An interview with Joan Harrison who will be appearing at the HVBA fundraiser this Sunday, May 31st with the band- “Too Blue”.
Q. What’s up with “Too Blue,” I hear there’s a new recording in the works.
A. We kicked off our summer schedule over the Memorial Day weekend with the Columbia Land Conservancy’s 19th Annual Country BBQ, and will continue to keep busy with town concerts, private parties and an appearance at the Dutchess County Fair. This past year we were joined by Jamie Doris on bass and are happy to report that he is a great fit for the band. Having studied jazz at the New School in New York City, he brings knowledge and open-mindedness to our table, while keeping it solid and tasteful on the bluegrass numbers. Work has begun on our second CD; we’re about a third of the way through the project.
Q. What sorts of tunes are you playing?
A. The songs on the CD are representative of our varied tastes and influences, ranging from Celtic and bluegrass to country and swing.
Q. Any guest performers?
A. So far we haven’t any guest performers, but we’ve been tossing around the idea for some of the upcoming sessions.
Q. Are the songs you have chosen to record keeping with Too Blue’s past sound or are you breaking out into any new directions?
A. While maintaining the overall vocal sound we’ve established over the years, we will be adding additional harmonies on some of the songs. We’ll also be including more instrumentals on this project.
Q. Are you particularly excited about any one song?
A. It’s exciting to be able to record not only originals from Betsy and myself, but some wonderful instrumentals from Michael as well. We’ll also be doing a few cover tunes this time around, choosing from audience favorites.
Q. Is there a release date on the horizon?
A. We don’t have a release date yet, but we’re working on it.
Q. The band has played some interesting gigs lately, notably the Joe Val festival back in February, how did that go?
A. We had a blast at Joe Val. Can you think of a better way to spend a blustery February weekend than a bluegrass festival with hot showers and maid service?
Q. Any memorable experiences?
A. Stumbling upon a 5:00 a.m. jam where Michael Cleveland was playing guitar was right up there for me. He was all over the fretboard, and yet he apologized for his chops by saying “I don’t play guitar every day.” Yeah, we were thinking the same thing.
Q. Did you have time to get into any informal backstage picking jam sessions?
A. We always find time for jamming at Joe Val. We’ve met so many fine musicians there, it’s almost like a reunion. It’s the best part of the festival for me, even though the main stage presents top-notch talent.
Q. How was the crowd, did you feel your music was well received?
A. We had a terrific time performing on the Showcase Stage. Toes were tapping and the crowd’s response was enthusiastic. I was especially pleased to see that our new material went over well.
Q. What’s next for Too Blue, any exciting prospects on the horizon?
A. What’s next is more of the same – more gigs and more recording. We’re really looking forward to getting a new CD out there and hopefully making some new fans.
Q. Getting four or five people together to do anything seems to be a miracle now-a-days, how has Too Blue managed to stay together for so long and continued to do such high quality work?
A. I think it’s because we all have a desire to maintain the quality of our music and we’re willing to work at it. Our musical tastes are not all the same, but they intersect more often than not, making for a diverse repertoire that keeps us interested.
Q. What is your greatest wish for the band and for that matter, the bluegrass community in general?
A. My wish is that “Too Blue” will continue to make good music and new friends. Our collaborative efforts are creative and satisfying and we manage to have a lot of fun along the way. You can’t ask for much more than that.
The world of bluegrass is hardly mainstream and it probably never will be. Stadiums may not fill with bluegrass fans, but there are plenty of smaller venues in need of support. So much great music is happening and it should be seen live whenever possible; there’s no substitute for the experience.
Thanks Joan! Looking forward to hearing all of you play at the HVBA fundraiser on May 31st.