CULTURE: Buzz Box: Tom & Emily make their duo debut

Tom Proutt and Emily Gary's quiet collaboration led an imperiled existence until recently: though they began working together in 2003, when they first met while recording Proutt's album Farm Jazz, the two have been too busy as in-demand collaborators to focus on their own project. They frequently perform with Lisa Roberson, for example, and were both also involved with the similarly-minded debut album released last year by local songwriter Mary Gordon Hall.

But in late 2006, schedules finally cleared, and the duo found themselves with more time with which to complete their debut duo recording, which had been sitting on the shelf for two and a half years.

"We didn't live with the record for two years," says Proutt, "We were busy with other projects."

But they also say that it wasn't too hard to pull it all together in the end. That's doubtless due in part to their minimalist tendencies: "we wanted it to be a sound that we could reproduce live," says Gary, "There's not a lot of extra instrumentation."

For example, there are no drums on the record, though the release party will feature Daren Snapp on percussion. Proutt gets excited about that; it's easy to imagine him on the other end of the phone line with the same smirk he's wearing in all three of the photos in the CD insert.

"We have a three piece setup where I play electric guitar," he says, "A lot of the fingerpicking stuff translates well." The duo is making a bid for Floydfest this year, where they hope to use the louder format, since it isn't always appropriate at some of the other venues they frequent.

The drive down to Floyd should be interesting, to say the least: Proutt explains that most of his songwriting efforts take place in the car. Gary describes his long drives to New York City songwriting workshops with a minidisc player planted in the passenger seats, but Proutt says that's a luxury he saves for longer trips. "Most of my writing is with a legal pad," he says, "I don't need an instrument to compose."

Proutt says he gets plenty of time to compose because of all the traveling his lifestyle demands, and Gary thinks his output reflects this. "I can go to Tom on Monday afternoon and say, 'We need to write a song about blah-blah-blah,' and the next day he's got a sketch," she says, "He's really prolific."

Here, the second song on the album is the most outlandish "blah" of them all– you have to respect someone who can launch a song with a line like "What's the big deal about sliced bread?"

Tom Proutt and Emily Gary have their release party at Gravity Lounge on Saturday, January 13 at 8pm.  $5, 

Tom Proutt and Emily Gary exhibit a quiet sound on their album, but hope to crank it up at this year's Floydfest.