It began with a banjo and their relationship solidified with a mutual love of making music together.
Now parents to two children and living in the rural community of Horsefly, Pharis and Jason Romero will bring their thoughtfully inspired folk music back to Salmon Arm for an Oct. 23 concert at the Nexus.
They have released six records, toured across North America and Europe and garnered two Juno awards, multiple Canadian Folk Music Awards, features on NPR Music, CBC, and BBC, and performances on A Prairie Home Companion and CBC’s The Vinyl Cafe.
They are passionate teachers and believers in many things folk; Pharis is artistic director for Voice Works, a workshop for singers, and Jason teaches all styles of banjo playing, especially old-time three finger playing.
Their heartbreakingly harmonic live show is an ever-evolving and never-ending quest for good songs and beautiful sounds.
A talented luthier with a five-year waiting list for his banjos, Jason’s shop and the couple’s ability to turn life experiences into meaningful songs have provided them with a life of balance in a place they love.
“Banjos have allowed us to live in the Cariboo and we’re grateful for the role they have played,” says Pharis. “Jason and I have always been inspired by people, our surroundings – trees, rivers, mountains, and having kids has added one more thing to write about.”
While she enjoys exploring darker themes, Pharis says there’s always a little bit of hope in her lyrics.
“I find there’s hope in everything, even the darkest times, and I am the eternal optimist,” she says. “We all experience those dark things and we’re trying to find a way to write songs that deal with experiences in a way that doesn’t feel trite or cynical but feels honest, with an overall optimism.”
Read more: Roots and Blues to showcase Canadian women
Read more: 2013 – Sharing love by making their music
Read more: Finger pickin’ goodness
The Romeros care deeply about their impact on the planet and try always to make conscious choices for the environment. They also like to get to know people, whether it be in community or business. That includes getting wood for banjos from small, local mills.
“We develop a relationship with them, it’s fun for us and we do things on a small boutique scale,” she says.
In 2016, fire destroyed Jason’s workshop, putting songwriting on the shelf. As devastating as the loss was, the immediate outpouring of love and support from across the world turned the event into an ‘amazing experience.’
“We can all feel alone and isolated and that was a real reinforcement for us,” says Pharis. “It made us want to get back up on our feet and help others, and it all came back together so fast.”
About a month after the fire, Paris says new songs just poured out.
“Sometimes I’m thinking of a story in my head and I brainstorm that,” she says of her songwriting. “And sometimes there’s an indelible link to a melodic flow and then I start to place words.”
She says Jason develops a very strong sense of his own taste by putting the songs through “a certain filter” that comes from years of listening to old music, early blues, roots and Americana before it was called that.
Pharis says the couple is very excited about their latest tour, which will feature new material they have created for an album that will drop in December.
Tickets for their Oct. 23 concert are available online a www.rootsandblues.ca, by phoning 250-833-4096 or by visiting the office at 541 Third St. SW at the corner of Fifth Avenue SW.