Meet the Band: Laurie Caner (banjo/vocals/songwriting), Ed Caner (fiddle/viola), Brent Kirby (songwriter/guitar/vocalist) and Bryan Thomas (bass).
Mountain Music: Though the band plays an approximation of bluegrass, members describe the music on their new album, Honey Man, as "Appalachian Americana." The Americana side of things comes through clearly in a track like "Already Down," which turns up the volume of the fiddle and guitars to create a bigger (and badder) sound. "That's a song I had written five years ago and we tried to play it out as a band before and it felt like it was lacking something," says Laurie Caner. "I just gave it to Brent [Kirby] and told him he could do something with it because I was going to take it out back and shoot it. So he reworked it and now it rocks."
Mommy Dearest: "Say Hello to Paris" is a track about how Caner came to realize that motherhood has its undeniable virtues. She wrote it after her good friend from the University of Akron called her from Paris where she was studying on a Fulbright. "She wanted me to visit and I just had a baby number three," Caner says. "I wasn't going to Paris any time soon. I just said, 'Say hello to Paris for me.' Then, I thought it might make a good song. Lord knows I'm not getting there anytime soon. But that's okay. Right now, I have these beautiful children in front of me."
Taking on Telluride: Last summer, the band competed in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Contest and made it to the final round. "It was a crazy trip because we took all of our kids with us," Caner says. "We stuck out like a sore thumb because the other bands were traditional bluegrass. We won the preliminary round, but the judges in the finals were very traditional and we knew our chances were slim. But we didn't care. We got on the main stage and that was our goal."
Why You Should Hear Them: Produced by Don Dixon (R.E.M., the Smithereens), the band's second album, Honey Man, is an excellent collection of twangy tunes that shows how much the band has evolved from its first album. "One of the things that I love dearly about Don is that he's great at telling us when something matters and when it doesn't," Caner says. "That is great to have in the recording process. Sometimes, the album is right so in front of our face, it's hard to take ten steps back and realize we're worried about something that doesn't matter. He's so easy-going in the studio and so sweet."
Where You Can Hear Them: sonicbids.com/heymavis
When You Can See Them: Hey Mavis performs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Happy Days Lodge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Tickets: $12. (Jeff Niesel)