On May 12 you have the opportunity to catch a very special performance at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts from the jazz folk duo Sara d’Ippolito and Kenny Reichert (aka Sara and Kenny). They’re touring the U.S. in support of their second album “Familiar Rhythms.” They both play guitar and sing but not in any way you’ve heard before. I recently chatted with the two musicians over the phone the morning after they flew in from across the pond. I will let the interview fill you in on their special sound.

Q: So, how’s it going?

Kenny: Good, we just got back last night, we had a nice 24-hour day but we’re alive and well.

Q: Did you fly over from London yesterday?

Sara: Yes, we’re in Milwaukee now.

Q: Is that where you’re going to start the tour?

Kenny: (Yes), that’s where we’re going to start and we’re going to end it. We have the first show here on Friday (April 21) and then we go up and back to North Dakota, and then we’re coming up your way and back, and then it all ends with two shows in Milwaukee near the end of May.

Q: Have you ever played Maine before?

Kenny: No, this will be our first time, actually.

Q: I think you’ll like the UCCPA; it’s acoustically wonderful and what you do musically will lend itself beautifully to that venue. Is this the only show you’ll have in our fair state?

Kenny: Yes, we’ll be coming up from Boston.

Q: I’ve been going through all the videos on your website to familiarize myself with your sound and style, and I’m impressed with your guitar work, which is delicate, intricate and rhythmic at times. Your vocals also blend together wonderfully. The total package of what you do is unique and delightful, to say the least.

Kenny: Oh, thank you!

Sara: Thank you so much!

Q: The way you perform together makes me wonder if you have to practice a lot.

Sara: Yeah, we do. We both come from classical backgrounds so we’re very used to practicing a lot. When we became a band it became very organic to just practice together and write songs together and do exercises together. We enjoy doing that a lot.

Kenny: Yeah, Sara was kind of pursuing a classical career before we were a group and I was pursuing more of a jazz career. We’re always feeling like we should be practicing more because of how skilled a lot of those artists are who play from those genres … but I think we have this constant push to be improving and always be pushing ourselves forward.

Q: That marriage you have there between the classical and the jazz styles is so accessible and yet one of a kind. It’s truly delightful.

Sara: Thank you.

Kenny: Yes, thank you. It’s very cool to do.

Q: Having heard your latest album and, as I said, watched your videos, it sounds like what you have on your record is exactly what people can expect live.

Sara: Yeah. The way we have been recording is we do the guitars together and then we do voices together. We try to keep the live performance element in it.

Kenny: The thing about us as a duo is that we’ve never had other musicians with us, and a lot of the writing was very much about having two guitars and two voices and trying to fill out that space. A lot of people are always telling us, “You should have a band!” For us though, it’s really an exploration of what we can do really stripped down and I think we really wanted to preserve that in the records we’ve done so far, because in today’s industry it’s such a different approach to songwriting in general.

Q: Well, a bit of sage advice for you two from me, for what it’s worth, don’t change a thing. What you’re going is one of a kind, and in this day and age, that in itself is very special and worthy of continuing.

Sara: Thank you. That’s good to hear and very encouraging.

Q: When did your first album “Spirit of Gold” come out?

Sara: About two years ago. It was shortly after we decided to be a band. Kenny and I met, we fell in love and then we started playing together. He then wanted to give me some space to perform my songs and through that he learned the repertoire, and then we started getting work as a duo. Then we tried writing a song together and we enjoyed it so we decided to be a band. We needed something to help us get work so we recorded that album in two days.

Kenny: Yeah, it was less than a month after that we decided to be a band, which was a little rushed but it was fun at the same time.

Sara: Yeah, “Four Minutes” was the first song we wrote together and it was finished two weeks before we recorded it.

Kenny: We’ve been playing a lot of the material off “Familiar Rhythms” for a year and a half or so now and it’s been really nice to finally have it released. We both feel it’s a more accurate representation of who we are as a duo.

Q: Is there anything you would like to get across to the people reading this article?

Kenny: I guess the big thing in terms of what we do is we just want to connect with people. The thing we feel the strongest about is the ability to (do that) in person. Obviously the reason why we search to play in venues like the UCCPA is because the people come for the music and that gives us a chance to really let them know what we’re about, what we do and kind of reach out and just have an inclusive experience, hopefully.

Sara: And we’re very happy to be there. As musicians the dream has always been to perform our songs. That dream has already come true. We are lucky enough to do music and travel with it. That’s a blessing. So we’re thankful to be there.

Kenny: And anybody who’s willing to give us a listen there, well, we greatly appreciate it. I mean there’s so much music out there and living in London you realize how concentrated it can be that anytime somebody is willing to spend some time listening to us, it means a lot.

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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