Rachael Price from the Brooklyn via Boston soul-pop act Lake Street Dive and singer-songwriter Vilray Blair Bolles have a musical approach that echoes beauty with simplicity. Price’s stellar voice complements Bolles’ guitar playing (and Bolles has a pretty good singing voice of his own).
Together they make music that’s as classic as it is modern with the pure essence of their collective talents shining with each song. On Friday August 4, folks will get to see what I’m talking about live at the Ridgefield Playhouse when Price and Bolles take the stage.
The show is part of the Moffly Media Evening of Art, Wine & Jazz Series, and at 7 p.m. there will be a complimentary wine tasting of Vionta Albarino and Orube Rioja courtesy of Ferrer Miranda Family Wines and an art exhibit by Terrence Mahon with the music following that up at 8 p.m.
I had a chance to talk with both Price and Bolles ahead of the show about how they first started performing together, the unique way their music comes about, their particular influences and looking forward to coming back to Ridgefield.
RD: First off, how did the both of you initially start collaborating after you both attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston during the early 2000s? Who first had the idea to form this duo?
VBB: Rachael saw me play live and she thought it was a good idea. I was meek and too embarrassed to play with anybody, particularly with someone of Rachael’s caliber. I wasn’t playing much music, but she came and saw one of my rare shows and that was the beginning.
RD: Very cool. The style of music you both perform ranges from jazz to pop to Tin Pan Alley songs. What would you say inspires this musical direction?
VBB: Well, I really enjoy these types of music and I think Rachael and I agree that it covers a lot of emotional bases. Because it’s coming out of the theater, it has sort of a diverse amount of feelings. There’s happy songs, there’s sad songs and there’s some love songs which can be either happy or sad. It’s kind of interesting how this music can cover certain parts of the human soul, so it’s fun for me to write in this style and I also think it’s fun for both of us to sing new music that is familiar in a lot of its vocabulary.
RP: I was raised listening to music from the ‘30s and ‘40s. I then studied jazz and sort of stopped singing jazz after I graduated with Lake Street Dive taking over the majority of my time. For me, this is a return to what I grew up singing and the first style of music that I was comfortable with.
RD: When it comes to the songwriting and overall creative process, how would you describe the way you both collaborate?
VBB: We don’t write together. I write and Rachael selects, she’s somewhat of an editor in that sense. Sometimes I’ll bring songs and they latch on and other times it’s something that I’ll sing myself or put toward other projects. Basically, I do the writing with Rachael in mind and I have a lot of stuff that I know we both like in mind so the process is kind of solitary.
RD: Back during the beginning of the year, you both released the album I Love A Love Song! that had a ton of other folks involved in the recordings and arrangements including Larry Goldings, Jacob Zimmerman and Jim Ziegler among others. What was the experience like making the album with so many people having a hand in the process?
RP: It was really exciting because we’re a duo most of the time, so to be able to reimagine these songs on such a grand level was really, really fun. When Vilray and I perform live, everything falls on us so a solo can be a scat solo or Vilray might whistle during a song to fill that in. To be able to look at a song and include a piano solo or a horn solo or an organ arrangement, you can imagine every possibility. We had the cream of the crop and we were in one of the best studios to record live jazz music at United Recording in Los Angeles.
RD: I could definitely sense everything you just mentioned while listening to the album. What are your thoughts on the upcoming show at the Ridgefield Playhouse and what are your plans going forward for the rest of the year?
VBB: Last time we played there, it was in their sort of ad-hoc tent with COVID precautions so it’s going to be exciting to be back. It was one of my favorite shows of recent memory, there was a great crowd with wonderful energy. Our music can be sort of quiet and understated, so it’s really exciting when it can get boisterous and involved with everybody feeling like they’re really listening and laughing along with us. It can be beautifully intimate in a way, but only with the right crowd and Ridgefield really brought that last time so we’re looking forward to it.