A whimsical name for a popular duo has done nearly as much to draw attention to their performances as the pair’s sweet, southern harmonies.
“It seems like we were always trying to think of fun band names,” said Keenan Wade regarding he and wife, Grace Adele.
“And I always thought it would be fun to start a band playing (pop artist) Adele’s songs bluegrass style.”
Well, say hello to such creativity. He’s yet to execute that concept exactly, but he did hit on The Farmer and Adele, a group performing what he terms old-fashioned western country swing.
The talented twosome bring enough original material to fill a 10-gallon hat to a performance Friday at Columbus’ Harlequin Theatre inside FairOaks Mall, 2380 25th St.
“We listen to a lot of the old-time country music,” said Wade speaking by phone from his home in Nashville, Tenn. “And a lot of what we listen to comes out kind of by accident in our writing.”
Many in music circles define country western swing as an outgrowth of jazz in which upbeat country tunes, mixed with folk, Dixieland, polka and blues, are aimed at the dance-hall crowd.
“Basically, it’s like hillbillies playing jazz,” Wade said.
The pair, performing with two other band members, will include material from an eight-tune, independent disc, “Into the Wide Open Sky,” recorded with three members of the veteran country ensemble Riders in the Sky.
The whimsical “Wrong Day” offers a slight, hand-clapping, hoedown feel. “What Would It Be Like” comes off with an Americana/country sound with Wade’s mandolin leading the way as the two singers wistfully duet about falling into another’s arms.
“We used Riders in the Sky because we especially were looking for somebody to do this three-part, Jordanaires-style harmony that you hear that Elvis often had with his lush, background vocals — something almost no one ever does now,” he said.
Interestingly, their Riders in the Sky pals earlier played the Jordanaires in a Patsy Cline biopic.
This marks The Farmer and Adele’s first real tour, consisting of mostly smaller, coffeehouse- and club-style venues. It also marks some audience members’ exposure to the label of country swing.
Wade struggled to explain it. But audiences respond positively.
“When you listen to it, you just can’t avoid being happy,” some listeners have told him.
Wade grew up playing jazz mandolin.
“I never felt very comfortable just playing alongside piano and drums,” he said.
Then, when he arrived in Nashville, he found the genre that he now passionately embraces and pursues.
“We’re paying tribute to a lot of bands that came before us, also carrying the torch into the future. I just hope that people like it,” he said.
Who: Country swing musical duo The Farmer and Adele with mandolin player and singer Keenan Wade and guitarist and vocalist Grace Adele from Nashville, Tenn.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Where: The Harlequin Theatre inside Columbus’ FairOaks Mall, 2380 25th St. or Viewpoint Books on Sixth Street in Columbus.
Tickets: $15 in advance at the theater or $20 at the door.
Also: Cash bar available.