Weekender

‘We’re always on a mission to have fun.’ Local band Anchor & Arrow to release new EP

Anchor & Arrow, featuring husband-wife duo Matt Dashem and Jenn Henry-Dashem, will release a new EP.
Anchor & Arrow, featuring husband-wife duo Matt Dashem and Jenn Henry-Dashem, will release a new EP. Photo provided

There are lots of bands in the Centre Region, ranging from acoustic covers for relaxing bars scenes to died-in the wool singer-songwriter soul-shining goodness. Anchor & Arrow is somewhere in between all of that, definitely on the fun side of spectrum, but without compromising the artistic integrity of their craft.

“We have a lot going on,” Anchor & Arrow’s Jenn Henry-Dashem wrote in an email. “We are most excited about the upcoming release of our new EP, ‘JUMBLE’ and our Sounds From the Attic show at The State Theatre on Thursday, April 25th at 8 p.m.”

The band includes Henry-Dashem and her husband, Matt Dashem. They’re both multi-instrumentalists and sing in the band.

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Henry-Dashem wrote in an email. “We don’t take much of anything too seriously, really. Life is way too short. We’re always on a mission to have fun and escape the grind of the day to day hustle through music and we hope our listeners can do the same.”

Still, it takes more than just looking for a good time to make great music, and the Dashems’ know this to be true.

“Our original music can be described as a fusion of electronica, swing, funk and whatever we’re feeling any given day,” Henry-Dashem said. “We play a lot over covers at venues around town, but nothing is ever straight forward and it may take a while for the listener to realize what song it is then it can suddenly hop the tracks to a totally different song that may have the bones of a similar chord progression.”

Dashem said he thinks of their sound as “more than the sum of its parts.”

“With the addition of percussion, as well as live and pre-recorded loops we can make a lot of sound for just two people,” he wrote in an email. “The question ‘what kind of music do you play’ — it’s always a tricky one. I think that our EP will show that our style is quite varied. We both appreciate too many genres to pin ourselves to one thing.”

I listened to the EP, and one word I would choose to describe it is rollicking. It’s definitely upbeat, and it was easy enough to hear the influence of different styles and genres, which all come together in what seems to me to be a danceable, New Orleans inspired, jazzy, stomping mash, which drives the music forward at live shows.

“Having no expectations is best,” Henry-Dashem wrote. “(We) never have a solid plan going into a show, we like to read the room and sort of tailor each performance to the moment. Fun. Always expect to have fun. And to hear familiar tunes in a very unfamiliar style.”

So it’s a fun, focused band, but as fun as this band claims to be — and is — the origins of its music-making is clouded in tragedy.

“The duo was born out of a place of deep sorrow after my nephew passed away unexpectedly and inexplicably in 2016,” Henry-Dashem said. “Initially, we turned to music as an outlet for healing and to pass the time, then we realized there was so much to this aspect of our relationship to explore.”

It’s obviously a heartfelt band characterized by love and a very moving story, which makes its way into each performance.

“Depending on the venue, I like some of the more ‘empty’ songs so we can sort of sit back and enjoy the moment with each other,” Henry-Dashem wrote. “It seems like we’re together all the time, but when we are, we’re always working on or performing music. So, the moments are super special we connect, allow the sound to become more organic and truly become one entity.”

It’s also bigger than the two of them.

“When it all comes together, it’s worth it,” Dashem wrote. “Then, I can get into the groove and have some fun. When I know the audience is feeling it, that’s the best part.”

The couple has short- and long-term plans for their music.

“Short term,” Dashem wrote, “I would like to continue to build out list of venues and expand our radius. I also hope to write, record and release music on a more regular basis.”

Long term, Henry-Dashem said she hopes to travel and play at yoga and movement festivals, eventually recording some of their more meditative music.

Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.
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