Upstarts and Rogues
Sat., 9/29 • 7 p.m.
Projekte Gallery; 523 S. 3rd St.
Sun., 9/30 • 4 p.m.
Old Books on Front St.; 249 N. Front St.
Amidst the conflicts and lack of compromise, American citizens somehow trudge through. Some things make the days easier to bear—such as art, writing and music. While not necessarily neutral, the beauty in creativity can overcome the burdens of political antagonism.
Such rings true for Jude Eden and Jeff Sanchez, the duo responsible for Wilmington’s only cello and guitar combination, Upstarts and Rogues. “We’re on opposite ends of the political spectrum,” Sanchez explains. “We have debated before, and sometimes it gets loud. Now, we primarily communicate through music and agree to disagree about politics. I personally embrace the system we have here in the U.S., where both of our opinions can co-exist.”
Eden feels it’s just a simple and unavoidable fact: Not all pairings can agree politically. It doesn’t victimize their music; rather, music is one of the commonalities which solidifies their friendship in spite of their beliefs.
“We’re a microcosm of what exists everywhere,” she tells. “These kinds of differences are as old as time, and we’re both passionate about what we believe. It’s a fine art to discuss these things and maintain relationships. We’re lucky that we’ve been able to do that, and it’s because there are more important things to us than our differences. Music isn’t the only thing that the two of us have in common, but it’s what really brings us together and keeps us together. And when it really comes together, it’s magic and nothing can stop it.”
Founded in July 2009—on Eden’s birthday, actually—Upstarts and Rogues began in the same way many acts do: The artists split from another band to set out on their own. They discovered working as a two-person team fulfilled both their musical needs. Sanchez—though he’s the hardcore guitarist of Wilmington’s rock band The Clams—says he also enjoys quiet, folky music with harmonies, à la Simon and Garfunkel. Coupling with Eden allowed him that outlet, while Eden just needs her bandmate to keep her focused.
“Jeff and I are good complements to one another,” she describes. “I tend to abstract more when I’m playing solo or learning something new, while Jeff really understands formulas and arrangements when it comes to songwriting. The way I think of it is, I’m like a balloon and Jeff is the one holding that balloon. With our musical creativity, it’s great to have both that airy quality pulling you upward and out, but you also need something grounding or you’ll disappear into the ether.”
What they’ve produced in their unlikely melding of cello and guitar is the ability to switch on and off their attitude. Sanchez’s gentle strummings paired with Eden’s buoyant, folk-style vocals—or her humming and jazz-like ad libs—give their songs a jovial introduction.
Yet as heard in “Rebuttal in Blue,” Eden can lay the moxie on thick when given lyrics such as “I can compromise ‘til the end of time / forgive you though you don’t apologize / I can’t pretend you won’t do it again / We both know that’s a lie.”
And when her cello is announced, immediate warmth and depth overcomes the song. It’s an inescapable facet of orchestral instruments: They were built to affect emotions to the core, and Eden is masterful in her medium.
“There’s something so full and mellow when you round out the cello with the guitar, or when the guitar is complemented by the cello,” she says. “It’s like wine and chocolate.”
As their stringed beasts join together regardless of the other’s usual composition, so do the members of Upstarts and Rogues despite their political affiliations. Such was the encompassing theme of their very first album, “Twain Shall Meet.” “[Working in the studio] allows you to expand your parameters with the layers and nuance,” Eden says of the experience.
The two will unveil “Twain Shall Meet” Saturday evening at Projekte Gallery. The celebration continues over a whole series of shows through October, the next on Sunday afternoon at Old Books on Front Street. “We just want to give all our fans a chance to attend [a concert],” Sanchez says. “Not everyone can make every show they’d like to see in Wilmington.”
New and old songs will pepper the series, and the set lists will never actually be “set.” “We can button it up or play it loose,” Eden confirms. “It’s great to have the freedom to do that—to just be comfortable enough with each other that we can feel and respond. It makes it even more dynamic for our listeners, and nothing is ever really done the same way twice.”