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June Artist of the Month Sam Misner of Misner & Smith sat down with the Deli to talk about the duo's busy summer touring the U.S. Catch the Americana/Folk revivalists in SF before they're on the road again at The Rockit Room on July 9 with Jonny Cat & the Coo Coo Birds.

Deli: How is 2011 shaping up for the band and what can fans expect?
We’re really having a great time in 2011 so far—we just got back from two weeks touring in England, did a Pacific Northwest tour before that and will be heading back up there this August. There’s a good chance that we’ll be going down to Austin and the Southwest this fall too.

In the meantime we have a couple shows in San Francisco with our full band, which we love to do when we can. Rob Bayne plays drums and Henry Misner plays electric guitar. Most of our shows on the road are just the two of us—though when you travel with an upright bass it’s like having a third person in the band who doesn’t carry anything. We’re planning on working more with the full band this year, and for our next album we’re hoping to fill out the instrumentation more than we’ve done in the past too. We love the idea of having the songs work in both formations, still centered around tight vocal harmonies and lyrics but with some more intricate arrangements. We won’t ever leave the duo thing, though. There’s something really pure about two acoustic instruments and two voices.

Deli: Describe the best live gig you ever played and why?
The first time we played at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley a couple years ago was definitely a high point. The venue has such an amazing legacy as an acoustic venue for over 40 years, with many of our heroes on the list of people who have played there. We were honored to play there in the first few months in their new space, which is a beautiful 450 seat theater with great sound. Plus we had decided to record the show for a live album, so there was this undercurrent buzz of excitement that really pushed us to play our best. We released Live at the Freight & Salvage in the Fall of 2010 and have been getting some great feedback about it from both fans and reviewers alike.

Deli: Who are your biggest musical influences?
The Band, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Buffalo Springfield, The Beatles, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Gram Parsons, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Woody Guthrie, Grateful Dead, the Muppets, Talking Heads, to name a few…

Deli: Who are you currently listening to?
Dr. Dog. We can’t say enough about those guys. Especially their albums “Fate” and “Shame, Shame”. Really intelligent songwriting and arrangements that are fun at the same time. Everything they do serves the song. And we love what they do with vocal harmonies—it’s complicated stuff but they sure make it sound easy. And the fact that they can pull it all off live is amazing.

Deli: If you could make music in another time, when and where would it be and what scene would you join?
That’s a tough question because there are so many time periods that had fantastic music and there’s great stuff happening today. Judging from our influences we’d probably have had a lot of fun in the 1960’s and 70’s folk and rock scene. We’d also feel right at home on someone’s front porch in Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1800’s.

Deli: What do you love about the Bay Area?
It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, first off. The more we tour and are away from home the more we realize what a special place the Bay Area is to live. Where else can you be so close to mountains, the ocean, the redwoods—the Marin Headlands and up to Point Reyes is an incredible. And then you throw in all creativity that’s going on and supported here, it’s quite a combination.

Deli: Favorite venue in the Bay Area?
The Freight & Salvage is our favorite venue that we’ve played, although, we also love the vibe at The Independent in San Francisco and we’d love to play their stage with the full band someday.

Deli: Can you name a few other local bands you feel particularly close to on an artistic level?
The Crooked Jades, Coyote Grace, Misisipi Mike (and all his musical projects), The Magic Leaves, The Stairwell Sisters to name a few.

 

 


 
 
 

 

Misner & Smith
Live at the Freight & Salvage