Quar­tet strik­ing re­sound­ing chord

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Go Out - By Mark Jor­dan Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

Jamie Wil­son re­mem­bers the first time she and her three band­mates in the all-fe­male Texas-based Amer­i­cana group The Tr­ishas sang as a unit. The ad hoc group — Kel­ley Mick­wee, Liz Foster and Sa­van­nah Welch — had come to­gether in 2009 to work up some songs for a trib­ute to Lone Star tunesmith Kevin Welch, Sa­van­nah’s fa­ther and a shared in­spi­ra­tion of the group.

But as they struck their first notes to­gether, Wil­son says it was clear that this could be much more than a one- off thing.

“It was some­thing re­ally dif­fer­ent and re­ally spe­cial, and we could re­ally tell none of us had ever heard any­thing like that be­fore,” she says. “The mo­ment that we all ac­tu­ally hit the notes that we were sup­posed to hit was pretty cool. We all did it, and I think we even kept the note go­ing a lit­tle longer than we needed to just be­cause it sounded so good, And then we all kind of stopped and looked at each other. None of us had ever sung with girls be­fore, much less three other ones.”

Al­most three years later, the im­promptu get-to­gether has be­come a per­ma­nent gig that has peo­ple buzzing about the quar­tet be­ing the next Dixie Chicks. Build­ing an­tic­i­pa­tion ahead of the Aug. 7 re­lease of their first full-length re­lease, they’re mak­ing their first lo­cal ap­pear­ance since 2010 when they were here for the Folk Al­liance con­fer­ence mere months af­ter form­ing.

For Mick­wee, the show is a home­com­ing.

“I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it,” says Mick­wee, who is orig­i­nally from Birm­ing­ham but grew up here. “I haven’t played home in a long time.”

A grad­u­ate of Ger­man­town High and the Univer­sity of Mem­phis, Mick­wee was trained in mu­si­cal the­ater through­out much of her youth, but says she never sang pop­u­lar mu­sic in front of an au­di­ence un­til her se­nior year of col­lege when she joined boyfriend Jed Zim­mer­man’s band on­stage at Newby’s.

She soon joined Zim­mer­man’s band, which in­cluded John Paul Keith & the One Four Fives bas­sist Mark Stu­art. (Stu­art, who re­cently started play­ing solo, opens Fri­day’s show.)

Af­ter awhile, Zim­mer­man and Mick­wee bought an RV and trav­eled the coun­try for five years, play­ing wher­ever they could. When the pair split in 2007, Mick­wee landed in Austin, Texas, where she al­ready knew Wil­son, then a singer with The Gougers.

“I kind of laid low for a year and had to fig­ure out what I was do­ing be­fore I met the girls,” says Mick­wee, who worked on her gui­tar play­ing while do­ing only a hand­ful of gigs as part of a duo dur­ing this pe­riod.

It was Foster, work­ing for the com­pany that or­ga­nized the Welch trib­ute, who first sug­gested the women get to­gether. She called Sa­van­nah Welch, who called Mick­wee, who pulled in Wil­son. The new band got its name shortly be­fore its de­but.

“‘The Tr­ishas’ was just a name we threw out off-the- cuff back­stage so we would have a way of be­ing iden­ti­fied back­stage,” Mick­wee says. “One of the two songs we were do­ing was a Tr­isha Year­wood song that Kevin wrote that was a big hit. There was no think­ing in­volved be­cause we didn’t think it was go­ing to be the name of a band.”

Re­sponse from that first gig was so pos­i­tive, how­ever, that The Tr­ishas soon were field­ing gig of­fers. They quickly threw to­gether a set and a year later re­leased

, an ac­claimed EP that was made up mostly of ma­te­rial that ex­isted be­fore the group’s for­ma­tion.

In con­trast, Wil­son says is a much more fully re­al­ized work. Recorded at Nashville’s Sound Em­po­rium with pro­ducer Mike Poole, the record finds the Tr­ishas’ sound fully ma­tured with songs cus­tom-built around their voices.

“There’s only one song on the al­bum that’s com­pletely by some­one else,” says Wil­son “The Fool” by her friend Courtney Pat­ton. “Ex­cept for that, we all had a hand in writ­ing ev­ery one of the songs, whether it be al­to­gether or in some com­bi­na­tion with each other or out­side col­lab­o­ra­tors. Ev­ery­thing was writ­ten with The Tr­ishas in mind. It’s just us.”

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