The Portland-based duo North of Nashville — Andrew Martelle and Jay Basiner — will be heading to Slates in Hallowell for a show on Monday, March 9. (Call 622-9575 for more information). To that end, a call was made to Basiner recently to learn more about the band and the upcoming show.

Q: To begin with, where am I calling?

Basiner: I’m down in Portland now. I also live up in North Yarmouth but we’re based out of the southern Maine area.

Q: The first time I talked to North of Nashville I chatted with Andrew and the two of you had, I believe, an EP out at that time.

Basiner: Yeah, he was telling me that … and that was about a year-and-a-half ago. Since then we’ve released our first full-length studio record — that came out in April — and we recorded it up here in Maine. It got a lot of press nation-wide and we toured pretty significantly, for us, on that record. Now we’re ready to get back in the studio at the end of next month to record some more new music.

Q: Having heard that studio record, I really enjoyed the fact that you two covered all the instruments with the exception of the pedal steel which was handled by Cartwright Thompson, correct?

Basiner: Yeah, that’s right. I’m the guitarist, singer and primary songwriter and percussionist — I play the percussion with my feet when we play live. Andrew plays fiddle and mandolin and backing vocals, we only outsourced the pedal steel. It was recorded in Windham at the Halo Studios with Jon Wyman, who was the engineer and co-producer. I’ve worked with him on several projects — previous bands — over the years. He’s a great guy, producer and engineer.

Q: How long have the two of you been together?

Basiner: Andrew and I started North of Nashville in the summer of 2010, so a little over four years at this point.

Q: I assume that it’s just the two of you on stage?

Basiner: Well, it depends on the performance. When we tour and play kind of smaller venues it is the two of us, but when we play bigger shows — like when we played with Dirks Bentley last summer — it becomes almost like North of Nashville & Friends. We bring in auxiliary instruments — bass, pedal steel and guitar. Most recently, on New Year’s Eve, we had 10 musicians up on stage with us including a full horn section.

Q: Will this be the first time playing at Slates?

Basiner: Yeah, we’ve never played at Slates. I’ve been there before — I’ve spent a good amount of time up in Hallowell — but it’s our first time playing there.

Q: And that show will just be the two of you?

Basiner: Yeah. And we mic all of our instruments so we can get a fuller sound with just the two of us, as well.

Q: Earlier you mentioned you were going to be recording some new songs at the end of March, will folks at Slates get a chance to hear some of that new material?

Basiner: Yes, we really like playing those new songs before we go to record them, actually.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article? Especially seeing this is a venue debut in Hallowell?

Basiner: Well, let me ask you — is this a sit-down show?

Q: They serve the meal, then everything’s cleared out and you will perform — basically, this is an audience coming to hear your music.

Basiner: Okay. That would be the key component that I absolutely love because we’ve certainly played our fair share of very loud bars — from here all the way down to Houston — and while that can be exciting and fun I very much prefer a crowd that is engaged in the music and giving their attention to the artists that are playing. We put a lot of thought into these shows, especially the ones that have a good listening audience. I like to get into giving a little background on how some of these songs were written, their inspirations, and just to allow the personality of the band and of the moment to really shine … it’s a very conversational-type show — so I’m really looking forward to this particular performance for that reason.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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