Spotlight on Chris and Thomas, performing at The Blue Vine Saturday
BY SARAH HALL
The Los Angeles-based folk duo known simply as Chris and Thomas will be coming to Salisbury this Saturday, capping off a week of nightly performances criss-crossing North Carolina and Virginia.
The duo is accustomed to journeys, having taken convoluted paths to get where they are now.
Chris’ trip began in his hometown of Memphis, and Thomas’ journey started in his native Munich. They met in Liverpool in 1995, both of them students at the same art school where a young John Lennon made the acquaintance of schoolmate Paul McCartney a half century ago.
Chris and Thomas both earned degrees in film composition while surrounded by the Liverpool underground’s artists, nonconformists and philosophers. They played in pubs and sang for the Queen.
Following graduation, the pair converted on old utility van into a rolling restaurant and art gallery. Their guest list included the Lord Mayor and numerous British celebrities.
Thomas says they tried to turn their culinary sensation into a TV hit as well. They developed a pilot for the mobile dining experience, and spent a year trying to pitch it with little success.
Since relocating to Los Angeles in 2003, the duo has stayed busy, performing and recording, winning accolades for their songs, and they have been featured on NPR.
Being an acoustic folk duo, they draw the unavoidable comparison to Simon and Garfunkel, but Chris and Thomas don’t really sound that similar to those famed singers of the 60s. They have a sound all their own.
Since they possess similar ranges, Chris and Thomas trade off on the high and low parts, their voices so well-matched that “our mother’s can’t even figure out who’s who” quips Thomas.
Their CD “Land of Sea” draws its inspiration from the wide open spaces of the American west. When you pull out the accordion-folded insert from the CD’s case, you don’t find lyrics. Instead, one side of the insert is a five-panel panorama of a desert vista, as if pictures say a thousand words.
There is no sense of urgency anywhere on the recording. The arrangements are sparse ó just as many instruments as needed, no more. The duo’s voices caress and tease the notes and words as they sing, sometimes lazily circling pitches like a hawk over the desert before landing.
A standout track on the CD is the song “Don’t Hang Your Heart” which has turned up on a Canadian T.V. show and in a California surf movie. The voices intermingle with a gentle guitar and float on a cloud of cello. The calm setting belies the cynicism of the lyrics, telling us not to “hang our heart on anything.”
My other favorite track is the mandolin-propelled “Take These Thoughts.” And I’m not alone in my high regard for this song. At the 2006 Independent Music Awards, it was the winner in the Americana Song of the Year category.
The two singers seem inextricably linked, always just referred to as the surname-less “Chris and Thomas” by the press.
“Yes, we were born without last names,” jokes Thomas.With prodding , he admits to identities of Chris Anderson and Thomas Hien.
Come be a part of the Chris and Thomas experience this Saturday at The Blue Vine, 209 S. Main St.
Singer E.W. Harris opens at 9 p.m. Chris and Thomas perform 10 p.m. to midnight. There’s no cover charge. For more information, call 704-797-0093. You can hear and see Chris and Thomas at www.myspace.com/chrisandthomas.
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