Nestled between the rolling farmland of Oregon’s Willamette Valley and the impossibly tall trees further south, the gold and timber town of Cottage Grove has always drawn an eclectic mix of dreamers, drifters and prophets to its downtown Main Street. For the better part of a decade, these frontier misfits have found common ground at the Axe & Fiddle Pub, and if the Harmed Brothers owe the path they’ve forged these past few years to any particular beer-soaked barroom along the way, it’s got to be the Fiddle.
It’s more than likely the place where, in early 2009, Ray Vietti first encountered Alex Salcido. It didn’t take long for Vietti to recognize Salcido as a kindred spirit in both vision and song, who would help write the Harmed Brothers saga with a wistful lyrical and instrumental voice that serves as an effortless complement to Vietti’s gritty baritone and earnest songwriting.
Soon after their first meeting, Vietti and Salcido recorded and released their independent debut, All The Lies You Wanna Hear, telling the tales of love, loss, and redemption that have since endeared them to legions of kindred spirits.
The fledgling duo paused in the Grove for a moment to hone their craft before striking out for the open road — their second home ever since, and the undeniable inspiration for many of the songs and stories to follow.
They came to call it the “Harmed Family Roadshow,” and it’s as much a happening as a sound in constant flux — from a jangly acoustic three-piece one night, to a manic mariachi string band the next, a wall of rock-and-roll bombast at times giving way to the whispered incantations of two folk troubadours, sometimes within the span of a single song.
Their newfound “home” informed their second recording, Come Morning (Lackpro Records), swaying with the rhythms of the road and the forlorn waltzes of it’s dive bars and dance halls.
Two more years on the road brought a European tour and a host of new fans, and in 2013, Salcido and Vietti released their most realized album to date. Better Days, (Fluff and Gravy Records), is a collection of songs that reflect personal growth and redemption, as well as the hurdles, heartbreaks and stumbles that have always accompanied the traveler’s search for enlightenment.
In the winter of 2015, all of this came to a head as the “Harmed Family Road Show descended upon Fluff and Gravy Studios. Ray and Alex showed up with a pile of new songs, and a grand idea to revisit a hand full of older songs with the friends and fellow musicians who inspired and supported them over the past 7 years.
The EP, A Lovely Conversation, and the forthcoming self-titled album were both recorded in stages over the course of 12 months at Fluff and Gravy Studios. The EP itself features the first single from the album (to be released in February 2017) along with 6 b-sides. Produced by John Shepski, the tried and true acoustic instrumentation that are the heart and soul of The Harmed Brothers remain, but they now form a bed for textures and layers that represent a turning point for the band. Nowhere is this more evident than the unshakeable single, “A Lovely Conversation”, with it’s layers of electric guitars, synths and keyboards. The EP also includes fresh arrangements for a trio of songs that first appeared on 2010’s All The Lies You Want To Hear (now out of print). Strings now soar in “When I Get Back” which features The Calamity Cubes as guest vocalists, horns swell in “Here Comes The Cadillac” and chimey electric guitars give new life to “One In The Garden”. It’s a hint of things to come for a band that began in 2009 as a guitar and banjo duo, and now barrels toward an inspired and undeniable future.