Picture Stevie Nix singing with Steve Earle backed by The Stray Cats, Social Distortion, and Otis Redding without the horns.
Husband and wife duo Harbor Drive Hookup sing old school rock and roll and country covers as well as Americana style originals that are blended with rockabilly, rhythm & blues, country, and jazz. The duo recently released their debut album “Engaged By The Harbor” and kindly took the time to talk about the album, touring tips, and more in their Essential 8.
What’s the story behind your album’s title?
Our debut album is called "Engaged By The Harbor" named after the title track that tells the story of how we fell in love and got engaged on Harbor Drive in Duluth, MN.
Where do you draw inspiration from when writing?
Jon: My writing is typically more topical than Amie's. I'll often pick a theme that's real to my life and expand on it from there, even going as far as to do research to tell a story, similar to "World's Fastest Indian."
Amie: Some of my songs have a real strong meaning that's super personal to me and some songs are just creative stories inspired by my days of writing poetry.
What’s the best advice you have ever gotten from another musician?
Jon: Jack Conte who started Patreon really inspires me with his mantra of "Working to Publish" as art is never really truly finished, only abandoned. It's a different mindset that says growth comes from always releasing new stuff instead of just obsessing over one piece.
What’s the best advice to give to a musician just starting out?
Amie: If you're starting out and are nervous about performing in front of people, try singing at an open mic night or something like that. Jon and I actually got our start singing at assisted living homes. The benefit of these audiences is that you're able hone your craft in front of a less judgmental audience.
Jon: Use the resources available to you. We learned just about EVERYTHING from CD Baby and their DIY Musician Podcast and even attended their DIY Musician Conference recently in Nashville. It's been a HUGE help with navigating our way through this crazy indie music world. Also read Ari Herstand's book "How to Make it in the New Music Business."
Do you have any touring tips?
Amie: Get a van or something you can actually tour in. You can save a ton of money in hotel fees by sleeping in Walmart parking lots. Just make sure to call ahead to make sure they allow it. Most do.
Jon: Do it for the adventure. We did 19 days on the road with our dog and cat this spring and went out to Colorado and California and some other fun places. At the end of it it wasn't about how many albums we sold or the money, it was about all the fun we had along the way.
What are your “must have” albums for the road?
Amie: Crankshaft "Tied To The World Behind Me" and MoeDell "Local" and "Logan Drive."
Jon: Cody Jinks "Less Wise" and "Traveler" from Chris Stapleton. We both love just about anything by Social Distortion.
What do you love most about being on the road?
Amie: Seeing all the different terrain that's outside of the norm for us Minnesotans. Sometimes it almost feels like we're on a different planet.
Jon: I've always dreamed of being free on the road so the break from the norm. Getting outside my comfort zone and being able to see all the cool stuff this country has to offer. Even sampling some of the legal wares that haven't quite been legalized where we live yet...
What has been your biggest success?
Last year we used Kickstarter and fully funded our debut album "Engaged By The "Harbor and within 9 months had it released both online and with 1000 CDs. For us that was huge and has continued to allow us to do music full time.
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