New York City based “mo-grass” (a mix of Motown and Bluegrass) duo Walking For Pennies released their debut album Forget About Wonderland on October 2nd, 2012. Like many musicians before them, Andy Jobe (vocals, guitar) and Neeley Bridges (vocals, mandolin) have done what they can to pay the rent, including picking up gigs as NYC dog walkers. Their moniker refers to that short period of time when they were literally walking for pennies.
The struggle to find your way, pay the rent and do what you love proved inspirational. Bridges, who penned the tracks “Truth Has Been Told” and “Who I’m Supposed To Be” after listening to history podcasts while dog walking, said “there are so many times in an artist's life where you just feel overwhelmed and you want to give up and run away. I wanted to put that sentiment to music (“Nashville”) because I know everyone feels that way from time to time,” she said.
The album’s title track, written by Jobe, and inspired by Alice in Wonderland, links Alice “being thrown into this psychedelic nightmare, with her anxieties over being stuck in hell, and my own feelings of feeling trapped in a job I hated, an apartment with four roommates, and that nagging feeling of "what the hell am I doing with my life?” that we all hear in the back of our heads late at night when we're trying to sleep,” he said.
The pair, who originally met at New York University in music theory class and later became re-acquainted in 2008 while working together in Vermont on a production of Les Miserables, both began their early careers in theater. Jobe started his professional on-stage career in 1994 at the age of 12 in the original cast of A Christmas Carol at the Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden (1994). A year later, he was asked to record a track for the 50th anniversary compilation c.d. for Peter Pan Labels called Children’s Songs of Virtue, in which he covered James Taylor’s version of the Carole King song, “You’ve Got a Friend.”
But, like many young musicians, he really got into music for the ladies. “If I'm being honest here, when I was 13, I saw my best friend get a lot of attention from many young ladies by playing the guitar at the sixth grade talent show.” And when he heard James Taylor for the first time: “I knew I had found the particular playing and writing style that I wanted to base my guitar education around” he said. After years of working as an actor, Jobe decided to give his writing and his years of guitar experience a chance.
Bridges, a multi-instrumentalist, spent her childhood learning every instrument she could get her hands on: piano, clarinet, oboe, violin and flute. But, after pursuing a professional career in theater, she became disenchanted with the musical theater business. “I was sick of waiting in a chorus line for directors to pick me out and give me jobs when I knew I could create on my own,” she said. “A lot of talented people never get to shine because they don't fit perfectly into any of the established boxes.” To comfort herself, she began using the guitar to work out her feelings, which led to the release of her solo disc Devil On My Shoulder (2008). She met Jobe shortly after and knew she had found a partner in crime.
Forget About Wonderland was recorded and mixed at Ears & Gears Studios by Mor Mezrich. Walking for Pennies has performed at The Living Room, The Bitter End and Sullivan Hall and National Underground. Please visit www.WalkingforPennies.com for news and tour dates.