I met Stefani Timmerman through songwriter Fleming Moore. While Timmerman is not from Summerville, her band mate Lori Ann Rinken grew up in Ladson. Stefani also performs solo and has been hosting Facebook live gigs during this coronavirus period. The duo performs bluegrass, Americana and country originals and covers, and have been featured on ABC 4’s “Lowcountry Live” show and Charleston’s Ohm Radio 96.3 FM’s podcast.
These entertaining ladies were labeled the “Sirens of the South” in the Fall 2019 issue of “9to5” Magazine. Their music is on Spotify, YouTube, ReverbNation, Pandora, iTunes, iHeartRadio, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, etc. They live at either ends of the Francis Marion National Forest from each other and are both artists and art teachers.
For More Information, see: https://www.facebook.com/stefanitimmermantingrinstudios/
Regan: Your duo started back in Dec./2018. Who thought of the name, “Tar & Feather” and how did you 2 meet?
Stefani Timmerman: The “Tar & Feather” name comes from the hybrid guitars we play and the colorful feathers tagging our gear.
I thought of the name! We first met briefly at an open mic 3 years ago. Then we really clicked the summer of 2018 at Awendaw Green at Ron Daniel’s performance. Lori did the art for his album cover and I was there selling my own art. We found out we were both art teachers and enjoyed the same types of music.
R: You make your own merchandise, too?
T: Yes, we have donated our music and art to many charitable causes. We have helped Fathers Matter Foundation in Georgetown, participated with amazing local artists in the Edisto Blackwater Boogie, and Mainland Container’s Benefit for the Bahamas Hurricane Relief Fund. We both create mixed media works like printmaking, silkscreen, stamping, painting, and watercolor. Lori makes phenomenal jewelry. My banjo bottle cap magnets are always a huge hit; also, scarves, hats, plates, knick knacks, paintings, pillows, and vintage shabby chic art for our merch. Lori creates a lot of packaging for local musicians, Berkley County events and area food/bev outlets. All our band imagery, photos, online graphics, websites--that’s my specialty.
R: You both play many instruments: banjitar, guitar, dulcimer, manditar, and spoons?
T: We play hybrid guitars which are 6-string versions of the banjo and mandolin. While we do have mandolins and banjos, we prefer to play these two instruments which enable us to play a wider array of music across the genres.
Lori Ann Rinken: I love the banjitar as it has a low sound. It sounds a little different from the banjo, but you still get the same effect. It helps carry a deeper sound and, since I am a high soprano, I feel like this kind of balances things out and gives me a warmer tone.
R: When did you both start to write music?
T: We write separate but, come recording time, we help edit each other’s phrases and context. I write the words first, then the melody. I wrote my first song in 2001 on a dare at a jazz open mic up in Columbia. A 12-bar blues song called “Beer to be With You”. I still have the lyrics! That was 12 years before I started to seriously write songs.
R: I love some Tar & Feather songs--there’s nothing better than some blue grassy chicks playing some songs together! We have really positive energy and Stefani is great on stage. I just kind of sing and play music! Stefani’s got some good ideas and is a fine manager as she handles most of the real-life aspects of the band. I’ve been writing southern Gospel and country music since the 2000’s with my first band, the King’s Crusaders. I also write with my husband, Americana artist Chris Rinken and we formed a group called The Rinkens.
R: Do you have a favorite song or genre you enjoy playing the most?
T: All our songs are Southern mamma tales of raising kids, relationships, working, and living in the South. “Sweetgrass Holla” is one I wrote about my cousin Patsy Cline and the Lowcountry. We play it in our gigs and get a wonderful response on it. Our primary genre as a group is Bluegrass, but we are also dubbed Americana and Country.
R: I’m just kind of letting whatever comes out clear through me. I try to target my energy into doing something more sellable and less intimate.
R: Your original, “ManCrush” was curated twice by ReverbNation in NYC? Your original, “Prudence” was chosen to be a complementary entry in the ISA’s Songwriting Competition—how did it fare?
T: Curation means it is in review with industry professionals who are writers, producers and songwriters from Nashville, NYC, LA, Rolling Stone, The New York Times. “Prudence” is a song that captured the attention of the International Songwriters Association in Nashville. It is probably the most favorite of our songs with the public. It made it to the Semifinals in the competition. We were in the top 11 percent out of about 22,000 entries. Artists like Coldplay and Tom Waits were judges!