After earning their musical reputations as members of larger bands, Kim Kilby and Steven Clyde are enjoying a simpler approach.
In January, Kilby — best known as the lead singer and songwriter of the alternative roots rock group The Tern Rounders — began sitting in at the Ramblin Jug Stompers’ Monday night gigs at McGeary’s in Albany. Not long after, she and Clyde — guitarist in the Jug Stompers, current bassist of Blotto and a member of countless other local bands over the years — branched off from the group. Soon the two were playing open mics in the area, tackling old country and folk songs with just two acoustic guitars and a lot of harmony singing.
Better for both
“For me, it’s a really nice transition; it’s easier to manage,” Kilby said recently after finishing a gig with Clyde at the River Street Beat Shop in Troy. “You’re more exposed this way, and that’s a good thing I think for me.”
Kim and Clyde
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Moon & River Cafe, 115 S. Ferry St., Schenectady
How Much: Free
More Info: 382-1938, www.moonandrivercafe.com
For Kilby, the duo has offered her a chance to work on her guitar playing. “I’m constantly trying to improve my guitar playing, and it gets better all the time. That’s definitely a focus of mine, and Clyde is certainly helping with that — it pushes me a little bit to have to carry the tune when he’s taking a solo.”
The opposite holds true for Clyde, with Kilby helping to improve his singing.
“It has less going on in the background,” he said. “Kim’s a great singer, and being able to sing off of her helps me a lot. Just having — in this case, less is more. . . . Just having one or two guitars going works well for focusing on the harmony aspect of the performance.”
The first song the two learned was Jeanne Pruett’s “Satin Sheets.” After working up enough covers for an open mic night, the duo was offered a monthly gig at the Moon & River Cafe, playing the first Friday of every month — this Friday will be their third show at the venue.
“Our vocals blended nicely together, so we just took some time working up enough material to do an open mic,” Clyde said. “We did the open mic at Moon & River, and the owner, Richard [Genest], asked us to do a whole night. So we got busy, and got enough to do a whole night, and it’s been great.”
The duo is pursuing covers that showcase their harmony singing, with the country-based repertoire including songs by Wanda Jackson, Kitty Wells, the Louvin Brothers and the Everly Brothers, among others. Both Kilby and Clyde bring songs and arrangement ideas to the group.
“We have very similar tastes, but not similar in terms of the things we listen to and have been exposed to,” Kilby said. “The best part is continually opening doors to new songs and new artists — new old artists really.”
Clyde had been interested in working with a female harmony singer for a while before Kilby began sitting in with the Jug Stompers. (She is still a fixture at that band’s Monday night shows at McGeary’s, and has even earned a Jug Stomper name — “Brake Shoe.”)
“I was looking for a certain kind of close harmony singing — I guess you could call it that, the close harmony, that I really wanted to pursue,” Clyde said. “I could tell right away that we had a good harmony, a good blend of our voices, and it kind of opened up new thinking with myself as to what kinds of songs would work well and more challenging kinds of harmonies.”
Writing their own
Both Kilby and Clyde are accomplished songwriters, as their previous projects have shown, and original songs will most likely make their way into Kim and Clyde sets in the future. Eventually, the duo is hoping to record an album featuring both originals and their covers of country classics.
“There’s songs we’ve shared with one another, and lyrics that we’re sort of writing together, and I think that more will come in that arena for sure,” Kilby said. “We just need a little bit more time — we’re both have very busy lives, so it’s just finding the time and getting there. But we’re not in a rush; we don’t have a reason to rush. It’s comfortable; this works. Clyde is known in town, so it works, and we’re just sort of letting it evolve and seeing where it goes.”