Courtesy of Nate Burrell
By Amy Burger
Originally from Michigan, the singer-songwriter has called the St. Louis area home for nearly a decade now. Last year, she released her fifth album, a self-titled work, and became an approved Missouri Arts Council artist.
Her most sophisticated and well-developed work to date, Beth Bombara is Beth’s latest collaboration with producer, musician, and husband Kit Hamon. Kit joined Beth on her musical journey when they met at Greenville College, just across the river in Illinois. However, Beth’s journey began long before.
“I feel like I’ve played music my entire life,” she says. “My mom had a guitar in the house, and she would always play a little bit, so I just picked it up. I was sixteen when I was in my first rock band playing guitar.”
Moving to the St. Louis area sparked a seismic shift in her musical sensibilities. She slowly shed the angsty punk rock of her youth for her current folk and alternative country sound.
“I had left my bands in Michigan and was ready to explore my own thing solo, so I started listening to more Ryan Adams, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, and that kind of stuff,” she says. “Moving to a different part of the country really did something for me as far as musical influences. I’d never had a big blues influence, but being in St. Louis, I started to meet a lot of blues musicians and folk musicians at a period of my life when I was growing up a bit.”
After college, Beth traveled for a year playing music with Oklahoma songstress Samantha Crain. When she returned to St. Louis, she and Kit got more serious about both their music and their relationship. They married in 2009. Kit has since produced and played on everything Beth has recorded.
“We balance each other out,” Beth says. “He loves the recording side of things. He’s built a lot of the equipment in our home studio, but he’s also a phenomenally talented musician.”
Unlike past recordings made in the couple’s home studio, Beth Bombara was recorded at Jettison Studios in Smithton, Illinois, and was mostly tracked live with a full band, which Beth credits for much of its sound.
“From a creative perspective, I really just kind of went for it,” she says. “I brought the whole band on and said, ‘Let’s work these out together,’ and gave them the freedom to make up their own parts and really collaborate.”
Since the album’s release, Beth and Kit have been touring, making a name for themselves outside of St. Louis and interpreting the music as a duo.
“What I’m working on now is trying to find a balance of creativity and touring and all the other stuff,” she says. “When something is your job, there are aspects of it that are maybe not so glamorous. Then when you get on stage and play a sold-out show in someplace like Boston where you’ve never played before, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Although she’s garnering national attention, Missouri is still home.
“There’s this kind of energy around St. Louis,” Beth says. “People can try things; people can be creative because it doesn’t take as much to get started here than say New York or Chicago. Being around that kind of energy has been really awesome.”