It’s a songwriting and performance partnership that began in Nashville, Tennessee, through ties in Durango.
Insurgent country singer-songwriter Caitlin Cannon has kicked around Durango since leaving New York City more than a decade ago, and in the last couple of years started splitting time between Durango and Nashville. Lush folkie Alice Wallace is a California native who too took up residence in Music City, with the two meeting at a songwriters’ event there in 2018. Both have a mutual friend/music business acquaintance in Durango, and after realizing the small-world tie, the two thought it would be prudent to write some songs together.
That was the early beginnings of Side Pony, a band fronted by both Cannon and Wallace and backed by some Nashville players, or as the duo says, “anyone we can get to play with us.”
Side Pony will perform Thursday in Buckley Park as part of the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College Concert Hall @ The Park Summer Concert Series.
“I told Alice I was in Nashville to co-write, and she said, ‘You know I haven’t really don’t a lot of that,’ so I said ‘Maybe you want to write a song with me tomorrow on my new couch?’ She thought about it, then said she would like to come write a song on my new couch, and she did,” said Cannon, with the couch being a teal piece of furniture used as a space for songwriting.
“On that first co-write, we just clicked in a way that both of us recognized as really rare,” Wallace said. “We wrote a song we both loved, and the way our voices blended when we sang together felt so good.”
Now in summer 2021, Side Pony is on a nationwide tour, with a record in the can and ready to drop to the world on Oct. 8.
What: Concert Hall @ The Park presents Caitlin Cannon and Alice Wallace as Side Pony, playing folk and country.
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Buckley Park, 1250 Main Ave.
More information: Call 247.7657.
Wallace’s last solo effort was 2019’s “Into the Blue,” an airy breeze of straight-ahead folk with subtle hints of twang. In 2020, Cannon released the ripping-fun “TrashCannon Album,” a record stacked with storytelling and at times irreverent lyrics amid bouncy-pop and alternative country. Together, they bring out the best in female-driven folk, honky-tonk and pop, where thick melodies rub elbows with the kind of country rock that will fill a dance floor; it’s a diverse, sweet and salty style partnership that one fan and friend claimed was the perfect pairing of “class and crass.”
“I think what’s so special about me and Alice is we are so different, I think we authentically celebrate our differences with each other,” Cannon said. “I’m just in complete awe of Alice. Oftentimes, when I’m on stage, I think I’m in the audience but I’m still on stage. And she really supports my comedy.”
“She’s funny,” Wallace said. “I can get a little too serious on stage, and Caitlin is there to drag me out of it and make everybody laugh. People come up to us after a show and say ‘the dynamic between you two is so perfect because it’s so different because we play off each other so well.’”
Despite the musical variations and the on-stage banter where one gal plays the straight person to the other’s sauciness, there’s a mutual respect for each other’s work, along with a mutual respect to the art of songwriting and the want to get the song right.
“We both are of the same mind when it comes to the craft,” Cannon said. “So we’ll work on a song until it’s perfect, even if that means that it takes two months. I think it’s because we both equally care about the material, because it’s about something bigger than us.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at email@example.com.