Talk to Patty Larkin about how her sound has changed over the years, and she’ll tell you it has as much to do with experience as it does the technological changes in the industry.
“I hope over the years things have gotten quirkier” says the singer, who will be appearing at Strathmore in North Bethesda on Wednesday. “I know that I have gotten to appreciate lyrics as well as the sound of the guitar.”
In the nearly 20 years since her first album, “Step Into the Light,” Miss Larkin has become a musician’s musician, intent on a crafting a holistic musical sensibility. She has experimented with a wide range of musical styles, and more than a few snatches of Middle Eastern music, as well as rhythm and blues, creep into her sound.
That’s a far cry from the Iowa-born, Wisconsin-raised youngster who spent much of her spare time listening to her older sister play the piano.
“She was a great pianist,” Miss Larkin recalls. “I realized that I got exposed to music through her practicing.”
Then her uncle, a Catholic priest, brought home a guitar one day, and Miss Larkin and her sisters began to pick out tunes. Although she initially wanted to write music like Paul Simon and James Taylor, she soon saw the potential of the guitar as an instrument for expressing her own musical view of the world.
After earning a degree in English literature at the University of Oregon, she went on to study at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, where her eclectic musical tastes were encouraged.
These days, she’s working on a compilation album that will bring together a collection from a surprisingly rare breed in popular music — female guitarists.
“I want to showcase songwriters who are also wonderful guitarists, says Miss Larkin, who started the project (the CD is due out Nov. 1) about eight years ago.
She’s already considering a Volume 2.
“There are some great blues and rock players out there,” she says. “It’s going to be interesting.”
Meanwhile, Ruthie Logsdon performs with bassist Greg Hardin at the Westside Cafe in Frederick, Md., on Saturday.
Two-thirds of the longtime rockabilly band Ruthie and the Wranglers, the two say you can expect a sparer, more stripped-down version of the sound that has garnered the group more than 20 Washington Area Music Awards. And you will also be able to hear a few numbers the duo has written together, as well as their new takes on old songs.
“Our ability to write songs together has really made us flourish,” says Miss Logsdon, who grew up in Rockville and cut her musical teeth on “Hee Haw” and free concerts in the parks. “I’ve tried it a few times before, but it never worked as well.”
Her family liked music but was not extraordinarily musical, Miss Logsdon says. So she was surprised to learn recently that she was related to the late Jimmie Logsdon, author of the 1957 hit “I’ve Got a Rocket in My Pocket.” It has made her own interest in American roots music even more authentic.
“I knew as a kid that what I was hearing was special,” she says. “Even though for years I thought country was not cool.”
So uncool, in fact, that Miss Logsdon trained and worked as a graphics artist before giving in to her musical urges. These days, she does it all: She designed the new Ruthie and the Wranglers CD, “Someday,” as well as writing a couple of tunes, singing, and playing guitar.
Mr. Hardin brings his own brand of authenticity to the mix, honed over 20 years of playing with area bands such as Junior Cline and the Recliners and spending his formative years checking out the sounds at places such as the old Cellar Door in Georgetown. But in all that time, he never ran into Miss Logsdon, until recently.
“I guess we were leading parallel lives,” he says.
Finally collaborating with Miss Logsdon has allowed his own art to develop appreciably.
“When you work with Ruthie as a writing partner, there’s challenge but no intimidation,” he says. “Everything comes naturally.”