Meet the Band: Laurie Michelle Caner (vocals, banjo, songwriting), Eddie Caner (violin, viola profunda), Bryan Thomas (bass), Kevin Johnson (guitar), Anthony Taddeo (drums)
Background: Back in 2010, R.E.M./Smithereens/Red Clay Ramblers producer Don Dixon discovered the Hey Mavis tune "Santa Knows" on a Michael Stanley Christmas compilation CD. Four months later, Dixon produced their debut album, Red Wine. "I love his vibe in the studio," says Laurie Michelle Caner when asked about working with Dixon. "He's really sweet but he tells you what it is. He's just really great."
A Group Effort: For the new album, What I Did, the band has teamed-up with Yonder Mountain String Band guitarist Adam Aijala, Chuck Auerbach (co-writer of the Black Keys song "Hard Row"), singer-songwriter Brent Kirby and the aforementioned Dixon (REM, Smithereens, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Red Clay Ramblers). "Eddie and Adam Aijala go way back and we've opened for Yonder Mountain String Band," says Caner. "We thought it would be good to bring Adam on board as a producer. He pushed me outside of my comfort zone a little bit." Kirby plays guitar on a couple of songs and co-wrote several of the tracks, and Auerbach has been supportive of Hey Mavis from the start. He showed up with a stack of lyrics and the band picked some they liked for the album's title track. The music draws from myriad musical genres, including jazz, bluegrass, old-timey, folk and rock.
Touring and More Touring: This month, the group heads out on a regional tour of Ohio, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Guitarist Kevin Johnson, a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a bachelors in music performance, will tour with the group; he spent five years playing music on international cruise lines and currently teaches and gigs in Northeast Ohio, primarily on upright and electric bass. "I'm thrilled about the line-up," Caner says. "I love the fullness of the sound."
Why You Should Hear Them: "Mon Bijou" is an elegant waltz that sounds like it was recorded during a different era, and the ballad "Hairbrush," a song that Kirby co-wrote, is a somber meditation on motherhood. "It's about this idea that as moms, we leave our children and go to work but even if we leave them in capable hands, we'll still mother them," she says. "It's about brushing your hair and getting back on that track."
Where You Can Hear Them: heymavis.com.
Where You Can See Them: Hey Mavis performs at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, at the Happy Days Lodge in Peninsula.