Husband-wife duo Kagey Parrish and Laura Wortman combine their near-perfect harmonies and expert musicianship into one beautiful package. The Honey Dewdrops stay ever-mindful of their Appalachian roots while evolving musically and lyrically with their songwriting and playing. In advance of their performance at the Stage @ KDHX, Kagey Parrish of the Honey Dewdrops took time for a chat with Kelly Wells, host of KDHX's Steam-Powered Radio.
Kelly Wells: I’ve had the pleasure of listening to y’all since your early days and have enjoyed following your progression as songwriters and players. I especially love how you incorporate roots lyrics and styles into your playing and writing. When writing for an album, do you give equal focus to lyrics and melody/arrangement?
Kagey Parrish: I think so. What we want is for a song to come to life and sing in its own unique way, so that there’s a flow that catches both the lyrics, melody and arrangement -- that makes all of the elements of the song work together. The best way we’ve learned to do this is let the song shape itself. It’s a lot of listening and reacting in the moment to what we hear, and then adding on/subtracting/editing. Focus is one word for it, but it feels more like intuition, trusting the first thing that comes mind.
KW: As a duo, do you write together, separate or both?
KP: Both. We’ve found that different songs call for different approaches.
KW: Your most recent album, Tangled Country was released in 2014. What is a current focus/project for the band?
KP: We’re working on new songs for a record and we’re playing a few them at shows now. We’ve always tended to work on new material in a live setting because it helps us know the songs a little better. The experience of putting the song on a stage and into the ears of an audience allows us to hear new songs in a different way than at home or inside a recording device. It also opens us up to conversations with others about the songs in progress, which can be very helpful.
KW: In roots music we can tend to talk a lot about our influences, siting old fiddlers, banjo players and guitar players that are obscure to all but the most devoted to the genre. Or perhaps we site folks we heard growing up. One of the greatest influences though, can be our peers. I’m curious, what contemporary musicians influence your music? Who impresses you with their own writing and playing?
KP: Recently we’ve been into Devon Sproule’s latest record The Golden String. She’s a pal from Virginia whose writing, singing, and guitar playing are very much all her own. She has a way with lyrics that are at once mysterious and familiar. And she sings them with a voice that is playfully beautiful and heartfelt, always graceful.
KW: Do you have a favorite song you like to perform?
KP: Our song "Hold Love" is always fun to play. It’s a two guitar song with both in a drop D tuning -- love the way guitars sound with the 6th string tuned down to D. The song has big improvisational section in the middle which is always fun to dive into and see where it goes. We’ve been doing John Reischman’s tune "Salt Spring" with guitar and mandolin and it has been a blast digging into the elegant movements of that one as a duet. Also, we’ve been playing Dylan’s "Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright." It’s so much fun to put ourselves inside this incredible song. It never gets old.
KW: What do you each like to do outside of music that contributes to your music? A hobby perhaps, that rejuvenates you creatively?
KP: Laura is a backpacker / hiker, so she takes to the woods and mountains to come back to life. I like to cook -- nothing like a great meal to get the engines going again.
The Honey Dewdrops perform at the Stage @ KDHX Thursday, August 24 at 8:00pm. Tickets available online.