When I listen to music, I am invariably swept beyond the temporal constraints that often weigh life down. There’s too much time spent drawing lines in the sand that we need songs to carry us beyond the trifling concerns of physical boundaries. Great songs exist in the ether as though they have always been there for us, transporting us out of our grounded purview. Back in February, I was walking around the Stockyards when I caught the sound of The County Fringe out of the corner of my ear. A pleasant discovery, I have kept in touch with the husband and wife duo of Heather and Guy Cramer.
Recently, they released a five-song EP presenting their unique tunes, carrying the sound of a simpler time while being clearly rooted in the here and now. Songs that sooth and please the ears, with Guy’s skillful guitar work and Heather’s one of a kind voice. “I didn’t even know she sang until about a year into our marriage,” Cramer says when I met them for dinner at the Woodshed earlier this week. “I was playing in a cover band at Sherlock’s when we met. And we just talked music.” You know you’ve got a keeper when she’s enthusiastic about Son House. The two of them compared notes on roots music, and a fresh romance bloomed alongside the talk of Delta Blues there in that inauthentic Pub.
Guy Cramer has devoted himself to music, playing drums for years in Jazz and Rock bands, including his band The Killroys with Jake Robison. Inspired by a musician uncle at an early age, it is easy to see how integral music has been to his life, “He was my first influence, every Christmas he’d get out his guitar and play songs by Peter, Paul and Mary and Cat Stevens. And I decided I wanted to do that.” It only makes sense that he would marry a woman who could sing, “She’s always singing something around the house.” Though she wasn’t raised around it, Heather’s great grandfather was a fiddle player up the mining country of Pennsylvania. Clearly something of that place and that music found its way into her voice, when I first wrote about them I used the phrase “canary in a coalmine” to describe the sound that grabbed me from across the street. She explains, “I always knew there was something different about the sound of my voice, it actually took me a while to like it.”
Over beef ribs that have been sold out my past three visits, I wondered how married life and songwriting overlap for them. They describe a process by which Guy develops the tune allowing for Heather’s take on the vocal parts which are often delightfully unexpected, “She doesn’t care about singing off of the dominant,” this adds to the aural surprise of The County Fringe. But like all good romances, this process is always evolving. They have added percussion to the mix and after experimenting with different instruments Heather has found a Ukelele that suits her. The five songs on this album show the work these two have put in over the past year, but it is only the beginning.
With the savory draw of smoke permeating the area we digressed into satiated glory, touching on our love of old houses and the stories built into them. Like those scratchy records that escort us out of our hyper-distracted present, The County Fringe remind us that away from all the hype machines there can be something genuine and true. They play Friday night (10/26) at Magnolia Motor Lounge with Folk Family Revival, come out and let the sweet songs wash the workweek from your mind.
Tags: The County Fringe