Storyhill puts the 'sing' in songwriter

Acoustic folk duo Storyhill proves that vocal harmonies, introspective lyrics and innovative arrangements didn't end with the likes of Simon and Garfunkel or Loggins and Messina.

Songwriters Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson have garnered fans since they recorded their first tape together in 1989. Many self-released albums have followed, and, in February, the two signed with Red House Records to release a self-titled CD.

Storyhill will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 10, at the Mobius, 281 Fourth St., Ashland.

The duo's story begins in Bozeman, Mont., where the boys grew up and started performing together as teenagers. Both sang with choirs, played in bands and mastered instruments such as the piano, trumpet, guitar, harmonica, bass and accordion. Though it was their seventh-grade world geography class that brought them together, it was their passions for music that made them lifelong friends and collaborators.

Cunningham and Hermanson went separate ways after high school. One went to Spain and one went to college in St. Paul, Minn., but both continued to pursue music. After reuniting in 1993, the two picked up a fan base over the next three years as they toured the country performing together and recorded several self-released albums.

Once again they found themselves traveling in different directions. This time one went to Norway while the other returned to Bozeman.

While they were playing a few reunion shows, Cunningham and Hermanson discovered some new creative energy and reformed Storyhill. The two enlisted songwriter and Grammy nominee Dan Wilson to produce the new album. Simply named, the album is a return to the basics that had attracted fans to the folk duo.

The album is mostly acoustic, with producer Wilson providing some piano, bass and guitar parts. Drummer and percussionist Eric Fawcett also is featured on the CD.

Cunningham and Hermanson continue projects outside of Storyhill. Cunningham operates a recording studio in Bozeman, and Hermanson works as a producer in St. Paul and performs with rock bands Alva Star and The Hopefuls.

Storyhill was among the six winners of the 35th annual Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Contest held last month in Texas. The winners were announced after a weekend of performances by the 32 finalists. About 800 artists competed at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Cunningham and Hermanson returned to Kerrville on June — to perform as part of the Grassy Hill New Folk Winners Concert.

Tickets to the show at the Mobius cost $10; $8 for students. See or call 488-8894.

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