Sounds Local: Folk duo The Brother Brothers bringing gorgeous harmonies to Greenfield

  • The Brother Brothers, a modern folk duo from Brooklyn, N.Y., will perform at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Friday. Contributed photo/Erika Kapin

  • HUNTER

For the Recorder
Published: 2/6/2019 4:16:20 PM

An acoustic guitar begins a gentle melody, and then two goosebump-inducing voices chime in.

“Red and gold, that’s my name/And I’m there on the end of each and every day/ Blue skies of rain, clear, cloudy days/I am there, come and find me.”

The harmonies are so gorgeous that you might think you’re listening to one voice. Some sweet violin work adds to the song’s quiet beauty. The song is called “Red and Gold,” and it’s one of 12 stunning songs off “Some People I Know,” the debut album by the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based The Brother Brothers.

The Brother Brothers is made up by Adam and David Moss, identical twins who create modern folk music that is defined by their flawless twin harmonies, captivating writing and use of minimal instrumentation. The Brother Brothers will perform at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, 289 Main St. in Greenfield, Friday night at 7 p.m. The Americana trio Eavesdrop from Northampton will open.

The brothers grew up in Illinois and began singing music together at an early age, singing music their father enjoyed by artists like The Everly Brothers, The Kingston Trio, The Beach Boys and The Beatles. It wasn’t until they were older that they realized singing together could create something unique.

“Right from the beginning, it was normal for us to harmonize together,” Adam Moss said in a recent phone interview. “But it wasn’t really until we were adults that we realized that we had something that nobody else had.”

Yet, it wasn’t until they were in their 30s that the twins pursued a music career together.

“Often what happens with twins is they are grouped together and have a shared identity, so when we went to college we tried to establish our own identity,” Adam Moss explained.

After graduating from the University of Illinois with degrees in music, the brothers went their separate ways. David Moss, who plays cello and guitar, was a member of the progressive folk trio, The Blue Hit, and later pursued a solo career as a singer-songwriter. Adam Moss, who plays fiddle, worked as a sideman for hire, touring with artists like Anais Mitchell, and later became a member of the bluegrass band Green Mountain Grass.

They ultimately became frustrated in their solo careers and decided to try working together.

The brothers took to the road and quickly won over audiences, who immediately responded to the musical magic the two create. Opening slots for acts like Lake Street Dive, Big Thief and I’m With Her has further expanded the duo’s fan base. As their popularity grew, so did the inevitable comparisons to famous duos like The Everly Brothers.

“We usually get Simon & Garfunkel,” Adam Moss said. “We try to play that down and preserve our individual identity. Everybody reacts to things from the past and things they have heard before, but if we were to be marketed as the next Everly Brothers, everyone would think of The Everly Brothers instead of us.”

In 2017, the brothers released the EP “Tugbots” and followed it last fall with the full-length “Some People I Know.” As the title suggests, the album is full of character-driven stories such as “Frankie,” which explores one individual’s response to the gentrification of their neighborhood, and “Mary Ann,” about a woman who struggles with depression.

“‘Frankie’ is a conglomeration of conversations I heard when I was bartending in Brooklyn, and the neighborhood was getting very expensive and it seemed that everyday the conversation would be, ‘This isn’t our neighborhood anymore and I can’t afford it,’” said David Moss, who wrote the song. “‘Mary Ann’ is just a few friends of mine who have a tendency to disappear when they are feeling down, and it’s an expression of ‘I get it.’”

David Moss, who wrote most of the material on the album, was in his mid-20s when he was inspired to start songwriting after attending the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. Adam Moss does some writing, too, and contributed “In the Nighttime,” a fiery bluegrass number he wrote years ago when he was busking on the streets of Boston. He also contributed “Banjo Song” about a man so heartbroken he couldn’t play the banjo anymore.

One tidbit of information about the brothers their fans may not know is that they don’t write together.

“Songwriting together is something we have been working on, but also avoiding a lot because it creates a lot of arguments. Sometimes we try and then we fight and then we table it,” David Moss said with a laugh.

Both David and Adam Moss agree that as brothers, they face some unique challenges working together and stressed with some laughter that they don’t want to join the ranks of famous feuding brothers in the music world.

“There are some things that make it way easier and some things that make it way harder. The arguments fizzle a lot faster and we don’t hold grudges, but we also probably argue a lot more,” Adam Moss said.

“And the arguments escalate quicker and we probably expect a lot more out of each other as well,” David Moss added.

The Brother Brothers’ show at Hawks & Reed marks a return to the Pioneer Valley for the brothers, who also performed at the Green River Festival last year. But this will be the duo’s first headlining show here and the first show since the release of “Some People I Know.” The Moss brothers look forward to sharing these songs with an audience.

“I always say that the only thing I really care about with this album is that people have an experience, and then every time they go back to it, they discover something new,” David Moss said. “And that’s why they want to keep listening to it, because its doing something for them emotionally and/or spiritually.

“Ideally, I want people putting this on when they’re cooking dinner or sitting on the couch or whatever, just to simply enjoy it,” Adam Moss added. “That’s what it’s there for.”

Advance tickets are $15 and are available at bit.ly/2BjEwI4. Tickets are $20 day of show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at soundslocal@yahoo.com.




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