Making Music

Shoulder to Shoulder

Steve and Shirl’s music reflects their deep respect for those who work with their hands, those who teach, and those who struggle to make this world fit for our children.  Their music appeals to people of all ages.They will sing at the drop of a hat.  Just ask them what’s new in their repertoire. However, when they’re needed to sing to benefit a farmer who’s having a trying year, an Amnesty International group trying to free a prisoner, an embattled minority office holder, or a group struggling for civil rights today, Shirl and Steve’s voices soar even higher.This duo has been singing together for more than thirty-five years. It all began when Steve overheard Shirl while she was singing in the shower.  What a voice! Soon, they were trying out new harmonies on long drives home. Once they moved to Colorado, singing with friends on Friday nights added to their repertoire, and created a paradigm for Steve and Shirl’s concerts:

The music should be played as if the audience were sitting together with friends in a living room,
where all are invited to take part in a little home-made harmony.

Great Blue

In every performance, these two singer/song-writers recognize how important it is for each of us to improve our environment: from the oceans and rivers, to the meadows and forests, to the people in our towns. Sure, there’ll be time for strutting their stuff, vocally and instrumentally, but the most fulfilling thing about the music is that the audience is part of the process, empowered by the act of singing. 

These two former Hudson Valley musicians have put a lot of energy into musically supporting environmental groups working to preserve Old Father Hudson and its surroundings.  Many have been captivated and uplifted by Shirl’s beautiful clear voice leading Rod McDonald’s “A Sailor’s Prayer”.  Steve has contributed some of his original songs to these performances.  He has been told (by someone from the crew of the “Woody Guthrie”) that his song “We’ll Make it To Coxscakie” accurately describes the images and feelings of sailing through a Hudson River snow squall.

Although they have enjoyed singing with the Hudson River Sloop Singers and the Walkabout Clearwater Chorus, Shirl and Steve’s best music has been made as a duo, in performances in concerts and coffeehouses throughout the Hudson Valley. Now they are based in the Colorado Rockies, where there is added inspiration for their tunes.

Their love of singing and their feelings for each other are expressed clearly by their tight harmonies, and punctuated by Steve’s guitar, banjo and mandolin. Their choice of material offers a fresh variety and a varied tempo.  Listeners have been transfixed by a hauntingly beautiful Kate Wolf ballad, then amused by the audacity of Byrne & McCarthy's “Old Cook Pot” or Bryan Bowers’ “Bad Boy”.  Many concert-goers have said that they were pleasantly surprised that the songs were so carefully chosen, and the lyrics of each song were so compelling and meaningful.