Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Maria Francis and Jeff Overbo of Silver Lake 66
Maria Francis and Jeff Overbo provide their own take on modern Americana with Silver Lake 66. With a soulful hybrid of classic country, folk and blues, their songs have been hailed by numerous publications and radio stations. They have a natural skill for writing genuine, heartstring-tugging songs. Combine this with impeccable harmonies and masterful guitar-playing, and you have a winning combo of outstanding roots-laden duets following in the footsteps of Americana singer-songwriting greats such as Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch/David Rawlings.
The couple first began playing music together soon after they met while living in the Midwest. Following several years of recording and performing locally, the duo decided that it was time for a change, and they hit the road for Los Angeles with their Ford van, their guitars and their trusty dog, Bernie.
During their time in LA, the couple performed in a slew of local LA clubs. Their favorite was Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance at The World-Famous Palomino Club. During this time, their band, The Ruby Trees contributed a song to A Town South of Bakersfield, Volume 3 (Restless Records). They joined industry veterans Dale Watson, The Hellecasters and Harry Dean Stanton on the release.
The pair then relocated to the Pacific Northwest. Francis and Overbo found themselves adopted by a likeminded tribe of Portland musicians, and together with their newfound community, they contributed to jam sessions at a secret honky-tonk at the edge of town called The Barn. It was then that the duo really honed their sound with a brand-new duet project. Since that time, Silver Lake 66 has recorded three albums, toured nationally, performed at festivals throughout the Pacific Northwest, and shared the stage with Americana heroes including Gurf Morlix and Jim Lauderdale.
In August of 2016, the super duo released their debut LP, Let go or be dragged. It features a collection of songs drawn from personal experiences of travel, love, loss and adversity. A group of local veteran musicians from the Portland Americana community round out the vocally driven, warm, tremolo-laden sound.
The album was a resounding success with Americana radio, receiving airplay from over 55 stations throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. The album hit #19 on the Roots Music Report’s album chart, and the song “San Francisco Angel” reached #18 on its singles chart.
The Huffington Post’s Randy Radic describes Silver Lake 66’s music as “elegant simplicity” and “the real McCoy.” For Folk’s Sake’s Jonathan Frahm calls the duo “the real deal” and highlights their “sweet harmonies that mesh the entirety of their sound together.”
Released in April of 2019, their second release, Ragged Heart, is a continuation of their journey as a couple, as individuals, and as a solid musical duo. With the addition of strings and horns, Ragged Heart builds off their previous works and centers around a message of resiliency and hope.
Americana Highways’ Melissa Clarke says, “The striking characteristic of Ragged Heart is the energy of the instrumental interplay, with a throwback early ’70s style and tones to match . . . The band’s energy is irresistible, and the vocal harmonies are divine.”
Glide Magazine has noted that Ragged Heart is “a glorious roundabout of Americana mixed with splices of hearty rockabilly and chugging sweet seductive melodies.” They go on to say, “Silver Lake 66 transports a dignified sound that evokes the gratifying sounds of Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, with a sly inkling for today’s roots music ears.”
Silver Lake 66 will be releasing their third album, The Space Between Us in the summer of 2022. With wildfires burning, a pandemic, and mass protests persisting near their home in Portland, Oregon – Francis and Overbo took solace in writing and recording music in their basement studio. The duos’ reaction to the one of the most uncertain times in American history is an album of emotionally raw and genuine performances, with remarkably strong songwriting. The songs reverberate with the tension of an anxious world, but also showcase a playful sense of humor which provides balance even in dark times. A first-rate band of Portland musicians contributed to the album, including Jenny Conlee-Drizos (The Decemberists) on piano, Kyleen King (Brandi Carlyle) on violin and viola.
The duo’s distinct ability to perfectly complement one another reveals the finest in both songwriting, and the strength to seamlessly blend genres into a sound which is timeless and unique as their own. As two seasoned troubadours, Overbo and Francis tell stories straight from the heart while looking forward to whatever comes next and glancing back at the road they’ve travelled with no regrets.
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