I played banjo (and occasional guitar, bass, and really sloppy snare drum) and sang backup vocals as a member of The Harvey Girls from late 2006 until the middle of 2008.
I met The Harvey Girls on the internet. The duo at the core of the group, Hiram Lucke and Melissa Rodenbeek, were members of the same community website as me, Metafilter, and they submitted a recording of theirs as a track for a compilation album I was organizing, which put them on my radar and got us to talking about music for the first time. They’ve been playing together since 2003, in Lawrence, Kansas, and other folks from the site had already known and liked their music; I was a bit late to that party.
Later in 2006, Hiram and Melissa moved to Portland. They invited me to come over and play some music, and we had a good time. I joined the band soon after, and we started putting together a set list based on their existing catalog and new music Hiram and Melissa had been writing. We also tried incorporating other members in the lineup, especially with an eye toward a drummer, and after several false-starts eventually nabbed Adam Bartlett to play drums and bits of bass and keyboard.
In 2008 we started working seriously on material for an album, recording in Adam’s basement home studio; the recordings available here are rough mixes from April and May of that year, most of which is instrumentation laid down by Hiram and Adam. I had trouble staying engaged with the project and felt like I wasn’t and couldn’t match the energy and enthusiasm they were putting into the recording process. Later that year, between my enthusiasm gap, Hiram and Melissa’s frustration with the transition from Lawrence’s gigging scene to Portland’s, and Adam moving out of state, that iteration of The Harvey Girls dissolved.
Hiram and Melissa have continued to do recording work off and on; they have several excellent releases, old and new, available on their website. We haven’t worked together musically since 2008, but they remain very good friends.