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Collaboration and compromise work for The Harmed Brothers

The Harmed Brothers_photo by Chad Lanning.jpg

Alex Salcido likens his band, The Harmed Brothers, to a ship, and says the goal is to keep it afloat “as much as humanly possible.”

The banjo-playing Salcido has been doing just that in recent years, navigating the always-choppy waters of the music business along with co-captain, fellow singer and guitarist Ray Vietti, plus various crew members.

“Ray and I have created our own kind of universe with these songs, and we have our visions for them,” explains Salcido. “Since the two of us write these songs, both separately and collaboratively and arrange them with different musicians at a time, we do our best to come to a point where both our ideas can co-exist. I believe we simply do our best to compromise with one another to stay true to our separate and collective visions for this band, whether it be the two of us, four of us or five of us.”

At first, Vietti was the sole leader of the band, which he started four years ago in Missouri. He first crossed paths with Salcido prior to a Harmed Brothers gig at the Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove, Ore. (about 20 minutes south of Eugene).

“I was standing outside, and a van pulls up and out pops Ray. He jumps out, phone in hand, and rushes toward the door,” remembers Salcido. Later on, they were introduced and quickly bonded over a mutual appreciation for Ryan Adams, and their relationship “grew into a natural friendship and respect between two musicians,” Salcido adds.

A short time after meeting Salcido, Vietti found himself back in Oregon, minus two band members and with a week’s worth of Harmed Brothers shows to play in the Northwest. He asked Salcido to fill in for those gigs, along with Guthrie McClenny, Salcido’s bandmate at the time in the group Termite Dog.

“It felt instantly natural and fun,” says Salcido. “One series of shows turned into another, and another, and so on.”

McClenny has since moved on to pursue other projects. As for Salcido, his latest Harmed Brothers-related project is Better Days, released this month on the Portland, Ore.-based Fluff & Gravy label. Just like they did with 2012’s Come Morning, Salcido and Vietti recorded the new album in St. Louis with producer David Beeman. But this time around, they recorded with analog equipment (a first for the group) and with a full band laying down live backing tracks (another first), as opposed to, as Salcido puts it, “in a room [with Vietti], guitar, banjo — mics ready, with [other] instrumentation peppered in.”

“Defining what we do has been a difficult little dance,” Salcido says. “We easily and proudly wear the Americana badge. … We’d like to think of ourselves as becoming more of a rock band. Not full-on rock, just more of a rock band.”

— By Chris M. Junior

The Harmed Brothers on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Oct. 16: Mississippi Studios — Portland, Ore.
* Oct. 17: Sam Bond’s Garage — Eugene, Ore.
* Oct. 18: Axe & Fiddle — Cottage Grove, Ore.
* Oct. 19: Cattlemen’s Saloon — Rogue River, Ore.
* Oct. 30: Café Flo — Chico, Calif.
* Oct. 31: Slim’s — San Francisco
* Nov. 1: The Partisan — Merced, Calif.
* Nov. 2: Moe’s Alley — Santa Cruz, Calif.
* Nov. 7: Fresno Brew Co. — Fresno, Calif.
* Nov. 8: Yosemite Bug — Midpines, Calif.
* Nov. 10: Pappy and Harriet’s — Pioneertown, Calif.
* Nov. 12: Yucca Tap Room — Tempe, Ariz.
* Nov. 14: The White Horse — Austin, Texas
* Nov. 20: Artmosphere — Lafayette, La.
* Nov. 22: Mercury Lounge — Tulsa, Okla.
* Nov. 23: Grandads — Oklahoma City, Okla.
* Nov. 24: Kirby’s Beer Store — Wichita, Kan.
* Nov. 25: Magoon’s — St. Joseph, Mo.
* Nov. 26: Record Bar — Kansas City, Mo.
* Nov. 29: Foam — St. Louis
* Nov. 30: The Crow’s Nest — Cincinnati
* Dec. 1: The Well — Knoxville, Tenn.
* Dec. 2: Coffee Cup — Roanoke, Va.
* Dec. 5: Mojo’s — Columbia, Mo.
* Dec. 7: Russell’s Bar — Annandale, Minn.
* Dec. 12: Reggie’s — Chicago

The Harmed Brothers, from left to right: Ray Vietti, Troy Broat, Ben Kilmer and Alex Salcido (Photo by Chad Lanning)