They sound like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw one minute, Johnny Cash and June Carter the next. Alison, Emmylou, Lucinda, and Shania, all in one. The Danberrys is what can happen to two talented people growing up in the shadow of Music City. Dorothy Daniel and Ben DeBerry met in high school in Dickson, Tennessee, about 40 miles west of Nashville. They married in 2006 and moved to Nashville for their day jobs — Daniel as a CPA, and DeBerry to augment his guitar gigs with tech consulting work. But music was soon demanding most of their time. DeBerry calls their first EP, 2009’s Company Store, their “happy accident.” Their 2016 release, Give and Receive, was recorded at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Nashville Studios.
What are your earliest memories of Nashville?
Ben: We would take field trips to Nashville, to Studio B, or RCA. I got to do my guitar recitals at the Ryman [Auditorium] as a kid. There were country stars around. You knew that there was something important going on in Nashville.
Dorothy: I grew up listening to all of that Nashville country music in the ’80s and ’90s, and pop music, too. My dad was really into the old country like Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. We’d listen to that on tapes and we’d listen to today’s pop country on the radio.
Ben: By the time I was a teenager I was a guitar player and was really into the classic rock guys, Jimi Hendrix especially. Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd. From there I heard Old and in the Way [Jerry Garcia and David Grisman’s bluegrass album], and got into bluegrass. Then I got a Merle Haggard CD and started checking out the older stuff.
Were you a couple before you started playing music together?
Dorothy: We met in high school, in choir, so I guess it all happened at the same time.
Ben: It was really all chance that it went down the way it did. A guy saw us with a cover band and approached us at a club one night. He said he saw something between Dorothy and me, and asked if we had any songs we’d like to record. Sure enough, we had 15 songs that we’d just been talking about recording.
Dorothy: The other day, Ben found a “goals list” that we made the first year that we were married. One of our goals was to record an album under our stage name. It was kind of a joke. We wanted to record an album, but at that time we probably thought that was all we’d do. We didn’t know that we’d record another one, and another one, then another one.
Have you always had that great vocal blend?
Ben: I’m under the impression that Dorothy makes anyone sound good. That to me is also the happy accident of The Danberrys. We just started singing. Even before we cut our EP, I would get Dorothy up to sing with me on cover gigs, and there was always something there. We kept getting feedback that something special was going on. We have a blend that is just supposed to be happening.
Dorothy: I think you said it.
The Danberrys, with guests George Jackson on fiddle and Vanessa McGowan on upright bass, perform at The Purple Onion (16 Main St.) in Saluda on Sunday, April 9, at 7pm. 828-749-1179. www.purpleonionsaluda.com, www.thedanberrys.com.