4/11/16 THIS FAMILY IS DESERT FLY
Visit Katie Haverly’s vintage Armory Park home and you may be lucky enough to hear the sweet, sweet words: here’s tequila and grapefruit juice. She also makes some killer cheese platters with almonds and dried fruits. Her black kitty is running around the carpet floor. Should we sit inside or outside? The early March weather is perfectly cool, so we step out.
Copper and Congress’s vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist is a gem inside and out. Katie’s band members, which are better described as family, are equally as warm and great. There’s a sense of deep love and friendliness among them that’s contagious. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known them for years or met them a few minutes ago, they treat all with equity. One tequila drink later and you’ll be telling them all of your life woes. They like to listen.
Tonight, most of them are hanging out in Katie’s porch: drummer Julius Schlosburg, poet/vocalist Teré Fowler-Chapman and rapper Rey Murphy. Bassist Patrick Morris is on speaker phone all the way from Boston, where he’s a student at Berklee College of Music. Mike Moynihan, who plays the saxophone, couldn’t make it out to play this evening.
The conversation goes from Food City grocery trips, buying liquor and dog food at Costco, to eating tacos at Pico de Gallo, and that one time Bernie fucking Sanders pretty much tied Hillary Clinton in the Iowa Caucuses. But there’s also a tone of seriousness. They’re concerned about many aspects of their community, for where the country and world are headed as we face tough times politically, ethnically and economically.
Then we snap back to the music talk.
At the end of the week, Copper and Congress was supposed to perform in Lando Chill’s For Mark, Your Son CD release party at Club Congress. But the a-little-bit-of-soul-a-little-bit-of-jazz-a-little-bit-of-hip-hop band has this organic rule of not having any shows unless all band members are in town.
Reymond Murphy, Teré Fowler-Chapman, Katie Heavenly, Michael Moynihan, Julius Schlosburg
“We work as a collective, we don’t move unless all of us are moving,” says Teré, who’s also the heart behind the monthly spoken word gathering Words on the Avenue, and a teacher at a charter school in east Tucson. “It’s our sound. If you can’t get all of us to create our sound, we are doing ourselves an injustice. It’s like taking our vocal chords away. We live by this stuff.”
Copper and Congress began as a medium for Katie’s songwriting. Since the beginning of it all, she and Patrick have been the constants. From 2012 to now, the band has had many different skins, and it’s ultimately morphed into the six members we watch and listen to today. “We are all connected by this divine thread…we have all grown, pushed each other to try different styles of music, honor each other,” Katie says.
With Patrick away, this dynamic is truly like a long distance relationship but way more functional. Through Julius’s iPhone speaker, Patrick announces that he’s making a trip down here in May, when school’s out. “So we can have some time and write some stuff, don’t you think Patrick?” Katie says. (Hell yes.) They’re planning on performing, too. “We should try to do a new set,” Patrick responds.
When they’ve been away from each other, the reunions are explosive. They just jam and create beauty.
“It’s almost like when you see somebody you haven’t seen for a long time…a significant other, and just booooom. Do not disturb sign,” Rey says. He does a little bit of this and a little of that all over Tucson, including hosting parties and workshops at a studio he just opened downtown, and performing with different local musicians under the name Rey Murph. “We have so much admiration and trust for each other, it’s made me better in different ways.
When I am doing other things for side projects, I always keep the band in mind. Pulling from ourselves, and creating different sounds. It’s not something that can be replaced.”
It seems like they all relate life-changing emotions with each other. Julius jumps in, “I feel like a totally different musician than when I first started playing. [Copper and Congress] totally made who I am. It has impacted my life outside of it.”
Teré remembers the exact day, the exact time and exact beats of her first show with Copper and Congress about one year ago at the beer and wine bar Tap and Bottle. Before she joined the band, she posted a message on Facebook that said something along the lines of, “I am a poet. I want to work with a group that loves blues, loves jazz, knows swing and appreciates hip hop.” It was a call out to the universe, and she nailed it.
While Copper and Congress is put temporarily to rest on the live music scene, the guys continue to work on other gigs alone or with other bands. But, no matter what, they always try to involve each other one way or another.
“All of us are doing a lot of other projects that take our time and energy. We’re filling the hole of Patrick being gone a little, but with the sadness of not playing together, I wish we were doing more together,” Katie says. Lately she’s also been excited about her fourth solo album Aviary. “I have lived in a lot of other places and I have never felt like this…felt like a part of something larger where people are genuinely supportive and interested and excited to build things together instead of in isolation.”