With the upcoming release of “TIME OUT: Session 2,” we took a moment to check in with one of Northern Michigan’s favorite bands, The Accidentals. We talk spring shows in Michigan, musical workshops and more.
This talented trio has had a busy decade—from releasing their debut album in 2012 to signing a deal with Sony Music Masterworks label in 2017. On March 4, the band is releasing “TIME OUT: Session 2” and beginning their national Time Out Tour. The EP is co-written by The Accidentals, who collaborated with several artists who first inspired them to become songwriters.
Question 1 | Let’s start with a big one: Tell us the 3 things you’re most proud of accomplishing over the last decade.
Sav: There are so many amazing things we’ve gotten to experience over the last 10 years of working, living, creating, and traveling together. We’re really proud of how strong our relationship continues to be. Katie and I have always had each other’s backs, and neither of us have ever let ego or pride blind us from loving and supporting one another. As a band, we’re tight; we’re family. We have learned to ask for what we need and be open with each other. That level of love is something that we work hard to treasure and protect.
We’re also proud of the skill sets we’ve worked hard to develop over the years. We can add producer, engineer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalists, composer and arranger, graphic designers, business owners, professional problem solvers, etc. to our collective resume. We feel that the past couple of projects—TIME OUT EP: Session 1, Vessel, and the upcoming TIME OUT 2 (we’ll get into that later)—really represent the full scope of what we’ve learned.
The biggest point of pride for us, though, is the community we’ve been able to be a part of. We’ve watched our fans become fam, they not only support us as a band but they also connect and support each other; we’ve watched people who would’ve come to concerts alone, suddenly have friends to go with, who were strangers the day before. We’ve been taken under the wing of a multitude of Michigan musicians, who supported us from the time we were teenagers to now. We’ve garnered the most incredible opportunities from Michigan venues and festivals, and we’ve met so many amazing people who inspire us to create every single day. Music is powerful, it’s therapeutic, and it’s a lifeblood that ties us all together and overrides our differences. I think being a part of it is what brings us the most pride.
Question 2 | TIME OUT: Session 2 is being released March 1 (woot woot!). What lesson/theme/lyric stands out the most to you in this album?
Katie: For us, Time Out is a project all about collaboration. We keep pinching ourselves that we’ve had opportunities to co-write songs with writers we’ve grown up listening to. A lot of those sessions happened over Zoom during lockdown in 2020, and we processed a lot of that isolation and grief into recording TIME OUT: Session 1 in Northern Michigan. We played every track on the album and Michael did most of the mixing. For the co-writes on Session 2, we’ve been able to add more musical collaboration. Peter Mulvey plays guitar on the song he wrote with Sav, “Eastern Standard Time.” It’s in beautiful alternative tuning neither of us would have thought of, and it really gives the song it’s melancholy lift. Maia Sharp is playing keys on her co-write “Just a Town,” Michigan transplant Dominic Davis plays bass on a handful of tunes, Eric Darken added unique percussion instruments we didn’t even know existed. Sav and I just moved to Nashville, and although the core of the music still features us and Michael it’s been a joy and a relief to share the creation of these tunes.
Question 3 | Providing access for young musicians to instruments, lessons and mentors is clearly important to you all through your workshops and the nonprofit you created in 2020. Tell us what inspired this work and the need you saw.
Katie: The reason we’re a band in the first place is thanks to the music programs in our Traverse City public schools. Not only did West Senior High have a robust orchestra program, but we were also inspired by our passionate and creative conductor, access to instruments, and a workshop taught by The Moxie Strings. I remember having my own “aha” moments during their workshop when I watched the two women play different styles and rip crazy solos on their violin and electric cello. Even as a shy student, they encouraged me to get outside of my comfort zone. After we became a band and hit the road, we started stopping at schools in between shows. Sometimes we teach a workshop on songwriting, alternative styles on strings, or careers in the music industry. The best part is seeing a student’s face light up when Sav stomps the distortion pedal on her electric violin and plays it like a guitar. Some students can’t afford to keep renting their instrument, and some don’t have any music programs at all. In the last few years we’ve been working toward a nonprofit for bands to collaborate with schools to introduce students to new styles, the way we were back in 2011.
Sav: It was just an organic way to give back. There were a couple times where we were playing shows and we would meet a kid who really wanted to play music but didn’t have access. One show stands out in particular: We were playing a workshop at a school and a student confided that they had to quit the orchestra when their school-issued violin was lost. We found out that the student had been taken from their home and placed in foster care and the violin didn’t make the move. So, we put an ask out on a Facebook page called Mitten Music and musicians from all over the state pitched in to get her a violin and lessons. That was the spark that made us want to support or create a program to make sure students had access regardless of circumstance.
Photo by The Accidentals
Question 4 | Do you have plans to play in Northern Michigan this spring/summer?
Sav: Absolutely. We love coming back to the “Concerts in the Parks,” to the festivals like Earthwork Harvest Gathering and Blissfest. To us it feels like coming home. Since we’re now living and working part-time out of Nashville (playing strings for session work, doing a lot of co-writing, and engineering albums in our spare time), we’re being more intentional about coming back to Michigan every summer. We have some Michigan dates coming up in the spring as well! Check them out and keep up to date on our website or Bandsintown.
Question 5 | Any news you want to share?
Sav: We’re working on our TIME OUT EP: Session 2, the follow-up to TIME OUT EP: Session 1. Our TIME OUT projects are basically a series of co-writes we’ve done with artists who inspired us to become songwriters. The first EP featured co-writes with Maia Sharp, Tom Paxton, Mary Gauthier and Jaimee Harris, Kim Richey, and Dar Williams. This second EP features co-writes with Beth Nielsen Chapman, Peter Mulvey, Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman, and some new co-writes with repeaters Maia Sharp and Tom Paxton.
We have a TIME OUT tour coming up in March 2022 with Beth Nielsen Chapman, Kim Richey, and Maia Sharp—a Bluebird-Cafe-style songwriters in the round where we swap stories and songs, share tears and laughter, and get inspired all over again. Y’all can grab tickets right now at www.theaccidentalsmusic.com.
Katie: We’re sharing tons of fun stuff on our Patreon page; new unreleased music demos, weekly tour blogs, archived videos! You can join our Book Club or recommend albums for our Throwback Album Review Zoom calls and learn how nerdy we truly are.
Related Read: 15 March Events to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day & Spring Up North.