With the greenest of holidays shrinking behind us in the rearview mirror, it’s fair to say that we deserve a nightcap. The pleasantly soothing sounds of Boston’s Long Time Courting are the perfect way to put a period on the past month. A delightful musical arrangement that draws its inspiration from a vast array of influences, Long Time Courting will perform a stripped-down and electric-free set March 23 at the Center for Well Being as a part of the Acoustic Brew concert series.
Gathering elements from traditional and contemporary Irish, Scottish and American folk music, this all-female quartet has been performing together for the past four years, releasing “Alternate Routes,” the group’s first full-length album in 2011. The women are taking their talents on the road for a string of concerts that has them trekking to festivals and one-off shows everywhere across the northeast.
“While we don’t tour full time, we try to make the tours count and have a great time together,” said vocalist and guitarist Liz Simmons. “Our style is what we call Celtic roots and we’re drawing pretty strongly from Irish traditional music, but we’re also bringing in influences from American roots and even some classical roots.”
Released in August 2011, the band’s debut record, “Alternate Routes” is an earthy blend of the Irish traditional music and American roots, but with its own sort-of original twist spotlighted by the ladies’ angelic harmonies. Tracks such as their haunting versions of “My Johnny Was a Shoemaker” and “Barbara Allen” give new breath to some classic standards that have been performed for centuries.
“ ‘Alternate Routes’ is a collection of material that’s mostly Irish in origin and we do some new versions of old, traditional songs,” Simmons said. “One of our main focuses is harmony singing and taking turns singing lead, so we have a lot of fun with that. Some of the new stuff that we’ve written and added to the mix is really based on getting everybody singing and getting vocal parts for everyone.”
Although all four members of the band have other musical projects that they’re involved with, it’s the ability to branch out and experiment that allows them to collect experience that perfectly suits the musicians of Long Time Courting in terms of their take on the songs they cover and the songs they write.
“It was a completely democratic process and going into it we realized that sometimes a democratic process doesn’t work,” Simmons said of the group’ssong-writing method. “But for us it really worked and we were able to take everybody’s input and everybody’s strengths and then from there we arranged them together to create a song. We really all try to pull our weight, no one’s a prima donna, no one expects a free ride and that’s a really special thing to have in a band. The rich backgrounds that we all bring make for an interesting melting pot where there’s a commonality and there’s also a lot of other genres coming into play.”
Given that the intricacies of Long Time Courting’s studio music is something to be heard and appreciated, their live show is indeed something that needs to be seen and the intimacy of Lemont’s Center for Well Being will provide this band with an ideal venue to perform. “A lot of our music is high energy and we like to talk a lot on stage and play off of each other, but it’s really all about the music,” Simmons said, “But there’s also a fair amount of slower songs, so the mood can go from a blast to a much more melancholy old ballad that we’ve set to new music. The audience is taking a journey through culture, but also a journey through a gamut of emotions.” “Our Acoustic Brew show is going to feel a little more like a modern day house concert,”
Simmons said while discussing tomorrow night’s performance, “It’s a little more up close and personal, a little more like being invited into a living room, so I think that it will be a really special show in that we’re not going to be up on a huge stage all plugged in and our closeness will be fun and interesting for the audience.”