July 9, 2004 in Seven

Get comfy with Meridian at the Rocket

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Amanda Smith photo

Amanda Fouty and Mark Ward make up the acoustic folk duo Meridian. They recently opened for Gavin DeGraw and will perform five shows by week’s end at various venues.
(Full-size photo)

Mark Ward’s seven essential albums:

“Grace,” by Jeff Buckley

“O,” by Damien Rice

“Whatever and Ever, Amen,” Ben Folds Five

“Creek Drank the Cradle,” Iron and Wine

“Pink Moon,” Nick Drake

“Harvest,” Neil Young

Self-titled, Mason Jennings

On stage, Mark Ward sways back and forth while strumming his guitar, and singer Amanda Fouty makes her own sultry movements. And something stands out – they are both barefoot.

“For me, it’s because I don’t want to screw up on my guitar pedals. My toes are really long and I have more control over them than my shoes,” Ward said. “If you ask Amanda, she would say it’s because she can sing better barefoot.”

Suffice it to say Ward and Fouty like to be comfortable on stage.

Their comfort level peaked when they opened a show for Gavin DeGraw at the Big Easy Concert House a couple of weeks ago.

“That was the most comfortable I’ve ever been. I like performing and looking out and seeing a lot of faces,” Ward said.

Since forming the acoustic alternative folk duet, Meridian, Ward and Fouty have been making themselves at home in coffee shops, wineries and clubs across town.

By the end of this week alone, Meridian will have played five shows.

One of those performances is tonight at 8 p.m. at Rocket Market, 726 W. 43rd. There is a $5 cover. The next show is Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Spike Coffee House, 122 S. Monroe. The suggested donation is $3.

During both shows, Meridian will add electric bassist Shane Taylor, who occasionally sits in.

Fouty, Ward and Taylor met while taking music classes at Spokane Falls Community College.

Ward and Fouty connected in a class where they had to learn cover songs. Ward always was writing his own material, and he couldn’t help but notice Fouty’s powerful voice.

“She has a deeper female voice. It’s stronger than normal in the lower register. It reminds me of Janis Joplin without the raspiness, if you can imagine that,” Ward said.

Ward incorporates live loops of as many as 17 guitar tracks – lead, rhythm, bass and even percussion made by beating the body of his guitar. He said his style is probably closer to Damien Rice or Neil Young, but his biggest influence is Jeff Buckley.

“The way he could take any song and make it unique and his own; he put so much emotion, everything into every song. I want to do that,” Ward said. He also sings harmony on most songs and sometimes lead.

Meridian is making plans to record a full-length album that would include cello, drums and piano if Ward has his way.

In the meantime, Meridian has a four-song self-titled EP available at shows.

To find out more about Meridian, check out musicbymeridian.com.


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