Evie Ladin and Keith Terry dance their songs, sometimes in perfect lockstep, sometimes in lovely tension. Ladin’s voice, clawhammer banjo, and effortless footwork leap and sway between Terry’s quicksilver beats, shuffles, and snaps, the distinct language of body music. Both move to the rhythm with a gentle commitment that never overpowers Ladin’s tales, finding grooves both welcoming and unexpected.
The partners share a passion for audible dance: Ladin grew up playing banjo and performing Southern Appalachian clogging, gaining professional training on tour with the dance company Rhythm in Shoes. Terry shifted from drums to body percussion as he engaged with the tap revival scene in the 70s while playing drums with the late great dancers.
When Ladin and Terry joined households—they are partners in life as well as art—they discovered that among their two thousand-odd CDs, there were no duplicates. “We have very different musical backgrounds,” laughs Terry. Yet they found their passions intersected on the dance floor and in explorations of African-rooted traditions.
They go deep into old-time tunes and jazz-inflected rhythmic licks, into beautifully crystalized tales and subtly improvised claps, stomps, and snaps in songs like the feisty “Dime Store Glasses.” Some of their most dynamic and quirkiest moments spring from their differences. When, say, Ladin wants to go over the top with a madcap swing number, but Terry feels the call of a 7/8 cha cha. They let the disagreement stand, and “Out came a hysterical, nuanced performance of a couple in a dance competition, devolving into a slapstick fight,” chuckles Terry, describing the duo’s crowd-pleasing “Tea for Two.”