It’s not everyday you hear about a relatively unknown acoustic trio that gets their debut EP recorded for free by national artists — especially when the trio’s concert history boils down to gigs at mostly coffee shops, sprinkled with occasionally random shows like playing in a barn and headlining a Quinceañera.
Then again, Salvage Kin, of Hartly, isn’t your typical trio.
Peculiar in more ways than one, yet nonetheless intriguing, Salvage Kin and its alternative-folk vibe will revisit Cooldog Concert Series (along with copies of its self-titled debut EP, which is for sale as a download at multiple digital outlets including Amazon and iTunes) on Saturday. The band will share the bill with headliners Sweet Hellfire Pickles, an acoustic/electric band from New Jersey.
Salvage Kin — comprised of singers and sisters Aubrey Moore, 20, and Tracey Peters, 22, along with guitarist and singer Matt Peters, 23, who’s also Tracey’s husband — has been playing as an outfit since 2010, playing their first gig at Espresso-N-Ice in Dover that same year. The entire group resides in Hartly, yet Moore is away most of the year, as she’s currently a student at Liberty University in Virginia.
Salvage Kin’s four-song EP stir-fries bluesy and folk elements, warm harmonies and minimalism (the only instrument on the album is an acoustic guitar) along with lyrics that are introspective and center around the group’s Christian faith.
The track “Day Dreaming” is the black sheep of the songs on the album; it’s a lighthearted and straightforward tune inspired by Tracey’s experience “falling asleep in anthropology class” while attending Laramie County Community College in Wyoming in 2009.
“That’s probably one of the least meaningful of all the songs,” smiled Tracey. “You know, when things are really boring, you just drift away.”
Meanwhile, “My Love” is a love letter to God that actually sounds like Tracey is aiming her affection toward her husband, since a lot of personification is sprinkled throughout the tune.
“‘My Love’ talks about how faithful God is to us, but how we’re constantly running from him and pursuing things that really have no meaning,” Tracey said. “But God continues to come after us and pursue us.”
Kindness of strangers
It was the summer of 2011 when Salvage Kin opened for the husband-wife, pop-folk duo Jenny & Tyler at Grace Church in Dover, as part of the duo’s United States tour.
Page 2 of 3 - Jenny & Tyler (a national recording duo in Nashville, Tenn., who began dating as students while attending the University of Delaware in 2004) were so impressed by Salvage Kin’s performance they made the group an offer it couldn’t refuse.
“A couple weeks after the show they sent us an email and they said we were one of the best openers they had on their tour,” Moore recalled of Jenny & Tyler’s email to the group in 2011. “They just felt they wanted to help us out and they said they wanted to help us record an EP.”
Jenny & Tyler recorded Salvage Kin’s self-titled EP pro bono at Grace Church last summer. The husband-wife duo recorded the EP in one day, using their personal equipment, Moore said.
But it’d be months until Salvage Kin would hear the final mixes of its songs.
“Jenny & Tyler were on tour for six months, so they couldn’t do anything with it,” Moore explained. “By January, they got some time and started mixing it.”
After a few weeks of Jenny & Tyler emailing mixed versions of the songs to Salvage Kin to review, the husband-wife duo wrapped up the production later that month.
From there it took Salvage Kin approximately four months to decide on the design of its album cover, which is an image of a backyard spotlighting items that were sentimental to some of the group’s loved ones who’ve passed away. Items on the cover include a sewing machine, armchair that has a pair of shoes resting on the seat cushion, flowerpot and a floor lamp.
Nonetheless, Moore and Tracey said they appreciate Jenny & Tyler’s kind act of recording their debut EP. In addition, the sisters mentioned they still keep in touch with Jenny & Tyler via email, as the duo lets them to preview new tunes from time to time.
Cooldog is a fitting and familiar venue for Salvage Kin, since the crew usually plays at intimate venues like at Espresso-N-Ice, the Wesley Café (at Wesley College) and at private house concerts for friends. Outside of opening for Jenny & Tyler, the trio has had the pleasure of playing another memorable show at Grace Church.
“We played at a Quinceañera one time,” Moore quipped. “And the Quinceañera, like in the Latino community, it’s [a person’s] 15th birthday party. It’s kind of a big deal.”
Tracey added, “We’ve played a lot of really random shows because our thing is: we all have other jobs and we’re not just musicians, we would love to be, but we have other jobs. It hasn’t been the sort of thing where we’re calling people up trying to organize gigs. We haven’t really pursued that with all of our energy. Usually what really happens is we just love to play music. We’ll get invited to play somewhere, someone will see us and be like: ‘Hey, would you please play at this other event?’”
Page 3 of 3 - What’s next?
Moving forward, Salvage Kin intends to gig as much as they can, wherever they can. Specifically, the group would like to perform downstate. The trio is also interested in recording additional songs for possibly a full-length album.
“I feel like we would be appreciated further south because it’s a slower pace down there and our music reflects that,” Moore said. “We have a good amount of other songs we haven’t recorded yet. So eventually we’d like to get those recorded and either release a full-length album or possibly another EP. And depending on how things play out, we’d love to do this professionally. But if we only ever do this for our personal edification, we’ll be content with that.”