Trio reunites to wrap up album ‘35 years in the making’

February 22, 2011

By David Hayes

The Halyards are (from left) Larry Mason, Chris Funk and Eric Tingstad. By Karen Moskowitz

Eric Tingstad, half of the Grammy-winning duo Tingstad and Rumbel, has been quite busy over the past two years collaborating on six albums with other artists.

But it is his latest project that the Sammamish resident is perhaps most excited about. The Halyards’ “Fortune Smiles” represents for Tingstad an artistic reunion with his high school buddies Chris Funk and Larry Mason. The album’s sound is unmistakably Americana, the fastest growing musical genre in popularity, Tingstad said. It’s a sound that is decidedly a far departure from the last time the three played together in the prog-rock band Pegasus in the 1970s.

“You could say this is the CD we started 35 years ago and just now got around to finishing,” Tingstad said.

Funk and Mason had been performing together for years, when after a stint in New York and a return to the Seattle area, they reconnected with Tingstad. He invited them to lay down a couple of songs at his Beaver Lake home recording studio, Cheshire Records.

“We accepted his invitation without any idea it would turn into a new album,” Funk said from his Capitol Hill home. “But we all just fell back into it. It was such a good feeling to be together again that it did result in something wonderful.”

Funk was typically the creative writing force for much of the material he and Mason performed. However, he said he cherished the opportunity to collaborate with Tingstad on the lyrics of five songs for “Fortune Smiles.”

“In all the years I’ve known Eric, I’d never written anything with him,” Funk said. “It wasn’t something we set out to sit down to do. Rather it was an unexpected avenue we took that turned into a great pleasure.”

He said the songs seem to flow seamlessly from their collaboration, with no need to pull teeth to make their five songs come to life.

“It was definitely the highlight of the album for me,” Funk said.

“Fortune Smiles” marks a departure from the acoustic music Tingstad is more renowned for from his 26-year musical partnership with Nancy Rumbel. In 2003, the duo won their first Grammy Award in the New Age category for their album “Acoustic Garden.”

Tingstad set aside the acoustic guitar for an electric model to work with the Halyards. He said the group’s name (a rope used to hoist a sail) was Funk’s idea — an ode to their upbringing amidst the Navy and sea towns around Whidbey Island.

He said the sound is Americana, reminiscent of the Everly Brothers, the Eagles or John Hyatt.

“Larry and Carl have been singing together for so long, they sound great together,” Tingstad said. “People respond well to their voices.”

Funk agreed that “Americana” is an extremely accurate description of their sound.

“We have a cauldron of influences,” Funk said. “Between the three of us, we’ve played a lot of styles with a lot of influences.”

He added that although their sound is attracting some younger listeners, their primary audience is more adult and grown up.

“We’re all in our 50s. So, our audience is one that has been raised on good melodies with lyrics that tell a story,” Funk said.

Their performance at Bake’s will be a return engagement. Tingstad said the venue is more renowned for its intimate dinner and jazz performances, which was a perfect setting for Tingstad and Rumbel. But lately, owner Craig Baker has been broadening the variety of genres, which suits the Halyards.

“The first time we played there, it was just the five of us with guitars,” Tingstad said. “The sound system there is so amazing, which is hard to get these days at many places, that we had to come back with the full band.”

While the band has no touring plans yet, Tingstad said one of their goals is to do a full, national radio promotion campaign.

For now, Tingstad is grateful to be finally collaborating again with his Oak Harbor high-school buddies.

“I like to joke that I couldn’t have planned a more successful infiltration of a band as sweetly as I did,” Tingstad said.

If you go

The Halyards

  • 7:45-10 p.m. Feb. 26
  • Bake’s Place
  • 4135 Providence Point Drive S.E.
  • Tickets: $20
  • www.bakesplace.org
  • 391-3335

David Hayes: dhayes@isspress.com, 392-6434, ext. 237. Comment at dhayes@isspress.com.

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