WILLIAMSBURG — Silver Hand Meadery will host a concert and EP release party featuring Vienna, Austria-based vocalist and recording artist Katleen Dugas on Friday, May 19.
Dugas, whose voice and music can also be heard on the Bravo TV series “Real Girlfriends in Paris,” will join Silver Hand Meadery owner and four-time Juno Award winner Glenn Lavender to debut music from their new French jazz EP, “Je M’en Fiche.”
The evening, billed “A Night in Paris,” will feature two seatings, each followed by a meet and greet with Dugas and Lavender.
While perhaps best known locally for the meadery, Lavender has a deep musical background. He studied jazz trumpet in college in Canada before moving to Nashville to play bass in a Christian rock band. After several albums and 12 years on the road with the group, he settled into a job in Williamsburg. In 2015, he began thinking about what he wanted to do next.
“We had to decide, were we going to stay in Williamsburg or move elsewhere? I wanted to open a business, that was my thinking, and the meadery idea rose to the top. Being a historic beverage, we decided to do it here and stay in town. In 2015, we opened up, and it’s just continued to grow every year.”
The pandemic, along with losing his mother, found Lavender refocusing on what was important to him. With strong leadership in place at the meadery, and invigorated by a songwriting retreat, he decided to jump back into his music.
“I spend most of my time now in my home studio writing and producing music. I would say with film and TV in mind,” he explained. “I’ve got a few different artists I work with and they’re doing their artistic projects, but we’re just keeping in mind like, ‘okay, if we change this, this could actually work really well for film and TV.’ So that’s what I’m doing now.”
According to Lavender, he met Dugas at a production music conference in Los Angeles in September.
“I met this woman who said she was a singer. We got along well while I was there, and I thought to myself, ‘Man, I hope she’s good because it seems like we could work together well,'” he explains. “And then she played me some of her stuff, and I’m like, ‘Oh, wow! She’s killer! So this is great!”
With Dugas in Vienna and Lavender in Williamsburg, work on the project was done remotely.
“What we do now, basically, is make an appointment for a writing session. Usually at least an hour-and-a-half, two hours, and we’re just sitting on Zoom, back and forth with ideas,” he said. “I might have a guitar idea I’ll play for her. Because there’s a delay, she might sing something while I’m playing it, but it doesn’t work. So I just send a quick file to her and she’ll play it on her end then sing it, or I’ll play ideas. So that’s sort of the back and forth process.”
“And then, when it’s time to record, with Zoom, you can share your screen and control of your screen. So, she’s in Vienna, Austria, but it’s like she’s just on the other side of the wall and I’m controlling her computer from Williamsburg, hitting play, stop, edit, record, mute. ‘Oh, can you turn up a little more?’ ‘Yeah, I got that.’ And she’s just in her little booth.”
When the session is done, she sends the whole thing back to Lavender and he adds it in.
Since the beginning, music and the meadery have gone hand-in-hand. Lavender points out it has been naming meads after songs since it launched, and it hosts twice-monthly jam sessions featuring local jazz musicians headed by guitarist Tony Mata. Lately, the sessions have been drawing a young crowd.
“Having the students show up makes it feel a little bit more lively. And they’re into it. There’s a few key folks who always bring friends. So that’s cool. And some of them will play from time to time, too.” he said. “Tony does a good job with it and manages it. He’s made a bit of a name for himself around here. He does a great job, and so I think people are interested in coming up and playing with him.”
This show came together in part because Dugas is in town to work on a new project with Lavender. But, if “A Night in Paris” is a hit, he sees a possible template for future shows at the meadery.
“I’m hoping that this night will give us a core that we can do another event in the future — some other performance,” Lavender said. “If this can grow, then Tony and I’ve started talking about bringing in some national acts. People are passing through, and if one of the sidemen wants to come do something, it’s a pretty fun venue.”
The setlist for May 19 will feature almost all originals, inspired by classic bossa nova artists like Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto, fusing French and Brazilian music.
“Seven originals and two covers, and the two covers will be like “La Vie en Rose,” which everybody knows, even if they don’t, they know it, and then the other song that we’re gonna do that’s a cover is called “Ne Me Quitte Pas” by Jacques Brel,” Lavender said. “The reason we’re doing that one is because, years ago, we named one of our meads after a lyric from that song. So it’s all connected.”
Shows are at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., each followed by a meet and greet. Tickets are $19, limited to 50 seats per show, and can be purchased online at silverhandmeadery.com.
“While we host open jazz jams twice a month and have live music at many of our events, this is our first-ever produced concert and we are thrilled to bring such a talented international artist to this community,” said Lavender. “Katleen is usually performing and recording in Europe so to have her here in Williamsburg performing music we wrote and produced together is going to be such a treat.”