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"There is so much wonderful music out there," Rich Prezioso and Jacquie Manning say as they describe their repertoire. Celtic, cowboy, folk, Irish, country, Cajun, jazz, and Latin -- each of these musical cultures and sub-cultures have contributed to a musical vocabulary that Small Potatoes draws upon and redefines as their own. "We began by playing some of our favorite songs, and since we like a lot of different kinds of music. . ." Rich explains, "We still play our favorite songs. We try to write songs in all kinds of styles, but it doesn't matter if we wrote the song or not, or if its an old song or a new song, or if it's a 'folk song' or not," he says. Each makes it into a Small Potatoes show.
The seed for Small Potatoes was planted in 1988 when Jacquie and Rich first met. They were both playing music, but it took them a little while before they started playing music together, because they came from such different musical backgrounds. Each had been pursuing a solo career for several years. Rich had studied classical guitar, loves 30's and 40's swing, and has played both acoustic and electric guitar in a host of blues country, folk, and rock groups. Jacquie's resume also features blues, folk, and a little country but is heavy into the Irish, Celtic, and traditional end. So when they started learning each others songs and styles, a new sound began to form.
Jacquie Manning describes her rich alto voice as "my favorite instrument," and it is one she uses flawlessly, whether belting a blues number, yodeling an old cowboy tune, or singing a somber minor-key Celtic ballad. Add her tight rhythm guitar, and the host of percussion toys, whistles, flutes, and the bodhran she plays, and one consummate musician emerges. Rich Prezioso, on vocals, guitar, and mandolin is equally consummate. His guitar playing is never less than impeccable, and his voice blends perfectly with Jacquie's, and soars just as high on it's own.
When they play, their voices interplay flawlessly. Jacquie lays down a rich rhythm with her guitar while Rich's lead guitar dances, sparking with the right notes, and each song is different from the last-- and different from a lot of the other material performed today. Both Rich and Jacquie are accomplished writers, but they bring a unique style and sense of tradition to their music that other singer-songwriters don't.
With a never-ending tour schedule they've played more venues in the four years they've been together than musicians who have been in the business for twice as long. "If you're in the midwest and a day's drive from Chicago, we could show up any time," Jacquie jokes. They also make two annual trips to the east coast, and two annual trips to the west. "It's what we need to be doing to get known," Rich explains, "and it's what we love to do."
"Their variety and talent kept our audience tapping and clapping all night," said Roland Lee of Acoustic Concerts in St. George, Utah. Small Potatoes' love for their music, and for performing comes across in everything they play, and on their first Folk Era release, Time Flies. Oh, and about their name? "We figure if we ever become famous it will be a nice touch, and if we don't, well. . . we're Small Potatoes."
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