Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, and Sherlock Holmes all raced through my head as I watched the Austin-based duo named Deer Fellow perform at Casa Vindemia in Wimberly, Texas. Casa Vindemia, a wine bar, holds monthly wine club meetings where they feature live entertainment.
September’s featured group, Deer Fellow, bears responsibility for all those visions in my mind. I discussed it with them later.
The group opened with a Bob Dylan song. This was just the beginning of a trek down a musical memory lane, mixed with original compositions by Deer Fellow. Other covers included songs by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison, and Amy Winehouse.
The duo with this incredible range consists of Matt Salois, on guitar and vocals, and Alyssa Kelly, providing vocals, piano, and violin.
I told Salois that there seemed to be a 70’s vibe to their music and asked how he would describe it.
He explained, “We love all decades of music, and tend to gravitate toward some of the oldies when picking out our cover songs. We both grew up listening to that era of artists and it holds a special place in our souls.
“As for our original music, we are a mix of indie folk and chamber pop with a focus on vocal harmonies as well as unique guitar-violin blends.”
That violin that Kelly expertly makes sing is there for more than just obeying Alabama’s dictum that “If you’re gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band.” In fact, calling it a fiddle does not do Kelly’s talent justice. She makes the instrument sing and project magical tones that complement the groups wide-ranging repertoire.
The vocal harmonies these two create evoke the best of soft rock. I commented that I thought they both had great voices, and together were even better. I asked if they had to work at that or were just lucky?
Salois said, “Thank you! We’re lucky that our voices naturally blend well together and that’s part of what made us begin this project. Of course, we’re always fine tuning our craft, but we’re fortunate that our vocal timbres seem to complement one another.”
I asked how did “this project” get started?
Salois explained, “We met at the Firehouse Lounge.” The Firehouse Lounge is one of Austin’s iconic venues. “It was an open mic about seven years ago and we were quick to collaborate. We’ve been performing together as Deer Fellow for about six years.”
I asked Kelly what brought her to the stage.
She said, “Once I started violin in 5th grade, I think I always knew music would be my destiny in some way or another. It evolved from classical music and the desire to teach, to realizing I had the writing bug in high school, to discovering piano and my singing voice in college. Nothing beats the feeling of being on stage!”
I was curious to solve the mystery of their name – Deer Fellow.
Salois explained: “We tried quite a few names that were already taken by other bands. Then we tried randomly flipping through a Sherlock Holmes book and the page we landed on had the phrase “My dear fellow” which we liked. We decided to change the “dear” to “deer” and the rest is history.”
I enquired as to their future plans.
Salois said, “We plan to record a new single this year and hopefully another album next year. We also hope to go on our first tour early next year. People can see our upcoming shows on our website. A few that we’re excited about are Pecan Street Festival on September 18th, Geraldine’s on October 13th, and One-2-One Bar on October 21st. We are also on Instagram, Facebook, and all listening outlets like Spotify and Apple Music.”
I expect that their first tour will definitely not be their last. If you enjoy folk and soft rock, you’ll want to watch for them. Deer Fellow’s music touches your heart and will make you smile.