Being surrounded by family and friends provides a comfort that's almost tangible at first sight. When you see the folk-rock quintet on stage, the group appears at ease. The members are at home within the music. It's a harmony of souls and songwriting; a marriage of music and lyrics.
Matrimony. The band's name is a perfect fit for the union. What started out as a duo between husband, singer/guitarist James Brown, and wife, singer/pianist Ashlee Hardee Brown, in 2009 has evolved to include two brothers (multiinstrumentalist CJ and drummer Jordan) and a friend, bassist Ethan Ricks.
The group's indie-infused brand of folk-rock — strong female and male vocals, harmonies, tinges of banjo, rhythmic drumming, acoustic strumming — gained attention from Columbia Records, who signed the Charlotte group back in late 2011. Now, a year and a half later, the band prepares to release a four-song EP at a CD release show at The Fillmore on June 8, before releasing its full-length debut later this year.
"The label wants us to do some more touring before we release the full album — it's nice that they're thinking long term and wanting us to succeed," James says. "We have to look at the big picture — we have to trust the label and the way they're going to get our music to people. There's a lot more of the business side when we're dealing with a major label."
It's shaping up to be a big year for the quintet. Earlier this year, Matrimony performed a few shows opening for Gaslight Anthem and had a portion of their song, "Obey Your Guns," featured in a Chevrolet commercial. A good bit of June and July are booked, including a first-ever performance at this year's Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
"It's exciting now that we have a lot of tours coming up," James says. "We just want to play. We have 35 shows in the next two months. We'll be doing a lot up and down the east coast. We've met a lot of people on the road, so it'll be nice to have an EP to get into their hands."
The band is releasing a video for its first single, "Golden City," ahead of the Fillmore show. It was filmed around Charlotte, including NoDa. "We want to let people know who we are — driving around the city, going to the bar, playing in a friend's backyard," James says. Matrimony's second single, "Obey Your Guns," is beginning to get radio airplay, as well.
It remains to be seen where the band goes from here — more albums? bigger venues? constant traveling? As long as they're on the road, Matrimony will be doing what they love most and do best — touring and performing.
Matrimony EP Release party
With Langhorne Slim. $10. 0x000A8 p.m., June 8. The Fillmore. 0x000Awww.fillmorecharlottenc.com