Wednesday, July 18, 2012

To Stanley you must

For this melodious and feisty all-girl band from Texas

Express Staff Writer

Hot girls in the summertime. The Trishas play two nights of concerts up in Stanley this week. Courtesy photo by Todd Wolfson

About an hour's drive north of where their fellow Austinites will be playing in Ketchum on Thursday night will be a slightly sassier, equally as worthy female band called The Trishas.

When Jamie Wilson, Liz Foster, Kelley Mickwee and Savannah Welch first shared a stage in January 2009, their intention was simply to perform a couple of songs as part of a one-time tribute to Savannah's father, singer-songwriter Kevin Welch.

Memphis-reared Mickwee, the group's main mandolinist, honed her talents in that music-rich town before becoming half of the duo Jed & Kelley; Wilson was a member of renowned Austin band The Gougers; and Foster, who can wail on harmonica, performed on the Texas Opry circuit and spent seven years touring with a Motown revue before forming the duo Liz & Lincoln. Nashville-raised Welch moved to Austin after high school to pursue acting and screenwriting, and other than a short stint in L.A., has been a Texan for 10 years. Her brother Dustin and father, Kevin, eventually joined her, and she sang in her brother's band.

But that night, as the story goes, the sound of the women's voices soaring in close four-part harmony so transfixed listeners in Steamboat, Colo., that show offers began to come in, luring them into testing the waters as a group. By that September, The Trishas were showcasing at the Americana Music Association Conference & Festival in Nashville, where Raul Malo caught them. He invited them to sing on his Sinners & Saints album.

And the symbiosis continues to roll forward. They got a publishing deal, toured with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Todd Snider, performed with Todd Snider and joined Welch on his album, "A Patch of Blue Sky."

Their first album, backed by industry heavy hitters who joined them in studio, will be released Aug. 7 with the title "High, Wide & Handsome," a phrase the women selected because it means a carefree, stylish manner, as in the prancing step of a spirited horse.

The curious can get an advance version Thursday, July 19, at the Stanley Street Dance from 5-9 p.m. on the Ace of Diamonds Avenue and Friday, July 20 at 9 p.m. for $8, at the Stanley Kasino Club.

Their comfort level with one another is obvious; in YouTube videos and concert clips, they laugh frequently and easily together, and even on tiny stages they smoothly switch among a variety of stringed and percussion instruments, including drums. They change vocal parts—and genres—with equal ease. Wilson characterizes their soulful sound as "eclectic" and says of the new album, "It goes between pretty country-and-jug-bandy-sounding to spooky and creepy to kinda rockin' within 14 songs."

These are not women who feel compelled to meet expectations, stay within boundaries or even let others determine what that should look like.

Mickwee, singer and lead mandolinist, answered a few more questions.

What's the story thread y'all seek to convey with your music?

We sought to convey truth, honesty, love. Basically anything that draws an emotion. As of yet, we have yet to write a song about motherhood. I'm sure that's not far away.

Do you feel an obligation to stress the girl power message?

It's not something we think about, nor is it something we planned. We just happen to be four girls in a band together.

Would y'all have been friends in another setting? Clearly the music forged the deal, but what seals the bond on a daily basis?

We're all lucky that we like spending time with each other, in this genre or any other. It's probably our sick sense of humor!

What comes first for a writer who performs, the melody or the lyrics?

There is absolutely no formula to writing a song. Sometimes it's the melody, sometimes it's the lyrics.

What can people expect from one of your shows?

The listener can expect to hear four unique voices, a variety of instruments and a collection of songs as different as the four writers themselves. Hopefully, they leave with a CD!

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