Roots-blues singers and guitarists Peter Karp and Sue Foley know the song is the thing. The story and relevance of its lyrics make it inspirational, positive or full of heartache.
The duo's "Beyond the Crossroads," released in 2012 on Blind Pig Records, is an electrified selection of blues-rockin', original songs with a style that's quickly become the two songwriters' trademark sound.
"The songs on 'Crossroads' are special," Karp says. "We tried to do something positive, and the songs range through humor, drama, whimsy and inspirational. It has a lot of layers to it. It's not a political album, but it was just before the election and people were holding onto hope and rejuvenation."
Who: Sue Foley and Peter Karp
When: 8 p.m. Friday, March 8
Where: Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland
Tickets: $20 in advance, $22 at the door, $10 for ages 12 through 17
Call: 541-535-3562 or see www.stclairevents.com
The album was recorded in New Jersey, with Mike Catapano on drums and Niles Terrat on bass, at Bennett Studios — owned by Tony Bennet and his son.
"We also used a gospel-singing group out of Harlem and a big, horn group called Swingadelic from Hoboken (N.J.)," Karp says.
Karp and Foley will perform sans the band at 8 p.m. Friday, March 8, at the Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland. Advance tickets cost $20 and are available at Music Coop in Ashland, www.stclairevents.com or by calling 541-535-3562. Tickets will cost $22 at the door, $10 for ages 12 through 17. Kids 11 and younger get in free.
"We'll light it up and do the whole unplugged thing at the same time," Foley says. "The show will be a bit of acoustic and plugged-in guitar, slide guitar and piano."
"Crossroads" follows Karp's and Foley's 2010 "He Said She Said," the first in the duo's working relationship.
The two met briefly in 2006 at the Ottawa Bluesfest. Later, Karp's manager called Foley to play during a recording session.
"I was recording 'Shadows and Cracks' for Blind Pig," Karp says. "Sue and I were going to do a duet. We recorded it, and it came out terrible. But we had a lot of fun. That was what we based our start on."
"He Said She Said" emerged from written and emailed correspondence between the two songwriters — casual at first, then intimate. Both were suffering from personal loss, and the album's songs were introspective.
"We had a lot of laundry," Karp says. "People could see what we were wearing under our clothes by listening to that album. 'Crossroads' goes beyond heartache and other things that pull us down. It's more of a shared perspective of the world."
"We just focused on writing great songs with common themes," Foley says.
Foley lived in Canada before she went to work as a recording artist for Clifford Antone in Austin, Texas. "I really love the guitar," she says. "I feel like I can really express myself with it. All of my brothers were into guitar gods like Jimmy Page, Hendrix. It just looked like fun. So why not?"
Karp was raised in New Jersey and southern Alabama, and his music has that fusion of Yankee and rebel. He caught national attention when guitarist Mick Taylor (The Rolling Stones) recorded and toured with him on his first release, "The Turning Point."
"Taylor is an incredible musician — very intuitive," Karp says. "Sue has that same intuitiveness. You can pretty much throw anything at her, and she'll come up with ideas."