"Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare try." -- Mary Kay Ash
Bittersweet Highway is the singer-songwriter duo of Rene’ Janiece and Wayne McKinzie. They hail from a thriving metropolis of 13 that scratches the border of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. Living and traveling along the edges of America, theirs is music that rises from the fringes, in place and in style. It crosses genres and blends the sounds that have influenced these two as individuals, combining to create something strikingly original. It is no wonder they call their particular brand of music “Borderland Americana.” And this Borderland Americana is also artful Americana – visually evocative and carefully crafted. This is music that is thought about, and music that makes us think. More importantly, this is music that urges us to feel. Poetic lyrics. Smooth, resonant vocals. Surprising phrasing. Wanderlust and loss, longing and belonging, irony and epiphany rise and fall through imagery and sound as varied and wide as the land they call home. Melodic conversations are revealed; evoke the stories that hide in the gravel and grass of the roadside. Live, Bittersweet Highway’s relaxed and intimate rapport with each other and their audience allows for a wonderfully interactive experience that speaks to the journeys of the heart, the bitter and the sweet that are scattered along the road of life.
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Applefest 2016. Photo by Kathleen Brown-Young
Society Hall, Alamosa, CO
The Newly Deads - annual appearance - 2016. Photo by Josie Lenwell.
At Society Hall, Alamosa, CO. Photo by Brenda Rae Felmlee
Jaroso photo shoot with Bill Moeller.
1: What artist would you most love to work with?
Over the Rhine, Peter Mulvey. . .how do you choose ONE?
2: What instrument brings you the most joy?
Rene's custom David Enke electric upright bass! (Though saxophone comes in a close second.)
3: What was the worst advice?
Rene': "Sing with more power!" (aka "Sing like somebody else.") Wayne: "You've got to record to a click track." We've both been faced with learning to be true to our own abilities, and as comfortable as we can be with who and where we are in the present - with what works (or doesn't) for us. Then, we can work on allowing ourselves to grow into what is authentic to each of us as individuals as well as a duo.
4: What was your first concert?
(The one we played?) Our wedding reception!
5: What/where is the best road food?
After a long gig, or after recording: anywhere that has good French Fries! Otherwise, we've found that the best road food is what we can pack or prepare ourselves!
6: What’s the best music advice you ever got?
"Exposure is something you die from or get arrested for." (via Mark Dudrow)
7: Who is your most surprising inspiration?
Wayne: Peter Mulvey - he is a "later in life" discovery for me, and he is the real deal - authenticity, compassion, creative song-writing, skilled guitar playing - and he can tune and tell a great story at the same time! Rene': It's a "what" for me - but the imagined details of others' lives - their dreams, feelings, longings and losses - and how they weave together to create these song-stories is of great surprise to me.