Hareza and English prepare for upcoming European tour
Networking opened musical opportunities
Local songwriters Elizabeth Hareza and Aaron English have a lot to sing about.
The two musicians, who live in Park City, just returned from their first European tour last week and are gearing up for another jaunt across the pond in two weeks.
“The tour was great,” Hareza said during a joint Park Record interview with English. “We made a lot of connections and are looking to go back.”
English started booking the tour seven months ago, about the time when he and Hareza met during the FAR-West Folk Alliance Conference in Seattle.
Their mutual friend, “Chicago” Mike Beck, made the introductions.
“‘Chicago Mike’ does the Access Film Music Showcase during Sundance and Slamdance film festival week and I had been booking that series for him for the past couple of years,” Hareza said. “He told me I needed to come to Paris because the Access Film Music Showcase runs during the Ecu European Independent Film Festival at the end of April.”
Beck told Hareza that English would be there as well.
“That turned into Mike saying, ‘Why don’t you piggyback on my tour across Europe so you can meet people and artists and venue owners,” Hareza said.
English played some shows in Germany two weeks before he met up with Hareza in Paris.
“That’s where most of the European touring happens for Americans,” English said. “It’s like our hub and it’s a country that tends to support the arts.”
Hareza, on the other hand, touched down in Paris a couple days before joining English at the Ecu festival.
“Before I left Park City, I didn’t have a place to play because I couldn’t find any place to couch surf and the cost of Air BnBs were astronomical,” she said. “I looked up an open mic night that is run by some British ex-patriots. They do music, poetry, spoken word, anything.”
Hareza shot off some emails that said she would love to help with the open mic nights if she could have a place to crash.
“I received three emails inviting me to stay with them,” she said.
One of the women Hareza met and stayed with, before getting together with English, was an author and textile artist.
“The next thing I knew I was at a photo shoot for her poetry brothel event that they did,” Hareza said with a laugh. “They dressed me up and put makeup on me. I haven’t worn makeup in years, but it was so fun.”
Meeting the artist was only one of the many contacts Hareza made during the tour.
“Aaron also had booked some additional shows, so we were able to do some fabulous house concerts with the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild,” Hareza said. “We also met a great songwriting community in Utrecht in the Netherlands.”
The Netherlands songwriting community is centered around a bar that is run by volunteers.
“The bar presents live music and no one gets paid, except for the artists that play,” Hareza said. “Even then the concerts raise money for nonprofits that this bar partners with.”
The idea of raising money for nonprofits rang a bell with English, who started his own nonprofit called the International Youth Music Project.
“I founded it when I went to East Africa for two months two years ago,” English said. “It supports music programs at orphanages, refugee camps and HIV/AIDS community centers for youth.”
The nonprofit’s goal is to provide musical instruments to kids in need, and provide money to music teachers so the kids can learn how to play.
“We ship instruments from North America to Kenya and Uganda and find people we can trust to run the teaching programs and recording studios,” English said.
“We are now talking with the bar in the Netherlands to do a show for the nonprofit when we go back in September,” Hareza said.
Before the two musicians return to the Netherlands in the fall, they are heading back to the United Kingdom and Germany in two weeks.
“We will have at least a gig a day from June 1 to July 3,” Hareza said.
The upcoming tour is a continuation of a new musical collaboration between Hareza and English, who started playing together a couple of months ago in Park City.
“Aaron moved here on March 18, after he had been traveling since we met, and we used the past tour as an opportunity to put the duo idea out there,” Hareza said. “We are both independent artists, but have gotten a lot of positive feedback about what we’re doing together.”
The two musicians call their collaborative sound “world soul music.” It combines English’s progressive rock vibe with Hareza’s country-soul.
“We do a song called ‘Koth Biro’ that we sing African, and we do songs by people we know who aren’t performers, and we do our own songs,” Hareza said.
English, known for his work with the Aaron English Band in Seattle, said Hareza’s music emits a soulful swing.
“Different musicians have a pulse, a signature to their music,” he said. “It’s very much like when you hang around someone with an accent, you start to pick up on it.
“That’s how Elizabeth’s music is like to me. All of a sudden I feel the funk and soul she does. I get pulled into the tide.”
Hareza is drawn to English’s lyrics.
“I was blown away the first time I heard Aaron sing,” she said. “He has a way of putting down something so simple, yet, so meaningful.
“He’s one of my favorite songwriters and pulls form different influences all over the world. That inspires me.”
Aaron English and Elizabeth Hareza will embark on their second European tour the first week of June. The duo’s next performance will be on May 20, after a musician workshop at Acoustic Space in Salt Lake City. They will perform two shows on May 21 in Ogden, before heading to Las Vegas on May 28, and then Europe on June 2. For information, visit aaronenglish.com and elizabethlive.com.
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