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Outside the lines

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Cellist Myra Joy and accordionist Diana Strong. Photo courtesy of Anna Harriman
 Posted: 8:50 AM November 15, 2012

Frustrated by iTunes and CDBaby genre lists, cellist Myra Joy and accordionist Diana Strong have decided to describe their music simply as "instrumental" and let people figure out the "genre" on their own.

The duo, dubbed Sweet Moments of Confusion, plays original world music that pulls from Balkan, Celtic and Scandinavian folk traditions.

"We're not staying in the lines of any traditional sounds," Strong says.

If you go

Who: Sweet Moments of Confusion

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17

Where: The Playwright Public House, 258 A St., Ashland

Tickets: $5

Call: 541-488-9128

Their unusual, acoustic instrumentation allows for both rich and full — as well as light and melodic — sounds. Strong says the music has an Old World aesthetic as well as a modern component that comes from "reimagining traditional ingredients."

"Accordion music, in general, brings people back to this 1920s era, somewhere far away and nostalgic," she says.

Joy, based in Fort Bragg, Calif., and Strong, based in Oakland, Calif., will kick off their six-stop Northwest tour at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at The Playwright Public House, 258 A St., Ashland. The pair landed the gig with help from longtime friend and Ashland musician Daniel Carr.

Joy and Strong started playing together about eight years ago in the folk-fusion band Babes in the Woods. When that band ran its course, they continued to play together and write new material.

But the name didn't come until summer 2011.

"We were playing together on this porch at a music camp, Lark in the Morning, and there was a group of about three people sitting and listening," Strong says. "And our friend, Rick, responded with, 'There are these sweet moments of confusion where I can't tell which instrument is producing the sound I'm hearing.'

"The name captured the artistic process for me."

This summer, the duo released its self-titled, 12-track debut, featuring six guest musicians on violins, hammered dulcimer, flute and an assortment of percussion instruments, including cajon, dumbek, tapan (a large Balkan drum), tabla and frame drum.

"I'm really proud of how much range we covered (on the album) in mood and emotional tone," Strong says. "When we started out, it tended toward melancholy and lyrical, and there is that, but it really covers a wide range.

"One thing you won't find is a straight-up, happy polka."

The cover to the show at The Playwright is $5. Call 541-488-9128 or see

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