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A Dirty Dozen with MIRANDA MULHOLLAND and ANDREW PENNER from HARROW FAIR – October 2020

| 28 October 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Toronto, ON-based Americana duo Harrow Fair (Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner) is set to release a new acoustic single on October 29, 2020 via Roaring Girl Records. The song is a stripped-down, bare bones version of the title track from their most recent album, Sins We Made, which was released on April 17, 2020. No strangers to the music scene, Mulholland (JUNO 2020 nominee, Great Lake Swimmers, Belle Starr) and Penner (Sunparlour Players) began writing music together and quickly discovered they shared a unique vision. With Harrow Fair, these two singular voices merged to create a bold sound: one that combines searing vocals, heavy kick drum, rootsy guitar, and scorching fiddle. Together, they’ve shared stages with The Jayhawks, Stephen Kellogg, Jim Cuddy, Red Wanting Blue, Elliott Brood, The East Pointers, and Donovan Woods, and they’ve graced the stage at a number of festivals including Philadelphia Folk Festival, AmericanaFest, Down The Hatch Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Calgary Folk Festival, Blissfest, and The Rock Boat.” We get Andrew & Miranda to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

Photo Credit: Jen Squires

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Andrew: If you listen real close, you can hear a dog bark in the distance.  We didn’t do that on purpose.  The dog just had something to say, and it happened to be during the best take.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Andrew: I grew up singing in choirs and playing in bands as a kid.  Music was always around for me.

Miranda: I remember there was a children’s audiobook/music series called Classical Kids, and I fell in love with Vivaldi’s “Ring of Mystery” where an orphan girl discovers her true identity through playing a Stradivarius violin. I was hooked. Still don’t have a Strad though…

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Andrew: When I was 14 I heard “Acknowledgment” by John Coltrane (Album: A Love Supreme), and I was floored.  That album/song drove home a feeling of searching and experimentation that I didn’t know how to articulate at the time.  That code has been a part of the music I’ve been a part of ever since.

Miranda: While studying opera at university, I went to an Irish pub and heard an Irish expat named Brendan Nolan perform. I had never heard such incredible phrasing and cadences, and I feel deeply and irrevocably in love with folk music, changing my direction completely.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Andrew: Stevie Wonder, Gillian Welch, Son House, The Staple Singers, and David Bowie.

Miranda: Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Andrew Bird, Tift Merritt, and Rhiannon Giddens.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Miranda: I would love to work with Anais Mitchell.

Andrew: Moses Sumney.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Andrew: I’d describe Harrow Fair as rock ‘n’ roll with folk roots.

Miranda: Hmm… someone on a granting jury said we should write more like Shovels and Rope which is fine – they’re great – except we’d like to do our own thing.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Andrew: Well, we both do the cooking and both can get the drinks in, but we’re usually way too busy talking to do either.  We’re blabbermouths around each other, so we rarely get into a singalong situation.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Miranda: k.d. lang said she liked our band backstage at a festival, and I was speechless (which is rare).

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Andrew: Best Part – You’re never done learning.  Alternative Dream job – professional Hammock Tester.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Andrew: Best question – “Are you ok if we keep this short?”  Worst question – “How do you get your ideas?”

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Miranda: On one of our tours with The Jayhawks, Gary Louris asked us to eat the meat shish kebabs and save the veggie burgers for the few musicians who were vegetarians. I burst out that I would fall on the meat sword, and there was an awkward silence. (Andrew’s never going to let me forget that one!)

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Andrew: Bill Withers’ Live @ Carnegie Hall. That record has been a staple for me the last few years.  The feeling of community and artistry in that hall is one I’d want to experience.

Miranda: I would have loved to have played on God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise by Ray LaMontagne. That group of musicians is just absolutely the best of the best, and that is an unbelievable collection of songs by Ray.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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