Hope Nunnery was born in the woods of South Carolina and experienced country and gospel music at an early age. As a little girl, she listened in awe to the sounds of the Original Carter Family, Hank Williams and Southern Baptist Church music. She has kept this influence tight and close to her heart, adding blues, bluegrass and old-time to create a cornucopia of pure American roots music. Hope’s poignant lyrics evoke a determined passion for the expression of what has been lived and felt, leaving little room for double entendres or half words. The result is a constant tapping into far corners of childhood memory to paint haunting images of life, religion, family, and love, like these verses in “Little Pink Radio:” “Mama got a black eye, she staring out the window Puffin on a Pell Mell, coffee getting colder, she Big and fat and pretty, better than a movie star Mama sweet foot tapping to the sound of the soft guitars.” Hope’s evocative vocals add credence and seriousness to her lyrics. She sings with an authority that is at times motherly, at times sisterly, infusing the accompanying chords with a sense of urgency that is primal. Steve Tarshis—an accomplished musician who has been involved with American roots music as a player, composer and educator for his entire adult life—has been Hope’s “partner in crime” for many years now. Inspired by the Delta musicians, particularly Son House, Steve complements Hope’s vocals by adding his own voice to the mix, together with an extra dose of melodic, tasty guitar playing. Steve—a talented player with a penchant for endearing sweet slides on the resonator—has worked with artists ranging from Bo Diddley to the Joffrey Ballet, as composer, guitarist and arranger. The Hope-Steve duo packs a punch together, creating music that relentlessly looks for a passage to freedom, a feeling perhaps better explained by Hope’s own words in “Spare Me a Set of Wings:” “Just say a little something, just send a little sign, I’m all racked up with worry, till you ease my mind. Can you spare me a set of wings when I die?” This is not your run-of-the-mill music, this is, as the title of Hope and Steve’s album says, “Wilderness Lounge” music.
--JP Vicente