American Troubadours ~ powerful vocal harmonies ~

Don Haynie and Sheryl SamuelSince the release of their first independent album, Life in the Circus, Don & Sheryl have been taking their music far & wide across America, playing concerts in an amazing range of venues: From auditoriums and theaters to sidewalks, college campuses, and coffeehouses; from legendary listening rooms including Passim in Cambridge, the Fast Folk Cafe in New York, and The Freight & Salvage Company in Berkeley, to honky-tonk roadhouses like The Silver Dollar Saloon in Butte, Montana. Their two subsequent indie releases, Stations, and The Mental Health Songbook (Vol. 1), and their near-perpetual touring, have continued to broaden their audience. In 2001 they released a powerful new recording, Playin’ in the Minors, which received wide international airplay, and now they have released their fifth album, Here in America, to an ever wider interest and enthusiasm. They have also been featured on the nationally syndicated news magazine Monitoradio, and have appeared on River City Folk, a performance and interview radio show, also syndicated nationwide.

Sheryl Samuels and Don HaynieTheir instrumentation-- Sheryl’s use of percussion interwoven with Don’s six- and twelve-string guitars-- gives their music a rhythmic drive rarely found in contemporary acoustic music: sometimes working as a compelling rhythm section supporting the vocal melodies and harmonies, sometimes lending a delicate accent, and often touching their music with a world beat flavor, through the use of percussion instruments from many cultures. Their early years performing in the bars and taverns of New York and New England helped to give their music a strength not often found in singer/songwriter acts-- you just can’t sing a lot of self-involved nonsense in clubs like that, not unless you can give it a great beat, and some energy and humor. Don and Sheryl have learned to combine upbeat, sometimes drivingly energetic songs with wistful, thoughtful ballads, for performances with grit as well as grace.

As innovative and refreshing as this duet’s instrumentation is, it is there mostly to support the real heart of their music, the songs themselves, and Don and Sheryl’s unique, powerful vocal harmonies. Don Haynie’s songwriting is often compared favorably with the greatest, like Bob Dylan and Randy Newman, and his songs can make you laugh, cry, or dance as he ranges in topic from the absurdities of modern life (Chaplain of the Mall) to the poignancy of family (My Grandmother’s Piano) to the mysteries of mortality (When I Cross the Great Divide). Their excellent individual voices combine in well thought-out arrangements to sound sometimes like one incredible voice, and sometimes like more than two. Their songs and arrangements may be the result of studying their craft (and a healthy dose of inspiration) but their vocal blend is one of those acts of nature or magic that can never really be crafted, or duplicated, only appreciated. And it’s this unique vocal quality, along with great songs and arrangements, that puts them on a level with the best.

"Great harmony vocals . . . love it."
Peter Kernast, WTSR Trenton, NJ