Brian and Mary Lewis are a vocals-and-acoustic instruments duo based in Durham, North Carolina, who play music from an era that has been all but forgotten in the current wave of market-driven, made-for-television country acts.
The earliest influences they drawn upon harken back to a simpler time, when home-made music was the primary form of entertainment and radio was in its infancy. They specialize in songs that feature a singing style known as “close harmony” in which the vocal lines are worked out to compliment one another in an exacting fashion.
Brian and Mary have been playing together since just after their marriage in 1980, though much of their early work together was strictly instrumental and not vocal-oriented. A four-year stint in the Maple City String Band in the mid-1980s gave them a good grounding in old-time music, but over the years they developed an appreciation for the special harmonies of duet singing. Brian has performed for more than 35 years in various folk, bluegrass and rock bands, and now he and Mary have made a name for themselves as practitioners of the art of close harmony. Formerly based in Iowa City, Iowa, Gainesville, Florida, and Williamsburg, Virginia, they have performed extensively in Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina.
Audiences can expect a variety of styles of songs sung in close harmony, with a repertoire drawn from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s along with songs from more contemporary sources. A typical performance includes “brother duets” from the ’30s and ’40s and honky tonk music from the ’40s and ’50s, as well as old-time, bluegrass and even Tex-Mex selections – just to keep things lively.