By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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Many people know Abby Latson's bell-clear voice from her previous band, Abby Mae & the Homeschool Boys.
She traveled the Pacific Northwest with the folk quartet, playing festivals from the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts in Port Angeles to Seattle's Folklife.
As the Homeschool Boys came to the end of their road this summer — with a couple of members off to school and work in other cities — Latson and her partner Dillan Witherow created a whole other thing.
They wrote songs.
Singing and playing guitar, fiddle and banjo together, they found harmonies, abundant and sweet.
They went to Seattle to record their debut album, which they will celebrate tonight with an all-ages concert at the Port Angeles CrabHouse ballroom, 221 N. Lincoln St.
Tickets, $8 in advance or $10 at the door, include hors d'oeuvres, dessert and a copy of the freshly pressed CD.
This is a family-friendly event, Latson emphasized, with free admission for children 12 and younger.
Ticket outlets include Port Book and News, 104 E. First St. in Port Angeles, and the Joyful Noise Music Center, 112 W. Washington St. in Sequim.
Remaining tickets will be available tonight at the venue, where doors will open at 6 p.m.
They call their project “Standing on Shoulders,” inspired by Isaac Newton's words: “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
“We wanted to pay homage to everyone who has influenced us,” said Latson, “and helped us get to where we are with this album and in life.”
The record's 10 tracks talk about hope, love, and realizing one's mortality — “essentially a compilation of the experiences Dillan and I have gone through these past few years,” Latson said.
She and Witherow grew up in Port Angeles, and while Latson started singing about the same time she learned to talk, Witherow also draws on years of music-making.
In high school, he was named the top baritone vocalist at Idaho's Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival.
Witherow also has played guitar for about a decade; he's endorsed by the DKM guitar company and gives lessons in Sequim.
“I play acoustic guitar in a fairly innovative style that I really love,” he said.
“I used to be in Witherow and Gibson [a duo with Cole Gibson], but that was just for fun for a while,” he added.
“I've been with Abby for about two years, and she is the best.”
The couple began performing locally as Standing on Shoulders on stages at the Clallam County Fair in August and the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival in October.
But they have decided on a different name: Witherow. Latson likes it short and different from her former band. After all, she said, this is a new chapter.
The CD is titled “Standing on Shoulders,” though, and nearly all of its musicians will appear tonight: cellist Taylor Price, fiddler Erin Hennessey, pianist Steven Mangiameli and bassist Jason Taylor.
While Josh Best provides percussion on the album, Matt Forshaw will step in for him at tonight's concert.
The songs, with titles such as “Hold on,” “The Reckoning,” “For Your Heart!” and “Confounded,” come straight from Latson's and Witherow's heart.
“We hope to remind people to love and savor their time with the people around them,” said Latson, and “to have hope when all seems lost.
“Mostly, we hope that someone, somewhere, might hear our music and walk away with a changed perspective.”
Witherow added that this music is written to connect people with one another; to help them remember they're not alone.
As for their future together, the pair hope to perform as much as possible in their hometown and across the Northwest.
They're thinking about a music video or two and “expanding,” Latson said, “upon this album while writing music, as always.”
To learn more about the band's music and listen to tracks from the new CD, find “Standing on Shoulders” on Facebook or visit www.witherowmusic.com.
Tonight's concert may be the only chance listeners have to hear the CD's songs played by the full fiddle-percussion-guitar-bass-piano-cello outfit, the couple wrote on Facebook.
“We are so excited,” they added, “to share this.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.