Brandon and Mariel Story have something very special going on. You might say they’re in The Catbird Seat and that would be no exaggeration.

The Catbird Seat is a new band from Bristol that features singer/songwriter Brandon Story and his wife Mariel. Like a warm spring breeze, this couple together create a gentle, harmonious, playful sound that’s all the new cool in the Tri-Cities. We had a chance to interview the band on the podcast a few weeks ago and produce a small video before a recent live performance at The Down Home and we’re big fans of this new act with a bright future ahead.

Brandon teaches English at King College and credits Rob Russell with his current career path. They used to play together in Rob’s band and there’s no doubt they influenced each other because they both are educators and terrific songwriters.

I’d heard about Brandon several years ago through my friend Keith Smith at EKS Sound. I’ve blogged about Keith several now and still impressed with his eclectic portfolio of songwriters who continue to pass through his studios in Johnson City. He’s always bragged about Brandon as he has worked with Rob Russell and other bands including The Reeltime Travelers who experienced a respectful degree of success a few years ago with a world-wide tour as a regional bluegrass band.

Brandon tells the story of his meteoric success on Buzzcutz Number 22 and was a well-spoken guest on our show. He brought with him several Catbird Seat CDs – each hand made from the art to the four song playlist. The band had just recorded the song ‘Fortune Cookie’ that caught our attention and we were kidding about the late nights using hair-dryers to shrink wrap the truly custom-made products.

My first visit to The Catbird Seat website was an enchanting experience because Brandon’s wife Mariel has a spell-binding voice that reminds me so much of Edie Brickell from the mid-nineties. This bohemian sound is hardly forgettable and together with the bell-tones from a Fender Rhodes, a groovy drum beat and under-stated instruments, their music would be best served in a Greenwich Village coffee shop. The lyrics are insightful, intelligent and their melodies have long-lasting hooks that make you want to listen again and again.

Songs like ‘Annie Hall’ and ‘Big White House’ tell stories of hope and joy wrapped in a happy-go-lucky spirit like puppies playing in a field – they make you feel good. A trite comment indeed, but their music has a unique spirit that is certainly tied to their faith-based roots. Brandon and Mariel met in church and their convictions find their way into their lyrics and the optimism they exhibit in the video we produced with GoTriCities.

They seem to have one of those genuine relationships we all yearn for too and the fact they can mix music and a rich vocabulary on-stage was inspiring to me. At the Down Home, they were discussing the pleasure of the word ‘Plebeian’ which more than likely was a first for the Down Home stage. They were also performing with their regular band which features Nate McClure on drums, Ethan Henley on bass and Dave Bedsole on keyboards.

We conducted our video interview in the Down Home green room which is marred with all kinds of artifacts from decades of musical tantra. They had fun in front of the cameras, talked about their music, the band and the upcoming summer performances which features appearances at Blue Plum, Bristol Rhythm and Roots, Jonesborough’s Music On The Square and other outdoor festivals.

The Catbird Seat brings rich harmonies, sophisticated lyrics and thoughtful song structure to their music. You rarely hear a three-chord blues and the tone is colorful and heady as they deliver a rich experience of song and style. You won’t find a rowdy crowd, but a reflective, attentive fan-base. The Down Home wasn’t selling a whole lot of beer the night we saw The Catbird Seat and they welcome plenty of nerdy music affectionados like myself. Tom Bettini, Jared and Vanessa and Carson Waugh were hanging out with me in the crowd that night and we enjoyed a new sound and a new culture of music original to the Tri-Cities scene and hope you find time to enjoy this new act playing throughout the region this year and we wish them all the best in the year forward.