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Broadside Electric • 321 Grayling Ave., Narberth, PA  19072
+1 (610) 667-9216 • info@broadside.org

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In 1997, Tom was contemplating a move to the U.S. west coast. Faced with the possible loss of lead vocals, Jim and Helene decided to consider new recruits! Rather than hold auditions, they opted to invite Ashley and Amy, who were known to be excellent musicians and suspected to be of like minds as far as electric folk music goes.

Jim and Helene invite Ashley and Amy to join the band:

Jim:1997 was the summer of many bands. Well Helene and I, we wanted to keep playing. We thought Tom was gone, we thought he was leaving.
Ashley:That's right, you were thinking he might go to Washington at that point.
Helene:Actually we asked you guys to be in the band two days before Tom decided not to move away. We were really preparing –
Jim:It was close, you guys, really close! We went through a whole bunch of scenarios in our minds. Well, if we asked person x then we could do these things this way. If we asked person y … if we asked person z … if we asked x and z then it would be like this, and we ran through a whole bunch of things and then we came up with you guys and it was great.
Helene:It actually has worked out better than we even expected. At the time it was: "Alright. How can we keep playing, period?" We play together but it's not the same because neither of us sing lead. And also, neither of us strum. So once you get rid of that –
Jim:We knew that Tom leaving the trio was going to be really drastic.
Tom:Almost any trio – if you remove one person the result is really different.
Jim:Well you in particular … we would have been totally instrumental and we'd have had no strumming at all.
Ashley:You'd be strumless.
Amy:So either Helene's going to do a lot of chugging …
Helene:Right. And so we sort of thought, we weren't thinking "OK, how can we maintain the exact same level of quality we've always enjoyed?" We were thinking "How are we going to play?" And it turned out to be so good that we didn't really prepare to be that good.
Tom:It's worth noting that we weren't trying to maintain any particular sound. In the lineup changes we have never tried to replace people.
Helene:Actually, on the contrary this time, because we weren't sure that you were moving away, we purposely left a hole for you to come back into.
Jim:We didn't get another guitar-strumming guy, you know.
Helene:Well, in the past we never dealt with that. We always knew …
Ashley:Good thing too!
Jim:We wanted to have a workable ensemble that, if necessary, could fill the rest of the Broadside dates before it died maybe, you know, or something like that.
Ashley:You had obligations to fill.
Ashley:Well kudos for sticking it out, because I think what we've got now is pretty amazing.
Jim:It really is a lot better than I thought it ever would be. I was kind of nervous about it for days and weeks after you guys joined. I was thinking: "Jeez. What are we doing, we've never even played together. I don't think they've even met each other before!"
Amy:Right. We hadn't!
Jim:So the four of us met in Trenton, New Jersey, and we had that little dinner meeting. We didn't play or anything. And then afterward we're driving Amy home and Amy said: "Well, I think we're going to sound good!" And I thought "I'm glad you can tell!"
Ashley:My conclusion after leaving Trenton was: "Well, my car wasn't broken into." Plus I felt pretty good about the lineup.
Jim:So we rehearsed a whole bunch of new stuff without Tom. And then Amy was away for a while. And then we started rehearsing an almost entirely different set of material for the Philadelphia Folk Festival.
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Forming the Band | Helene Joins | From 1991-1997 | Ashley Meets B.E. | Amy Meets B.E. | Ashley and Amy Join | The Philadelphia Folk Festival | It's New All Over Again | Adding Drums | Fun with Woodwinds | Arranging | Traditional Music | Complete Interview
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