Spotlight: The Trishas
For a group of performers as industry-savvy as the Trishas, it’s almost comical how little they’ve actually strategized about their musical future.
Ask them a question about, say, the origin of their name, and they’ll respond, “We just kind of threw one out there, and then all the sudden we were a band and it stuck. There wasn’t a lot of thought put in it.” (There wasn’t really a Trisha, either, though their fiddler, now a just-about-permanent member, is Trisha Keefer.)
Recording plans, the title of their new EP … in the Trishas’ world, these decisions simply fall into place, more or less. But for a band that hadn’t planned on existing at all, the seat-of-the-pants approach has served them well so far. The Trishas, for the uninitiated, started out as a one-off collaboration by Savannah Welch, Liz Foster, Kelley Mickwee and Jamie Wilson, performing in Steamboat, Colo., as part of a January 2009 MusicFest tribute to Kevin Welch, Savannah’s dad. Foster, Mickwee and Wilson already had professional music careers; Welch had moved from
When they combined their voices and added Mickwee’s mandolin,
It didn’t take long for them to become the talk of both
The one plan they did try mapping out—recording that five-song EP with Todd Snider producing—fell apart so spectacularly, they might as well not have bothered.
Of course, it wasn’t his fault, or theirs. Actually, one could place the blame, if any is needed, on Billy Joe Shaver’s defense attorney. When Shaver was on trial in April for aggravated assault, he learned that no one had subpoenaed Snider as a character witness. According to Welch and Mickwee, Snider, who was a close friend of Shaver’s son, Eddy, has grown very tight with Shaver since Eddy’s death 10 years ago. At the time, Shaver’s acquittal was far from assured and people were concerned about his well-being. When Shaver asked Snider for moral support, he couldn’t say no.
“We were on the way out of town. I was actually already in Dallas. The girls were going to pick me up on the way to Nashville when we got the call,” Welch recalls.
The women agreed they would have done the same thing under those circumstances. But they had to get a recording together because Wilson was slated to give birth in June.
“Instead of finding another producer in Nashville or looking for someone as well-known, we just decided to bring it on back home and record it at Cedar Creek [Recording], where we’ve all been many, many times, and have our friend Scott Davis produce it,” Mickwee says. “So we switched gears a little bit. But we recorded the whole record in four days.”
It should be out by summer’s end, coinciding nicely with the end of Wilson’s maternity leave.
“When we start gigging again in August, it will already have been sent to a few radio stations; we’ll have some to sell at shows,” says Mickwee. “We’re doing this all on our own this go-around, ’cause we’re still tryin’ to figure out what our master plan will be.”
The fact that they’ve actually, as Mickwee puts it, “kind of made somewhat of a commitment” to being the Trishas is a breakthrough of sorts. It wasn’t until they decided to record that they finally formalized their relationship; now they have “a full-on LLP number and everything.” They’ve had a manager and booking agent, both Nashville-based, since the beginning, but that was about the extent of their organization—and they already knew those guys because Wilson had worked with them in her old band, the Gougers. The Trishas are so grassroots and informal, they even print their own merch, at a do-it-yourself (with some hand-holding) screen shop in South Austin. (Even before Wilson’s pregnancy, their product line included adorable “twosies” for infants.)
They did make one other big commitment: obtaining a van, which still bears the name of its former owner, La Petite Academy—ironically appropriate, since it’s about to become a rolling nursery. They might have a revolving roster of real and surrogate grandmothers come along on the road; in addition to Wilson’s mom, Kelley and Savannah’s mothers have both offered to join them. And the new baby—Joan Aileene Wilson, born June 17—will have three built-in babysitters, at least two of whom have nanny experience.
“We’re excited,” Welch says, speaking about the baby and the band. “It was unexpected but it kinda doesn’t matter. We’re just ready for this to be whatever it’s gonna be. … If we’re home more than other bands, then so be it. We’re OK with that.”
It’ll give them time to work on songs for that publishing deal—and for a full-length record next year. Meanwhile, they’re working on transitioning from opening act to headliners, which means longer sets—and more pressure. Along with soulful versions of treasures like “Spoonful” and public-domain classics like “16 Tons,” they do some Kevin Welch songs (one of which, “Too Old to Die Young,” is on the EP) and more and more originals. But most of those have been individual contributions; they want to write together.
Says Mickwee, “We’re taking every opportunity we get and trying not to evaluate it too much why we’re getting these opportunities, but we just want to be good. We just want to actually be good.”