Maine has a plethora of fine talent when it comes to the music scene and two prime examples of that are Dave Gutter (Rustic Overtones) and Anna Lombard (Gypsy Tailwind). Well, they have teamed up for a brand new project called Armies and will perform at Slates in Hallowell Monday, Nov. 2. They have enlisted three other folks to round out the band: Jon Roods (bass), Tony McNaboe (drums) and Michael Koharian (DJ/turntables). To learn more, I placed a call to Lombard to get the skinny on the group.

Lombard: Dave and I had talked for a bunch of years off and on about working together and doing a record together. At one point we were talking about him writing and doing a record for me, then we both got busy: he with Rustic Overtones and other writing projects he was working on in New York and me with my solo record two years ago. The whole thing started as a commercial project, he was hired by a company in L.A. to write songs for commercials kind of in the style of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and kind of work on these male-female duets for this project. So the writing began with that in mind. One of the songs that actually ended up going towards that project that began in L.A. was a song that Dave had written for Rustic that I had been featured on five or six years ago.

Q: Oh, on what album did that song appear?

Lombard: I think it got released on some “Greetings for Area Code 207” CD that BLM put out. So anyway, he had been working with this girl out in L.A. but he felt that it just wasn’t what he thought it could be. He got kind of frustrated and set it aside. He came back here after his time out in L.A. and got busy on other things. He started fiddling with those songs again with Charles Ellingwood — the bass player who played on the record — a year ago this past June. He reached out to me about it, I was pregnant with my second child and obviously that’s where my head was. He contacted me again in October and said, “Okay, we’re going in the studio in the summer to mid-December and start tracking the record for Armies.” We started out with either four or five or six songs and I went in the studio in June — my second daughter was 6-weeks-old, like God bless my husband because I don’t know how I would have done it otherwise. Well, we went into the studio to track the five to six songs and we began to realize that there was definitely a vibe between our vocals — there was some chemistry going on musically. That re-inspired Dave and he continued writing for Armies, all of a sudden all these songs were just coming out of nowhere. One of the things that I know that I contributed to the record and process of the songs coming along and coming together is that I learn things really easily — harmony and melodic ideas come very easily to me — so he would start these new songs and within four minutes I would already know what my part was going to be and how I could incorporate myself into it and what my harmonies were without even really fleshing the song at all. So right off the bat our partnership — as a duo working together and writing together — was very apparent, like it just came very easily. We ended up spending from December until May tracking the Armies record which ended up being 12 songs, and it grew very organically catching the interest of his fans and then it grabbed the interest of my fans — you put that together and it took on a life of its own.

Q: What have your shows been like? Have there been any really memorable ones?

Lombard: Well, I can’t remember if it was our second or third show ever together, but it was opening for Gregg Allman on the Maine State Pier — which was an amazing experience — but (Allman) didn’t want us to open with a full band so he asked us to just do the gig as an acoustic duo. Now we had done that in the privacy of our living rooms but we had been playing as a full band the last four months leading up to this so it was a little nerve-wracking but we didn’t let that worry us at that point because we were opening for Gregg Allman!

Q: It sounds like this team-up with Dave is really a positive musical experience for you, Anna.

Lombard: I can’t stress enough how much I’ve learned from him. For me, singing comes easily but I’m someone who struggles with songwriting, so being around somebody who is so prolific in his songwriting for six-and-a-half months was such an amazing experience because I got to watch how he did it — how he worked. Not only have I learned a lot from him as a songwriter and as a musician but also as a performer. I’ve said it a million times to people that I’ve never felt more confident on stage than I feel when I’m next to Dave because he’s such a complete professional in every sense of the word as far as a musician goes, from top to bottom: with his playing, with his stage presence, with his singing. I’ve grown so much in the last year just working, playing and performing with him that I don’t think I would have grown in this way had I not been involved in this project with him.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article about your Slates show with Armies?

Lombard: I’m really excited because I think that people have known Dave up there — he’s got a following — and people in Hallowell and that area have been so good and so supportive of my music because I’ve played Slates every year for the last four or five years, and I’m excited for them to see this kind of next step for me. And for them to experience the kind of thing that Dave and I share because I feel like it’s very palpable and kind of in-your-face and it’s special. So I’m excited for people to come and see me in this new light because it’s different. It’s not really a singer-songwriter thing, it’s not what they’re probably used to me singing. I have to say that I’ve never heard two voices that are so different individually that blend truly as well as mine and Dave’s voices blend, it’s just kind of easy on your ears. And Slates is one of my favorite places to play, it’s just good people who are so supportive of the local scene and it’s a seated venue where people buy tickets to come sit, have dinner and check out the show — they want to listen to the music.

Lucky Clark as 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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