Obadiah Jones comes home to Aspen with an international duo
See them live
Jan 1 at 8 p.m. at Steve’s Guitars
Jan 10 at 9 p.m. at Justice Snow’s
More info at http://www.oandoduo.com.
In their first album as a duo, Obadiah Jones and Orian Peled have as much to say about being apart as being together.
“Tel Aviv to Colorado” is a semi-autobiographical exploration of love across distance for the couple performing as O&O.
Jones, a 22-year-old Aspen native, was hooked on music in general and the Beatles in particular when he happened across the movie “Help” at age 5.
With Miles Phillips and Cooper Means, he formed cover band Slightly White. The group helped him branch into other classic rock, and the high school’s International Baccalaureate program introduced him to Western classical and world music. That’s also when he began writing his own material.
“I was going to Great Divide studios in Aspen and recording a song at a time, so at the end of high school I had a 10-song album,” he said.
When he graduated, he enrolled in the music program at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.
Across the ocean, Peled, now 26, had a similar journey.
Originally from Haifa, Israel, she had plenty of exposure to popular music.
“I do like Israeli music and Hebrew music, but I’ve always found a stronger connection to music in English,” she said.
She grew up imitating Celine Dion and performing in bands and musical theater. After serving in the armed forces and attending music college in Tel Aviv, she also made her way to Liverpool.
The pair met at an open-mic night their first week there.
It was Peled who took the initiative.
“I just approached him one day and said, ‘Would you like to accompany me?’” she said. “We worked with each other right away, but it took about two and a half years for us to become an act.”
The summer before their final year, the pair took a job playing on a cruise ship in the Caribbean — an idea they think they got from a friend.
“Growing up in the mountains it’s not even on the radar,” Jones said. “It seemed like a cool way of traveling and getting to play.”
It turned out to be good practice as they honed their existing repertoire and learned more songs to keep up with requests.
They even had the occasional opportunity to play some original tunes.
“We thought people wouldn’t pay much attention, but the audience response surprised us,” Peled said. “People really liked us together. That’s where it started.”
The pair have since graduated, played a few more cruises and started refining their sound.
Somehow, the compromise between Celine Dion and the Beatles is pop-folk reminiscent of the Everly Brothers or perhaps the Carpenters.
“People liked our vocal harmony, so we decided to feature that,” Peled said.
Like many modern artists, they prefer not to pigeonhole themselves too much with a single genre.
“In general these days the lines are pretty blurred,” Peled said. “What matters to us is the song.”
The romantic element helps far more than it hinders.
“Singing in harmony is already a very intimate thing because you’re really focused on singing as one,” Peled said. “In the songwriting process, too, you have to be able to show your stupidest ideas and not fear judgment. You’re already so close, so you’re in a safe zone.”
While Jones has been to Israel, Peled only recently got to see Aspen.
“I’ve really felt the community that’s very supportive and very welcoming,” she said. “It’s very warm and cozy and also so beautiful here — like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It just kind of completes the puzzle. It’s nice to be able to see him in his natural habitat.”
Jones and Peled are currently stateside looking for a place where both their hearts may rest. They just got back from several gigs in New York, and are planning a trip to Nashville, Tennessee.
“We’d like to base ourselves in a city where we can pursue a career as an act and as songwriters,” Jones said.
“Everything’s globalizing, so it probably isn’t as crucial to find the place, but it’s important to be around people that make you feel like you’re good but need to get better,” Peled agreed.
Locally produced, mixed in Liverpool and mastered in South Africa, “Tel Aviv to Colorado” captures their international experience in the meantime.
The title track is particularly upbeat, but “Coming Over,” “Traveling” and “When We’re Together” all manage to put a cheery spin on the frustration of distance before it all wraps up with the soft and melodic “Our Love.”
“It’s kind of a concept in the sense that it’s about that journey — physically and emotionally,” Peled said.
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