Peninsular Place

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October 1, 2012

A Farewell to Folk: Nervous But Excited’s Last Hurrah (For Now)

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Written by: Treasure Groh
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Nervous But Excited - Photo by Susie Giang

To say that the name Nervous But Excited is an extension of the musicians themselves would be a misnomer, as duo Sarah Cleaver and Kate Peterson appear to pretty much anything but nervous. And as for the “But Excited” part? It’s safe to say that these gals are always excited to perform. Their “pleasantly aggressive folk” music – a genre they coined themselves –“found them,” as Cleaver would put it. “We’ve tried playing punk music,” Cleaver says with a laugh. “It’s been made very clear that we are where we should be.”

The two met while playing solo shows, and eventually started playing together as Kate and Sarah until the time came to put their money where their mouths were and actually have a unifying name – a name that they sometimes laugh about now. It’s clear that the ladies are very comfortable with each other, oftentimes finishing each other’s sentences. Their laughter permeates the conversation, and one can get a sense for how a live performance might go. Their style allows them to perform at festivals numbering in the thousands as well as your grandma’s living room.

“I think people really understand that when we come in there to play that they’re there to have some sort of connection to us, and we try to facilitate that in any way possible,” says Cleaver of their aforementioned versatility. “We also have the ability to make ourselves into a duo and into a band and back into a duo, so we’re pretty fluid in that way.”

But, sadly, all good things must come to an end (sort of), as Peterson and Cleaver hit the grand stage of The Ark for one final showdown before entering a hiatus of an undetermined length of time. With Cleaver moving to the east coast for school in the winter, the pair won’t be able to book such shows, and working on music will prove challenging as well. “We don’t know what’s going to happen yet,” says Peterson.

“We started talking about this last winter and have slowly been letting people know about it. We toured an intense amount in the spring and early summer and went to the places we really loved over the years. This summer we played our favorite festivals and saved The Ark for the finale.”

As for playing out separately, Peterson and Cleaver don’t quite relish that idea either. “[Playing solo] just feels weird when that happens,” says Peterson, “I guess when we’re traveling ourselves and just playing music for fun there’s always some element missing.”  It’s not surprising for the two, who have been friends for close to 10 years – and playing music together for much of that time.

“I think people really understand that when we come in there to play that they’re there to have some sort of connection to us, and we try to facilitate that in any way possible”

Though NBE include a backing band sometimes, their last show at The Ark will only include Cleaver and Peterson and their instruments, of which the two use plenty of to keep things “lively, keep it different and keep people’s ears perked up,” as Peterson says. And while they stick tight to their folk roots, they also like to do renditions of R&B and hip-hop songs, as seen on their 2010 covers album, “Just the Two of Us.”

Peterson and Cleaver have been working on some new music in the meantime as well as revamping some older material – decided on by their fans via the band’s Facebook. “We’ve been getting many requests from back in the day, so we’re attempting to refine those songs,” says Cleaver. As for their creative style, Peterson says they “have different writing styles,” which Cleaver echoes when saying that one person will come up with the structure of the song, while the other adds their flair after. “So one of us builds the skeletal system, if you will, and the other one adds the cartilage and maybe some blood,” says Cleaver.

But, with Cleaver moving hundreds of miles away, there’s no telling when fans will get to hear new tunes from their favorite ladies of folk. So get your fill of them when they play The Ark on October 4 with special guest Andrea Gibson, a spoken word artist from Colorado who the ladies will join on stage to perform, “Class,” a collaboration from Gibson latest album “Flower Boy.”

Tickets are $15 and may be purchased online at Doors open at 7:30 p.m., with the show beginning at 8 p.m.

About the Author

Treasure Groh

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