Wednesday, November 25, 2009
On a Wednesday afternoon, Maggi Jane and Pierce Ternay hang out at an RV camp in Malibu with Diver, their 2-year-old daughter, and Pokey, their 10-year-old black lab. This is the way Philadelphia folk duo Hymn for Her tours – in their 16-foot 1961 Airstream. On Saturday, they’ll take their trailer north to Big Sur for a show at Fernwood.
It’s somewhat difficult to put a label on the duo’s musical style so Jane came up with “swampgrass” or “stompgrass.”
“It’s punk-folk,” she explains. “One fan called us The Ramones of bluegrass.”
It’s hard to imagine working so closely with a significant other but Jane says she and Ternay pull it off with ease. The two musicians have similar artistic sensibilities and a strong productivity push. In fact, they just finished writing a 300-page novel together.
Hymn for Her’s 2008 debut album, Year of the Golden Pig, is an elegant folk/alt-country collection spanning many themes: life, death, love, suicide and even doggy affection.
The gorgeous banjo/guitar instrumental, “Pup Shalom,” was inspired after Jane saw a Halloween store in Cleveland that specialized in costumes for pets. One costume featured a little Kippah with a Star of David, meant to rest atop a dog’s head. Jane didn’t purchase the Kippah because Pokey’s Buddhist, but she imagined the pooch wearing it and wrote the song.
In the more lyrically introspective song “Jesus,” Jane questions prayer and religion through a vintage haze of acoustic guitar: “But do you tell [Jesus] everything?”
The duo is currently taking their music in a different direction; they’re in the process of recording new, “more rocking songs.” And they record the same way they tour: in their Airstream. “It’s a pretty cool life,” Jane says.
Jane and Ternay are also part of the Americana band String of Ponies, who will also play at Fernwood.