Quick Q and A with Beggar’s Ride

If you like harmony, you’ll like Beggar’s Ride.  If you like thoughtful and reflective lyrics with superb guitar accompaniment, you’ll like Beggar’s Ride.  If you like to have a relaxing and engaging time at a concert, you’ll like Beggar’s Ride.

Claudia SanSoucie and Kate Maguire are Beggar’s Ride.  They have only been playing together a couple of years but you’d think they had been together for much longer because their musical styles are so in synch.

For more information about Beggars Ride, check out their website.

Beggar’s Ride will be appearing at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on Friday, October 26.

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According to your bio, you’ve been playing together since 2010.  Were either of you involved with other musical entities before you formed Beggar’s Ride?

Kate: I had a solo effort I put forth in 2008, but mostly I was just sitting in with other groups and working on my own material. I did a little solo performing when I moved to Baltimore in 2007, which is how I met Claudia.

Claudia: I had an original band project going as well as solo work before I moved to Baltimore in 2001. Once I moved to Baltimore, I also travelled a lot to Europe and became involved with various side projects.

Please tell us about some of your most important musical influences and why does that music move you so much?

Kate: As far as guitar playing goes, my first real awakening was with Wes Montgomery. I love how lyrical and melodic his solos are- I can sing most of them back after one or two listens. I’m also a big Doug Pettibone fan, to be a little more current. I love him for the same reasons- melodic playing, great tone. For songwriting influences, I grew up listening to the usuals — Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, and eventually moved toward Joni Mitchell, Wilco, Ryan Adams… My biggest love though is Lucinda Williams. I think she is a very brave songwriter- she wears her heart on her sleeve, but never gets sappy. My short bucket list includes having a whiskey with her.

Claudia: I started out listening to a lot of British folk with Sandy Denny and John Martyn (Bless the weather/solid air) being two of my favorites. Their melancholy as well as their melodies really got to me and still do. Then there are several artists over the years that really inspired a love for great lyrics, namely Joni Mitchell,  Bruce Cockburn, Townes van Zandt, Gillian Welch, and Lucinda Williams. Of course there are so many more but they stand out to me as having a very unique voice and perspective. I’ve always been open to lots of music, but I tend to gravitate to lyrics that convey something emotional and are musically on the quiet side. It reflects my personality and it seems to come out in my music as well.

How do you share the songwriting duties?  People always want to know: music or lyrics first?  Or does it vary?

Kate: Claudia and I haven’t written together as of yet, although we help fine tune each other’s songs. We help each other out with clumsy lyrics, or tightening up an arrangement, maybe picking a key. I think for me, in general, it’s typical music and melody first. I don’t think I’m a disciplined enough writer yet to give you a real answer! Still searching for my groove.

Claudia: Ditto. Same here… a musical idea and a lyrical idea/mood tend to spark something. It is hard for me to sit down and state “now I will write a song about ….”  I am more a  ” I follow where it takes me” kind of writer.  Sometimes a song takes quite a few twists and turns before it all makes sense to me and turns into something promising. It is great to have a musical partner to bounce off a song to see if it is finished or if it needs more work, because I can get too close and too critical for my own good at time, or the opposite — too impatient.

What’s your definition of a good cover song for your repertoire?  You’ve got a David Olney song “Women Across the River” on your CD. What brought you to that particular song?

Kate: We both love playing covers. I know a lot of writers don’t share that enthusiasm, but we love it. We always learn a lot from well chosen covers. For me, I look for something that complements our style — we have to be connected with the lyrics for sure, but also a song that will lend well to our harmonies and the way our guitar playing compliments each other. “Women Across the River” is a perfect example- Claudia finger picks her acoustic which leaves me room for more sparse electric work to support her.

Claudia: I’ve been a fan of David’s songs for a long time and have been playing this particular song already for many years. When Kate and I first played this song together, it just clicked and we both felt very strongly about including it on the album. I feel a good “cover” is one I can own. Meaning it doesn’t feel to me like I am “covering” someone else. When I have a deep relationship with a song, then I have a sense of authenticity when I performing it . It doesn’t feel all that different from performing my own songs. To me it is all about sharing music.

David Goodrich produced your album.  Did you seek him out to work on your project?  If so, was it because of his work with Chris Smither or Redbird that caught your attention?

Kate: We did not seek Goody out, but we were glad to find him. He was producing a project for good friends of ours, The Infidel Castros, and we met him that way. They thought he would be perfect for us, and strongly recommended Signature Sound to track and mix the album. I went with the Castros to see Goody play with Chris Smither at the Ram’s Head in Annapolis, and that sealed the deal for me. Not only is he a great, supportive guitar player, but he’s a good hang.

Claudia: I was aware of Goody’s work with Peter Mulvey and Jeffrey Foucault. Both have albums that I think are absolutely brilliant and Stripping Cane was in constant rotation for a while. I always thought it would be awesome to record at Signature and work with Goody. And as Kate said, once we met Goody via the Castros it all came together.

The CD has been called moody and reflective.  Would you say that your live show brings a lighter touch to the table?  

Kate: Definitely. We are almost too aware of the moody and reflective nature of the album. We have many other tunes that are more upbeat, but we just couldn’t find a way to make them fit on this album. We made a conscious decision to keep the album on the mellow side. It just seemed to naturally fall that way. We knew it wouldn’t be the most commercially viable path, but we made an album we really love and are proud of.

Claudia: In choosing the songs for the album, Kate and I reflected similarly on the kinds of albums that we would consider our favorites. And in doing so, we decided to keep it to one side of a certain mood and musical ambiance. I find it disappointing when I put in a CD and I love it until I come to a track that is so very different, that I feel compelled to hit the skip button. In our live shows we of course try to vary it a bit. Each audience and venue is different and sometimes we don’t decide on our set until we have a sense of the audience. But I do feel our personalities allow for plenty of lightness and fun, even though the songs might are of a more serious nature.

What’s next in store for Beggar’s Ride?

Kate: More writing and recording! We have been working on new tracks in our home studio. There’s a work in progress of a tune of Claudia’s on our website right now. And trying to keep booking more live shows. We love performing- it helps us develop as musicians and artists more than any rehearsing could ever do.

Claudia: Ditto… I also look forward to collaborating with other musicians, whether it be sharing shows, recording together, and supporting each other creatively. It’s a ride we hope to share with lots of folks.

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