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Twangtown Paramours vow Americana passion

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published April 4, 2013 at 2:46 a.m.

The Twangtown Paramours are Mike Lewis and MaryBeth Zamer

The Twangtown Paramours are something of a paradox, rather than a pair of paramours.

“We are from ‘Twangtown,’ the nickname of Nashville, Tenn., but we’re not really paramours, we just liked the sound of the word,” says Mike Lewis, one-half of the duo, along with his wife, MaryBeth Zamer.

The word “paramour” is defined as a “lover, especially the partner of a married person.”

“We’ve actually been married for a little over two years,” Lewis says, “and we just picked that for our name because sometimes you just like something because of the way it sounds good. It has an edginess to it.”

The two musicians - both unmarried at the time - met close to four years ago, Lewis explains, in a recording studio in Nashville. They started dating and romance came first, before mutual musical attraction began. Zamer wanted to record one of his songs, and although at first he admits he felt a bit like a jealous lover, he agreed to share one of his beloved tunes with her.

“We went into the studio and did one song, and then another,” he says, “and I soon realized we had a sound we really liked, and then we got married and came up with this duo.”

Both had musical resumes before meeting. Lewis, who says he has lived in Vermont, New York City, New Jersey, California and Mississippi, has played guitar for years and added bass to his skill set (he sometimes tours as an upright bassist with Jimmie Dale Gilmore). Lewis also wrote a song that was a No. 1 pop hit for Yang Pa in South Korea in 1997. Since 2000, he has owned and operated a studio, producing songs for other performers.

Zamer, who is from Maryland and played in bands in the Washington area for years sang background vocals for the late Eva Cassidy’s band, Method Actor. She moved to Nashville and worked as a demo singer and backing vocalist and was lead singer of the band Blue Martini. She sings lead vocals in The Twangtown Paramours and Lewis plays guitar.

A debut self-titled CD came out in summer 2010 and the disc reached No. 11 on the Folk DJ chart, plus it remained in the Top 40 of the Cashbox Country Roots chart all that summer. A follow-up CD, The Promise of Friday Night, was released last summer and reached No. 2 on the Folk DJ chart.

“We’ve been called ‘sophisticated Americana’ and I supposed that’s a fair label for those into labels,” Lewis says. “Most of the songs written in Nashville are for the soccer moms driving kids to school, where you cannot miss what they are saying, and our songs are not in that vein. Our songs are meant to be listened to and thought about.

“Our shows are 98.5 percent original songs, but every once in a while we might do a Dylan or Townes Van Zandt song.”

The Twangtown Paramours are no strangers to central Arkansas, having played as the opening act for Joe Ely in November at the Revolution Room. While there, they met Little Rock Folk Club founder Len Holton, who liked their sound and decided to bring them back to central Arkansas for their own headlining show

The Twangtown Paramours 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Little Rock Folk Club, Thomson Hall, Unitarian Universalist Church, 1818 Reservoir Road, Little Rock Admission: $15; $8 for students with IDs; free for accompanied children 12 and under (501) 663-0634

Weekend, Pages 35 on 04/04/2013

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