NEWTOWN SQUARE—On Saturday, Nov. 5, Carolann Solebello took the stage along with duo Beggar's Ride for a night of warmth and music. Burlap and Bean's stage was lined with guitars that were all tuned for some classic folk and country music.
Beggar's Ride consists of Claudia SanSoucie and Kate Maguire, who have been playing together since 2008. There had always been a mutual appreciation for each other's music and continually preformed together. In 2010, they officially became Beggar's Ride and recorded their first album. Within one song of their performance, it's easy to see how well they work together.
"I've always enjoyed the happy accidents that could happen when performing with another person," said Maguire. SanSoucie said that playing solo is almost like "missing an arm" and doesn't feel the same energy as when she is performing with Maguire.
The band's name comes from the saying, "If wishes were horses then beggar's would ride." At first the name wasn't too appealing to the duo's friends, admits Maguire and SanSoucie, but to them the phrase was more about perusing a dream with their music and being the vehicle to follow that dream.
Their music is a combination of acoustic and electric guitar layered with their perfectly paired harmonies. Critics have called them 'moody' but SanSoucie feels it's something a little different.
"I think to me it's almost more reflective, and reflective is something more positive," she explained. "We really wanted to put an album together that put you into a mood that was more quiet, reflective, but to us felt really comforting."
Their lyrics are seamlessly relatable and the duo aims to find subjects and stories that are personal to them, but also still be able to easily connect with listeners. They also recorded their album to sound very similar to how they perform them live to maintain a consistent sound and mood. SanSoucie and Maguire have a synchronicity that is reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel.
Their set included songs from their album which was released earlier this year as well as a few solo tracks, but each song was delivered as a duo. They never stepped back; they always shared the spotlight.
Carolann Solebello met the ladies of Beggar's Ride at the Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival where she had won the songwriting competition. During the performance she was "just blown away by their sound." Even on stage at Burlap and Bean she admitted, bringing Beggar's Ride with her was a completely "selfish" act.
After six years of touring with her band, the female trio Red Molly, Solebello released her third solo album, Threshold, this past summer. Her solo work isn't too different from the band, but she said she's been told it is a little more "country-fried." While the music itself isn't too far off, Solebello finds her approach is different.
"I think my challenge now is to write better and better songs, and to arrange them in a way that is interesting to audiences despite the fact I now perform mostly alone, without the benefit of those lush three-part harmonies," she said.
Along with solo work, Solebello has worked on many different projects with other musicians such as Burlap and Bean performer Anthony da Costa.
"I believe working on other people's material has made me a better listener and a better musician overall. As a 'sideman,' you're there to serve the song and augment the arrangement in whatever way best suits the meaning of the song. You don't want to overstep or get in the way," explained Solebello. "I love side work because it often lets me use musical vocabulary I might never think to explore in my own work."
After listening to Solebello, you can feel her love for country music, and you may also not pick Staten Island as her hometown after hearing a few honky-tonk tunes. Her voice is powerful, but she makes it appear effortless and her guitar work is quick and robust.
Solebello's set included two unique songs about her grandmothers. The first was a song entitled "Papa's Mandolin," which won her the Susquehanna Music and Arts songwriting competition. She told the audience how the song came into fruition. Her grandmother had lost her father early on, but she did remember he played the guitar and mandolin.
As the only musician in the family, Solebello was enchanted with this detail and "filled" in the rest. The other song about her grandmother was less sentimental, but captured all the spunk and sass of her grandmother and country music. Solebello ended her set with a song called "Paint My Wagon," which captured the emotions of wanting freedom, but needing to take all the comforts of home along.
Saturday evening's show was filled with music that brought comfort. Beggar's Ride and Solebello shared stories and experiences paired with music that warmed the audience inside the local coffeehouse, despite the freezing temperatures outside.