by Karim Doumar
Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish met in college while playing in a band together. That was in 2003. Now, 12 years later, they are married and touring together as the members of a duet called The Honey Dewdrops to promote their newest album, Tangled Country.
“It’s fun and the mix was natural from the beginning,” Parrish said of the duet’s complementary voices. The group categorizes themselves under the singer/songwriter genre, closely associated with folk and acoustic traditions. “It’s definitely new music but you can hear flavors of older styles and traditions in it,” Parrish said of their style.
The group focuses on the duet setting. Their songs are mostly originals. “I write them or Laura writes them but most of it is collaborative,” Parrish explained. In the music, you’ll be able to pick up some elements of roots music, old country music, old bluegrass, and even a little bit of old time music. “We’re careful to say that this is new and of this time,” Parrish reiterated.
After the two were married, they both became school teachers who happened to like similar music. “We spent from 2003 to 2009 playing music for fun, playing music for friends, doing the odd gig here and there but mostly it was just something we really enjoyed so we kept at it.” Parrish said.
That all changed in 2008 when the duo participated in the Prairie Home Companion Talent Show. “We ended up winning the contest and that really pushed us to take things even more seriously.” Parrish said. “We took a year to slowly decide, OK, this might be something interesting to try out.” They also realized that “this might be an opportunity that is definitely going to be easier to do when we’re younger than older.”
The two thought about it over the course of a year and at the end of the school year, they decided to give full-time music a try.
The decision to go full-time was not only predicated on their mutual love for music and their talent.
“As teachers, living the lives that teachers do – working from 7:30 in the morning to 5:30 at night and then being really tired – we were really hoping to see each other more.” Parrish said of the couple’s decision to make music their life. “Certainly we are seeing each other a lot now.” This must have absolutely been true during 2013 and the first half of 2014 when they lived on the road. “It was something that seemed practical. We were travelling a lot; it was good not to have a home base that we were never at but paid rent for,” Parrish said.
The couple moved around staying in hotels, and with friends and family for over a year. “It was an interesting experiment: this kind of nomadic life style,” Parrish said.
All but one of the songs on their newest album, Tangled Country, were written during this nomadic period.
“When you’re not trying to make it home all the time, your mind is sort of freed up in ways that are not usual and that sort of freeing up of time and mental space allowed us to really get into these songs,” Parrish said of the album.
“The songs are pretty personal. I think a lot of them are about change and dealing with change and wanting to survive that change,” he said. The couple has since settled in Baltimore. They finished this album from the comfort of their own home.
And as for their efforts to keep a band and marriage afloat at the same time, Parrish acknowledges that “it takes a lot of work to make it happen, but for us, it’s been a really great fit.”
The Honey Dewdrops will be playing at Gypsy Sally’s in Washington, D.C. tonight at 8:30 p.m.
• For more information about The Honey Dewdrops, visit thehoneydewdrops.com.