Certainly, one of the most interesting stories in the CU music arena is that of (semi) newcomers Hathaways. Individually, the siblings have already established a successful past. In 2005, Kate Hathaway was the recipient of the Local Music Award for Best Female Artist, and James proved to be a practiced musician in his own right. They recently decided to combine their efforts to become the eloquent duo that is Hathaways.
The Hathaways’ first rightful release as a group, entitled Hand Me Down, comes out Nov. 8. The EP consists of five tracks of haunting melodies and perfected harmonies that exemplify the powerful connection of family ties. Kate and James spend equal time on lead vocals, often seamlessly trading lines, as in middle track “Pusher” and the captivating opener “Experiment.”
While it would be enough to speak of vocals alone, the Hathaways’ story is deeply engrained in their instrumentation — specifically, Kate’s love affair with the charango, the small stringed guitar spearheading the Hathaways’ two-month journey to Peru in January of next year.
buzz was able to speak with the duo about their upcoming trip and find out just how one goes from the small Illinois town of Rossville to the mountains of Peru.
A guitar player for years prior to her experience with the charango, University alumna Kate credits her interest in the instrument to a world music course and particularly her professor Tom Turino.
“[Tom] knew I had experience with guitar, and he was the one who first placed the charango in my hands. I fell in love with the instrument immediately and ended up in a campus-based Andean music ensemble,” she explained.
Continuing her exploration of the Peruvian version of the guitar, Kate traveled abroad to the highlands of Peru. Not only there as a hard-at-work ethnomusicology student, Kate also “did exactly what [my] parents told [me] not to do” and joined a band of Peruvian musicians along the way, traveling with near strangers to play music and study the culture of the area.
This journey was only the beginning for Kate (and soon enough, James), as the two are returning to Peru to promote their new album, live among like-minded musicians and continue to learn as much as possible about exotic instrumentation.
Arranged through Kate’s past experience in the country, as well as help from professor Turino’s musical connections, Kate and James spoke enthusiastically of their upcoming adventure.
“Besides playing music and taking lessons [in Peru], we would love to translate our songs into Spanish,” they shared.
Hathaways will travel through the capital city of Lima, as well as Kuzco and Aguas Calientes on their two-month trip before returning to the U.S.
Be sure to catch Hathaways as they celebrate the release of their debut album, Hand Me Down, Saturday, Nov. 8 at the Iron Post in downtown Urbana. The duo will take the stage at 8 p.m. and will be followed by fellow marveled local musicians Big Grove Zydeco. As any celebration would and should entail, the show promises special guest appearances, limited-edition, hand-crafted CD sleeves and new T-shirt designs. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to wish Hathaways good luck before they head out of Illinois, and the U.S. for that matter, to Peru in January.

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