Mommies, daddies...and musicians

North Fork Journal (Broadway, VA) - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Author/photos by: Florence Barrett

BROADWAY - Members of The Clymer Kurtz Band rehearse twice a month. And as working parents of children under the age of 4, that's quite an accomplishment.

"It makes it a real adventure sometimes trying to coordinate everything," said drummer Craig Zook, of Broadway.

The members, which also includes Christopher and Maria Clymer Kurtz (guitar), of Linville, and Aaron Boggs (bass), of Timberville, all contribute to the band's vocals.

On Oct. 15, The Clymer Kurtz Band will perform at the Broadway Fall Festival from 12-2 p.m.

At a recent rehearsal, the musicians practiced numbers from their three-hour set, which includes original songs. They also perform other artists' works such as Phish, Alison Krauss, Indigo Girls, Emmy Lou Harris and, oh yeah, a couple of numbers by the Beatles.

The band's website describes their sound as "Acoustic-electric guitars, drums and bass topped with intense vocals built on eclectic backgrounds in classical and jazz training, bluegrass radio, Mennonite hymns and rock harmonies."

"I think we're fairly versatile and appeal to a wide range of people," said Maria Clymer Kurtz.

In spite of hectic day jobs--Christopher teaches English at J. Frank Hillyard Middle School, Maria does "home and garden management" and teaches adult English; Boggs is employed at Page County Middle School in behavioral therapy; and Zook works as a histology lab technician--their evening rehearsal exuded an atmosphere of peace and calm.

The male members credited Maria and Havilah, the couple's infant daughter, for the serene practice session, which was held in Zook's finished basement. As Maria skillfully handled her baby's needs while continuing to rehearse, Havilah intermittently slept, watched with wide-eyed curiosity and occasionally demonstrated her lung capacity.

"That's the first time we've ever had a noise-making crowd," said her smiling father.

"I'm sure she knows all the songs. She was at all the rehearsals," quipped Havilah's mom.

The band, which formed in 2009, performs regularly at the Broadway and Harrisonburg farmers markets. Other venues include the Oasis Art Gallery, the Little Grill Collective, church gatherings, community centers and house concerts.

The members, who met as students at Eastern Mennonite University, have extensive musical backgrounds and performed together in various groupings and bands.

"Two of us were always connected somehow," said Boggs.

The band recently recorded "Statements and Clues," a collection of six original songs written by Maria and Christopher Clymer Kurtz.

The couple's songwriting collaboration begins with Christopher, who runs promising riffs by Maria for her opinion.

"Her line is 'it has potential' and if I don't get that line, I throw it away," he said, noting that Maria, who writes the harmonies, is an "incredible" editor.

Additional songs not on the cd include the haunting and emotional "Guardian Angel," composed last spring after a relative committed suicide. The experience was "a bad combination" of expecting their baby's birth while imagining what their bereaved relatives were going through.

"Songwriting for me comes from who we are," Christopher Clymer Kurtz said. "I think about what I'm feeling."

Boggs is also a songwriter, he said, "but none that you'll hear. I'm a little shy about my writing."

However, neither Boggs nor Zook is shy about enhancing the Clymer Kurtz's compositions.

The first time they heard the couple's song "Little"--written about older daughter, Noemi--Boggs and Zook immediately began to improvise, Christopher Clymer Kurtz said. "It was really exponentially better. A cool moment."