The confessions of Laura and The Killed Men
Local singer-songwriter Laura Kepner-Adney is both talented and busy, juggling a number of musical projects as well as her own upcoming wedding in October.
You may have caught one of Kepner-Adney's performances with the ever popular Cordials, whose straight-on rock/surf pop songs are almost always played to a full house, whether on tour or in a downtown Tucson pub.
Kepner-Adney also plays with Two-Door Hatchback featuring ChamberlLab classical musicians Dante Rosano and Samantha Bounkeua. The group has been described as "classical chamber Americana" that draws on traditional American folk and blues soundscapes.
Or it's quite possible you caught one of her shows with the standout Silver Thread Trio. Kepner-Adney collaborated in songwriting with bandmate Gabrielle Pietrangelo, and the group has delighted Tucson listeners for over seven years with their perfect three-part harmonies. Their insinuating, lilting vocal arrangements soar in classic gospel, folk and bluegrass tunes, while injecting the songs with a warm desert breeze.
It also could be that you've heard Kepner-Adney lending her ethereal vocal talent to recordings such as "Ultra" by fellow Tucsonan Brian Lopez. She also shares her amazing guitar, piano and vocal talents with the lucky students at the Tucson Allegro School of Music.
Now, Kepner-Adney has embarked on a new musical adventure with her newly formed band, Laura and The Killed Men. The band is a hybrid of Kepner-Adney and Sun Bones, who have charmed audiences and critics alike with their original Americana sound. The group recently opened for the legendary gospel and R &B queen, Mavis Staples, at the Fox Tucson Theatre.
I caught up with this fresh-faced dynamo for a few stolen moments between rehearsals and gigs for a brief interview:
TucsonSentinel.com: Thank you Laura, for allowing me a brief moment in your hectic schedule. Let's talk a bit about you and Laura and The Killed Men. You must be tremendously excited about opening for Mavis Staples.
Kepner-Adney: Yes! It's a fantastic opportunity! When Sun Bones and I toured together, we wound up playing on each other's songs and I realized we were a really great musical fit. We were then inspired to form Laura and The Killed Men and had a lot of fun recording split 7-inch record on Baby Gas Mask Records. I think we're a good fit as an opener as Mavis is truly and uniquely an American legend. We are proud to be opening for her and we are really excited
TS: You are also known to be a prodigious songwriter. What inspires you?
KA: I'd like to think I'm a storyteller. I have created stories inspired by love and loss of course, but also by unusual life experiences. I once found a paid roundtrip ticket to Chicago. I concocted and elaborate story about that and eventually lyrics to a song.
TS: What's next for Laura and The Killed Men?
KA: We'll be playing three venues, coming very soon. On Thursday, Sept. 18, we are playing with Rising Sun Daughter at Hotel Congress; on Friday, Sept. 19, we will be playing at the Black Hole Beer Company in Prescott, and then on Sunday, Sept. 21, we will be playing at the Yucca Tap Room. Our show dates are on our Facebook page, Laura and The Killed Men.
TS: Wow! That's an ambitious schedule.
KA: Yes, we'll embarking on a ten-week tour featuring two shows in each town with Laura and The Killed Men and Sun Bones. I want to get serious about managing the creative expansion of the band, increasing our promotion and visibility of our music. I've written most of the songs and included are a couple of songs from Sun Bones.
TS: I understand you are getting married to local musician, Tom Moore, Oct. 11. Is it helpful that he's a musician that understands the ups and downs of the business and the rigors of the road?
KA: Yes, absolutely. I have his support in doing what I love best and also the freedom to do so. Once I've gotten some touring out of my system, I think I'd like to be an ambassador for women interested in going into a musical career.
TS: That would be fun and fantastic! It's no secret that music can be a very male-dominated profession.
KA: (laughs) Yes, when woman enters a guitar store, she is pointed in the direction of the acoustic guitars and the capos. I'm like, I want see that Stratocaster up there! I would love to start a Rock Camp for Girls. There are so many women who would love to be contributors.
TS: You have coined an intriguing phrase, "Lauramericana". Could that be a new genre?
KA: (smiling) Yes, I hope so! There's also another project that II haven't yet told you about. Antler Room. It's another band that I'm in right now with Joni Wallace and Sam Bounkeua. Joni is a poet and songwriter and our collaboration started as a trade: I'd help her with the musical aspects of songwriting, and she'd help me with the lyrics. We enjoyed working together, playing and harmonizing and writing, so we became a band. Sam plays violin and adds harmonies too.
TS: I'm sure anything you touch with your considerable talent will be nothing less than amazing. I've recently heard that you're also a part-time master mixologist at the new bar at La Cocina, The Dusty Monk. Hailing from Madison, Wisc., must have instilled in you a solid work ethic.
KA: I had a good supportive upbringing. My parents still live in my childhood home.
TS: You studied politics at Oberlin College?
KA: And music. I wasn't entirely sure I fit the opera aesthetic at the time. I traveled to New Zealand and began singing traditional folk songs in a band. We spent a month touring Southern New Zealand. I also sang with some jazz groups.
TS: What brought you to Tucson?
KA: In my senior year of college, I began working for the Barrio Anita Mural project, teaching art as a youth coordinator. I would leave and return to Tucson three times before settling here. During one of those times, I worked for the Rancho De La Osa Guest Ranch. It was an awful experience, but they fed us well.
TS: It appears that you are in the right place in your life, here in Tucson, writing and playing music.
KA: Yes, I love Tucson and the musical community here.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the Cordials and Sun Bones had toured together.