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Busy, creative quarantine led to new Accidentals EP
By Gary Graff
firstname.lastname@example.org, @GraffonMusic on Twitte
Posted: Sunday, May 9, 2021
See more SOUND CHECK
The Accidentals have not gone quietly into the pandemic.
The Traverse City trio was on the road in Arkansas and well on its way to recording its next album when the world, and particularly the music industry shut down in March of 2020. Though singers and multi-instrumentalists Savannah Buist and Katie Larson had set up shop in Nashville the previous year, they picked up Bustís cat and headed back home, bubbling with bandmate Michael Dause back in northern Michigan.
There the group held forth online, with a steady diet of virtual programs such as "Three For Tea" and "Daily Breather," as well as performances for the Ann Arbor Folk Festival and other streaming events. Buist even wrote a 40-page manual/tutorial of livestreaming guidelines that was sourced by the Recording Academy and Bandcamp.
Most importantly, the group made a new EP "Time Out (Session 1)" a five-track set that features songwriting collaborations with Kim Richey, Dar Williams, Maia Sharp, Tom Paxton and the duo of Mary Gauthier and Jamiee Harris.
And although the group experienced the same stresses and concerns as everyone else, Buist, 25, says that, "It was good to stay in a productive place for awhile as we figured out how long this was going to go on. It was nice to be back in Michigan, nice to hear birdsong and all of that. All of us live with immune-compromised people, so we didn't go anywhere fora while and quarantined together to make the record."
Dause, 26, who also released a solo album last year under the name Treeskin, adds that, "It was kind of interesting to have an amount of time to delve into something. After six years of being on the road so much and 'go, go, go...,' when we decided to come back and start recording on our own, we had time to really dig into some of these tracks and spend three hours getting a cello sound and...just dig in our heels, really."
Putting the next album, "Vessel," aside, the Accidentals recorded the "Time Out" EP at Atticus Blue Studios in Buist's attic and at Cedar House Studios in Larson's Cedar, Mich. home. The spark was lit by "Wildfire" with Richey, who Buist assisted with some livestream events. "I was like, 'THE' Kim Richey?! My hero! I can definitely talk to her,'" Buist recalls.
Richey, meanwhile, was open to the idea of co-writing, via Zoom, with admirers more than half her age. (She also came to Ann Arbor to join the Accidentals for their Ann Arbor Folk Festival performance.)
"Sav had this voice memo of the first verse and an idea for the chorus that she emailed to everyone so we had this seed to start with," Larson, 25, remembers. "We ended up talking about all these memories we had about driving through the hills on the way to Boseman (Montana) on the Fourth of July and seeing fireworks doing off. Kim was like, 'That's a line. We can work with that.'
"We had all this flexibility with time, so we had a few sessions with Kim were we were able to sit on (the song) and come back and work on it some more. We didn't have to coordinate tour schedules or be in the same room. I remember going into the kitchen during one of the breaks and hearing the chorus on loop and thinking, 'This is really cool...'"
The other co-writes were equally inspiring -- and, despite the age and experience differentials, not particularly intimidating for the northern Michigan crew.
"Co-writing in general is nerve-wracking," Buist acknowledges. "This ultimately felt like a respectful place; Everyone's on an equal platform, even though they're legends. We couldn't think about how much we admire these people; We had to write a song with them."
Larson adds that, "In a way, it's a lot more humbling to see someone in the Zoom screen. This is someone in the living room, or the kitchen." Williams, in fact, was making tacos part of the time the Accidentals were writing "Night Train" with her.
"You know, Tom Paxton, there's 60 years between us, but music still bridges that gap," Buist says. "The same emotions come through. He had just this honest and open personality that really helped to write that song ('Anyway')."
As "Time Out" comes out, the Accidentals -- whose members have each received a different brand of COVID-19 vaccine -- are looking forward. They've filmed some videos while in quarantine and are planning monthly livestream performances via Patreon. The group is also "building" a tour it hopes to begin during October. Dause is also working on some other outside projects, and the band plans to release the "Vessel" album, the follow-up to 2017's "Odyssey," once it's certain it will be able to hit the road to support it.
Even then, however, the Accidentals expect the lessons learned in quarantine to still be part of the band's creative arsenal.
"I think livestreaming is going to carry over; That accessibility is something people are still going to want, I think," Larson says. "And co-writing from the road, there's been a whole normalized social move on Zoom and everything else. We won't have to wait 'til we come home to do more co-writes and collaborations. It'll be cool to see how all of this goes forward with the music industry -- positively."
The Accidentals celebrates its new EP, "Time Out (Session 1)" with a virtual release party at 8 p.m. Sunday. The group will be joined by co-writers Kim Richey, Maia Sharp, Dar Williams and Tom Paxton. Tickets via theaccidentalsmusic.com.
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