Who: The Civil Wars with Rayland Baxter
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St.
Cost: Sold Out
The Civil Wars never set out to be a top-selling duo. A chance writing session kicked off the domino effect and now the indie folk act’s one of the hottest tours of the summer.
Tonight, the dynamic duo headlines the Fox. The show’s sold out, but The Civil Wars return to Boulder on Aug. 12 to play etown.
The Civil Wars features singer-songwriters Joy Williams and John Paul White. The musicians come from very different backgrounds, but the combination of their stellar vocals and emotive tunes pushed their CD, Barton Hollow up the charts.
“By chance, Joy and I ended up at this song camp. We drew straws and ended up together,” White said. “It was like we always sang together. The minute we opened our mouths, there was something I knew we had to chase down.
“There was this instant music chemistry,” Williams said. “It was organic in nature and we intuitively knew where we were going with the music. That’s rare when it happens.
“We knew it would be easy and that we could write songs we’d be proud of.”
The group fused White’s Alabama, Americana and rock influences with Williams’ California pop world — and The Civil Wars were born.
“We don’t fit concisely into one genre,” Williams said. “That’s the fun aspect of it. We’re happy to straddle several genres. We also draw from our past as solo artists.”
The Civil Wars are building a name with their darker, emotion-filled songs, but a few factors set this train in motion.
For starters, the duo’s tune “Poison & Wine” appeared on “Grey’s Anatomy” and was a huge hit with fans. Then, country star Taylor Swift tweeted her praises to followers.
“Grey’s Anatomy” fans Googled our lyrics to find out who we were, so we had a free live record up for the second show we ever played,” White said. “I’m not sure how Taylor Swift found out who we were, but in a click six million people knew our name.”
The music frenzy landed The Civil Wars’ debut CD, Barton Hollow at the top of the Billboard and iTunes’ charts.
“John Paul and I wanted to make a record we’d be furiously proud of,” Williams said. “We had to hunker down and focus. We recorded in full live performance mode — like we were singing in your living room.
“We wanted to make something that was emotional, truthful and evocative — and had both of our heartbeats.”
“If there’s one thing about this record, I’d like to think there was this element of hope,” White added. “We sing about the dark side of things, but there’s definitely songs about the light. Songs that tend to lean towards the darker emotions, are the songs that stick with you the longest.”
The Civil Wars knew they had a solid collection of tunes, but the duo’s still amazed at the response to Barton Hollow.
“We were flabbergasted by the results of the charts,” Williams said. “It contributed in an organic way — that the story of what we’re doing is growing.
“We don’t have a major label or massive marketing dollars. We’re just going by our gut and thankfully people are spreading the word by mouth.”
Word is also spreading about The Civil Wars’ live shows.
“There’s just the two of us on stage,” White said. “It’s just the makeup of who we are and we’re going to continue to do it this way.
“Being on the road is creating a ripple effect. We’re going to do shows in the UK and Adele invited us back to do more shows.”