Photo: Kentucky Avenue
Photo: Kentucky Avenue

A Chat with Dave Ries from Kentucky Avenue

With influences like Lucinda Williams, Hank Williams and Bruce Springsteen, Kentucky Avenue, a folk-Americana outfit from the DMV, is the real deal. What started as an impromptu jam session between Dave Ries and Stella Schindler has burgeoned into a bonafide duo with the record Nothing Here Is Mine.

On Tap: How long did you work on Nothing Here Is Mine, and when did you know you had enough material for an entire album?
Dave Ries: The momentum was there right from the start, and after first playing together in September of 2016, we wrote more than a dozen songs in six weeks. The actual recording process took about six calendar months, but really only about 14 studio days.

OT: What’s your songwriting process like with Stella?
DR: It really is a back and forth. Many times, we would stop and talk about the stories of the characters in the songs, which led to trading off lyrics, playing around with harmonies, and settling into [the song’s] rhythm and meter. When it worked, we could hear the click, and we knew we had a song.

OT: What inspired the album title? What does it mean?
DR: There are a lot of ways to interpret the title Nothing Here Is Mine. We’ve been asked whether it is a Buddhist or a Zen thing, but it just seems to be a fundamental thing. One day your eyes open and you really feel alive, and you realize that everything you have, everything you experience, all the people in your life – everything has been given. In the actual song, there’s a lot of searching going on, but in the end, we come to find out that nothing here is mine, and that’s all right.

OT: What genres were you influenced by when recording this album?
DR: In the end we’d say we have an alt-country record, where classic country meets classic rock.

OT: How did you two meet? When did you first start playing with one another?
DR: We met about a year ago when a cover band that I was playing in was asked to play a function at the school where Stella teaches. The organizer of the event mentioned that there was a faculty member who sings and plays guitar that was going to sit in with us. The band was of course a bit skeptical. Then Stella showed up. Needless to say, we were blown away by her voice.

OT: Lastly, where can we catch a show this month?
DR: We are playing at Villain & Saint in Bethesda [on] Saturday, November 25, [and at] the DC Holiday Market at Gallery Place [on] Monday, November 27.

For more information about Kentucky Avenue, visit www.kentuckyavenuemusic.com.