From the very beginning, music has been a part of Grace and Tony White’s relationship. As the duo “Grace and Tony,” the newlyweds will be performing at Jammin’ Java this Saturday. Back when Grace was Grace Shultz, a jam session set the foundation for their partnership.
Tony made the first move. He knew Grace through mutual friends and admired her as a musician. He asked her if she’d like to hang out with him and play some music. She was playing mandolin and banjo, and he had just left a punk rock band. They played punk-rock tunes on acoustic Americana instruments and their “punkgrass” sound began to take shape, a combination of punk, folk, bluegrass, and Texas swing styles.
They went on to release their EP Inside A 7-Track Mind in 2011, marry in July 2013, and last fall put out their first full-length album, November, with the independent record label Rock Ridge Music.
As with the merging of their musical styles, both musicians play a unique role in the songwriting process: Typically, Tony explains, he works on the melodies and Grace is the lyricist. They may be a married-couple-slash-musical-duo, but don’t expect the typical love songs from this pair.
“We don’t write a lot about relationships because we feel like that’s been done so much; it’s not something that interests us,” Tony says.
They take inspiration from films and books, murder mysteries among them, even more than music in their songwriting. The album’s songs feature a cast of characters in precarious situations, their stories delivered with two-part harmonies.
“We like to make something that is unique – a story that hasn’t been told and set it to a melody we love,” Tony says.
He sees the album as a storybook – it even has the happily-ever-after ending, he says.
Musically, the album has a fuller instrumentation than their acoustic EP.
“We presented it in the best way possible,” Tony says.
But when Grace and Tony are on the road, audiences hear pared-down versions of the songs from November. It’s “Grace and I against the world,” as Tony describes it. Along with the story-songs they’ll be sharing, Grace and Tony also like to tell their own stories at shows, giving concert-goers insights beyond the music.
Theirs is a musical partnership like any other, Tony says. They butt heads. They each have visions for songs they want to work toward. But they’re building a career together in music, the music that first brought them together.
“It is amazing to be seeing the world together and living a dream together,” Tony says.
• For more information about Grace and Tony, visit graceandtonymusic.com.