Guelph musicians Braden Phelan and Elivia Cazzola were dating for a year before they decided to take their relationship to the next stage.
They named the progeny of their creative consummation Tragedy Ann.
“I suppose it was inevitable we would partner up musically,” said Phelan. “I had been very cautious and shy about it but Liv insisted it would be a good idea and, as usual, she was right.”
Since its inception in the summer of 2015 Tragedy Ann has completed a Western Canada tour, released a five-song EP called Stumbling and a single called Tightrope and played dozens of Ontario gigs.
Their recent East Coast tour has been the most ambitious to date with 14 shows in 16 days.
“We have two days off in two and a half weeks,” said Cazzola.
The tour brought them to towns in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and as far east as Baba’s Lounge in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. They even performed on-board the Via Rail train between stops.
They are wrapping up the tour next week with local performances at the Cinnamon Cinema on York Road in Guelph Mar. 21 and the Lost and Found Cafe in Elora Mar. 26. Guelph singer songwriter Annie Sumi will be the opening act for both shows.
Phelan and Cazzola performed together before partnering up for the duo.
“I sang vocals with Braden’s band Calico Lab for one show then they broke up,” Cazzola said with a grin. “I guess I was the Yoko.”
She went on to play with Phelan’s solo act and provided vocals for his record 379 Evert Street released in the summer of 2015. Both are members of the six-piece band The Lifers that Cazzola formed with her sister Anita Cazzola.
“I’m not a solo person,” said Cazzola. “I really enjoy playing off other people’s energy on stage and in practices. I think I’m at heart a really collaborative person.”
The more the couple collaborated on Phelan’s solo work the more sense it made to make the partnership official.
“I love doing this with Liv because we are very like minded people creatively and practically,” said Phelan. “We have a knack for hitting that balance between our creative side and our business acumen.”
They have no illusions about the economic realities of a career in the music business. Cazzola recently completed a double major at Western University and graduated with degrees in music and business. Phelan studied Sound Engineering and Production at Seneca College.
They have been writing new songs for their next record and played some of them during the recent tour.
They draw from a variety of influences. Phelan is a guitar rocker and Cazzola is a multi instrumentalist as well as an accomplished accordionist with roots in folk. The give and take and melding of styles has given birth to a distinctive sound.
“We have gone with Thrift Folk,” said Cazzola. “That’s our creative word for what we are. Basically, it’s a mixture of folk and alternative blues that draws on the past but remains present.”
They were living in London while Cazzola was in university and recently moved back to Guelph when she graduated. She started teaching music at Jam School in September and considers Guelph fertile ground for the creative process
“I think it was really important for us growing up in Guelph to have influences like James Gordon, Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon and Jane Lewis – all these amazing folkies who have done this forever and find new ways to love music and share that with people,” said Cazzola. “Any relationship is a lot of work and you really need to make sure you are committed to make it work.”