Family Matters: The Brother Reeds Stay In Tune
Voted “Bestie” band in the Messenger’s last survey of our readers favorites—the very last print issue we were able to produce in March 2020 before shutting down presses for a year—The Brothers Reed are an active and beloved group of, yes, family members. Half of the duo, Aaron Reed talked with the Messenger about what the past year has looked like for them, and their plans to return to live shows. (To vote for your favorite regional musicians in this year’s Bestie survey, please visit our website, RogueValleyMessenger.com)
Rogue Valley Messenger: The Brothers Reed are well-known for their stage performances—both in term of the high-energy quality and also the sheer quantity. Were there nearly 300 shows in 2019?
Aaron Reed: We were doing 300 shows in 2016/2017. We’ve had the good fortune to bring that number down over the last few years and in 2019; it was right around 225 shows.
RVM: Obviously, quarantines in 2020, and so far this year, have changed that. What have you been doing with your time? And, how has spending less time performing to live audiences affected your music and song?
AR: 2020 was a weird year but I feel like we made the most of a gnarly situation. We kept pretty busy with streaming, and we put out a series of videos where we performed and recorded ourselves in separate studios, playing a number of cover songs. People would reach out to us with specific requests, and we would knock them out! I think we did close to 50 videos. They are all on our YouTube channel and we call it, “The Quarantine Sessions.”
Although our shows were way down overall, things actually picked up in June and we were fairly busy until late November. We didn’t experience the precipitous drop off that many other bands did, which I attribute to being an acoustic duo. Dancing was not encouraged throughout 2020 but people still wanted live music, so events and venues seemed to gravitate towards small acoustic ensembles. The uncertainty of the situation was always present and definitely contributed a layer of stress, but overall I feel like we got out pretty alright. We also started recording our fifth studio album, so we managed to stay busy.
RVM: You have shows in April! That’s exciting. Will it be strange to return to stages? Will you be rusty? Or, do you expect an explosion of pent-up energy?
AC: With still being able to play a decent amount through 2020 and now into 2021, not really feeling rusty. We did nine shows in eight days in Arizona in mid-February; shows where we went 100 percent every night (and day). By the end of that I was feeling more creaky and burned out than rusty! It was amazing though and, yes, there was so much energy coming from the audiences who are just ready to be able to move about without much thought again. I can’t imagine what it will be like in Oregon once things really get going again. The people are ready!
RVM: One of my favorite music documentaries from the past year was “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” about the Bee Gees. The film helps rediscover the band, and also talks a lot about how genetics of being brothers played favorably into their harmonizing and chemistry. Do you share that assessment?
AC: I do. Phil and I have distinctly different voices and ranges, but the blend is something that is just there. We don’t really work too hard at it honestly. We both know what is going to fit with what we are going for song to song, whether it’s a traditional harmony, counter melody, or blend, and then we just go with it. Things may get tweaked here and there but vibrationally it just locks in usually.
RVM: Last year you were voted “Bestie” by our readers, as in the most popular/liked band in the region. Can you share who your “bestie” band from southern Oregon is? Obviously, it is tough to chose a favorite, but share a band/musician you really enjoy?
AC: Sheesh…..loaded question here. Southern Oregon is absurdly loaded with talent for how small and isolated we really are. There are a ton of awesome bands with amazing players. I usually gravitate towards, and try to follow artists who are performing mostly original music, and who are putting out new music and content regularly, as well as touring and whatnot, so the past couple years I would have to say that Slow Corpse is my favorite. They are just super creative, unabashed guys who are just going for it and making their art. You can tell they put a ton of time, effort, and serious thought into what they are doing but they have fun as well. It’s really admirable.
Fri, April 2 & Sat, April 3, 6 – 8 pm, Zola’s Pizzeria, Brookings, free. Sat, April 10, 3 – 5 pm, Aaron Reed at Hummingbird Estate (Central Point), and Sat. April 10, 3 – 5 pm, Philp Reed, RoxyAnne Wine (Medford).