Sunday, January 15, 2017

Chicago band The Sweet Maries expands musical horizons on latest album


On its latest release, "Tall Trees & Riverbeds," Chicago area duo The Sweet Maries builds on the harmonious relationship between musical soulmates Amy Shoemaker and Susie Lofton.

The band will perform material from the new album during a CD release party from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at The Rock House, 1742 Glenview Road, Glenview. 

I had the chance to talk to the band about the new album.

Q - Great talking to you. Of course, you released "Tall Trees & Riverbeds" last year. In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

The Sweet Maries - Our goals were to broaden the sound a bit by adding drums, and create a more indigenous inspired and rootsy feel. We believe we did. 

We also hired producer Jeffrey Wood to bring his expertise and vast experience into the studio, to help shape and mold our vision…and it worked.

Q - You have been working together since 2011. How did you come to work together? 

The Sweet Maries - We met thru a colorful and quirky mutual acquaintance who thought we might connect musically. We did. 

Q - How would you describe your collaboration? Do you both contribute equally to the writing process? 

Susie Lofton - This album has the first co-write for us, "Box Canyon Blues," however most of the previous album’s material is Amy’s writing and my contribution has been the harmony voicing and percussive accompaniment. 

Since then, however we’ve added a song or two to our repertoire that I wrote.  We spend a lot of time together and are always discovering new colors in the writing process.

Amy Shoemaker - We were both hungry to find a partner who would listen, and focus and be supportive of one another AND a good communicator. 

We found each other and it just clicked! 

Q - How would you say your voices blend together? 

The Sweet Maries - We think we have a unique harmony to our voices. All together heavenly. 

Q - Susie, I know you have worked in other genres of music. What drew you to the folk/Americana genre? 

Susie Lofton - It's true, I have become very eclectic in my tastes in music and largely attribute that to the many voices I hear running thru my head! The genre I find myself in now is a return to the early days of my exploration at The Old Town School of Folk Music. 

I was so smitten by the singer songwriter style. The art of the story. The beauty of harmony. 

I love the intimate space it allows for that I haven’t too often found in other genres.

Q - It seems like there has been a growing interest in the folk/Americana genre in the past few years. Why do you think there is a renewed interest in the folk/Americana genre? 

The Sweet Maries - It's all about the singer. Truthful colorful storytelling about real life. 

Real feelings. Real people. There always has been and always will be singer/songwriters. 

Music trends ebb and flow, but singer /songwriters are a constant in American music. Whether it's folk, gospel, blues or rock, it’s the story of America.

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you see yourselves fitting into it? 

The Sweet Maries - Chicago has a rich history of holding its own in the singer /songwriter genre. We like to think we’re part of that tradition. 

We’re grateful for the family of singer / songwriters that we’ve found here in Chicago, and we’re gonna keep going - 'til we make Americana Great Again! (wink!)

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