“Daddy was a seeker,” says Mare Wakefield. “Eventually he became a Salvationist minister. Mama was a gypsy, loving nothing more than a long stretch of highway.” Born with wanderlust in her DNA, Mare lived in eight different places before she was ten. “It was a roller-coaster way to grow up, but my brother and I learned to adapt and fit in fast,” she says. “We picked up Wisconsin accents in two weeks. Eighteen months later we were drawling like native Texans.”
For Turkish-born Nomad Ovunc, the journey was equally varied. His musical education began with classical piano at the exclusive Istanbul Conservatory and continued into jazz and more modern styles with a scholarship to Berklee College of Music. “My musical heroes range from Debussy to Keith Jarrett to Matt Rollings,” Nomad laughs, “I tend to genre-hop a lot, and focus on whatever’s needed to serve the song.” In addition to piano and organ, Nomad is adept on accordion, melodica, bass and percussion, and his gift for orchestration and musical arrangements includes a full arsenal of classical, country and jazz chops.
Currently based in Nashville, this husband-and-wife duo delights audiences with their mix of Americana, old-time country, jazz and contemporary folk. Called “Cozy brilliance … the merger of Natalie Merchant, Shawn Colvin and Dolly Parton” by the Louisville Observer and “Lovely — a little bit old country, a lot contemporary folk” by the New York Times, the pair have contributed music to original programming for CNN and Lifetime for the TV movie “A Very Merry Toy Store,” which featured their song, “Candles and Carols.”
In early 2020, Mare & Nomad were scheduled to be in Nashville to quickly finish a new record before heading out to tour the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands and Canada. Then Covid hit, and the duo — usually accustomed to traveling six months out of the year and playing 100+ shows — were suddenly homebound. Once they accepted that fact that they were now not going anywhere, the duo were able to devout a luxurious amount of time to finishing their latest record. Some tracks were re-mixed, some parts were scrapped, some songs were completely re-done.
“The pandemic allowed us to make the record we’ve always dreamed of,” offers Nomad, whose credits on No Remedy include piano, accordion, flute, backing vocals, synth and percussion.
Produced by Ovunc and mixed by Grammy-nominated engineer Bobby Holland (ZZ Ward, Maggie Rose, Wade Bowen), the record features eleven original songs with arrangements artfully executed by bassist Brian Allen (Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile), drummer Wes Little (Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys) and guitar, banjo and mandolin from Tim Galloway (Luke Bryan, Josh Turner).
Throughout the entire record, story and song are woven seamlessly together by Mare’s intimate delivery and Nomad’s exquisite piano and accordion. Pre-orders of the album are available at https://marewakefield.com/product/no-remedy-cd with the digital version set to hit streaming services May 21.
To launch the record, the duo will release the joyful mantra, “Give Myself to Love” on March 19. Accompanying the single is a safely-shot companion visual that features band members in satellite locations and two dozen cameos beamed into a floating 70s-style TV set, replete with rabbit ears.
In addition to work on the new record, the duo have been keeping their performance chops up during the pandemic with live stream virtual concerts twice a month. Each show includes deep-cut requests, a cover or two, a trivia contest and a segment called “Oya’s Jazz Café” in which Mare & Nomad perform a jazz standard for Ovunc’s mother, Oya, who stays up till 4am to watch the concerts live from her home in Turkey. It’s become a very sweet community of friends and fans,” says Mare. “We can get anywhere from a few hundred to 1000 or so people tuning in – our record is 6,000 streams for a super fun Carpenters Tribute. It’s been one of the brightest silver linings of all this, the slowing pace, the clearing of an over-crowded calendar, the staying put.”
Kerrville NewFolk finalists and a Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist, Mare & Nomad have toured the U.S. significantly the past 5 years, having also appeared at SXSW, the Tumbleweed Folk Fest, the Plymouth Folk Fest, and on WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour, a syndicated show out of Lexington, KY. The pair are currently organizing a special livestream to coincide with the album’s release with an eye to do some in-person shows and house concerts this fall.
“Cozy brilliance … The merger of Natalie Merchant Shawn Colvin and Dolly Parton.” – LEO Weekly
“Lovely vocals and even lovelier songs…a la Dar Williams or Patty Griffin.” – New York Times
“An arresting collection of folk pop.” – New Times, Nashville, TN