Get ready for some “Countrified Folked-Up Soulful American RocknRoll Roots Music. Or something like that.” That’s how The Meadows Brothers from Chester, Conn., describe their sound, and they’re bringing it to the Arts Barn on Sept. 10 to kick off the fifth season of the Singer Songwriter Series.
Just 21 and 19, Ian and Dustin Meadows have opened for or shared bills with Low Cut Connie, The Silks, Don McLean, The Honey Dewdrops and The Black Lillies.
Domenic Cicala, whose company O’HAIR Salon+Spa, is the presenting sponsor of the Singer Songwriter Series, said The Meadows Brothers “are the next generation of working singer-songwriter.” He added, “I first saw them play about three years ago, and they blew me away with how tight they were, their playing and harmonies, and how world-weary and mature their voices and songs were. I had the chance to be on a festival with them the next year and was impressed with how much they had progressed in terms of their sound and professionalism.”
“They’re a cool brother duo,” said Suzanne Takahashi, Arts on the Green music program coordinator, “They have really tight harmonies and their songs are marked by great storytelling.”
Like “Lonesome Pine Company” about the isolation and loneliness of working in the wilderness on their most recent album, “Won’t Be Troubled” (2015). Sean Lynch of WSBU in Allegheny, N.Y., said of the album, “With vivid storytelling, each track becomes a journey into a different place. The teamwork from the brothers is really felt in this album. The guitars feed off each other and the vocals pair together perfectly during the harmonies. While ‘Won’t Be Troubled’ is not straight from the heartland, it comes close enough to match for being hundreds of miles away.” At the 2015 New England Music Awards, “Don’t Be Troubled” won Best in State.
“I’ve always thought that the coolest part of songwriting was the aspect of storytelling so that tends to be a big part of the process,” said Ian Meadows. “I’ve always loved to read, and a lot of my favorite writers are master storytellers, so that has been an influence on my songwriting style, too.”
While their songs are full of emotion, Ian said that he tends not to write about himself. “I look for inspiration elsewhere, whether it’s the people I meet, stories I hear, or news articles that I read. I’m definitely not one of those songwriters that wears their heart on their sleeves. I like to write about experiences and emotions that are relatable to all of us.”
The brothers work together to compose their songs. “I tend to come in at the arranging and ‘touch up’ portion of the composition,” explained Dustin Meadows. “I write plenty as well, but Ian just has a way with lyrics that I enjoy developing further musically.”
“I typically write the bulk of the song and then bring it to Dustin, who helps flesh out the arrangement and figure out the harmonies,” Ian said. “He’s got a great ear for that.”
The brothers now have “tons of new songs and just need to find the time to track them,” Ian said
Ian and Dustin formed The Meadows Brothers in 2011, but they’ve been making music together their whole lives.
“Our mom still asks us, ‘Do you recognize this or that song? I used to sing this over and over when I was pregnant with you.’ So I guess rhythm and melody were instilled in us at an early age,” Ian said. “We have a home movie of when Dustin was just born and I am lying in the hospital bed watching a James Taylor video singing along and ignoring him crying—maybe he was trying to get a harmony going. … There was always music to listen to of different types and a kid’s choir at church that started us performing at an early age.”
“Just seems like I’ve always loved music,” said Dustin. “Lots of singing and dancing going on and kid-size instruments strewn around to bang on in our house growing up. The best part was the discovery that you can just make any kind of music you want for the fun of it and getting to do that with my brother brought my love of music to a whole new level.”
The brothers played in a classic rock/blues band for four years before forming The Meadows Brothers in 2011. “We wanted to play original music and were being limited in that regard with the old band. So the easiest way to do this was to just strip it down to a duo,” Ian explained.
Although they have played throughout their native New England, the Midwest and Great Lakes regions and up and down the East Coast (including D.C.), The Meadows Brothers have never played in Maryland. “We’re looking forward to sharing our love of music with them (Arts Barn audience members), and we enjoy meeting and talking with new people,” said Ian. “We keep our shows pretty low key, and enjoy them the most when folks are having fun—so I’ll say the audience can expect a ‘good time.’ We’ve very excited to be coming to Maryland!”
To learn more about The Meadows Brothers’ songwriting process and to get to know them, attend the 3 p.m. songwriting workshop on Sept. 10. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m., and Baltimore-based Caleb Stine, a member of The Brakemen, opens. For more information, visit www.gaithersburgmd.gov/leisure/arts/concerts/singer-songwriter-concert-series.