Music News & Reviews

Duo finds warm reception in Wichita

Their music is mystically buoyant, their message joyfully optimistic. Though aiming to romanticize life's simplicity, their style is unusually complex.

Whimsical indie folk duo Colton and Zara hail from Independence, but have been building a Wichita fan base for more than a year. In the process, they've grown as musicians. They'll perform tonight at Frida's.

"We've been a lot of places, but Wichita has been one of the most receptive to our music," said Colton Davy. "We've piled up a lot of fans for the amount of shows we've played."

Davy met his musical companion, Zara Henry, at the age of 12 during a 4H gathering. The two soon formed a band and began playing to youth group audiences. Within a few years, the band had fizzled out, but their collaboration continued. They were discovered online by Brandi Cyrus, elder sister of pop princess Miley Cyrus, who was looking for new talent to showcase at the 2008 Band With a Mission contest in Nashville, Tenn.

"It was extremely awkward being on stage for the first time," Henry said. "There were so many big bands and all we had were two guitars. We were like two little Davids in a sea of Goliaths."

It was their style, though, not their stage presence that caught the attention of show organizer Austin Cook. He liked their blend of acoustic folk with indie style as well as their soothing, hopeful message. A development deal was soon presented to them, and their first EP, "Whimsical Dreams," was recorded and released last spring.

"Whimsical" is a six-track collection of their lighthearted melodies. The lyrics dance playfully, prompting listeners to imagine simple, sunny days surrounded by loved ones on grassy fields. They speak of young love, about basing reality on idealism, and holding true to personal values. Throughout all of their songs is a budding spirit of harmony.

With their first work completed, Colton and Zara are aiming to grow as musicians. Since last August, they have been on a touring frenzy. They've played more than 100 shows, with several stops along the West Coast and throughout the South.

"I think audiences have responded very well to our music because they bring their own experiences to the songs we play," Davy said.

Added Henry: "I've had fans tell me that our music is what they want to hear on their worst days to cheer them up and during their best moments to make them even brighter."

With a growing fan base, the two are taking on the project of producing a full-length CD. They've signed on with local music label Hartke Records to produce an album that will be released late this spring.

"We're very much in the process of diversifying our sound," Davy said.

The duo plans to record with a full band and play up the folk element to their style. "This will definitely be a more mature sound than 'Whimsical Dreams,' " Davy said.

If you go

colton & zara

What: Indie folk duo

Where: Frida's, 1580 W. 21st St.

When: 8 p.m. today

How much: $3 cover. Show is all ages.