For the past couple of years, Austin Smith and Mark Tegio have gotten together casually to strum their guitars.
They even wrote a handful of songs in the process, mixing their love of outlaw country with woodsy folk music, but never did much with it publicly aside from playing an open mic here and there.
“We were always playing together and writing songs,” says Smith.
The casual nature of it took a sharp left turn late last year, when their friend Stacey heard them play and suggested they record an album, even offering to produce it.
“We were partying and hanging out with her, and she said, ‘Let’s make an album,’” Tegio says. “After that, we decided, ‘Hey, let’s go share this album with people.’”
The duo’s self-titled album came out early this year. They’ve taken this living room project to clubs, and even toured a bit in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, and South Dakota. The blend of outlaw attitude with breezy folk vibes has created an emotive sound that captures the spirit of the West Coast roots vibe. You can hear its seamless blend on the record.
“It was pretty rough at the beginning,” Tegio says. “It got to the point where we weren’t so terrible anymore. I think it grew organically.”
The duo have their eyes set on making more music and getting out a lot more this year, really seeing what they can do with this music. They have a new single coming called “Talking Suzie Blue Blues,” available on all the streaming platforms on Jan. 20.
“There’s more pressure to get out and play more and tour more and travel more,” Tegio says. “Before it was just playing guitar. Now it’s changed, like, ‘Let’s go play guitar so we can get some free beer.’”
INFO: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28. Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, 402 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz. Free. 425-4900.