Fittingly, country-folk artist Daniel Davies Hallock met his wife and music partner, Rumeysa Venus, in 2007 at a folk festival near Austin, Texas.
“I was working as a social worker and went to the Kerrville Folk Festival with my friend. Within an hour, he asked me to dance,” Venus said.
Now they’re touring the country — actually the world — as the duo Daniel and the Blonde. To fund their first album together, the couple set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary $2,500 to cover expenses. They are halfway there and anxious to get the total funding by the expiration date of Oct. 25. If they don’t reach their goal, they don’t get anything.
Hallock left home at 17 to hitchhike the country and write songs about real life the way his musical hero did.
“I wanted to be like Woody Guthrie. I wanted to be a folk singer,” Hallock said.
The new album will be self-titled and include 10 original songs. Some songs they’ve played at gigs around Montana, including 50 shows over the summer at places like the Railyard Ale House in Billings and the Pollard Hotel, the Snow Creek Saloon and the Bull ‘n Bear in Red Lodge. They also performed their original songs during a recent extended trip to Turkey where they played in coffee shops and pubs. Other songs of theirs have never been heard by an audience.
Hallock is the primary songwriter and vocalist in the duo. He also plays guitar. Venus plays the washboard, which is equipped with a contact microphone to amplify the sound. She wears baseball gloves with steel finger tips added on to create the various sounds she makes on the washboard. She also uses a kick drum for added percussion and is working her way up to singing more with Hallock.
“Somebody said to me at one of our shows, ‘Hey, you have a nice voice. Why doesn’t Daniel let you sing more?’ He lets me sing all I want. For me it’s just getting comfortable on stage,” Venus said.
One of their new songs, “Nice People,” has Venus harmonizing with Hallock on the chorus and Hallock’s inventive lines throughout. Hallock said living and performing in Nashville a few years back helped his songwriting.
“Going to songwriter nights improved my songwriting,” Hallock said. “It’s more relatable now.”
In the beginning, Venus only sang with Hallock on “Jackson,” a cover song they still perform at live shows. They also perform songs by Bob Dylan.
“The act grows,” Venus said.