Misner & Smith bringing full band to The Palms

Misner & Smith return to The Palms this week. Courtesy photo

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Misner & Smith’s vocal harmonies and catalog of original songs have won the Davis-based duo popularity both regionally and nationally. Over the course of five albums, including their most recent release “Headwaters,” Misner & Smith have crafted a harmony-driven sound that stitches together elements of folk, pop and rock.

When Misner & Smith return to The Palms Playhouse on Friday, May 18, starting at 8 p.m., they’ll be joined by Josh Yenne on pedal steel and electric guitar and Joe Shotwell on drums.

“We’ve been loving the bigger sound we get from expanding the lineup onstage, and being able to fill out many of the songs in ways that we aren’t able to as a duo,” said guitarist and principle songwriter Sam Misner.

Bassist and mandolinist Megan Smith added, “Even with the full band, though, the focus of the music is still the vocal harmonies of the Misner & Smith partnership, and we’re lucky enough to have two additional musicians who are very attuned to that dynamic.

“They’re also just fantastic musicians who bring their own sensibilities and musical ideas, and the collaboration between us all really lifts the music and highlights the depths of the songs.”

Yenne’s performance and recording credits include The Mother Hips, Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers, Holly Williams, Boz Scaggs and The T Sisters. Shotwell has worked with Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame), Clint Black and Art Garfunkel.

In their early releases, starting with 2004’s “Halfway Home,” Misner & Smith had their feet firmly in the folk music tradition, pairing lush vocal harmonies with spare instrumentation.

But their parallel appreciation of rock, folk rock and 1960s pop has bubbled up since early in the duo’s catalogue, such as in the driving title track of 2010’s “Poor Player.” Band arrangements of that and other early songs breathe a different energy into the music. While listeners can float on the harmonies of the duo versions, the quartet arrangements also get heads bouncing to the beat.

Misner & Smith’s most recent release, “Headwaters,” again finds them straddling the folk and rock worlds. The album is a collection of covers of songs that, according to the duo, are “from bands and songwriters that have shaped us both as we create our own songs and sound.” Songs by The Talking Heads, Paul Simon, and The Lovin’ Spoonful are among those that Misner & Smith reimagined and recorded, mostly with acoustic duo arrangements.

Tickets for Misner & Smith’s Friday, May 18, show at The Palms Playhouse are $20 and are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via The Palms’ website and through Eventbrite and at the door if not sold out.

For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com, misnerandsmith.com, joshyenne.com and joeshotwellmusic.com.


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