Meet Tucson's latest buzz band Copper & Congress

Open-mic nights led 4 strangers to form group, cut an album
2012-07-19T00:00:00Z 2012-07-19T11:57:34Z Meet Tucson's latest buzz band Copper & CongressCathalena E. Burch Cburch@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star

Don't bother kicking yourself if you've never heard of Tucson's soon-to-be buzz band.

It's been together only a scant few months, but what the members of Copper & Congress have accomplished in that time is dizzying: They've gone from strangers to bandmates to recording artists on the eve of releasing their debut album.

Three of the four members - lead singer Katie Haverly, bass player Patrick Morris and drummer Kai Lindstedt - got together in January after meeting at open- mic nights. Guitarist Corey Cottrell joined a couple months ago.

After playing a handful of Tucson gigs, they launched a $12,000 online Kickstarter campaign - they raised the money in a month - to finance their debut album, which they recorded with über Tucson producer and sound man Craig Schumacher at his Wavelab Studio.

On Friday, Copper & Congress will perform a CD release party for the band's debut disc "The Leap Year," a 10-song introduction to the band's jazz-infused, bluesy indie pop.

"The album is really diverse. There's a really gritty blues song, a couple songs with hip-hop feel, some jazzy stuff, some straight pop stuff," says Morris, who at 21 is the youngest member of the band. "I think we have appeal for everyone. I just hope that we can really resonate … and connect with people."

How the band came together is a tale of chance meetings: Haverly, who grew up in Phoenix but spent the last several years in New York, first met Lindstedt, who hails from Flagstaff, at an open-mic night at Auld Dubliner last December. They hit it off and started playing together as a duo, until January. That's when they met Morris, who works as a stagehand at Centennial Hall, at an open mic at Sky Bar. They picked up Cottrell, originally from Canada, in the spring as they were about to go into the studio to record "The Leap Year."

But how this upstart band landed on Schumacher's doorstep is a tale of true moxie.

It all started when Haverly, 34, returned to Arizona last September. Her first night in Tucson was, by coincidence, the night Tucson's music community came together to support Schumacher's battle with cancer. They were holding a benefit in conjunction with the annual HoCo Festival at Hotel Congress. Many of the artists Schumacher had worked with over the years - including DeVotchKa, Richard Buckner, Calexico and Sergio Mendoza y La Orkesta - were performing in his honor.

Haverly, who had sung with a band in New York and knew of Schumacher by reputation, approached the producer after the show. She wanted to record with him, she said. What would it take?

Schumacher, renowned for giving young artists a chance, listened as Haverly recounted her experience and dreamed aloud about a music career.

He admits he initially thought she was one of those vanity artists, someone who wanted to record themselves just to say they did.

Until he heard her voice.

"She floored me; that girl can sing," he recalls. "She just came and she was sincere and honest and open. And as anyone with a pair of ears will hear, yeah, this is great. I want to work with this. … If I can help out a young band or a new band get a leg up in this business, why not?"

"I don't know what compelled me," Haverly says now. "I think I just had this dream of working with him. I loved all the records he made."

The members of Copper & Congress - their name borrows from Arizona's copper industry and Tucson's Hotel Congress and Congress Street, Morris says - come from divergent musical backgrounds. Morris is a jazz guy. Haverly is jazzy and bluesy, with a bit of Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLachlan to her vocals. Lindstedt, 24, is a metal rocker. The 36-year-old Cottrell has worked in pop and rock.

"You look at it and it doesn't look like it will work; it kind of worked," Schumacher says. "It came together really organically in a really nice way."

"It is literally my dream band," adds Haverly, who works a few part-time jobs including as a Pima County bike ambassador to promote bicycle riding. "I can't tell you how inspired I am and how talented every one of them is. I feel like our music crosses a wide range of genres. I love the stuff we are coming up with together. And we're writing a lot together. This is the first collaboration I've experienced and it's really exhilarating."

Morris likes to think of Copper & Congress as an experiment in fate.

"Eighty percent of the people you play with as a musician you don't click with," he explains. "It just kind of happened; nothing has been this easy in my life. It was just the right place at the right time. All the circumstances were in line."

If you go

• What: Copper & Congress CD release party with Ferrodyne.

• When: 9:45 p.m. Friday.

• Where: Plush, 340 E. Sixth St.

• Cost: $5 at the door.

• Online: See album review at go.azstarnet.com/tunedin

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