Mare's got peeps in Bend. We'd like to spend a little time here discussing singer/songwriter Mare Wakefield and why you insist on mispronouncing her name. While on paper, it looks like Wakefield's first name should rhyme with "hair" or "bear," but in fact when said aloud, her name is the world that belongs in the following blanks: Peter, Paul and _________ or the Virgin _________, or perhaps ________ Kate and Ashley Olsen. Some
Central Oregonians, might however, not have been caught off guard by the intentionally quirky and seemingly erroneous spelling of the Nashville-based artist's name. Those who've been here for a few decades (don't all raise your hands at once) might remember Wakefield as part of the band Sister Southpaw, a Bend-based troupe from the early 1990s. Or perhaps more recently, you might remember her set at the Silver Moon Brewing Co. last fall, a venue she's returning to on Wednesday during a grueling cross-country tour.
Wakefield doesn't take offense to the mispronunciations, seeing as how she changed the spelling in her teens in an effort to set herself apart. But as a singer/songwriter living in Nashville, a town with a guitar strumming folkie at every turn, setting oneself apart isn't a bad idea.
"What it does to you musically to be in a town like Nashville where everyone is a musician is make you really push yourself because the bar is set really high," says Wakefield over the phone upon her arrival in Tucson after a flat and hot trek across West Texas and New Mexico.
Wakefield, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston still speaks as if her education is still in progress. She even goes as far as to describe her life in Nashville as just another part of songwriting education.
"I've called it grad school for songwriters, and I think that's a good way to think about it," Wakefield says, "Living there has pushed me to get better."
In support of her new record Ironwood, which hit the streets just this month, Wakefield is pounding the pavement with a tour of pubs, clubs, and cafes from the South to the Northwest and back again over the course of the next month. Riding shotgun on the trip is her husband Nomad Ovunc, who plays keys and bass onstage for Wakefield's cerebral and soulful tracks from the new album, as well as her road-tested earlier work.
Wakefield's songs are softly wrapped in Americana sensibilities and classically folksy lyrics, yet bear enough emotion and originality to set her apart from the coffee shop crowd. When asked about her songwriting process, she claims the same approach that Paul McCartney said he employed for "Yesterday"- just wake up and start playing.
"The most recent couple songs have been early in the morning and waking up and coming out of that half-conscious dream state. Some of my favorite songs were written when I wake up with a melody from my dream," Wakefield says.
That sounds pretty simple, almost too simple, but if that's what brings forth the Americana gold Wakefield rolls out, then there's no use messing with it. Now, if only it were that simple to get people to pronounce her name correctly.
8pm Wednesday, May 21. Silver Moon Brewing Co. 24 NW Greenwood Ave., 388-8331.