Court Yard Hounds ready to play set in Steamboat
July 23, 2014
Steamboat Springs — What started as an outlet for songs crafted with a new perspective, this country music folk duo has found the perfect elements to ignite their labor love.
Sisters, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison may be known widely for their role as two-thirds of the Dixie Chicks, the country music band that was founded in 1989 and went on to sell as many as 28 million albums and became known at the height of its fame as the best-selling female group. On Friday afternoon, the duo will be in Steamboat Springs for the first time.
"It started with the idea to do something together and record under a new name, But I just wanted to be able to go out and play and make albums and have an outlet for these songs that I had been writing — Court Yard Hounds is that," said Emily Robison on Wednesday afternoon as she took a rehearsal break at her sister's home in Texas.
Court Yard Hounds was formed in 2009, featuring Robison on lead vocals, banjo, dobro, guitar, bass, mandolin, accordion and sitar with Maguire on violin, viola, acoustic guitar, double bass, mandolin and backing vocals.
In addition to being musicians, Robison and her sister also are mothers. Nowadays, tours and shows are less frequent, but when one is scheduled, it's similar to a mini vacation and allows them to fully immerse themselves in the music.
"The toughest part of being in this industry is having to travel. I can't do it as much as I used to," Robison said. "When I can travel for shows, I see it through fresh eyes and appreciate it as my little vacation to really throw myself in the music. But even today with rehearsals, the kids are running around having fun while we are working. I want my kids to see my work and understand what mom does."
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Deeming themselves as a band, not a side project, the two released a self-titled 2010 debut album after a period of silence from the Dixie Chicks. With a distantly different approach, the two went through a yearlong process to cultivate songs in collaboration with other musicians and songwriters.
In July 2013, their second album, "Amelita" was released with a new take on their overall sound.
Different than anything they had done before, Court Yard Hounds became open to other ideas and ways of looking at life and the world surrounding them. Sustaining this broad outlook, the two embraced collaborations with the likes of Jonatha Brooke, Strayer, Martin Strayer, Alex Dezen and others.
"There is an ease about this band," Robison said about surrounding herself with family and musicians that are as close as family. "There is not a lot of stress and it has that familial kind of feeling to the group."
Emitting an obvious familiarity of chemistry, the two sisters construct a uniquely dynamic component to their band.
"We were so used to playing together a lot growing up," said Robison. "There is a lot of unsaid communication between us because we can read each other's mind in some ways."
Outside the pressures of being the Dixie Chicks, The Courtyard Hounds found the freedom to solely focus on their music.
"They have sold millions of albums as the Dixie Chicks, but now they can try something new without feeling like they have to make it or prove anything," said Steve Chambers, the production director at Strings Music Festival. "They are just doing it for themselves and that to me is what what makes great musicians."
As it's their first visit to Steamboat, the pair looks forward to the scene that awaits their arrival.
"They have a continuity that other shows don't have," Chambers said. "For the Strings crowd, it's the acoustics of the building and their harmonies with the lighter country influence, it’s just a great fit for our crowd."