Dusty Heart is Barbara Jean and Molly Dean, a pair of nature-loving, harmonizing women who create music that meshes folk, roots, indie, and more. Their distinct soundbed of vocal harmonies, banjo, fiddle, and guitar sounds earned them an opening slot for a recent Colorado tour by Dave and Dave of Trampled by Turtles. On Saturday, they’re coming to Oak Center. Their new record will be released at some point in 2017.
We got to interview Barbara Jean:
How did you guys find each other?
We were just really fans of each other’s’ work. We would see each other perform and eventually we just ended up connecting after a show. Both Molly and I are really drawn to harmony and that was a point of connection for us. We were kind of excited to meet another person who was into that and that we could maybe explore that further with. That was kind of the start of it all. Then we got together and we sang and it worked well from the get-go, which doesn’t always happen. You don’t always have a good blend with someone. We were kind of like, ‘Woah, alright, maybe we should keep doing this.’
What was the first thing you two sang together that made you realize this is clicking?
Gosh. I don’t even know what the actual first song was. We sang a Townes Van Zandt song, “If I Needed You,” together. I think the first time we ever got together, we were just kind of like, ‘Well, what do we both sort of know? What are we familiar with?’
That was a song we both had in common and, so probably kind of started there. Then I think we maybe sang some Emmy Lou Harris stuff, we did some Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young kind of stuff, so that’s kind of where it started that first day. Then, gradually, we started to work in some of our own original material and now we’ve been doing a lot of writing and coming up with our own songs.
What is the writing process like between the two of you?
It really depends. We’ve taken a lot of pretty deliberate time to work on songs in places where we’re kind of away from everything else. We spend a lot of time in the woods coming up with ideas and I think we’re both really inspired by the natural world and living in Minnesota, we have a lot of areas to explore, so the writing process for us has been a lot of getting out into the wilderness and just soaking that in and absorbing it and seeing what comes. We bring ideas to each other from there and continue to work things out. There’s not one way it always happens, but that has definitely been the theme for us as we’ve been putting the record together, to spend some time in the wild and see what comes.
Let’s say we’ve got some readers down here who are starving for inspiration. What are three Minnesota wilderness spots you would recommend somebody go to?
The North Shore. For sure. I think that that’s a complete don’t miss. I would also say the Mississippi River Valley in Southern Minnesota is completely stunning. We’ve also spent a lot of time in Wisconsin, too, Hayward, places like that. Those are three places that are really near and dear to us. We also have some friends who live on a farm outside of St. Peter, and that’s just an incredibly beautiful area, too.
What are some Dusty Heart songs that you’d recommend somebody start with if they’re trying to get to know you as a band?
We just put out a new single together called “Tambor and Trail,” and I guess I’d recommend people check that out. We have a music video for that, too, that we made down in St. Peter and that would be a good primer to what we do. Molly has a couple of acoustic albums out and I have a couple acoustic albums out so nothing we’re doing is so radically different than the things we’ve done before, so those would be other things that people could check out.
What does the band name mean?
First off, it’s hard to find a band name that hasn’t been taken that feels relevant to what you’re doing. Dusty Heart was actually one of the first things we came up with in a long list of potential names. From there it just was thinking about it and checking on things and a lot of other names we liked were taken, and we kind of kept coming back to that one. Both because no one was using it, that we could find, and because we liked it and eventually that just became the thing. There are a lot of things that we like about it. We like both of those words, we like both of those words together, and we like that there’s a little bit more mystery to it, too. It could be a person. Dusty Heart. And then it’s like, well, is Dusty a gal or a guy or who knows? There’s a lot of different levels of interpretation and I think those words in combination kind of harken to a little bit of the style of music we’re playing. It feels organic and rootsy in a way that kind of mirrors the music we’ve been making so far.
How hard is it to play a show in a gondola?
That was a blast, actually. They just put in a brand-new gondola in there. It’s totally beautiful. You go between two mountains and you overlook the lake the whole way and the snowy trees, and… Actually, the new gondola is very, very state of the art. So, it’s not, it wasn’t so hard. The gondola they used to have was older, it wasn’t as air tight. It was perfectly safe, but it was a totally different experience. A lot colder. [The new gondola] was awesome and actually had pretty good acoustics for just being a little gondola car.
What should audience members come expecting?
The Oak Center General Store is a fantastic place to see a show. It’s completely unique. There’s nothing else like it, I think it’s one of my favorite venues ever. So there’s that, and there’s all the delicious food they make right from the farm and the wood stove and one time I was there for a show and a baby goat had been born that day and they brought the baby goat up and that’s wonderful in and of itself. People can expect a really warm and fun atmosphere. From Molly and I, we love to connect with each other and we love to connect with other people through our music. My hope is that we just create a nice intimate space where people have a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the music and yeah, just live. One of the beautiful things to do in life is to gather together and hear music.
For more, check out www.dustyheartmusic.com.
If you go
When: Saturday, November 5, 8:00 p.m.
Where: The Oak Center General Store, 67011 Hwy 63, Lake City
Cost: $15. For low income pricing, call (507) 753-2080 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.