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Tashians seek wider audience with "Harmony"

By Jon Weisberger, March 1997

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Now, with the March release of "Harmony," the Tashians are looking forward to getting their sound out to bluegrass and Americana audiences. Though there was a bluegrass flavor to much of their earlier material, on "Harmony" that sound is more up-front (though not so much as to include a banjo). "We'd send our (earlier) stuff out and bluegrass stations wouldn't play it, so we were pointed more directly this time."

Though the Tashians aren't oriented toward the restricted format and tight playlists of '90's country radio - "I don't like to see what's happening in country music," Barry says - they feel comfortable living and working on the edges of the Nashville mainstream, expressing respect for "alt country" targets like Garth Brooks (they record at the same studio) and co-writing with, among others, Top 10 songwriter Mark D. Sanders. "Writing with people means connecting with them," Tashian observes. "You have to have a good feeling about them."

"Harmony" should give the couple a good shot at drawing some much-deserved attention from bluegrass, Americana and other roots-friendly radio stations and venues.

The album features sympathetic backing from top-shelf Nashville pickers, a guest appearance by Harris, some well-selected covers ( "All I Have To Offer You (Is Me)," an early hit for Charley Pride, Flatt & Scruggs' "Lonesome And Blue" and O.W. Mayo's old swing/blues "Blues For Dixie") and a raft of originals that are at once endearingly familiar-sounding and refreshingly new.

In support of the new album, they'll be traveling to their original home region of the Northeast in April with a six-day swing culminating in a CD release party at Johnny D's in Somerville, Mass. on April 6. After that, they're off to the Midwest, Louisiana, and, in the heart of the summer, to Europe.

In the notes to "Harmony," Holly Tashian writes that "our traditional style of duet singing combines many diverse elements of American music."

As bluegrass musician Laurie Lewis says, "the songs in this collection don't just sound reminiscent of bluegrass or sweet old-time country duets (or for that matter rockabilly or western swing) - they are !"

For a couple of folks from Westport, that's high praise. Best of all, it's the absolute truth.

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