Pharis & Jason are about to release their third record as a duet, A Wanderer I'll Stay. The timing feels perfect. After their second duo recording, Long Gone Out West Blues, came out in early 2013 they found themselves with a highly acclaimed album, one with a "refreshing veteran spirit", in keeping with their love of songs new and old. Singing vibrant duets, writing heartbreaking songs, playing hand-made banjos and loving old acoustic guitars, Long Gone Out West Blues won this small town BC couple a Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Singer (and nominated for Traditional Album of the Year), an Independent Music Award nomination for Americana Album, and two Western Canadian Music Awards nominations. It was included on many Best of 2013 lists - including NPR Music's Top 10 Folk & Americana releases of the year - and has been featured on NPR Music's Favorite Sessions, Utne Magazine's Monthly Music Sampler, and Folk Alley's Hear It First. Now raising a family while sustaining on an ever-growing line of custom handmade banjos, Pharis and Jason have carved out new songs - heartbreak to wilderness dwellers, gourd banjo instrumentals to moaning refrains - and put their singularly recognizable stamp on some beautiful covers. A Wanderer I'll Stay is a new step for the pair, with instrumental guests on fiddle, bass, pedal steel and even drums. Recorded at their home in Horsefly in early winter by David-Travers-Smith, this album and the live performances of the new songs are a wonderful evolution of this pair's never-ending quest for good songs and good tones.
Their first duo record, A Passing Glimpse, earned them New/Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards, Americana Album of the Year at the 2012 Independent Music Awards, and and was included on many Best and Most Played of 2011 charts including Folk Alley, Folk-DJ, and Galaxie Folk-Roots.
Pharis & Jason have delighted in appearing on A Prairie Home Companion several times, the Vancouver, Winnipeg and Edmonton Folk Music Festivals, Celtic Connections, Pickathon, and at performing and teaching engagments across North America and the UK.
BEST OF 2013 FOR LONG GONE OUT WEST BLUES
Canadian Folk Music Award - Traditional Singer of the Year
Canadian Folk Music Award nominee - Traditional Album of the Year
Independent Music Award nominee - Americana Album of the Year
Western Canadian Music Award nominee - Roots/Duo of the Year; Album Design of the Year
NPR Music's Top 10 Folk & Americana releases of the year
Folk Alley DJs Best of the year picks
#14 on Folk Alley's listener-voted best of 2013 poll
Penguin Eggs' #4 Album of the Year
Galaxie Folk-Roots Canada #2 most-played album in 2013
Folk-DJ (Canada & US) #2 most-played album in 2013
Americana UK's Best of 2013
Uprooted Music Revue's Favorite Audio of 2013
Richard Harris Folk & Blues Show Favorite Instrumental of the Year for Lost Lula
Programs on CKUA, KBCS, CJTR, KVMR, Front Porch Bluegrass, Border City Roots, Acoustic Planet, The Folk Sampler, WRUW, Kansas Public Radio, Amarillo Highway, The Back Porch, and many other great radio shows - we are so grateful for the plays!
The Long Version...
It's a classic story. A matchmaker, some scratchy old records, a custom banjo and a flyfishing trip all conspired to a meeting in 2007 at an old-time fiddle jam. She was living in Victoria, BC and he was living in Arcata, CA. Both had been playing music for decades and loved early country, old time, folk, blues, and bluegrass. She sent him a copy of the 1928 recording Tupelo Blues from Hoyt Ming & His Pepsteppers, he thought she was a-okay, and they married 3 months later. In 2010 they moved their home and the J. Romero Banjo Company north to the central British Columbia town of Horsefly (her hometown). Surrounded by wilderness and good people they build their finely crafted banjos and play the music new and old. They have released two records as a duo and two records with other folks, and are set to release their third duo record in March 2015.
Writing songs about ageless characters, hard lives, loss and love, Pharis’ songs have been played on radios around the world. She was called a “historical treasure” by the BC Folklore Society. On stage from a very young age with her family's country band, classically trained and country schooled, she was a co-founder of the award-winning and innovative roots-folk band Outlaw Social, releasing two celebrated albums from 2005 to 2009 before venturing out musically with Jason.
Jason was a fixture on the Arcata, CA bluegrass and old-time scene before coming to BC, and is deft in banjo styles from early fingerstyle to clawhammer to bluegrass. When not playing banjo, his resophonic and acoustic guitar playing is a distinct texture, melodic and percussive. His singing and his playing has been called both seductive and badass.
In 2008 Jason and Pharis started up the Haints Old Time Stringband with fiddler Erynn Marshall and the later addition of mandolinist/guitarist/songwriter Carl Jones. Releasing their debut recording Shout Monah in 2009, SingOut magazine said “This is a very special recording, one that [we]’ll return to time and again. "They play and sing superbly" (fRoots), and Shout Monah was named one of the best banjo releases of 2009 (Banjo Newsletter).
In 2010 Jason and Pharis went on to release an instrumental album of fiddle tunes, Back Up and Push. With nineteen west coast old-time fiddlers and Pharis and Jason's guitar and banjo back-up, it earned them the accolade "old-time duo of Canada" (Penguin Eggs).
2011 brought the release of their first duo album, A Passing Glimpse. A beautiful collection of songs - originals or lovingly sourced from old recordings - it featured plenty of powerful duet singing over acoustic & National guitars, fingerstyle and clawhammer banjo. It won the 2012 Independent Music Award for Americana Album of the Year, hit #1 on the North American Folk DJ playlists, and won a 2012 Canadian Folk Music Award for New/Emerging Artist of the Year.
Their second release as a duo, 2013's Long Gone Out West Blues, found a new place in their songwriting, picking and closeness as a duet. It was featured on NPR Music's Favorite Sessions, Utne Magazine's Monthly Music Sampler, and in Folk Alley's Hear It First. It also brought a Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Singer and a nomination for Traditional Album of the Year, two Western Canadian Music Awards nominations, and an Independent Music Award nomination for Americana Album of the Year.
Pharis & Jason's releases continue to attract audiences and radio play globally. Their delight in making music for music's sake no doubt contributes to the joyful lack of pretense in their albums and performances and to the rapidly-growing fan-base for both.
Performance highlights include several appearances on A Prairie Home Companion, the Winnipeg, Vancouver and Edmonton Folk Music Festivals, Celtic Connections and Pickathon. When not building or performing, they also spend much of their year teaching at music camps and workshops including Voiceworks, BC Bluegrass Workshops, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Fiddle Works, 108 Mile Bluegrass Camp, Georgia Straight Guitar Workshop, and others.
Pharis & Jason Romero - Long Gone Out West Blues (February 2013)
Pharis & Jason Romero - A Passing Glimpse (July 2011)
Jason and Pharis Romero & Friends - Back Up and Push (July 2010)
The Haints Old Time Stringband - Shout Monah (May 2009)
Outlaw Social - Dry Bones (2007) (Pharis' earlier band)
Outlaw Social - a seven song e.p. (2006) (Pharis' earlier band)
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For Long gone out west blues
Their chemistry is undeniable, and the song feels like it's been rolling along a dusty plain out west for decades, just waiting to be picked up and sung.
- NPR Music - Favorite Sessions
Anchored by Pharis's rock-solid rhythm guitar and propelled by Jason's inventive picking on a variety of banjos and guitars, their plaintive voices and soulful blend capture the ear and the imagination.
- acoustic guitar magazine
With effortless harmonies, intricate finger-picking, and a refreshing veteran spirit, Pharis & Jason's second album displays a startling prowess.
- UTNE Reader
Powerful close-harmony singing, bright solo vocals by Pharis, precision picking, and a lonesome, laid-back vibe, make this perfect for close listening, but also for playing in the background of your daily life.
- the huffington post
… effortlessly evolves tradition with innovation. Meanwhile, high watermarks like "Lost Lula" simply defy categorization.
- CMT EDGE
"This is a singin'-and-strummin' record from start to finish, with guitar and banjo encompassing the whole of the sonic palette. Fortunately, the musicianship is up to the task..."
- Pop Matters
A spirit emerges, clearly plucked from deep within obscure field recordings. From Pharis' thoughtful, creative originals to classics like "Sally Goodin", you might be hard pressed to determine what's old and what's new.
This is music made on a timeless continuum...
- Folk Alley
... wonderful, achingly beautiful harmonies. it's all perfectly judged, precise but never flashy picking, tangible chemistry and warmth between them and grade a songs.
- Maverick Magazine
The playing and singing is never showy or flash but pitched at exactly the right level and the results are classy and subtle and put others in the shade. It's the difference between single malt and a blend. Nothing wrong with blends but given the choice...
- americana uk
The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, with that certain magic smoldering when their twin voices wrap tightly around each other.
- Bluegrass unlimited
think Gillian Welch but earthier — and they do it very well.
- The BC Province
- Frank Hennessy, BBC Radio Wales
songs of rare beauty and tenderness.
- Penguin Eggs
Authenticity rings true in every note, while the lyrics evoke lonesome tales from back then and right now. Pharis and Jason Romero could well be the future of a bygone sound.
- Herald Scotland
record of the week... has raised the roots barn door ever higher... a superb collection of self penned and tradition songs worked up in the warmest old timey style we have heard for some time...perfect harmonies and darn good picking.
- House of Mercy Radio
Their music thrives on its roots but also gives life to the new shoots on the branches of the future; this album assures us that the tree still flourishes.
- Folk Words
lovely, warm and engaging.
- BBC Radio Ulster
acoustic guitar magazine
Uprooted Music Revue
The Bluegrass situation
For A Passing Glimpse
Completely and absolutely beautiful - just great.
– Frank Hennessy, BBC Radio Wales
Quite simply it would be a crime if this album were to linger forever in a banjo music backwater - it must surely be a contender for the North American folk album of the year. 9/10.
– Americana UK
The album is warm and honest. I can’t keep it out of my player.
– CBC Music
... a record that is further proof that the epicenter of Appalachian mountain music may very well have moved to the Pacific rim.
– Driftwood Magazine
... an album that just might convince you that a little heartbreak is beautiful. I haven’t heard anything closer to the lonesome feeling evoked by Charlie and Ira Louvin.
– Penguin Eggs
... a gorgeous, ethereal set that is powered by its restraint. Pharis and Jason thus manage to sound fresh and old simultaneously, connecting 2011 to 1927 in a most soulful way.
– Art Menius
... a triumph of melodic and harmonic simplicity.
– Aberdeen Voice
With songs that are deceptively simple, their voices blend in harmony and hover in the air before taking up permanent residence with the listener.
– Folk Alley
"Wow! Every so often you’re introduced to an act that bowls you over. Pharis and Jason have perfect, yearning harmonies, classic song-writing (and great song selection), deceptively simple, deeply-satisfying arrangements and a warm and natural sound that makes you think they’re in the room with you - all adorned with little twists and turns that grab your attention all over again."
– Sandy Semeonoff, Celtic Music Radio
This is by far one of the best Folk albums I have heard all year. Listening to them is a pure joy.
– Christine Linde, KBCS
Pharis and Jason sing like birds and play wonderful old time music. Listening to their recording, I hear a banjo and a guitar, and imagine these two sweet and talented people opening the door to their cozy home in the wilds of British Columbia. The wind howls and the rain drives outside, but inside is a warm fire and a music from the true vine.
– Tim O'Brien
Pharis and Jason Romero have that duet sound that I love; the close, tight, enmeshed harmonies, so that sometimes you can't tell who's doing what—but you don't care. It's the whole that creates the feeling and gives you the chill bumps. Great songs and spare, tasteful accompaniment. I loved it.
– Alice Gerrard
I like this CD a lot. It makes me think of the music I grew up on back in Kentucky. Great songs, and some really great playing too!
– Ricky Skaggs
Complete list: Reviews & Interviews for A Passing Glimpse
Uprooted Music Revue (interview)
Northern Sky Music Magazine
R2 (Rock’n’Reel) Magazine
Black Diamond Show,WNHU (interview)