Folk and Americana duo Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer will kick off a week-long tour of Southeast Alaska April 2 with a performance at the Gold Town Nickelodeon.
The pair’s Juneau concert comes days after their performance at a considerably larger venue, the William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center in Anchorage, where they opened for indie folk star Iron & Wine (aka Sam Beam). Fer said she and McGraw have played a wide range of venues across the country and in Europe, and the Anchorage show was particular exciting.
“Sometimes we look at ourselves and think, it’s really an interesting thing that we do, playing music. All of the sudden we wake up, we’re in Anchorage, and we’re opening for one of our favorite bands,” she said. “It’s a really awesome opportunity.”
An intimate venue like the Gold Town is more common for the pair, Fer said. They’ll play one show at the theater April 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 and doors open at 6:30 p.m. The show is sponsored by KRNN.
The couple, who live in the San Juan Islands, first performed in Alaska last July for the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines. They had such a good time in the area that they were easily persuaded to make a return trip this year.
“We got to spend a little time in Juneau, both before and after the state fair, and we just loved it,” Fer said. “It was amazing. So we were eager to get back.”
In addition to their show at the Gold Town, Fer and McGraw will be playing in Skagway on April 4, Haines on April 6 and Ketchikan on April 9. In between they’ll pass back though Juneau to perform a set at next week’s Alaska Folk Festival at Centennial Hall; their slot is Tuesday at 10:15 p.m.
At the Gold Town show, Fer and McGraw will share new work and selections from their debut album, “Seeds of Pine,” which features original songs written by each of them.
“It’s kind of half and half — half the songs Dave wrote, and half the songs I wrote,” Fer said. “We wrote them with each other in mind, for sure, but there are no co-written songs on that album. There will be on the next album that we’re working on now.”
Making a switch to co-writing has had it’s challenges, she added.
“It’s been an adventure to try and do that,” she said with a laugh. “We spent a lot of hours in our little cabin in the woods throwing ideas at each other, ripping them apart and restructuring them. We still have to get them all down.”
“Seeds of a Pine,” which features guest appearances by musicians Peter Mulvey, Allison Russell and JT Nero, received stellar reviews in No Depression, the Seattle Post Intelligencer and The Telegraph (United Kingdom), among other media outlets, with several reviewers commenting on the strength of the couple’s complimentary harmonies. Fer and McGraw take turns singing lead, and both play guitar; Fer electric and McGraw acoustic.
Fer said the first time they performed together in Flagstaff, Ariz., in 2010, an affinity between their vocals was immediately apparent, in part because they both have a fairly low register; McGraw is a baritone and Fer is a low alto. Both were living in Flagstaff at the time, performing mostly as solo acts. After that first show, things started to change.
“We really enjoyed playing together,” she said. “And it’s kind of all history from there.”
Catch Fer and McGraw April 2 at the Gold Town and April 8 at the folk festival.
For more on the folk festival, which runs April 7-13, see www.akfolkfest.org. For the schedule and photos, see http://juneauempire.com/art/2014-04-03/2014-alaska-folk-festival-schedule.
For more on Fer and McGraw, visit http://daveandmandymusic.com.