Less than 12 weeks after being named the New/Emerging Artists of the Year by the Canadian Folk Music Association for their A Passing Glimpse album, Pharis and Jason Romero have released their second duo album Long Gone Out West Blues.
In fact it was while the Romeros were performing at Williams Lake’s Cowboy Christmas concert last November that the Canadian Folk Music award was announced. At that time they had just returned from recording their new album in Portland, OR.
Musical friends of the Romeros say the new album is in the same class as the album that won them the accolades last year. “It kind of grows on you,” says Williams Lake musician, Brent Morton.
The new album, with its 13 tracks of banjos, guitars and duet vocals, has quite a few more original tunes than their last album.
“It gives a real sense of the place we live and make our instruments,” Pharis said in a recent CBC radio interview.
She says their music reflects the time she and Jason have been together at Horsefly making banjos and more recently, resophonic guitars. “We’ve had time to grow and mature musically as well.”
Pharis and Jason met at a 2007 old time fiddle jam in Victoria, and two-and-a-half months later they were married.
Jason had been making his renowned J. Romero banjos in Arcata, California, Ca. 2002. In 2010 they moved their home and banjo-and guitar-making company north to Horsefly where Pharis grew up. “She is fifth-generation Horsefly,” Jason says.
Since setting up shop in Horsefly, Pharis has taken on the inlay work on the instruments Jason builds.
She says Jason is a master craftsman and she considers herself lucky to be apprenticing under him.
Jason is equally complimentary. “Pharis ‘s inlay work is some of the best in the world.”
Pharis says she grew up being really artsy-craftsy. “My parents encouraged us. When I was five years old my mother caught me using the band saw to make Christmas presents. Well be careful, she told me, and went back upstairs.”
Jason cringes. He performs with his home-built banjos and resophonic guitars, which is perhaps the best advertising possible for his instruments, where there is a two-year waiting list for customers.
Long Gone Out West Blues was recorded by Ivan Rosenberg, and mixed and mastered by David Travers-Smith. To check out more on the Romeros and to listen to or purchase their music, go to pharisandjason.com. In Williams Lake, Long Gone Out West Blues is available at the Station House Gallery.