The first free LOCALLY GROWN concert this year is on Thursday, June 28 at a 7:00 PM; and it brings a powerful showcase of local, women-led bands: Lizzy Ross Band, Mary Johnson Rockers, and Birds & Arrows. Before each concert this summer we’ll be doing interviews with each of the bands. Complete details about the concerts and movie nights can be found at www.locally-grown.com.
Andrea Connolly, of Birds & Arrows (www.birdsandarrows.com):
How did you hear about LOCALLY GROWN? This will be our first time and are excited to be a part of the series this summer. A lot of our friends in other bands have played the series and we had heard great things about it.
As your performance date nears, what are you looking forward to most about participating in LOCALLY GROWN? I'm looking forward to a couple things....seeing my friends Lizzy and Mary perform and hopefully singing with them a little. And also, making a few new local fans.
How would you describe your music? Is it inspired by any other band’s music? We get asked this question a lot and it's a little hard to say, but I think we fit pretty well in the folk/rock genre. We are drums guitar and cello, with lots of harmony, if that helps. And yes, we have many bands that inspire our music. One that all three of us agree on is Peter Gabriel (and we may do one of his songs at the event). Also, Pete and I love to listen to great pop music from the 70's and that shows through in our sound sometimes. But, the album on our turn table right now is Bruce Hornsby's Scenes from the Southside.
Do you all have any other interests/hobbies outside of music? Yes, Pete is a wonderful painter and illustrator and does that when he isn't playing music. I love to sew and make and sell guitar straps among other things. And Josh loves to bake and cook amazing dinners for Pete and I (with the help of his wife Alexia of course)!
Any specific performance experiences (embarrassing stories, memorable moments etc) that you would like to share? I'm sure there are plenty of those, Pete and I tend to talk a lot on stage and say all kinds of weird stuff so I'm sure we have embarrassed ourselves plenty of times and haven't even realized it!
Is there anything else you’d like to say about LOCALLY GROWN? The band? Your music? I think Locally Grown is a such an amazing event and really appreciate that the Downtown Partnership works so hard on it. It's great for both the people in the community and the artist. It's events like these that make us look forward to playing every summer. And as for the Birds and Arrows, we are currently working with Chris Stamey on finishing up mixing our new record and look forward to playing some of those new ones for everyone next Thurs.
Lizzy Ross; of Lizzy Ross Band (www.lizzy.net):
Do you have any ties to Chapel Hill and the downtown community? Of course! The series is aptly named. We were grown here, and continue to grow here. The first groups I played in were based at UNC, and our musical and personal communities were centered around Chapel Hill. That still holds true. Chapel Hill is a big small town, full of great minds and great people. Lots of goodness, musical and otherwise, comes from the Chapel Hill community.
As your performance date nears, what are you looking forward to most about participating in LOCALLY GROWN? As strange as it seems, we’re excited to perform on top of the garage (Wallace Parking Deck)! We’re also looking forward to seeing Birds & Arrows and Mary Johnson Rockers and the Spark. We are excited to be playing an event that’s open to the public, because it’s always different than a bar crowd. Last but not least, it’s been a while since we played in Chapel Hill. We are expecting a really good time, a great crowd, and a warm fuzzy feeling.
How would you describe your music? Is it inspired by any other band’s music? It’s folk/rock/roots/blues/soul/Americana/punk/kitchen sink/brontosaurus/indie? We need to get a better marketing person on this question. I have an ever-growing list of influences, as do all the folks in the band. We come from really different musical perspectives. Our bassist Brett loves Zappa, our drummer Max started with Reggae, Our guitarist Jock loves Jeff Bujak. Some of my favorites – Hayes Carll, PJ Harvey, Beach Boys, Talking Heads, Patty Griffin. This is why I struggle with genres.
Do you all have any other interests/hobbies outside of music? Of course! Just kidding. We only think about music. Brett is a great cook. Max purports to surf, but he has yet to verify that claim. My main hobby is walking my dog, Red. Jock and I both love to fish.
Any specific performance experiences (embarrassing stories, memorable moments etc) that you would like to share? Man, we have plenty of embarrassing moments to pick from. They all blend together, so I’ll just gloss them all over and say: Imagine us making fools of ourselves on stage in any way, and it has probably happened. We were also probably having a lot of fun at the time, so that helps. The best moments are when a new element of the show clicks, and we’re really communicating on stage.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about LOCALLY GROWN? The band? Your music? We’re really excited to be playing our home town. I love what I do, and I love continually growing as an artist and a songwriter. I’m excited to have any opportunity to share my music with people, and I’m grateful to them for lending me their ears. I am really lucky and really happy to be a musician.
Mary Johnson Rockers; of Mary Johnson Rockers & The Spark (www.maryjohnsonrockers.com):
Have you ever performed in LOCALLY GROWN before? No, I haven’t. But my friends who have been to Locally Grown concerts really love them and I’ve been planning to go for a while, so it’s extra exciting that I get to be part of one of the shows this year.
Do you have any ties to Chapel Hill and the downtown community? I’ve lived in Carrboro for over 10 years, and this area is home to me now. I have family here, and my son was born at UNC hospital. I attended Carolina for grad school, and there are so many things I love about Chapel Hill-- the music and arts scene (and the biscuits at Ye Olde Waffle Shop) among them. My longtime friend and vocalist in the band, Miriam Chicurel-Bayard, is a Chapel Hill native and I get the sense that this was a special place to be growing up.
How would you describe your music? Is it inspired by any other band’s music? My music has roots, I’d have to say alt country is the deepest one, but the sound seems to shift and grow depending on the musicians I collaborate with and the bands I’m listening to in a certain period. I don’t think I can say I’ve ever composed a song without being influenced by other music, whether it’s obvious or not. Some of my favorites are Mount Moriah, Megafaun, and American Aquarium in addition to who I’m playing with on Thursday night.
Do you all have any other interests/hobbies outside of music? I try to let music be a part of a lot of what I do in one way or another, but outside of band practice and performances I spend a lot of time chasing around my 2- year old, hanging with my hubby and friends and family. I’m a social worker by day, and work with a migrant farmworker health program based in Raleigh. I love being in the woods, and finding secret swimming holes. So if you know of any, please contact me.
Any specific performance experiences (embarrassing stories, memorable moments etc) that you would like to share? My first-ever show in Chapel Hill was at the Skylight Exchange, now the Nightlight on Rosemary Street. I must have been 17. They made these incredible milkshakes. I worked up the nerve to play the open mic with one of my new songs. Besides my family members, there were only two people in the audience, and they were there to play chess. That didn’t stop me from playing again and eventually getting gigs, but I’ll never forget that show.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about LOCALLY GROWN? The band? Your music? I feel lucky to live in a place that recognizes how music brings people together. I’m also the luckiest girl in the world to have the bandmates that I do; they are patient, creative, forgiving, and absurdly talented. I’m excited to share the stage with Lizzy and Birds and Arrows, especially on a summer night in the open air. You never know what can happen on a night like that.
~Alden Hale (Downtown Partnership Intern)