After Holly Hanson wrote “Lighthouse Keeper” to help her boys with homeschool lessons, she decided they should live in a lighthouse. For an entire week, they were the keepers of an island lighthouse off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island. Steve Hayes is the other half of this personable Americana duo, contributing his own well-crafted songs, as well as some damn good guitar work. They offer music in a down-to-earth style that is so good the prestigious Great American Song Contest called their “Fly Fishing the Big Hole” “. . . vivid, focused and engaging,” and added, “It’s a pleasure to hear songs of this caliber.”
Holly’s light soprano blends perfectly with Steve’s warm tenor. Vibrant lyrics and compelling melodies nestle in inviting arrangements, telling us stories rich in detail, from a miner’s life in “A Blue Sky Turned to Rust,” to “Emily Dickinson,” told with lyrics as beautiful as the poet’s work. “Saugerties, New York” uses this charming town as the backdrop to a romantic weekend at a lighthouse where you have to time your arrival so the tides will be out. The title cut of their most recent release, The 45th Parallel, is an engaging road song. With a laid-back feel of guitars, bass, and harmonies, you can envision that broken white line slip by as they sing: “The moon it glows like embers in the branches of the pines / In this small town in September on this parallel line.” The 45th Parallel is their third album. They are currently composing songs for their fourth.
Their unique name comes from the true story of a clipper ship captained by Mary Patten. In 1857, despite being pregnant, caring for her sick husband, and fighting off mutiny from the first mate, Mary successfully navigated the ship, Neptune’s Car, around Cape Horn to San Francisco.
Steve comes from a musical family, from a grandfather who played guitar, banjo, and ukulele, to his brother, a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show. He’s an award-winning guitar player who can play just about anything with strings; from his first gig at age thirteen, to his ten-year association with Holly, he’s played all kinds of music including rock, country, jazz, funk, blues, and, of course, folk. Holly played music all through school, then took a twenty-year hiatus to raise her kids. She started writing music for her children’s lessons – “In the Blue Room” (Letters from the Road), grew out of a lesson about the constellations. After a successful open mike appearance, she jumped back into performing. You can hear several influences in Steve and Holly’s music, from vivid story songs like John Prine’s, to intricate guitar work inspired by Tony Rice.