Hymn For Her: Planting roots on and off the road
(Welcome to tbt*’s 2015 Ultimate Local Music Guide! All week we’re spotlighting 10 of our favorite local artists of the past year. Up next: Sarasota husband-and-wife twang-punk duo Hymn For Her.)
Mondays aren’t as much of a mystery as they used to be for Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing.
Days that used to begin in an Airstream trailer in Anywhere, U.S.A., now kick off in a typical Florida bungalow on a quiet side street of Sarasota.
“It’s nice to have a home base,” said Tight, who plays the cigar box guitar as one half of the “stomp-grass punk folk” duo Hymn For Her.
Their daughter is in elementary school now, so they rise before the sun to get a moment of peace before she wakes.
Afterward, they rouse her, prepare her for school and drop her off on their way to whatever the day’s fitness initiative has become.
“Seven a.m is daughter chaos,” said Waxing, who plays the guitar, bass and percussion for the band. “Then from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. we’ll go take a walk on the beach or workout or do something outside.”
It’s not until 10 a.m. that they become Hymn For Her. They’ll sit for hours conceptualizing music videos or entire albums, then haul some equipment out to the Airstream parked in the backyard and work through recording a track or two.
On weeknights, they’ll take gigs around the Tampa Bay area, and during the school year they might spend weekends and holidays on the road, driving four to six hours at a time to gigs planned by their booking agency or clear out of state for a festival. In the summer, they plan to tour France and Germany to support the records released through label deals in those countries, maybe even adding a few dates in Italy through a connection there.
For years, the Philadelphia natives traveled the country in their Ford van (with 450,000 miles!) dragging their classic Airstream and playing music in every venue that would have them to promote their albums written on the road. They’d fit in as many shows and festivals as humanly possible while caring for their daughter.
Tight and Waxing still consider the road home, but settling in Sarasota to give their daughter a school life and exposure to other children just felt right to them. “It was getting to where she needed to be around more kids her own age,” Tight said.
Tight said it feels good to be able to live as a musician, something they’ve done most of their adult lives.
“A lot of times people look at us and say things like 'Oh, it must be nice.’ Like all of a sudden everything just magically fell in our laps and we did absolutely nothing to make it happen.” She laughed. “You have to be open very open and you can’t get jaded the way people in the music business do. You can’t compare what’s happened to you with what happened with anyone else. It takes the joy out of life.”
The duo is trying new things to get their music heard by as many people as possible.
“That’s why we did the NPR Tiny Desk Concert contest with 7,000 bands, because you never know what you’re going to get out of it. We just do everything and see what sticks on the wall, you know,” Waxing said. “Like playing a Tuesday night in Minneapolis in small cafe. You might think what’s going to come of that. What are you gonna get out of this? You’ve got to be out here. It’s always feast or famine.”
That NPR contest got them seen by a German booking agency that helped them tour that country in 2014, and the Tuesday night in Minnesota got Hymn For Her seen and signed by a French record label that gave them a three-album deal — one a compilation of their previous records.
The next album will be a completely original work, for which they’ve already begun recording tracks in the Airstream. Waxing said they’ve got three records’ worth of material in the can.
“Our whole last album, Lucy & Wayne's Smokin' Flames, was completely recorded in the Airstream,” Tight said. “Our next album is not going to be as live. But you can listen to our CDs and you can feel the live energy in the music.”
Members: Lucy Tight (cigar box guitar), Wayne Waxing (guitar, bass, percussion)
Recommended if you like: Shovels and Rope, Shakey Graves, the White Stripes, The Devil Makes Three
See them: Sunday at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe in Tampa.
-- Robbyn Mitchell, tbt*