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An ethereal blend of two voices, guided by fate to find each other, travels the wire from iTunes to earbuds and into my ear canal a€” so exquisite, ita€™s almost unbearable. Hannah and Maggiea€™s almost unearthly harmonies evoke descriptions like a€?Simon and Garfunkel crossed with the Indigo Girls.a€? Indeed, they have been included in a number of Simon and Garfunkel tributes.
When Hannah was around 10, there was an electric guitar sitting in the living room, a leftover from one of her fathera€™s stage roles. The drama club would host coffeehouses every first Friday and that was where Hannah first performed solo, singing her songs and accompanying herself on guitar. Maggie was in chorus, but switched her energies to forming rock bands when she was still in middle school.
Although Hannah earned a degree in American Studies with a focus on Race and Ethnicity and Maggie in Comparative Literature with a focus on English and Spanish Literature, it would be music that defined their path going forward. The house to which Hannah was assigned was an old, Victorian-style residence (the oldest on campus) that, at 50 coeds, was smaller than most.
At some point they harmonized on one anothera€™s songs and some friends suggested that they sing together. Hannah graduated in 2011 and moved to New York City, with Maggie still having one year left. In January of 2012, they recorded their second album, the aforementioned Muscle & Bone, and released it in May.
Hea€™d come backstage to change costumes and she would witness the transformation of her father to an actor with a€?elaborate costumes and crazy makeup.a€? She absorbed the idea that investing onea€™s time into performance and the arts was a valuable thing. Maggiea€™s dad was happy that she was playing acoustic, and wasna€™t thrilled that her goal was to play rock. There was a broad range of types of performance, ranging from poetry and music (Hannah would sing and play guitar) to displays of visual art or even hair styling. In 2010, Hannaha€™s junior year, they sat down to play music together working on covers and originals. Hannah graduatedA  in 2011 and moved to New York City, with Maggie still having one year left.
In January of 2012, they recorded their second album, the aforementioned Muscle & Bone, andA  released it in May.
I first saw them perform at the 2009 Tribes Hill Annual Meeting and Hootenanny at the historic Hammond House headquarters in Valhalla, NY. Much of their work carries the style and emotional power of musical theater, something Ia€™m very fond of. After they found out that they were all into music, they'd go over to Paul's house and play just for fun doing covers of Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and others.
Outside of her positive chorus experiences, there were two stumbling blocks, one of them having a lasting negative effect. The next step she took was to enroll as a Theater major at SUNY (State University of New York), Fredonia, near Buffalo NY. Around 1996, the three had been getting together to play at Paul's house for some time, eventually playing a few shows as The YaYas, but never took any of it too seriously. In 2003, they self-produced their first 10-song CD, Everything, co-produced and mixed by Ben Wisch whoa€™d produced the Grammy-winning album Walking in Memphis by Mark Cohn and additionally, other notable performers (Patty Larkin, Lucy Kaplansky, Jonatha Brooke, Red Molly).
While Catherine is the lyricist for the band, she readily acknowledges the integral part that Jay and Paul play, sometimes helping her complete the songs, pushing her past hurdles in the narratives.
Paper Boats was just completed in September, and I was able to listen to the album before its release. The band moved to Mohegan Lake, near Peekskill, NY in 2005, and has become a part of the Tribes Hill community.
The YaYas will appear in Acoustic Live showcases at NERFA and wea€™ll be at the Postcrypt Coffeehouse for their October 1st show. I thought Jay, wry humorist, was the joker in the 3-card hand until Paul started to tell his story.
Her adopted father worked for a chemical corporation and they moved around a lota€¦ New Jersey, then Rhode Islanda€¦ When Diana was 15, she left her foster family. Exhibiting her independence early, she joined a Baptist choir when she was 11 because their songs were more interesting. While she was still playing music during her school years, after graduation, she became a serious painter. After college, still in her early 20's, during a post graduation stay in England, Diana got badly hurt in a car accident. When she was feeling better, she went to the library and got all the American music she could find -- Elvis Presley, the blues, some kind of history of American music and then she taped it.
In 1996 she went to Ireland for a month with a friend who was a great musician and who knew many people there. She recorded her first album Imagine Me in 1996 and in 1998, her second The One That Got Away.
The best chance in the NY area to see Diana in the immediate future is when she opens for Alejandro Escovedo at The Outpost in the Burbs on April 13th.
Diana's mother had moved to New York when she was 17, then went to airline school in Hartford, Conn. Hannah Hickok and Maggie Kraus, a lesbian folk-pop duo, look at all the facets of living a€” loving, losing, friendship a€” as if peering through a microscope, taking the facets apart and reassembling them with delicate, faerie fingers. In a perfect world, I think their articulate expression of lives so sharply felt and lived could change a listenera€™s DNA. Her parents were actors but her mother quit the theater when Hannah was born in favor of another career path. In addition to the exposure to Broadway musical theater tunes, folk revival classics like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell were played often. She was a member of the all-female and coed a capella groups and the chorus all four years of high school.
After learning the basics, she and a small group of other campers performed for everyone in camp. Shea€™d coax boys into being members of her bands, selecting roles for them (a€?OK, Brian, youa€™re gonna play drumsa€¦a€?), regardless of their lack of experience. She hated the results and invested in an MBox, a portable computer recording interface (with mic and instrument ports) for computers.
Hannah ran the coffeehouse events each month with few exceptions, and with even more regularity when she was house president in her junior and senior years. So Maggie visited Hannah regularly at Hannaha€™s campus residence and found the vibe relaxed and inviting, more so than her own residence.
At the end of the summer they completed a two-week Northeast tour, their first extended travel on the road.
After Maggie graduated they embarked on their first national tour, jumping from Portland, Maine to Nashville to Salt Lake City.
We were thrilled to include them in our late-night guerrilla showcase at the 2013 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference and wea€™re eager to help them promote their new album.


The band in which she sings lead vocals, The YaYas, has just released a new album, Paper Boats. With her husband, Jay Mafale on guitar and old friend Paul Silverman on piano, she forms the point at which the lineup, in tandem, pushes its way into the listenera€™s heart. Neither of his parents had musical ability, but his father played Sinatra records all the time.
Her teachers were serious about teaching everything from folk singing, to sight reading and ear training. The company would rearrange the space differently, according to need, sometimes in-the-round, often with the audience in close proximity to the actors. He didn't pursue any type of musical performance during his 4 years at college, but his drive to play was persistent. He did some acting for fun and enjoyed the camaraderie of the other actors, continuing with the theater group after graduation. During this period, Jay and Catherine fell in love and in October of 1997, they got married.
On their honeymoon, Catherine was thrown from a horse and two of her vertebrae were crushed. Reaching back to their first CD, Everything, it was evident that they had something special.
Catherine continues to do what she does best, writing songs that touch upon her personal experiences, but contain universal appeal, then express them with refined, passionate vocals.
Reaching back to their first CD, Everything, it was evident thatA  they had something special.
Although she listened to James Taylor and such on the radio and liked it, she felt more drawn to the more rootsy sounds of performers like Cash and Harris.
At 16-17 years old, she attended support groups for adopted persons and other people who were searching and met some birth mothers and found it to be an amazing experience. She came back after four weeks of being steeped in Celtic music She says that over the years, at times she's had to paint a portrait or paint a room in somebody's house, but other than that it's been all music.
That tour has ended, but hopefully, they'll reprise this partnership so we can see more of this masterful pairing.
Although sheA  listened to James Taylor and such on the radio and liked it, she felt more drawn to the more rootsy sounds of performers like Cash and Harris. Because Hannah and Maggie plunge a rapier of emotional honesty into the psyche, the listener might become a better person, more empathetic. She performed in musical plays a€” her first was when she was 5 a€” and was in chorus all through grade school and high school. He taught her how to play The Beatlesa€™ a€?Blackbird,a€? the first song she ever learned on guitar.
She always liked music and, like Hannah, she was exposed to folk revivalists James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. There was supposed to be an a€?officiala€? staged performance at the end of the camp session, but it never happened.
In 2001, Maggie was 11 going on 12 when, with her own allowance, she bought the Fender Stratocaster that she still occasionally plays.
In high school, tired of wrangling other students into supporting her, she returned to acoustic guitar and performed with two friends as an acoustic trio.
Using her acoustic guitar, she began making her own digital recordings of songs using Pro Tools software.
There was a large living room where everyone would gather together at teatime once a week on Fridays.
Shea€™d roam the halls, listening for good voices singing, perhaps idly, that she might recruit for the a capella group.
Toward the end of Maggiea€™s freshman year, there was an event where graduating seniors were given a send-off banquet. Later, in December, they opened for Dar Williams, an inspirational figure and thus, for them, their most notable performance to date. The song, a€?All these Gifts,a€? is from that album, and epitomizes her command of the songwriting craft and her vocal abilities.
Once they found out about their mutual interest in making music, in small increments, their path revealed itself. When she was around 14 years old, as a Christmas gift, her mother purchased private lessons for her with a voice teacher. Finding that she liked it, she performed through the rest of high school in some dramas and a couple of musicals. It gave Catherine a new, heightened confidence, having the audience right next to her at times. She'd lost the grandmother she sang with at age 14 and her maternal grandmother the year before her mom died.
I got my hands on Everything at the 2009 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference. Although no one else in her family had musical talent, her grandmother, who loved to sing, lived next door.
I got my hands on EverythingA  at the 2009 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference.
When she was 6, a nun in her Catholic school came into her class and picked her out to sing in the 12-year-old chorus. She found later, when she discovered her birth family, that her grandfather had been a picker and singer. A place called Cades Cove, a settlement that got bought out by the government in the 30's during the whole WPA thing.
During the festival, they'd drive out after the mainstage acts had played, get there at midnight, play at the campfires until 4am, then drive home. They recently went in to the studio and will self release that special project later this month both online and at shows.
A case in point is the stark beauty of a€?Curfewa€? from their second album, Muscle & Bone.
Initially, shea€™d crank the sound up on a little amp, playing a€?awful musica€? in her bedroom.
At some point in high school, the computer crashed, taking hundreds of hours of recordings with it. When Hannah had settled in, she wanted to replicate the coffeehouses shea€™d experienced in high school, so she offered to organize a coffeehouse event at teatime one Friday per month.
We recommend a visit to their website, where their blog will provide more insight into their gentle, quirky humor as well as photographic glimpses of their adventures on tour. The lead singer begins, her voice with that little catch in it which always works its way past my defenses. During a 90-minute conference-call interview, amidst many laughter-filled moments, we learned about each membera€™s individual path and what brought them together.


Given that there wasn't much money available for such things, it was for just one lesson per month and, to her, it was a special gift.
However, during her senior year, her English teacher told her that the subject matter in her poems was immature and not worth writing about. Rehearsals were held mostly on Long Island and toward the end also in Manhattan, where Jay was living. She was confined, with a brace, to bed rest for three months, allowed to take a few steps once a day. In my December NERFA CD reviews, I wrote: a€?While Jay on guitar and Paul on keyboard are terrific, Catherinea€™s voice is the jewel in the setting.
In addition to co-bills with Freda€™s band, Hope Machine and the YaYas, Fred and Catherine will be touring together this fall.
After the near death experience, she wanted to do something, that if she died tomorrow, she would've wanted to have accomplished in her lifetime. The material, with its old-timey feel, was so honest and authentic, it put one in mind of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings or Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer. Hannah wrote the song and sings the lead vocal with a call-and-response from Maggie in a passage near the end. Her first performance was in sixth grade in a school function called a€?The Extreme Concert,a€? a faculty showcase she was allowed to enter. Nevertheless, she continued writing and performing at a lot of fundraisers, open mics, showcases and other school events. Hannah, visibly moved, thought, a€?Wow, this girl knows what shea€™s doing.a€? The song is on their first album and Hannah stated that it has been a fan favorite and has won two songwriting awards. They were upset but not discouraged and committed wholeheartedly to continue playing together.
Hannah wrote the song andA  sings the lead vocal with a call-and-response from Maggie in a passage near the end.
Hearing them again, on a number of occasions, their brilliance reinforced my initial impression. When he was 12, his parents took him to a Sinatra concert and he was thrilled to watch Buddy Rich drumming.
During the third lesson, Catherine asked the teacher if she had a chance to become a singer. She spent weeks alone in a cabin in the woods writing the material, something she had never done before. It might simply be an unrequited love song, but it could easily describe a heartbreaking failed connection between two people, one who is gay and one who is straight or who is latently gay but not ready to accept a same-sex relationship.
She took lessons in her first year of high school and then learned more on her own by figuring out how to play covers. Maggie quickly seized the opportunity to organize her own a€?unpluggeda€? coffeehouse events.
This past summer, I attended the 2013 CT Folk Festival and saw them perform and introduce new contestants for the songwriting competition. During her recuperation period, she had time to reflect, and she realized that singing was the most important thing in her life and she wanted to make a serious attempt to work at it full-time. Others who got early exposure that way included Dolly Parton, The Everly Brothers and Jim Nabors (TV's Gomer Pyle). Betty Jean Lifton, a well-known adoption counselor and author, helped lead Diana to her family.
Hours were spent learning chords for songs she wanted to sing by researching guitar tabs on the Internet, figuring out how to play them.
This past year also saw them begin recording their third album, In the Company of Strangers, their first with Purebred. This past year also saw them begin recording their third album,A  In the Company of Strangers, their first with Purebred. She worked 30 hours a week her first two years and didn't audition for anything the first year. She spoke to Jay and Paul about pushing for more gigs, so in 1998, they surveyed the musical landscape and began their serious run as a band.
She also met two women there who, as she found out later, were from the same town that her family had settled in. After re-acclimating herself as a student, in her sophomore year, she started performing in plays again. He worked with rehearsals for shows, so there wasn't time to practice the material a€” he just had to pick it up quickly. And when I met him, he made such sense to me, because he had been the person I had been missing in some way. Having gotten acquainted with Hannah in the Smiffenpoofs, Maggie had watched YouTube videos of her playing acoustic guitar and singing, so she invited Hannah to perform at her coffeehouse. Having gotten acquainted with Hannah in the Smiffenpoofs, Maggie had watched YouTube videos of her playing acoustic guitar and singing, so she invited HannahA  to perform at her coffeehouse. In addition, she took a writing course, and in Carolyn Sobel, her professor, found a believer.
Down to her last options, she says that she had a dream on a Monday night that she was in a post office and that a woman in the dream told her that her mother was from Tennessee.
Hannaha€™s performance at Maggiea€™s residence would be the first time either witnessed the other playing live.
Ita€™s dreamlike, with Paula€™s keyboard ringing like chimes and Jaya€™s solemn guitar strum conducting a stately march.
She followed that up and by the following Thursday, she was talking to her birth mother on the phone.
He always said, 'This family has never met a stranger.' People just lit up around him, because he made them feel so good about themselves. I was born in June and my birthstone is pearl, so my grandmother had a pearl necklace for me and a rose.
Catherinea€™s voice floats, ethereally high over them: Please let him keep looking toward this horizona€¦When Ia€™m thinking of him, ita€™s twilight. Like a smack addict, I play the track again and again, nodding off over and over in rushes of aching, sweet melancholy. This was in February, but Thanksgiving was their biggest holiday of the year, my grandfather's favorite, so they threw Thanksgiving for me and invited the entire extended family. She made some demos, little records that weren't big releases, but it was great experience.



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