A pair of East Tennessee grassers, Wendy Crowe and Jonathan Maness, have joined forces in a new group called WestWend.
The two met by chance at a radio show in 2011, just as Wendy was set to start work on a debut recording. Discussions led to Jonathan signing on to produce, and they enjoyed working together so well in the studio that plans were quickly hatched to start performing together as a duo.
Maness has a long history in bluegrass, while Crowe is a more recent convert. Jonathan grew up the son of a mixed marriage; one of his parents was a classical pianist, the other a bluegrass banjo player. After earning a degree in guitar performance and recording arts, he began touring with groups like Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, Mountain Soul and Dixie Bee-Liners.
Wendy got started in music as an acoustic country artist, writing and performing her own music in and around Knoxville. She and Jonathan clicked instantly as collaborative musicians, and they plan to tour now as a band, including many of the sessions players who worked on her 2012 release, The Way I Am.
Maness has a new CD of his own, Time, Love, and Money, and these two projects will serve as the band’s repertoire moving forward, both working duet shows, and in a full ensemble with stellar sidemen like Bryn Davies, Andy Wood, Matt Leadbetter, and Richard Cifersky.
Here are a couple of samples from Crowe’s album. First up is Muddy River, written by Wendy with Amanda Thomas.
This one is Let Me Be the One, written by Susan Rose.
A WestWend album is in the works for 2013, featuring songs Maness and Crowe have written together. You can keep track of their endeavors online.