They take their name from the music mecca they call home, Nashville, Tenn. But don”t make the assumption the Twangtown Paramours” repertoire follows a traditional country music recipe. The pair brings their unique blend to the Columbus Arts Council”s Rosenzweig Arts Center in Columbus Friday at 7:30 p.m. They will be featured musical guests on the Thacker Mountain Radio show in Oxford Thursday night.
“Our music is a cross between Americana, folk and alt-country,” said songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mike Lewis by phone Thursday. “It sounds like it came from Nashville sometimes — sometimes — but the lyrics sound like Texas as much as anything, inspired by people who have influenced me … Townes Van Zandt, Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore.”
Lewis, if fact, at times tours with Gilmore, the respected Austin, Texas-based singer, songwriter and producer. Since 2000, Lewis has owned and operated a studio, where he produces for other artists. But one of his favorite recent projects has been the self-titled Paramours” CD made with Zamer. The pair met in Nashville about two years ago and married in December, 2010.
“Mary Beth is my favorite singer,” said Lewis, of his wife, who hails from the Washington, D.C., area and was part of the band Method Actor, featuring the late, great Eva Cassidy.
The duo received welcome breaking news late Thursday. “We just found out we”ve been named finalists in the Kerrville New Folk competition,” Lewis said excitedly in a second phone call. The New Folk concerts, a highlight of the revered Kerrville Folk Festival held Memorial Day weekend in Kerrville, Texas, selects only 32 finalists from more than 800 songwriting submissions from around the world.
“We”re just so thrilled to be in that group,” Lewis stressed.
The real-life paramours have been praised for thought-provoking lyrics, superb musicianship and Zamer”s angelic vocals. While Lewis takes on the primary writing role (he even scored a No. 1 1997 pop hit in South Korea on Yang Pa”s first album), a favorite song they”ll perform in Columbus was a collaboration.
The idea for the beautifully plaintive “Widow of the Mountain” originated with Zamer. “Some of our songs deal with some pretty serious stuff … but then we have songs like the naked Hawaiian dancer song that”s just fun,” chuckled Lewis. “We”ve been accused of making people cry one minute and laugh the next.”
In January, critic Chris Harkness for No Depression said of the debut CD: “From the first track ”On my Way” to ”Orphan in the Storm” and closing with the very humorous ”Ballad of Little Lulu,” the Twangtown Paramours spin an emotionally charged web of insightful and engaging stories that leave the listener wanting more. This CD is definitely a keeper … ”
How to go
Tickets to the show are $10 in advance at the Rosenzweig Arts Center at 501 Main St.; admission at the door will be $12. Seating in the intimate Omnova Theater is limited, advance tickets are recommended.
For additional information or tickets, contact the arts council at 662-328-2787. Hear a track from their December performance at Nashville”s famed Bluebird Cafe through a link at columbusarts.com.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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