their self-titled album is worth a serious listen. The harmonies compliment each other in a way akin to First Aid Kit, but are particularly moving when also featuring Jim Lauderdale (see the track 'What You Don't Know')". - Rachel Downes, The Bluegrass Situation

"solid, harmony-laden album, which twines classic country style (think Patsy Cline and Kitty Wells) with contemporary songwriter sensibilities (a la Shawn Colvin and Mindy Smith)."  - Bliss Bowen, Pasadena Weekly

Band Members