Dala dials in ‘the magic’ in Beaver Creek
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – The best concerts feel slightly informal. The musicians are warm and generous with their stories, revealing the inspiration behind a lyric, a song, or even an entire album. Rather than pounding through 12 songs and calling it a night, they might ask the audience to provide back-up vocals and sing the chorus, like Martin Sexton did a few weeks back at the Vilar Center.
Those are the concerts that you remember. The ones that stick in your head, rather than falling away immediately. That’s what acoustic duo Dala – made up of high school best friends Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine – strive to do.
“Amanda and I are very chatty,” Carabine said during a phone interview this week. “Hopefully people will feel like they’re in a living room setting. We tell lots of stories about our songs and its a rich experience. More than just an album, it’s a full perspective of what we’re about.
“When I go to a concert I want to hear the music, but I enjoy the music so much more if I have a little insight about what the artist is like off stage,” she continued. “That’s what we try to do -blur that line between on stage and off stage.”
The Canadian folk duo perform at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek Saturday as part of the Underground Sound music series. The women, both in their mid-20s, have been writing and performing together since 2002 and are rising stars on the Canadian music festival scene.
Last year they ventured into the states to see if they could expand their fanbase, Carabine said.
“With our most recent studio album, ‘Everyone is Someone,’ we felt the material was really strong and we wanted to bring it to a larger audience,” Carabine said.
Within months, the girls found themselves on stage at the Newport Folk Festival – a “dream come true.”
“There are so many pockets of devoted roots and folk music fans, we’ve had a blast,” Carabine said. “We’ve been focusing on the north east but with our recent California shows and Colorado shows, we’re starting to branch out.”
“Branching out” includes a stint on the PBS special “Girls From the North Country,” a special with live performances by top female Canadian folk music artists. The special, which was filmed in early 2010, aired on PBS stations across North America beginning in June.
“We did our own songs, as well as classic Canadian covers – a Bob Dylan song, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot -the legends,” Carabine said. “We’re really proud of it. It captured the essence of what we do and I was proud to pay homage to my favorite acts.”
Wolcott resident Kira Burner first heard Dala a few years ago, when the song “Drive Through Summer” was featured on a TV series she was watching.
“I immediately downloaded the song and listened to it on repeat for the rest of the summer,” she said.
A friend “reintroduced” her to the band recently and she’s grown to love more of their repertoire.
Though Burner hasn’t seen the band perform live before, she “anticipates an engaging show” Saturday.
“Their lyrics are honest and relatable,” she said. “Their songs are catchy, but there is also a story to be told in their creative and insightful lyricism.”
According to Carabine, Dala falls into the pop-folk or neo-folk genre.
“We’re writing on acoustic instruments and it’s just our two voices. That’s the basis of what we do,” she said. “Our influences are Neil Young, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell. We write with an ear for pop music as well and are listening to current artists all the time, so we’re right in the middle of those two genres.”
And for now, there’s no plan to add more people – or anything else for that matter – into the mix, Carabine said.
“What like back up dancers? Or a children’s choir? No, we’re very happy with the dynamic of the two of us. That’s where the magic is. If it ain’t broke, you know?”
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.